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Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream, aka My Favorite Chocolate Cake

July 8, 2011

I’m not sure what to write about this cake because it was so good that just looking at the photos makes my mouth start watering and my brain fill with only one thought.

“Must. Have. Chocolate.”

I made this cake for my dad for Father’s Day. Pay no attention to the fact that I named it “My Favorite Chocolate Cake” when it wasn’t even my cake. It was everyone’s favorite chocolate cake.


I’m terrible at frosting cakes but this is my best one yet! A little plain, but at least it turned out level. It’s all thanks to Zoe Bakes and her amazingly helpful “How To” cake decorating video series. If you need cake decorating help, check them out!

Chocolate cake is one of those desserts that’s relatively simple and unassuming, but also can easily turn out disappointing. I like my chocolate cake rich but not too sweet, moist and super chocolatey. This cake is all of those things, and it held up like a champ during a 2 hour car ride over mountains.

It’s amazing.


Don’t you just want to swipe your finger through that frosting?

The chocolate cake layers are tender but with a sturdy crumb that holds up to slicing. They’re also incredibly moist. Despite the somewhat light color, the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting is intensely chocolatey. I love swiss meringue buttercream because it’s not cloyingly sweet like some other frostings. The cake layers may taste a little on the salty side on their own, but when paired with the silky smooth, rich frosting, the salt and sweet balance is spot on.

The whole thing is a chocoholic’s dream come true. I’m already trying to find an excuse to make this cake again!


My Favorite Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Ina Garden and Sweetapolita
Makes one 9-inch, 2-layer cake

I usually dislike coffee in my chocolate cake because I feel like the coffee flavor overwhelms the chocolate flavor. However, I used a cup of coffee brewed on the weak side for this cake and couldn’t taste the coffee flavor at all so I say go for it. And can I say I just love that you can make this cake easily without using a mixer?

Cake Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk to combine. Add coffee and whisk just until combined. Batter will be thin and runny.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans and bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 30 minutes, then flip out onto a rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients

4 large egg whites
1 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
pinch salt
8 ounces quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut dark)

I actually ended up using 5 egg whites because I was using fresh eggs and they were a little on the small side. The key to Swiss meringue buttercream is not to panic when it reaches the stage where it looks like it’s irrevocably ruined – just keep beating! If at the end your frosting is too soupy, it might be too warm. Pop it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and then beat until smooth.

NOTE: I had exactly enough frosting to fill and cover my cake and no leftovers. If you want to add decorations of any kind, I recommend making 1.5 or 2 times this recipe to make sure you have enough frosting.


Remove butter from refrigerator and cut into cubes. Set aside. (By starting with this step, your butter should be just about the right softened-but-still-cool temperature by the time you’re ready to add it to your frosting.)

Set a saucepan with about 2 inches of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer (not boil). Add chopped chocolate to a large, heat safe bowl and set over saucepan with simmering water. Stir gently just until melted. Remove chocolate from heat and set aside. Keep water simmering.

Add egg whites and sugar to metal bowl of an electric mixer. Set mixer bowl over saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and an instant read thermometer reads 140°F.

Remove bowl from stove and attach to mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip egg white mixture at medium speed until it forms a light, glossy white meringue and the bottom of the bowl feels room temperature to the touch (about 10 minutes).

Switch to the paddle attachment. On low speed, add butter one cube at a time, incorporating each completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. (If it curdles, just keep beating!) Add vanilla, salt and melted chocolate, and continue beating until smooth again.


Set one cake layer on a cake plate, cake board or pedestal. Add about 1/3 of the frosting and smooth into an even layer. Top with remaining cake layer (upside-down if cake is domed). Spread remaining frosting evenly on top and sides of cake.


Cake layers can be made ahead, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, placed in a freezer safe bag and frozen. When ready to use, take them out of the freezer and frost immediately or allow to thaw at room temperature. I actually find it easier to frost frozen cakes because they are firmer.

I recommend making the frosting the same day you will be icing the cake. Once iced, the cake can be refrigerated. The icing will firm up in the fridge, making it easier to travel with the cake without ruining it.

If refrigerated, remove cake from fridge at least 1 hour before eating to allow frosting time to soften again. Leftovers can be stored however you feel comfortable, refrigerated or covered at room temperature. (Ours was stored at room temperature.)

  1. July 8, 2011 10:49 am

    Beautiful! :)

  2. July 8, 2011 11:09 am

    Looks like a chocolate lover’s dream come true!

  3. July 8, 2011 12:14 pm

    I would love to make this cake, I have been in the mood for chocolate lately. A good chocolate cake and icing always hits the spot!

  4. July 8, 2011 1:05 pm

    I saw chocolate and instantly got hungry. Those photographs are beautiful, probably because they have an amazing subject.

  5. July 8, 2011 5:40 pm

    This does indeed look like a chocoholics dream, and as such will most likely feature in mine tonight and every night until i get a chance to make it! If you need another excuse to make it how about for the good cause of sending me half, take pity on a poor underfed Uni student! :) haha Your icing really is knocking on perfection, i dont think i could ever make it so neatly, and such beautiful photos. Your father is a lucky man indeed :)

  6. July 8, 2011 8:10 pm


  7. July 9, 2011 11:03 am

    This is the type of cake that will put me in a chocolate comma… PERFECT! :)

  8. July 9, 2011 12:46 pm

    Oh this looks heavenly! So much chocolate goodness. Swiss meringue buttercream is so worth the effort.

  9. July 9, 2011 4:44 pm

    That looks incredible! It looks like the perfect chocolate cake to me :D

  10. July 10, 2011 12:23 am

    I would love to swipe my finger through that frosting!!

  11. July 11, 2011 4:27 am

    Wow, can I have a slice of those!

  12. July 11, 2011 10:44 am

    This cake looks so incredibly moist! Yum!!!

  13. Ashley permalink
    July 11, 2011 2:47 pm


  14. July 11, 2011 3:23 pm

    Chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream? Yes please!

  15. July 12, 2011 3:40 pm

    Ohhhhhhh. You make chocolate sing and my stomach growl.

  16. July 12, 2011 3:47 pm

    Ok this looks soooo mouthwatering!!!!! Beautiful just beautiful:)

  17. July 13, 2011 12:18 am

    That cake looks so gorgeous! I’ve never tried a cake with meringue buttercream, but I love that it’s not too sweet. Congrats on your frosting skills, too!

  18. July 13, 2011 7:35 am

    What a pretty cake! I made a cake that looked similar for my dad’s birthday- how funny!

  19. July 13, 2011 3:05 pm

    Oh my, that looks like a solid lump of heart attack, and that’s a good thing. Making a chocolate cake soon, might use this recipe for the basic cake batter. Looks really amazin, you should be proud.

  20. July 14, 2011 2:15 pm

    A lot of chocolate, very good. From fairtrade cocoa, I hope. Thanks a lot.

  21. July 17, 2011 8:56 pm

    Wait, this is awesome! It’s so funny to be reading this because I actually just made the same chocolate cake – Ina Garten’s Beatty’s chocolate cake – without the adaptations to the frosting, of course. I literally make this cake all the time so this frosting will definitely be something I try out next time I make it. It’s so easy to make and just great to have around the house. I adore the way you decorated it – the chocolate-covered coffee beans (if I’m not mistaken) are a really nice touch.


  22. oneordinaryday permalink
    July 19, 2011 3:44 pm

    Oh this looks heavenly. I can see why it’s your favorite!

  23. July 26, 2011 11:46 pm

    This looks too good for words! And I stumbled across your oatmeal cream pie recipe you have on your blog and am going through my kitchen right now to see if I can make them, they sound amazing!

  24. August 19, 2011 1:17 pm

    This cake is beautiful and chocolate too! Going to try to bake this for a birthday.

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