There are times when a small piece of chocolate will satisfy a chocolate craving. And there are other times when it takes something big and very chocolatey to satisfy your sweet tooth. This Dark Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting is the kind of cake that you want to have on the occasions when you want something that really packs a lot of chocolate flavor in to every bite.
The cake has a strong dark chocolate flavor and is dense and brownie-like, although it has a much more tender, almost crumbly, texture to it when eaten alone. It is made with a generous amount of unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder, which give it is strong chocolate flavor. It isn’t too sweet and you’ll notice that there isn’t a lot of sugar in the cake itself, but this just helps make the cake a good candidate for a little frosting.
The cake goes perfectly with the frosting, both because the chocolate and mocha flavors work beautifully together and because the frosting provides exactly the right balance of flavor and texture to the cake. The frosting is also made with unsweetened chocolate, as well as instant coffee power (I used Starbucks Via), so it has a strong mocha flavor that matches the strongly-flavored cake well. It’s not too sweet, but is sweet enough to add just the right finishing touch to the dark chocolate cake. It’s always a pleasure to eat a piece of cake that really works well with the frosting!
This cake has a nice height to it, but it is not a towering cake because the layers are relatively thin. If you want to make it taller, bake a second batch of cakes and stack all four together. The recipe can be doubled, but it is a little easier (especially if you don’t have a lot of oven space!) to do one batch at a time. The cake can also be baked in 9-inch pans, instead of 8-inch pans, but the layers will be slightly thinner and you’ll need to check the cakes for doneness a few minutes early to ensure that the cake does not dry out.
Dark Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting
4-oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
1 batch Mocha Frosting (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a medium sized, microwave-safe bowl, melt together chocolate and butter in 30-45 second intervals until the two ingredients are completely melted and very smooth. Stir in brown sugar. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
Whisk the eggs, vanilla and milk into the cooled chocolate mixture until everything is well incorporated. Pour chocolate mixture in to flour mixture and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pan, then turn out of the pans and remove the parchment paper.
To frost: Place one cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread with just about 1/3 of the frosting onto the top of that layer and spread evenly. Stack second cake layer on top.
Use a very small amount of frosting to create a crumb coat, and stick the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set.
Spread remaining frosting on top of the cake and pull it down the sides to finish frosting.
1 tbsp instant coffee or Starbucks Via
2 tbsp boiling water
3-oz unsweetened or dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2-3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a medium sized, microwave-safe bowl, combine instant coffee and boiling water. Stir to completely dissolve coffee. Add chocolate to the bowl and allow the hot water to begin to melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. If the chocolate does not melt, microwave mixture in 20-30 second intervals until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy and creamy. Beat in vanilla extract and cooled chocolate mixture. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and fluffy.
Spread onto cooled cake.