I have been on a baking quest for years….trying out every single chocolate cake recipe that I can get my hands on. It’s my duty as a baker to ensure that I test them all, right? My sister-in-law owns her own cake business and is the baking goddess. Years ago, she decided that every Sunday she was going to test out a different chocolate cake recipe. She did this for months on end and through her exhaustive research, she found her favorite.
This Love At First Sight Chocolate Cake is an adaption of her ultimate cake and it’s everything a perfect chocolate cake should be – rich, moist, fudgy, and the best chocolate cake you will ever eat. We’ve done the research for you so you don’t have to.
Every Valentine’s Day, I make my husband his very own chocolate cake. The problem is that he goes to work, leaving me at home staring at a triple layer chocolate layer cake that is begging to be eaten….by me. Oh the torture. But I always say that if I am going to eat the calories, make it worth it. This cake is worth every single calorie, I promise.
So what’s with the name?
I was fresh out of high school and about ready to embark on my freshman year in college when I met HIM. You know the guy that stops you in your tracks and makes your jaw drop to the floor. He was sipping water out of the drinking fountain at a college dance and my friend grabbed me and said, “did you just see the eyes on that guy?” I looked over to see this tall, dark, and handsome guy with piercing blue eyes walking down the hallway. My friend, who felt that she just found her soulmate, ran after him to ask him to dance. I tried to play it a little bit cool even though my heart was beating out of my chest at first glance.
As we walked outside to the dance, the music was starting to fade as a slow song begun. I was standing in a large group of friends when I felt someone tap my shoulder. I turned around to see “him.” He was even better looking close up and I didn’t think that was even possible. He asked if I wanted to dance and of course, I answered a resounding “yes” as he grabbed my hand to guide me to the dance floor.
The connection was instant and undeniable and I thought to myself that I didn’t want it to end. Lucky for me, before the end of the night he asked for my phone number and I was one giddy girl all the way home.
So that “love at first sight” encounter actually turned into real life, true, unconditional love. This guy eventually got down on one knee in a small fishing boat in the middle of the lake, surrounded by candlelight to ask me to marry him.
I was a young 20 year old who had a lot of life to figure out but we decided that we were ready to grow together – to learn, to make mistakes, and to eventually start a family together. We will hit our 20 year anniversary this November (woo hoo!) and I love him so much more now than the day we got married.
Let’s get back to this Love at First Sight Cake because I am falling in love with this more and more by the minute.
Baking is all about ratios and you have to find that perfect balance. Here are some of the most important things I have learned about baking cakes:
- Cake flour does make a difference in the tender crumb of the cake but you can substitute all-purpose flour.
- High quality cocoa powder can change the depth of chocolate flavor. I use Callebaut Cocoa (which I find in the bulk section at Winco).
- Using both baking soda and baking powder gives it the best rise.
- Buttermilk is a must because it gives it the melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Even though I am the biggest butter fan in the world, oil just works best in chocolate cakes (in my humble opinion). I have used both canola and coconut oils and both turn out beautifully. When I use melted coconut oil, there is surprisingly no coconut oil taste in the cake.
- Don’t overbake your cake. You want that moist, tender crumb so watch it carefully.
- My favorite baking pans are these ones — Wilton 8 Inch Round Pan and USA Round Cake Pan, 9 inch. A flat spatula to frost a cake is essential and is only around 5 bucks — Wilton Angled Icing Spatula.
- Chocolate Cake:
- 1¾ cup Flour
- 1¾ cup Sugar
- ¾ cup Cocoa (high quality)
- 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup Oil (canola or coconut oil)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 1½ teaspoons Vanilla
- 1 cup Hot Water
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- 1½ cups Butter, softened
- 1 cup Cocoa
- 5 cups Powdered Sugar
- ⅓ cup Cream, Half n Half or Milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. If you have a flour sifter, sift all dry ingredients.
- In mixing bowl, beat oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla for 1 minute. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Pour in hot water and mix together. The batter will be liquidy but that's a good thing -- it will create a moist cake.
- Spray two 8 or 9-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. You can also use three 8 inch cake pans for this recipe. Pour batter evenly into each pan. Bake at 22-27 minutes. Place toothpick or cake tester in the center of cake to check if it comes out clean.
- Let cool before frosting.
- To make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- In mixing bowl, cream together Butter, Cocoa, Powdered Sugar, and Cream until light and fluffy. You may want to add more cream or milk depending on consistency. Once the cake has cooled and has been removed from pans, frost each layer with frosting.
- Top with chocolate shavings, chocolate chips, sprinkles, M & M's or whatever your heart desires.
- This is one baked good that gets even better the next day if covered.
- *If you would like to make a triple layer cake, 1½ times the recipe and use three 8 or 9-inch cake pans.
Go get a fork, a plate, and dig into the best chocolate cake on the planet.