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That Chocolate Cake

September 27, 2012

The first time I made Andrew a birthday cake, I was up until 3 in the morning baking it. I was in college, too busy studying and interning to be fussing with a cake from scratch, but I was determined to bake him one and so I did. The next day, we celebrated his birthday and ate the cake, and I remember thinking to myself that the cake was so not worth it. It was not worth the stress it caused me or the hours of sleep it deprived me—it was not that good of a cake. I know it was the thought that counted, but for me, the cake was important too.

Every year since then, I’ve been looking for the cake. The one that trumps all other cakes and must be made every year following its discovery. So this year, I decided to make That Chocolate Cake. You’ve heard of it, right?


I’ve seen this cake all over the place; it’s that chocolate cake that everyone has been raving about (like here, here, and here). That chocolate cake from the Scharffen Berger cookbook, supposedly the only chocolate cake recipe you’ll ever need. And now it will be known as that chocolate cake I made for Andrew’s 28th birthday.


Even with a mishap, this is the best birthday cake that I’ve made for Andrew so far. I was planning for it to be a 3-layer cake, but my third layer didn’t quite make it on/totally fell apart (like I said in this post, multi-layered cakes are not my thing). “Two layers in your twenties, three layers in your thirties,” is what I told Andrew.


In addition to having good cake on your birthday, having the right amount of candles is a must for me. There should be one for every year and an extra one for good luck. Happy birthday, Andrew! Next year, I’ll make you a bigger cake to accommodate another candle.

The Recipe

That Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Desserts for Breakfast

1 3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
7.5 ounces (213 grams) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium sized saucepan, combine the sugar and the heavy cream and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for an additional 6 minutes, watching it carefully so it does not bubble over.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate and butter. Stir until all the chocolate and butter has melted and has combined with the sugar-cream mixture. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

Set the saucepan aside so the frosting can cool. Whisks it every once in awhile to help the cooling process. Once the frosting has cooled completely to room temperature, it will have a spreadable frosting consistency.

3 cups (600 grams) sugar
Scant 3 cups (425 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (135 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit. Then butter the tops of the parchment paper and flour the pans, tapping out any excess flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda on low to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and milk. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, until just combined. Then slowly pour in the coffee and mix on medium low speed until the batter is smooth (it will be very liquidy). Scrape down the beater and the bowl with a rubber spatula and make sure everything is well combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a cake tested inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Place the cake pans on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, turn them out of the pans and use a serrated knife to level the tops of the cakes. Stack the cakes together with a layer of frosting between each layer of cake. Then frost the outside of the cake.

Makes one 3-layer 8-inch round cake.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

thelittleloaf September 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I adore THAT chocolate cake, isn’t it wonderful? I made it again for a friend’s birthday on Wednesday and frosted it with peanut butter buttercream…possibly the best cake I’ve ever eaten although this looks like it would be up there :-)


The Squishy Monster September 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm

That is sight for sore eyes—a BEAUT! and I love that you included coffee–that is the secret weapon! =D


Jenn and Seth September 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

totally bookmarking this, sounds like the perfect chocolate cake!


Amanda October 1, 2012 at 12:12 am

It’s really ‘that’ good?! I’ll have to try it then! It certainly looks amazing.


Jessica Robinson October 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

LOVE this post! Seriously in love with chocolate cake! My favorite, actually is a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. 3 layers. Sinfully delicious!


Deb Rogers October 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

LOVE this recipe – the cake is so dark, moist, and chocolatey! Hate that I can’t double it – or even 1.5X it – in my 6-qt Kitchenaid, but it’s worth it. I wonder if you can help me troubleshoot, though… the top falls every time, even when I drop the temperature 25F and bake it longer, or use bake-even strips and heating cores… the only time I’ve baked it that the center hasn’t fallen is in a 6″ pan. I also tried subbing cake flour (1C + 2T for each cup AP flour), and that didn’t help either. Any ideas?


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