The Best Double Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing
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This double chocolate cake is everything a chocolate cake should be: fudgy, moist, intensely chocolaty. When assembled into layers with chocolate ganache slathered in between, as the original recipe instructs, this cake becomes the perfect birthday finale for any chocolate lover; when topped with black velvet icing, as pictured here, this cake becomes an elegant dessert, a perfect treat to enjoy with morning coffee or afternoon espresso.
Why Is This Cake So Good?
A few things:
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, which imparts a deep, intense chocolate flavor and a rich, fudgy texture.
- Buttermilk, the magic ingredient in many a cake, namely this buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake.
- Oil (as opposed to butter), which keeps cakes incredibly moist (read: The Case For Making Cakes with Oil as Opposed to Butter).
The difference between Dutch-process and natural cocoa powder:
This info comes from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen:
- Natural cocoa powder is produced if virtually all of the cocoa butter is removed from the cocoa liquor, leaving a dry cake that is then ground to a fine powder. Natural cocoa powder is quite acidic, so can be used as the necessary acid to activate baking soda in leavened baked goods, if present in sufficient quantity. Because of its high acidity and unpalatable bitterness, natural cocoa powder is best used only in baked or cooked desserts.
- Dutch-process cocoa (also called alkalized cocoa powder) has been treated with a small quantity of an alkaline solution to reduce the natural acidity. The process darkens the cocoa’s color, making it rich, often redder brown, and gives it a smoother, more mellow flavor.
- Both natural and Dutch-process cocoa have had about 75% of the cocoa fat removed.
- Although some recipes can be made with wither form of cocoa powder, many rely on the properties of one or the other. For this reason, be careful when substituting Dutch-process for natural and vice versa. In recipes for baked goods using baking soda as the leavener in which no other acid is present, Dutch-process cocoa is not appropriate as it does not contain sufficient acid to activate the baking soda. (You could use Dutch process for natural cocoa but an additional acid such as cream of tartar would need to be added.) Similarly, using natural cocoa powder in a recipe originally calling for Dutch process cocoa may cause the mixture to become overly acidic. Adding a small amount of baking soda, or increasing the amount already called for, will compensate for this.
- Natural cocoa is better for brownies, old-fashioned chocolate cakes and simple chocolate cookies. Dutch-process cocoa, more palatable than natural cocoa when raw, is good for icings, custards, creams and sauces that will not undergo further cooking. It has a more subtle, delicate flavor, one well suited to many to many elegant European-style cakes, biscuits, pastries and creams, and in any recipe where an overt, sharp chocolate flavor would overpower more delicate flavors. It is very good in nut cakes and ice creams, where a refined, un-bitter chocolate taste can complement the soft flavors of the other ingredients.
- If the cocoa will be tasted raw, as it is when dusted on cakes, cookies or truffles, opt for Dutch-processed. If the recipe is for a traditionally rich and fudgy baked good, use the stronger flavor of natural cocoa powder.
20 Must-Try Chocolate Recipes
• Gourmet’s Devil Dog Cake
• The brownies from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
• Minny’s Chocolate Pie via the Garden of Eden
• Bon Appetit’s Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts
• Flourless Chocolate Cake via House to Haus
• Good Housekeeping’s Rich Chocolate Cake
• Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies on Martha Stewart Living
• David Lebovitz’s chocolate sorbet
• Wacky Cake from The American Heart Association Cookbook
• Smitten Kitchen’s Brownie Roll-Out Cookies
• Cook’s Country Wellesley Fudge Cake
• Cocoa Almond Granola from Joy the Baker
• Busy-Day Chocolate Cake from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry cookbook
• Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies from the Garden of Eden
• Zoë Francois’ Not Your Average Devil’s Food Cupcake
• Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
• Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
• Molly Wizenberg’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Glaze
• Cook’s Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling
• Jim Fobel’s Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge Frosting from the Old Fashioned Baking Book.
Both of these Fair Trade products from the Lake Champlain Chocolates company would make wonderful gifts for the holidays. They can be found at Whole Foods Market as well as online.Print
Double Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing
- Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Adapted from: Gourmet via Epicurious
- The original recipe calls for making a chocolate ganache, which sounds heavenly, but I have always adored my grandmother’s chocolate glaze recipe — it’s called black velvet icing and it contains eggs, which is odd, but it’s so good — so that is the one I use. If you want to use Gourmet’s chocolate ganache, find it here.
- Some commenters have found the amount not to be enough for a full cake, so I’ve updated the quantities below to be a double batch, which should leave you with more than enough icing.
- If you want to make a half recipe, see this post: Gourmet’s Double Chocolate Cake, Revisited. I love these 6-inch cake pans for making half recipes of all sorts of cakes, namely this one. You need two.
for the cake:
- 3 ounces (85 g) fine-quality semisweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
- 3 cups (648 g) sugar
- 2 1/2 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (144 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
for the black velvet icing (*updated to a double recipe April 2020, see notes above):
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- a heaping 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar
- 6 eggs, well beaten
- 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- Make the cake: Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease two 9- or 10-inch by 2-inch round cake pans with unsalted butter or nonstick spray. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Divide batter between pans (being sure not to fill pans higher than 2/3 full—they will overflow if you do; it’s not worth it) and bake in the middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the icing: Because several commenters have had trouble, with the icing, I am suggesting you use a double boiler. If you know how to set up a double boiler, do so; otherwise, fill a pot with an inch of water. Place a medium bowl over top. Turn the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the bowl. Once it has melted, stir in the confectioners’ sugar, whisking until smooth. Stir in the eggs a little at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition — a flat-bottomed whisk is good for this. (I use a whisk until the ingredients are blended and then switch to a heat-proof spatula.) Cook over low to medium-low until thick. Stir in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a glass measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring or store in whatever vessel you wish.
- Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Remove parchment paper. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
- If you are making a layer cake, halve each cake round crosswise to create 4 layers. Spread icing over one cake layer. Top layer with other cake layer. Repeat until all layers are stacked. Pour icing on top of top layer and with an off-set spatula (if you have one) spread it all over the sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving. (I keep mine at room temperature always…there’s never space in the fridge.)
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: chocolate, double, black velvet, icing, Gourmet, best
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
412 Comments on “The Best Double Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing”
I have a fantastic chocolate cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen (via Epicurious) that I use for all chocolate cake endeavors. SOOOO good: https://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/02/homemade-devil-dog-ding-dong-or-hostess-cake/
Okay, hahaha: It’s the same cake recipe as above. Oops. 🙂
Jami — too funny. I can’t believe I didn’t realize this was the same as on SK. I found it randomly by scrolling through the blue ribbon section of the Epicurious site — I have tried a number of their blue ribbon recipes recently, and they never fail to please!
I am allergic to cocoa, so I do not get to enjoy chocolate baked goodies! But my friends and family love it when I make chocolate cupcakes! More for them! These fair trade items would make great gifts!
For cocoa, I’d have to go with either Cincinnati chili or red velvet cake. For pure chocolately evil, I’d go with double-chocolate-chip cookies.
My favorite brownie recipe comes from a friend, and uses a half cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. His recipe is moist and fudgy (even more so because I underbake them) and absolutely delicious. I think I will have to try this cake recipe out soon – I am always on the look out for a fudgy, rich cake, yet so often they are more dry than I hoped! This new recipe may be the one I have been looking for…thanks!
Yum. This cake looks fantastic. I also have really enjoyed this one: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Devil-Dog-Cake-241516
The Marshmallow frosting truly is dramatic and wonderful.
My favorite recipe for unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder is my sweet potato brownies! I use unsweetened cocoa powder, mashed sweet potatoes, raw cacao nibs, coconut flour, a little nut butter and some unsweetened coconut shreds. I usually sweeten with applesauce or a coconut sugar. Delicious! This would be perfect for me because I’ve actually been on the hunt for a good chocolate powder that’s organic AND fair-trade. I’ve been using TJ’s unsweetened cocoa powder but I’ve been looking for better sourced products. I always make sure tea that I buy is organic and fair-trade! *yay* I’m glad there are chocolate products that do the same!
That recipe sounds amazing ! Anything gluten free and full of healthy ingredients should be shared , so would you please share it ?
I usually make a quinoa chocolate cake that wants a cup of good organic cocoa powder , butter and maple syrup , along with coffee and coconut milk , it’s pretty delicious
My favourite brownie recipe is also one which has no chocolate in only cocoa powder. It comes from the ,a href=”https://thestonesoup.com/blog/2010/02/best-ever-cocoa-brownies-the-business-of-blogging/”>Stone Soup blog. Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a chocolate orange loaf which also uses cocoa rather than chocolate (unusually for her) and is gorgeously chocolately, dense and moist. I’m not sure what the difference between unsweetened and dutch process cocoa powder is. Here in the UK we just call it cocoa powder and it isn’t sweetened.
My favorite chocolate cake recipe is easily Julia Child’s Reine de Baba. Chocolate, almonds, coffee, how could you go wrong? Looking forward to trying this cake recipe and the brownie recipe you mentioned earlier!
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Raw chocolate truffles!
my word, that’s one gloriously dark cake! i love using cocoa powder for chocolate cakes and cupcakes–melted chocolate just doesn’t pack the same punch!
I just made the best chocolate cookies the other day:
I love the recipe on the box of Trader Joe’s cocoa. I would also love for you to prove me wrong. I’m going to make this!
Embarrassingly, my chocolate cake always comes from the box. Where can you get Lake Champlain chocolate around here? We stock up on it when we go to Vermont but I’ve never seen it in Virginia before.
Carla — You can find it Whole Foods…not so convenient for us, but good to know if you find yourself up in DC or Springfield maybe? That might be closer.
i love anything with super dark chocolate. vegan dark chocolate pudding or super dark chocolate bark with nuts or dried fruit is delicious.
There are lots of allergies in my family so I have developed my own dairy-free, wheat-free, fruit juice sweetened chcoclate cake that everyone loves!
There’s a cookie out there that’s chocolate stuffed with peanut butter, and I really enjoy that application of unsweetened cocoa powder. They’re sometimes called Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies. Yum! Would love to make them with fair trade deliciousness!
I was going to say brownies but I think I have to change to the recipe above. It sounds AWESOME and I will be making it next week. Thanks for offering the giveaway.
I love using Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe. Though I am going to have to try this cake recipe too…I think I started to drool a little looking at the photos. 🙂
I love the chocolate cake recipe in my Hershey’s Chocolate Recipe Book!
But I will try the recipe above. It looks and sounds delicious!
I just made a chocolate loaf cake with fresh cranberries. It uses cocoa powder and is so moisty and fudgy and wonderful with the fresh tartness of whole cranberries!
I have to say, Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake is just that. Super easy and just chocolaty enough that whomever you give it to feels treated. It uses unsweetened cocoa powder and no other chocolate. I make it regularly for my crew on our organic salad greens farm as it also uses common pantry items, nearly always on hand, and they love it. This cake, however, looks like what you should make when you want something really special.
So far it is Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. I am always on the look out for the perfect recipe. I will definitely be trying this one, looks so dark and rich. I just recently found your website by accident and LOVE it. I’m embarrassed to say that I looked through your entire blog. It took me a couple of days but I just kept seeing one great recipe after another =) Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
My favorite chocolate cake recipe using unsweetened cocoa is actually the recipe you just posted; except I got to it via Smitten Kitchen and she added a raspberry puree. I’ve made this cake so many times (even scaled for a friend’s wedding cake), it’s memorized. To me, it really is the gold standard for chocolate cake.
Ooooh, nomnomnom! What don’t I like with cocoa? With the weather getting nasty, I am going wild with the hot Chocolates. I recently did a Beautiful Mess’s nummy Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, and it was heavenly (https://www.abeautifulmess.com/2011/09/salted-caramel-hot-chocolate-recipe-1.html)
I prefer to use powder since the bars never…really… last XD
as much as i love sweets and chocolate i don’t find myself making too many chocolate cakes! the best one I’ve made was a pumpkin chocolate bundt cake, perfect this time of year 🙂
My favorite chocolate cake recipe is one of my Mom’s that just uses unsweetned cocoa, is unintentionally vegan, and uses apple-cider vinegar for the rise. It is delicate, completely chocolaty due to the lack of diluting dairy fats, and pairs perfectly with a salted caramel cream cheese frosting.
Molly Wizenburg’s cookbook has a lovely recipe for chocolate cupcakes with bittersweet glaze.
I love making chocolate cake with pumpkin puree. My family loves it!