Death by Dark Chocolate Cake

Today is National Chocolate Cake day! I have to post about my very favorite chocolate cake recipe since it is my GO-TO and something that everyone loves. I've found that this recipe can convert even the most cynical cake eaters because of it's light, airy and not too sweet combination. 

It is very important to note that with chocolate cake it is VERY IMPORTANT to use really high quality ingredients because the results can be very different in terms of flavor and depth of the chocolate. 

1 - Use Valrhona cocoa powder. If you can find it, use it. Or order it on Amazon because it's worth it. If you're going to consume the calories, might as well make it count. 
2 - Use a VERY GOOD dark roast coffee. This can be cold brew, in which case I like to use Stumptown's Cold Brew. Or, in my cakes, I use Caffee Luxxe coffee which is a local shop in Santa Monica known for the BEST beans and espresso. 
3 - Splurge and get a really good quality black onyx cocoa powder. It's seriously worth it and brings a whole new depth to the chocolate flavor you didn't even know existed. 

This recipe is an oil based cake so is VERY forgiving which is great for new bakers or old! I'm gearing up for more commissions this weekend so lucky for me I was already baking a chocolate cake today. :) Enjoy! 

Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes 2 x 8" round cakes or 2½ 6" round cakes


  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Valrhona cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons black onyx cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ½ cup canola oil 
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp 
  • 1 cup cold brew coffee or dark roast coffee, room temp 
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and line 2 x 8” or 3 x 6" round cake pans with parchment paper. Set them aside. 

2. In a medium bowl, place a metal sifter on top and add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, onyx coca powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Sift into bowl. Take large hand whisk and continue to incorporate dry ingredients until well mixed and all the same color. 

3. In mixer bowl, add eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. With mixer on low speed, incorporate dry ingredients into the bowl. Then add in coffee last and continue to mix on low until batter is rich and thick. 

4. Pour batter into pans evenly. If using 8" pans, distribute evenly in each pan. If using 6"x 3" pans, I've found the ratio that works for high layers is around 490g in two pans and 300g in the 3rd pan works best.  Tap pans against the table to get rid of air bubbles before placing into the oven in the middle rack. 

5. Bake on center rack of oven for 30-40 minutes or until toothpicks are removed and fully clean. The thicker that batter in each pan the longer it takes. Cakes should feel springy to touch. Make sure to rotate the cakes 75% of the way through baking time.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes inside pans. Flip cakes on cooling rack, remove parchment paper lining and allow to cool to room temp. If not using right away, wrap with plastic wrap and place into fridge until ready for decorating.


Orange Rosemary Shortbread

While we were in Hawaii, I really wanted to bake something for a family gathering. With a very limited kitchen... no stand mixer, no hand mixer, no measuring cups/scale (!!), and no rolling pin, I went in search of something I could make that would be delicious and be pleasing to the eye! 

Behold... the SHORTBREAD COOKIE! What a great way to get back to improv baking! The key to shortbread is similar to sugar cookies. Make sure the dough stays cold, cold, cold after you roll it out and all through the shaping process. Here's what you'll need: 

- Mixing bowls, wooden spoon, plastic wrap, parchment paper, a glass cup or wine bottle (as your rolling pin), large chef's knife, baking sheets. 

Orange Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Makes 2 Dozen cookies depending on your cutters

  •  1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup of clover honey 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • zest from 2 large navel oranges, separated
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped 
  • 2 cups dark chocolate, melted

1.   In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with your wooden spoon or using your stand mixer. Add in vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. 

2. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and add flour, salt and orange zest. Mix until well incorporated. 

3. Remove dough from the bowl and shape into two round, flat discs. Wrap with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for 30 minutes. 

4. After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350F. 

5. Roll out the chilled dough till it's about 1/2 inch thick. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and put it into the freezer for 10 minutes to re-chill. Repeat rolling out the dough with the second dough disc. 

6. Remove rolled dough from the freezer and cut rectangles with your kitchen knife (or use cutters at this time. 

7. Line more baking sheets with parchment paper and space out cut cookies at least 1 inch apart. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with chopped rosemary. 

8. Bake up to 2 sheets in preheated oven for 20-25minutes until the edges start to turn golden. When you touch the edges of the cookie they should feel stiff but the middles of the cookies will be a little soft. Rotate sheets at least once. 

9. Remove cookies from the oven and let it cool for 1 minute on the sheet. If the cookies browned too much in the oven, then remove immediately to a cooling rack. 

10. Let cookies cool completely before dipping in chocolate. 

11. In a small bowl, microwave 1 cup of chocolate chunks for 30 seconds then 10 seconds at a time until you can stir the melted chocolate. Don't overheat. Add in the rest of the chocolate and continue to stir until that chocolate has melted into the bowl. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled. 

12. Zest your second orange and set aside in a small bowl. 

12. Dip each cooled cookie into the chocolate, sprinkle chocolate section with orange zest and then set on parchment paper for the chocolate to set. 

17.  Store dried cookies in an air-tight container for a week.