New This Month

Chocolate Pansy Cake

This rich cake is topped with edible flowers and makes any meal a celebration.

  • Servings: 12

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 1998


  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa, plus more for dusting
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons cognac (optional)
  • 30 edible pansies, stems trimmed


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Dust pans with cocoa; tap out any excess. Set aside. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl. Whisk in 1 cup boiling water. Let cool.

  2. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. With mixer running, gradually add eggs, scraping down sides twice. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk into the cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour and cocoa mixtures, a little at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Divide evenly among pans.

  4. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert pans, releasing cakes, and return to rack to cool, top sides up.

  5. In the upper pot of a double boiler, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Place assembled double boiler over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in cognac, if using.

  6. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Transfer 2 cups of chocolate glaze to a medium bowl. Set glaze over ice bath; stir until glaze reaches the consistency of thick frosting.

  7. Place one cake layer on a cardboard cake round. Using a frosting spatula, spread 1/2 cup frosting on top. Set the second layer on top of the first; spread another 1/2 cup frosting on top. Stack the third cake layer on other two. Spread remaining cup of frosting on top and sides, creating a smooth surface.

  8. Set a wire rack over a baking pan. Place cake on rack. Using a ladle, pour the remaining warm glaze over top and sides. Let stand until glaze has set, about 20 minutes. Just before serving, arrange the pansies on top.

Cook's Notes

Only eat flowers that are grown organically, without chemical pesticides.

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