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Ultimate Chocolate Cake

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This deep, rich confection topped with fudgy frosting is ideal for special occasions or simply for chocolate lovers. Martha's uses Valrhona cocoa powder; for best results, use the highest-quality ingredients you can find. For an impressive presentation, let the layers cool completely before assembling, dust off any loose crumbs, and use the better layer for the top.

  • Yield: Makes two 8-inch layers

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television, May 1999

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee, boiling
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Ultimate Chocolate Frosting

Directions

  1. Place rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  2. Using a rubber spatula, mix the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated.

  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 4 cups in each pan). Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.

  4. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  5. To assemble, using a serrated knife, level the top surface of each cake layer. Place four strips of parchment paper around the perimeter of the cake stand. Spread with 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the remaining layer, bottom side up. Using a swirling motion, cover the outside of cake with the remaining frosting. Remove parchment-paper strips.

Reviews Add a comment

  • speckledjersey
    8 JUN, 2014
    I remember watching Martha make this cake over ten years ago on her first show, I made it immediately. This is truly the chocolate cake recipe that you look for, and when you find it, you don't stop making it. I find the cake is moist and the icing perfect, reminds of Grandma's house. The best part is the cake is even better the next day. I have to go now, I am making it for my friend's Birthday.
    Reply
  • Ilhomecook5
    28 JAN, 2014
    This recipe yielded too much batter for the 8 inch pans and the cake turned out dry.
    Reply
  • chelseabuns
    8 JAN, 2014
    Most fabulous chocolate cake I've ever made, this is now the 4th time. Used Lindt chocolate powder which is like the best in the world!!! Used half the frosting recipe as it is waaaayyyyy too much and such a waste of ingredients. Rate this recipe 5/5 thanks Martha, can never go wrong using your recipes :D
    Reply
  • ilovebrooklyn
    21 DEC, 2013
    This recipe is perfect! I frosted this cake with Martha's ''Dark-Chocolate Ganache'', (which is the easiest most amazing frosting I've ever made). The cake is so rich and moist. Make sure to not overbake, I baked for 35 minutes exactly.
    Reply
  • OhMyHoneyBee
    25 OCT, 2013
    Made this cake several times already and it turns out perfect every time. Cake flour isn't available in my country, so I use all purpose flour and replace 10 g per cup of it with cornstarch. I think that works just as fine.
    Reply
  • Lori2009
    23 AUG, 2013
    This will be my go to chocolate cake! Rich, decadent chocolate flavor. This is definitely a grown up cake. The crumb is so fine and delicate, be sure to use cake flour as directed, it has a lower protein count and that is what keeps this cake light and moist. I did cheat and use a hand mixer instead of beating by hand...shhh don't tell Martha.
    Reply
  • MS11598944
    17 AUG, 2013
    I made this today as written, Valrhona cocoa and all. The cake was decent but not intense enough for me. I'm a chocolate fanatic and I was hoping for something "ultimate" from this cake, given its title. My kids disagreed with me on the cake not being chocolaty enough. I doubled the accompanying frosting recipe because I like frosting, and there was just barely enough. The cake was not bad, but it was not great either. I don't think I'll be making this again.
    Reply
  • malzak
    25 JUL, 2013
    Does anyone know where to get Valrhona cocoa? I googled it, and websites are listing it from $88-$110! Is it generally that expensive?
    Reply
  • Jenny Trivedi
    15 JUL, 2013
    I had just enough Valrhona cocoa left to make this very moist cake. I made cupcakes and used the same oven temp but left them in only 15 mins at a time. Made about 30. The first batch in was smaller (and only 10 mins) because I was worried about overflowing and filled a standard cupcake paper only half full. Next batches I did all the way full and they rose to a perfect height. Used a peanut butter frosting to finish.
    Reply
  • Mozany_UAE
    20 APR, 2013
    Gonna bake it TODAY ! so excited. Wait for my review.
    Reply