Sinful Chocolate Cake

  • Serves: Makes three 9 x 2-inch round cakes; 1 half sheet cake (13 x 18-inches); 24 cupcakes; Makes 6 3/4 cups batter
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
  • Views: 27949
  • Comments: 149

Variation: Sinful Chocolate Cake Cupcakes

The heavenly chocolate cake from Elisa Strauss' Confetti Cakes Book, has been heavily adapted by me. We use this cake with our spectacular Chocolate Ombre Cake, pictured above.

When I visited Elisa, at her now-closed famed bakery, Confetti Cakes, I tasted this cake, and I found it to be richly flavored and moist. It is very chocolaty, but not bitter or overpowering. It has a tender and velvety crumb, but the cake is still sturdy. Elisa told me that she uses the recipe often for her wedding cake clients and is perfect to use for carved cakes. The secret to making this cakes lies in using the best cocoa powder you can find.

Elisa Strauss (left) with Sarah Phillips (right) in 2007, photo by Stephen Shames © 2007 Sarah Phillips   

2 2/3 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*, sifted; sift after measuring
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 cup (2 sticks; 8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) very strong coffee, room temperature; do not use hot; I add 1 to 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder to the morning's coffee for this recipe.

NOTE: *cocoa powder: SARAH SAYS: Elisa uses natural cocoa powder for this recipe and likes the Valrhona or Scharffen Berger brand, but I found you can use Dutch-process (alkalized), if desired.

1. Position the oven shelf to the middle of he oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Brush the bottoms and sides of the pans with melted butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, vanilla and almond extracts. Set aside.

4. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low until softened. (If the butter is cold, it will warm quickly from the beaters - taking about 60 seconds). 

5. With the mixer still on low, add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. 

Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. 

SARAH SAYS: Another way to tell when the mixture is aerated properly, is when there are ridges of butter and sugar left at the side of the bowl as the beater moves through it. 
The butter is tacky and not too soft and has not melted.

Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

6. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.

After the eggs have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 2 minutes. (If the eggs are cold, the batter will curdle slightly. It's ok. It will come together as the batter warms from the beaters. ) Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time. The mixture will become fluffy and aerated. 

SARAH SAYS: The butter and eggs are an excellent temperature. Notice that it forms ridges on the side of the mixing bowl after the beaters pull through the mixture; the batter is tacky and not too warm so it sticks to the side of the mixing bowl! The batter has become lighter in color as it takes on air bubbles and SOMEWHAT fluffy, as well!

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

7. Alternately add the flour and sour cream mixtures to the butter mixture in two batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

8. Gradually pour in the coffee. Scrape down the bowl and beat until thoroughly combined.
NOTE: You MUST add the coffee slowly, or it will splash out of the bowl.

9. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans or muffin tins.

10. Bake for 23-25 minutes (when baked in three 9- x 2- inch pans), or until a toothpick comes out clean; for half-sheet pans, bake about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean; for cupcakes, bake 15 -20 minutes or until they spring back after being touched.

11. Allow the cakes to cool for 20 minutes. Once the cake is cool, release it from its pan by running a metal spatula or knife around the sides of the pan. Flip the cake over onto another pan or cake board and peel away the layer of parchment.

The unfrosted cake layers can be stored at room temperature for a day or two. Then freeze them, well wrapped, for a month or more. Thaw at room temperature in their wrappers before using.
The type of frosting used will determine the storage conditions. 


Black and white cupcakes by odetteganda, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips 
ODETTEGANDA, Premium Member, Says: "The cupcakes were made with this chocolate cake recipe and I added a few chocolate chips inside so that it will melt once baked. The frosting is the Italian Meringue or Mousseline Buttercream or IMBC The cupcake was a breeze to make and it baked nicely domed. It is one of those days too where I got lucky in baking cupcakes and I yielded 100%. Not a single piece fell off the liner....The decorations were made of Gumpaste or Tylose Gum Paste flowers with sugar dragees, pearls and a little edible luster."

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