THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE + 3 FROSTING RECIPES

The most m-0-i-s-t chocolate cake you’ll ever have. I promise! Jeffrey’s favorite combination is with the chocolate frosting recipe, and I think it’s incredible with marshmallow frosting or peanut butter frosting (all below). It’s definitely an impressive cake you’d make for company and the cake recipe everyone requests for their birthdays. VERY easy too, but you must keep an eye on it while you’re baking and follow my tips below.

SCROLL DOWN FOR CAKE AND 3 DIFFERENT FROSTING RECIPES.

For my favorite vanilla cake recipe, click HERE.

Here’s how a slice looks baked in a sheet pan- the easiest way to bake.

And here’s Jeffrey’s birthday cake from this year in 2 layer 8″ cake rounds:

Here’s what I look like when I see cake:

 

CAKE RECIPE

Adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans (I use bread flour)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups (good!!) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon (good) pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter two 8″ round cake pans or one 11×13″ sheet pan (I use a metal brownie pan)
Line with the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour (or use cocoa powder) the pans.
If you’re using a sheet pan, have the parchment paper hang off on either side so you’ll have little handles to pop it out when you’re ready to cool it.
  1. In a large bowl with a whisk, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined. I actually don’t like using an electric mixer with this recipe- it’s too liquidy
  2. In a medium bowl, take the whisk and mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spatula or spoon.
  4. Slowly add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake about 20 minutes. Always bake for a few minutes less if you’ve never made this recipe before, so you don’t over-bake the cakes. You can always add more time, you can’t take away. When you start to smell it, it’s probably almost done. Give the pan a jiggle when you start smelling it. Keep adding 3 minutes on your time and checking it again. It should jiggle like solid pudding, not like jello. It will continue baking in your pan after you take it out of the oven. If you’re unsure, you can put a knife in the middle and it should come out with a few crumbs.
  6. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes (unless you’ve over-baked it*). Run a knife around the edges so the cake will come out more easily. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper. It’s a gooey cake, so the parchment paper on the cooling rack is KEY to keeping things neat. If you’re baking it in a sheet pan, you’ll already have the parchment paper to just pop off and place on the cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting or the frosting will melt.
*If you’ve accidentally over-baked your cake, pop it out of the cake pan immediately to cool on a cooling rack or it will keep baking. Scrape off any crispy parts. Combine 1/4 cup of milk with 1/4 tsp vanilla. Brush it all over the surface of the cake then cool completely before frosting.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING RECIPE

Adapted from Magnolia Bakery
* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve this recipe since you’re not covering as much area. This frosting is rich!
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
2 tablespoons whole milk or half & half, room temp
12 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate)
1 small pinch fleur de sel / sea salt / kosher salt
1 teaspoon (good!!) vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Directions:
  1. To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Add a tiny pinch of sea salt. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, 3 minutes
  4. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth
  5. Add the melted chocolate and beat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.
  7. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium until fluffy.
Your frosting might be a little melty so keep your mixer and beater attachment out. Refrigerate the frosting in the mixing bowl for 30 min or until the frosting is more solid, then re-whip it with the mixer right before frosting the cake.

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

This will make the cake taste like a s’mores! We all LOVE this combo too;

* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve the recipe since you’re not covering as much area.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup salted butter, room temp (or add 1/4 tsp salt to unsalted butter)

14 ounces Marshmallow Fluff

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon good vanilla

 

Directions:

Whip all of the ingredients together. Refrigerate for a bit if it’s too melty. You’ll be able to make prettier swirls if it’s cooled slightly.

 

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

Ina Garten
* If frosting a sheet cake, I like to halve the recipe since you’re not covering as much area. This frosting is rich!
Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
10 tbsp butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
Directions:
Beat all ingredients except the cream in a mixer on low until creamy. Add the cream and beat on high until fluffy and smooth.

 

 

You are going to LOVE this!! Enjoy!
-L

CARAMEL COVERED CINNAMON ROLLS

My mom usually makes these for special brunches, but these are so good they should be shared with all of you! You must make the dough OVERNIGHT – sorry! But the good news is you’ll just pop them in the oven, make the caramel sauce while they bake, and have the yummiest smell filling your home! It’s Christmas Eve, and I just put the rolls into the fridge to rise overnight. Cannot wait to bake them tomorrow!

 

CINNAMON ROLL INGREDIENTS

2 packages of yeast (or 4 1/2 tsps)

5-6 cups bread flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup very hot water

1/2 cup softened butter

2 eggs

 

FILLING INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon (mix with the sugar)

 

CARAMEL SAUCE INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp karo syrup (you can sub maple syrup)

 

MAKE THE DOUGH THE NIGHT BEFORE:

Combine TWO CUPS of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.

Add hot water to dry ingredients all at once.

Beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add butter.

Add eggs one at a time,

Stir in remaining 3-4 cups of flour gradually. Use just enough to make soft dough which leaves the sides of the bowl.

Turn onto floured counter and knead 5-10 minutes or use a bread dough hook and mix for 3 minutes.

Cover with plastic then a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Roll dough into a about a 12×24″ rectangle.

Spread melted butter then sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture on top.

Roll up length wise (on the 24″ side).

Cut with a serrated knife into about 12 slices (see my ugly little bun on the corner? That was the two ends of the roll mushed together lol.

Place face side up on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet WITH SPACES in between. They will puff up lots and fill up most of the space on the tray. Made that mistake before and OMG they were massive and weird looking.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 

When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator, uncover, and let stand 10 minutes while preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

Puncture any surface bubbles with a greased toothpick.

Bake 20-25 minutes. (check centers with toothpick until comes out just clean. Rolls will be slightly browned but don’t overdo it! I would always rather they were a little gooey than a little dry!

 

MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE:

While the rolls are baking, place 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tbsp Karo syrup in a large saucepan.

Boil slowly for approximately 10 minutes.

Keep a careful watch and stir it down if it boils up high at first. Let cook until deep caramel colored but don’t let it burn! This happens very quickly.

Pour over the rolls as soon as they’re out of the oven.

Enjoy!

 

GINGERSNAP CARAMEL PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE



I found these gingersnaps… mainly purchased for the tin… and OMG they are so good! I thought that in order to not eat the entire tin in one day, I better use them for a pie to be shared. Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to turn these cookies into the crust for a gingersnap caramel pumpkin cheesecake! I had extra batter since I used a smaller springform pan, and made 6 minis- so cute and easy. I actually liked the balance between crust and filling on the minis better than the cake… both great, don’t get me wrong. If you have extra minis, they would be perfect to drop off on a neighbor’s porch (which I did) since many cannot get home to see their families. Effing Covid.

Gingersnap Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Scroll down for the mini version (you don’t necessarily need to make a crust for this- just use the unbroken cookie as the base).

 

Crust and cheesecake via The Pioneer Woman

Caramel sauce via The Brown Eyed Baker

 

 

Crust Ingredients (for minis you just need the cookies):

12 oz. (about 54) gingersnaps plus 8-10 extras for the topping – THESE are the best!

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 dash of salt

 

Caramel Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup granulate sugar

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

1 tsp sea salt

2/3 heavy cream

 

Filling Ingredients:

packages (8 0z. packages) cream cheese

1 1/2 c. sugar

can 15-ounce pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

4 whole eggs

2 tbsp. heavy cream

 

Equipment:

food processor (or ziplock bag and a rolling pin could substitute)

9″ or 10″ springform pan

muffin liners or ramekins if you’re making minis

parchment paper

rimmed baking sheet

 

1. Make the crust:

Lightly butter a 9″ or 10″ springform pan. In a food processor (or large Ziploc bag), crush gingersnaps. Add chopped pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, and pulse (or mix) until thoroughly combined. Press into bottom and sides of the springform pan. Chill crust for 20-30 minutes.

 

2. Make the caramel sauce:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, but that’s okay – it will melt eventually – just keep whisking. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. At that point, whisk in the salt, and then add the butter all at once and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the heavy cream (it will foam up when first added). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before using.

 

3. Make the filling:

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and spices and mix again. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each addition. Add cream and mix until just combined.

 

4. Assemble the cake:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. I did not not do this and the caramel leaked through and burned my oven… yikes. Pour a little less than half of the caramel sauce onto the crust (I prefer more on top of the cake), moving the springform pan around so that it coats the sides and bottom. Save the rest of the caramel in an airtight container for the top of the cake before serving. Put the crust back in the fridge to set. Pour the filling into the caramel-coated crust and fill up to the top of the crust. If you have extra filling, see below suggestion for minis. Place the cheesecake on top of the parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake 350 degrees, 1 hour and 15-30 minutes until jiggly but not soupy. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight. Remove rim of the pan then use a spatula to carefully remove the bottom of the pan and transfer it to a serving platter. Pour the rest of the caramel sauce on top. Top with crumbled gingersnaps. Slice and eat!

 

For minis:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place muffin liners or ramekins (lightly butter these) on the baking sheet. Instead of making a crust, just place a whole gingersnap cookie on the bottom of the liner. Cover it with a little caramel. When this bakes, the cookie and caramel will fuse together into a soft delicious crust. Fill each about half way with the cheesecake filling. Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes until jiggly but not soupy. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. They look cute in their liners or ramekins plus… it’s easier… no need to transfer! Top each mini with remaining caramel sauce and crumbled gingersnaps before serving.

 

xo

Leah

RBG COLLAR

All rise! This easy DIY Ruth Bader Ginsburg collar is the perfect halloween costume honoring the notorious RBG. Use whatever material you have around the house- felt, paper, an old sweatshirt, whatever. I cut this out from a reusable grocery tote bag and taped jewels on.

On this other version (modeled by my brother lol), I just drew lines and circles with a white paint pen. You can also jazz it up with jewels or pearls.

WHAT YOU NEED:

fabric / felt / grocery bag / old shirt

paint pen / paint / sharpie

scissors

string

hole punch

extra credit: jewels or pearls (I used strong double stick tape)

 

  1. Print out templates. To cut out and trace on another material, click HERE. To print out in black and white and use as your actual collar (like if you’re printing it to use on paper), click HERE.
  2. Cut out collar and trace
  3. Punch holes in either corner and string
  4. Decorate!

 

ROSH HASHANAH TREAT BOARD

Happy New Year to those who celebrate! I created a cheese-board-like creation with my favorite Rosh Hashanah treats: homemade challah, honey cake, and apples & honey. Also this wooden platter is the PERFECT size, food safe, and $39. Scroll down for the recipes!

HONEY CAKE

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • tablespoon baking powder
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • cup vegetable oil
  • cup honey
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • eggs (at room temperature)
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup plus 2 TBSP brewed coffee (warm)
  • ½ cup plus 2 TBSP orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray then line with parchment paper, leaving an inch overhang on each side.
  2. In a large bowl (no need for an electric mixer), whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and orange juice.
  3. Stir together with a wooden spoon or spatula until all ingredients are well-blended, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes. The cake should be SLIGHTLY jiggly. I like to set my timer to 30 minutes and check 3 minutes at a time. If it jiggles like pudding, it needs a couple more minutes. I hate dry bread, so undercooking it a tad keeps it moist.
  6. Immediately grab the parchment paper and pop out of the pans so it doesn’t keep cooking in the pan. See how the photo has that yummy looking puddle in the middle? That’s the good stuff. The bottom of this cake bakes up FAST, so you really don’t want it to burn.

RECIPE NOTES:

This recipe can be made in two standard loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9- or 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9×13-inch sheet cake, but baking times will differ.
Now onto the challah…

 

CHALLAH

This is my favorite challah recipe! IT. IS. SO. GOOD. Our family friend, Carol, shared this recipe with my mom and me, and we will forever be grateful. Chewy and slightly sweet. Spread butter on a slice and drizzle with a little honey. I usually like to braid a 4 part braid and form into a ring so that the challah bakes evenly all around (SEE POST HERE), but I wanted it smaller for the board- see this braiding technique for a round challah HERE. We traditionally bake a round challah for holidays.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tsp honey
1 pkg yeast
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs (+ 1 egg for egg wash – see notes for alternatives)
4 c bread flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Dissolve 1 tsp honey in 1/2 c. warm water in large mixing bowl which has been rinsed with hot water.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top, mix, let stand 10 min.
  3. Stir in oil, 1/2 c. warm water, sugar, 1 tsp honey, salt, eggs, and 2 c. flour. Beat well.
  4. Stir in remaining 2 c. flour. Dough will be sticky.
  5. Knead 2-3 minutes with a bread hook attachment or turn onto a floured board and knead.
  6. Round up in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 2 hrs. It should have doubled in size. Gently put finger in top; if dough stays indented, it’s finished. If it bounces back, continue to rise.
  7. Punch down, cover, let rise again 45 min.
  8. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Divide into sections and braid (ring instructions HERE, round instructions HERE), tucking in the ends.
  9. Cover, rise 20-30 minutes.
  10. Brush with beaten egg yolk and 1 tsp water (or sub- see below). Optional: sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  11. Bake 400 degrees 15-20 min. The last 5 minutes or so, you can cover the top with foil so it doesn’t get too brown. Put a toothpick in the center of a braid and check for doneness. My mom and I like to under bake it just a tad so it doesn’t dry out- we like it a tiny bit gooey but it’s all to your preference.
  12. Eat! Delicious with butter and /or honey. Perfect the next morning for french toast.

RECIPE NOTES:

I always run out of eggs for the egg wash! You can sub with melted butter before you put it in the oven then a little when you take it out. I also spread a little honey on top to really take it to the next level.

xo

Leah