Rich, decadent, and so indulgent, this death by chocolate cake is a must for all chocolate lovers.
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Say hello to our new favorite dessert.
I know I’m being presumptuous by saying that. And yes I don’t even know if you like chocolate and, yes, it’s possible that even if you like chocolate you don’t actually want to die of it.
(Although death by chocolate cake sounds like a delicious way to go.)
Normally I don’t like to presume things about people but I’m all hopped up on chocolate cake and whipped ganache filling and I don’t know quite where my head is. But hey, you’re in luck! I promised I’d show you the tools I use to make the frosting REALLY smooth on cakes, and that’s something I can tell you all about even in a chocolate coma.
Smooth frosting is necessary for drip cakes. Sort of—you can, of course, add a drip to a cake that with bumpy frosting, but your drip won’t drip down the cake smoothly. You’ll have some jagged little hiccups. It’ll be delicious, but it won’t be the perfect cake my perfectionist self is aiming for.
As a bonus, the tips below will also help you avoid crumb coating your cake! Cue the confetti and balloons!
Do I have to do a crumb coat?
NOPE! (To back up, a crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting you put on your cake to seal in the cake crumbs. Slap on your crumb coat, refrigerate to set the frosting, then it’s easier to avoid getting crumbs in your final layer of frosting.)
But I’m lazy and prefer to avoid that extra step.
Forever ago, I took a cake decorating class and one of the tools we used was this cake icer tip—it forever changed the way I frost cakes. You can use this tip both for filling cakes and for frosting them. It’s the key to avoiding a crumb coat; because your spatula/frosting smoother never touches the cake, the crumbs don’t get into the frosting. You’ll love it!
How to get a smooth coat of frosting
I like to use this turntable when I’m frosting cakes because it’s SO much easier to rotate the cake than to rotate myself around it. Pipe frosting on the outside of the cake, rotating the turn table.
Then use a frosting smoother to smooth it out. I prefer this smoother to an offset spatula because I feel like I have better control (and those smoothers are super inexpensive), but use what you prefer.
Hold the smoother at an angle to the cake and press lightly against the frosting as you rotate the turntable. A few times around will probably be all you need but if the frosting isn’t smoothing to your liking then run the smoother under hot water and smooth it again.
And that’s it! Perfectly smooth cake, ready for eating or decorating.
Notes on making death by chocolate cake
The chocolate cake layers are really simple and moist, without being overly rich—since the filling is made of whipped ganache I didn’t want the cake itself to be too rich.
If you’re a chocolate purist and think white chocolate has no place in this world, then don’t add the white chocolate drip. You won’t hurt my feelings.
When you make your ganache drip (or drips if you use the white chocolate) you’ll want to be sure your ganache is thin enough to drip down the side of your cake, but not so thin that it runs off the top.
Baker’s tip: When making ganache for a drip cake, if the ganache is too thin after you stir in the cream, just let it sit at room temperature until it thickens enough. Simple! You don’t need to start over with new ganache.
I topped my cake with chocolate hazelnut truffles but you could use plain chocolate or anything else you can dream up.
And now I have to stop writing because I’m going into chocolate withdrawals. You can bet I’ll be eating another (teeny tiny) piece of death by chocolate cake sometime in the near future. And by near future I mean about three seconds from now. And by teeny tiny I meant a slice the size of my head. It’s that good, people!
If you make this death by chocolate cake, be sure to leave me a comment and a rating below–let me know what you think! Post a pic over on Instagram too. Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see!
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups warm coffee you can substitute flat cola
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 4 to 6 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Oreo cookie crumbs for decorating optional
- 6 ounces white chocolate finely chopped*
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 5 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with more cooking spray, and set pans aside.
Combine the sugar, butter, and oil in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then slowly add the coffee until just incorporated. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until the cakes spring back when touched gently with your fingertip. Let cake layers cool in pans for 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the pans to cool completely on a wire rack.
While your cake layers are cooling, make the filling. Place heavy cream in a small pot set over medium heat; heat until cream just starts to steam.
Place chocolate in a medium mixing bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Allow to sit for 4 minutes, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Beat the cooled ganache with an electric mixer set to low; gradually increase the speed to medium-high. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until the ganache becomes light and fluffy.
If your cake layers have domed, use a long serrated knife to trim them. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle and spread half of the whipped ganache over the top in an even layer. (Taping an acetate cake collar around your cake is helpful to prevent the ganache from seeping out. If you don’t have cake collars you can chill your ganache until it sets up but is still spreadable.)
Top with a second cake layer and spread the remaining ganache over the top. Top with the third cake layer. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes (or until ganache is set), then make the frosting.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until very smooth, about 30 seconds. With mixer set to low, gradually beat in 4 cups of the powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons milk, and the salt. Turn mixer to medium and beat until well combined, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar; it it’s too thick add additional milk.
Pipe (see instructions in post) or spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Take care to get the frosting as smooth as possible so your ganache can drip down the sides of the cake nicely. Use a frosting smoother or an offset spatula to achieve this. Press cookie crumbs around the bottom of the cake if desired. Chill frosted cake overnight.
Heat your heavy cream in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds, until very hot but not boiling. Place your white chocolate in a small bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Let sit for 4 minutes, then whisk until completely smooth. If ganache is too thick to drip nicely, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.**
Transfer to a squeeze bottle (or a large zip-top plastic bag with one corner snipped off) and squeeze a line of white chocolate around the perimeter of the chilled cake, squeezing harder in some places to create drips down the side of the cake. Use the remaining ganache to fill in the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ganache is set, then make the dark chocolate drip.
Heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, until very hot but not boiling. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 4 minutes. Whisk until completely smooth.
Transfer the ganache to a plastic squeeze bottle (or a large zip-top plastic bag with one corner snipped off). Squeeze a circle of ganache around the edge of the cake on top of the white chocolate, applying a little extra pressure at certain points to create drips. Carefully spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cake. If desired, decorate the top of the cake with chocolate candies. Refrigerate to set the ganache, then slice and serve.
*Don’t use white chocolate chips
**When making your ganache drip, if the ganache is too thin after you stir in the cream, just let it sit at room temperature until it thickens sufficiently.
Cake layers adapted from The New Best of Betterbaking.com