Best and Easiest Chocolate Cake Recipes
December 16, 2013 9:33 AM   Subscribe

In a fit of limerance I told my new dating partner that I would make them a birthday cake of their choice since their birthday falls on Christmas Eve and they never get one. They want something chocolate and decadent. I used to bake all the time so I have the skills but life stress has zapped my energy. What are your easiest and most decadent chocolate cake recipes so I can please her in the spirit that I intended?
posted by kanata to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
This recipe is really similar to what we do, albeit with no orange extract. The dark chocolate ganache is what makes it so decadent, IMO - you could do that same topping on any chocolate cake.
posted by muddgirl at 9:40 AM on December 16, 2013

This is my stand-by - 3 ingredients - eggs, butter, chocolate - can add a little liqueur if you're so inclined. Few minutes prep and into the oven. Decadent as all get out with a little whipped cream or berry sorbet or even just raspberry jam with a little Chambord missed in.
posted by leslies at 9:40 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Depending on how lazy you're feeling, you can make chocolate cake in a slow cooker that's dead easy and fantastic. It tastes pretty decadent especially with vanilla ice cream, but I can see someone being disappointed if they were finally getting a birthday cake and then it didn't even look like one or have their name written in icing. But I figured I should throw it out there because it's delicious.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:41 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I heartily second rasberry jam.
posted by muddgirl at 9:41 AM on December 16, 2013

This is the easiest chocolate cake I know, and it's pretty good. If you bake it as a layer cake and frost it with a good chocolate frosting, I think you will have met your obligation. (My mother made this cake regularly when I was growing up - I mean, it's a vegan cake but not, like, soft tofu and agave vegan.)

Make a double recipe in four layers (or two layers and split them horizontally) and frost with a confectioners' sugar-melted chocolate-vanilla frosting.

Also, decrease the sugar by 1 T.
To complexify it, substitute 1/4 whole wheat flour and 1/4C dark brown sugar.
posted by Frowner at 9:41 AM on December 16, 2013

I like America's Test Kitchen's Emergency Chocolate Cake recipe.

But my sister, who does fancy cakes as a hobby has said that cake mixes are pretty great too.

Use the one that calls for a stick of butter, you can't go wrong with butter. Then add yummy things to the batter. Chocolate chips are good.

Or just make the cake as is. Get a can of chocolate frosting, Ice the cake. Then embed mini chocolate chips into the sides. Pretty and yummy.

If you want, put Marshmallow Fluff between layers, then ice with regular frosting, then chocolate chips.

You can throw some pretty tasty stuff into cake batter.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:42 AM on December 16, 2013

Easy and ridonkulously delicious. About the most decadent thing I have ever consumed in my entire life.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:42 AM on December 16, 2013

A cack almost identical showed up at many birthdays growing up. My grandmother added in a teaspoon of cinnamon though, changes everything. There's a LOT of butter which makes it so so moist and decadent and it's pretty easy to make. Mostly because you don't have to worry about making a pretty frosting layer on the outside.
posted by missriss89 at 9:42 AM on December 16, 2013

I did this Cherry Chocolate tart for my SO's b'day this year. It ain't cheap and takes a bit of effort but is eminently doable and not too fiddly. It is very rich, horribly bad for you but should do well brownie point wise.

I've done this popping-candy chocolate cake before and it was also well received, it is effectively chocolate mousse on a chocolate crumb base with a chocolate glaze on top (I would add 50% to the suggested ingredient numbers for the glaze, it didn't go far). Again, pretty decadent and rich, bit more fiddly then the cherry option above.
posted by biffa at 9:43 AM on December 16, 2013

Yeah, if you are really low on energy, a boxed cake mix with a real jam filling and icing will go a long way. I honestly think a lot of what signals "decadence" is how the cake is prepared - if the layers are trimmed right and the frosting looks nice and even decorated, it will appear and taste more decadent than if you make the best recipe but the end result looks sloppy.
posted by muddgirl at 9:48 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I made this Chocolate Sour Cream (or Greek yogurt) Bundt Cake recently when struck by a violent need for chocolate cake that could be made with stuff I had on hand. It was delicious.
posted by cecic at 9:50 AM on December 16, 2013

I'mma give you an extra tip that will pump up whatever general cake recipe you use - focus on how you FROST it. Because I just this weekend tried a frosting approach which was ridiculously easy and will pump up any cake.

You will need:

half a stick of butter
4 oz. of dark chocolate
3 Tablespoons of cream
2/3 cup of powdered sugar

1. Whatever cake recipe you go with, bake it so you have two layers.

2. Frost just the top of the bottom layer with the Nutella (as much as you want). Plop the top layer on top of that.

3. Melt the butter and the chocolate together in a saucepan. When it's just all melted together, whisk in the cream, and then whisk in the powdered sugar until it's really smooth.

4. Let it cool down a minute or so - you want it to still be warm, but not to be as runny as all shit.

5. Then pour the chocolate/butter/cream combo over the top of your cake, giving it gentle nudges with a knife so it more or less evenly drizzles down the sides.

You can even decorate the top with chopped hazlenuts if you want to get real fancy.

I just this weekend decorated a gluten-free cake that way; I was making it for friends, and using a recipe I'd never tried before. I frosted it that way because no matter what condition the cake itself is in, you can't go wrong with something that's got Nutella and melted chocolate on it. It looked fancy as all hell and was BUTT simple.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Wacky Cake! This is my favorite and easiest chocolate cake. There are many recipes, but this one should work fine.

This cake with a frosting made from a bag of dark chocolate chips and 1/4 cup sour cream is my all-time favorite chococake.

Wiki link.
posted by jason6 at 9:53 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

My sister, who owns a bakery, made this cake for my wedding. It's super simple, reliable, and incredibly chocolatey.
3 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
2 t. Baking soda
1 t. Salt
2 c. Sugar

2 c. water
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. olive oil

sift dry ingredients
whisk together wet
whisk wet into dry until all well combined
bake at 350

Makes a 10 inch cake.

Chocolate Ganache frosting:
equal parts chocolate  (chips or chopped) and hot heavy cream.

Pour cream over chocolate, wait a few minutes, whisk until smooth.  
Pour ganache over cake, or wait until almost set and spread on with a palette knife.
posted by rouftop at 10:06 AM on December 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

A Midnight Cake very similar to this recipe (the original handwritten one was lost in a basement flood) was Mom's default dessert for most of my childhood. People would request it for potlucks and church suppers, and when they were angling for dinner invitations.

She usually made it in the beautiful Corningware casserole I thought had been a wedding gift, until a few years ago when I found out it was something the dog had brought home one day.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:12 AM on December 16, 2013

I was coming to recommend sour cream bundt cake from a half assed half remembered recipe that I made up like 10 years ago but I see someone has already posted a real recipe with actual amounts! So I will second that suggestion and add that IMO if you use sour cream you should always use slightly more than the recipe calls for, because that is the law of sour cream deliciousness. If you use the greek yogurt instead, it will have a slightly more dense cheesecakey texture than it will with the sour cream, which will give it a very moist crumb.

As that recipe calls for 1/2 cup I might go as high as 2/3 cup, or at the very least 1/2 cup + two large tablespoons.
posted by elizardbits at 10:24 AM on December 16, 2013

ALSO I personally would eschew the glaze and serve with creme fraiche instead but ymmv.
posted by elizardbits at 10:27 AM on December 16, 2013

They want something chocolate and decadent.

Ignore everyone else, their recipe is wrong. The best, easiest, most decadent and most raved about chocolate cake I've ever made (and I've made many, and made this one many times) is the BBC's Ultimate Chocolate Cake. Don't mess around with pointless substitutes.

I have used whatever sugar I have rather than what is listed with no issue. If you can do a mix of brown and white that's good, otherwise don't stress too much. I have also used flour from different countries without issue. It is, as always, worth buying really good chocolate.

Basically, you throw the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the wet stuff and the warm melted chocolate and it all mixes together wonderfully easily. The warm chocolate seems to really help with this. So no fussing about creaming this or over-mixing that or beating in air or whatever, you get a really nice batter without trying and a great crumb on the cake to match

I never mess around with layering or filling it or whatever. Just make the chocolate ganache quite thick (so it pours but won't all run off), make sure the cake is cold, then pour it over to give a thick coating. The cake keeps well too so you can make it ahead of time if needed.

Your dating partner will love you and all thanks can be directed to the BBC.
posted by shelleycat at 11:36 AM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Adding a teaspoon of instant coffee granules, especially espresso, to any chocolate cake or cookies recipe boosts the chocolate flavor without it tasting like mocha. (Do not be alarmed if the batter tastes like mocha. It mellows out when baked.)
posted by telophase at 11:54 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The cake on the back of the unsweetened Hershey's cocoa can is delicious and so very easy. I also make the frosting recipe that is on the can. You can substitute hot coffee for the boiling water. I make the recipe as written on the canister but some say the coffee sends it to over the top yummy.
posted by Fairchild at 11:56 AM on December 16, 2013

I second shelleycat's recipe, although I haven't tried that particular one. Of all the chocolate cakes I have baked, the best ones have always been made with melted chocolate and buttermilk. Don't be fooled by recipes calling for cocoa powder--it's just not the same.
posted by gueneverey at 12:02 PM on December 16, 2013

Man most of these recipes look good but please check with your SO if they are into fruit + chocolate. If I asked someone to make me a chocolate cake and it ended up having raspberry or something in it, I'd be grossed out and we'd both end up upset! I know many other chocoholics who feel the same way, so I'd hate for you to spend all that time and effort and have her end up disappointed. Good luck!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 12:46 PM on December 16, 2013

Seconding the "Wacky Cake" recommendation. I started baking that recipe by myself when I was 10, and it's been a default "throw a cake together" ever since. It's incredibly resilient to all sorts of screwups.
posted by Runes at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I made Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce for a work shindig last week. It's got a pound of butter, a pound of chocolate, and eight eggs in it. I think it qualifies as decadent, and it's always a big hit.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2013

I have to second the Pioneer Woman one. I'm not even much of a sweets person, but my sister served this still warm and I haven't stopped thinking about it since (note to self: make one for Christmas).

It won't look decadent, but my god it will taste it and will not disappoint, like an attempt to do something fancier could.
posted by kitcat at 2:45 PM on December 16, 2013

Don't make the vegan cake that somebody up above recommended. It's dry and bland.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 6:41 AM on December 17, 2013

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