Plate-Lickingly Good Chocolate Cake! (Henri’s TWO Birthday Cakes)

Chocolate cake recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Henri Turned 10 this month and the celebrating has been at a feverish pitch for weeks. It is a big year when your little baby hits double digits and becomes a Tweenager. On his actual birthday we celebrated with our family. He wanted to rent the movie Grease (one of his babysitters was recently in the play at the high school), have sushi and eat chocolate cake! It sounded like a fantastic idea to me. After 20+ years I’d forgotten about some of the racy content in the movie, which they edited out of the high school play, Oooops! Luckily we were watching at home and could fast forward through the more “educational” scenes!

The cake he chose was amazing. I used my Devil’s Food Cake recipe and topped it with Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Malted Buttercream. A bunch of chocolate shavings made it look festive, but it was so simple to put together.

Henri’s Chocolate B-day Cake:

1/2 recipe of Devil’s Food Cake (baked in an 8 by 3-Inch cake pan for about 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean)

Chocolate Malt Buttercream by Dorie Greenspan in Baking: From My Home to Yours:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup Malted Milk Powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup boiling water

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch salt

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Prepare and cool the Devil’s Food Cake

To Prepare the Buttercream:

Melting chocolate with brown sugar | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and 1/2 of the brown sugar.

Stirring malted milk powder into melted chocolate | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Stir together the malted milk powder, cocoa and boiling water in a small bowl. Once the chocolate has melted add the malted milk mixture and whisk gently until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Mixing chocolate buttercream in stand mixer | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and remaining 1/2 of the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla. Turn the speed down and add the cooled chocolate mixture to the butter. Scrape down the bowl and continue mixing. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth.

Chocolate cake topped with chocolate buttercream | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Cut the cake into 2 or 3 layers. Fill the layers with the malted buttercream and then cover the outside with more icing.

Shaving chocolate bar with chef's knife | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

using a chefs knife you can make the chocolate shavings from a large block of chocolate. The backside of the chocolate is generally smooth and if you just scrape the blade against the chocolate it will curl up into shavings.

Chocolate cake covered with chocolate shavings | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Cover the top with the shavings and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate cake recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This cake actually got better after a day, the icing was smoother and the flavors popped out more, just cover and leave it at room temperature.

The next party was a sleepover with Henri’s buddies from school. They came over, we went to see Star Trek and then they came back to the house for cake, ice cream and a mostly sleepless night! Henri designed T-shirts to give to the kids and wanted me to make a cake to match. He and Charlie had so much fun designing the shirts they decided to start a T-shirt business, more to come on that! This cake was a marbled yellow cake inspired by Shirley O. Corriher’s Magnificent moist Golden Cake in BakeWise with his favorite cream cheese icing.

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62 thoughts to “Plate-Lickingly Good Chocolate Cake! (Henri’s TWO Birthday Cakes)”

  1. These cakes look fantastic! YUM! The chocolate shavings are gorgeous, and I love the second cake (cream cheese frosting is one of my favorites!). I recently made a cream cheese frosting and added some bourbon (more adult than kid… Very tasty! Henri is truly lucky! Can’t wait to try out the recipes!

  2. I have that book too, but till now i have not made this cake and now you are tempting me to make them, they look so so delicous, wish i had a huge slice.

  3. Just in time! My gf birthday is in about a weeks time. Now I have to gather some cake pans. This looks excellent!

  4. If we keep the whole Devil’s Food recipe will that make two normal cake pans worth? Would we then double the icing recipe?

  5. Hi Matthew,

    Yeah, the full recipe will fill two 9×2 cake pans. I’d double the icing, just to make sure you have plenty to fill and decorate the cakes. You may have a bit left over, but just freeze it and you can use it later for cupcakes or just to eat with a spoon! 😉

    Thanks, Zoë

  6. This looks just wonderful. I saw it on tastespotting and was intrigued by the butter cream. Your photography is gorgeous. Happy Birthday Henri.

  7. Congrats to Henri! His cake looked yummy 🙂 Thanks for the step-by-step, I find those very useful! good job at the chocolate curls, I have yet to master those bad boys!

  8. Oh yum. It’s no wonder Henri is grinning away … I would too. This looks delish and I’m having a choc craving right now.

  9. Hi Steph,

    I think I liked the cake better the second day because the consistency of the icing was nicer. The brown sugar melted into the chocolate a bit. it does have a slight grain, but certainly not enough to adversely effect the icing.

    You could make the frosting the day before and let it sit, unrefrigerated until you are ready to decorate the cake.

    Enjoy, Zoë

  10. Wow wow wow! Omgoodness I’ve never wanted chocolate cake so badly before!

    I hope your son had an amazing birthday! I certainly know he had one amazing cake.

  11. Hi Zoe. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It looks like a wonderful combination and I can’t wait to try it, especially since I recently got some malt powder from King Arthur Flour. I also got a chuckle out of your Grease “review.” We had a similar experience when we went to see it in the theater with friends a few years ago. We were astounded with the “adult” themes/content that we had no recollection of from when we first saw it in high school 30 years ago. Funny how being a parent can change your perspective! Thanks again!


  12. What lucky dude!!! Your creation looks so delicious. I’ve making chocolate cupcakes with colorful gummy decoration for my lil’ boy’s birthday for the past two years. I will do it differently next. Thanks!

  13. What a celebration! Henri is a charmer, happy birthday to him! I love the Devil’s Food Cake and yours looks so sophisticated (especially the chocolate shavings)! How can I resist that much chocolate?? For great chocolate recipes, also check out Dove Chocolate Discoveries’ website. Yummy!

  14. Henri – you ROCK! Nice cake – and the t-shirts have been washed TWICE from use in our house! When can I get mine?? I am a medium…I’ll pay you in cash, dude! 🙂

    Looks awesome, as always! xxoo J

  15. Happy Birthday to Henri! Both cakes look absolutely amazing. To think I had boring ‘fruit flan’ when I turned 10! 😛

  16. What a great birthday cake. I just wish that my mother would have utilized me more in the kitchen when I was younger.

    At d Bar we are playing with agar agar. I have tried 2 different brands. Do you have a preference? I am struggling with the formed cubes setting.

  17. This post inspired me to write the following:

    I’ve got zero cake making experience aside from boxed mixes(thus no pans or stands or covers or ways to transport. What I’m wondering is if you can do a post in the future on easy but impressive cake piping techniques and cake making tips?

    Or point to some good sites that are thorough about it.

  18. Hi Matthew,

    How exciting that you want to learn more about cake baking. It is a wonderful skill. If you search the categories section of the website under “cake” you will find many helpful hints on all kinds of different cake styles, including decorating and assembling.

    Thanks! Zoë

  19. Two fabulous cakes! I’m so impressed. I wish I could have a slice of both. Happy bday, Henri! Sorry that I’ve been an absent commenter; I just finished up my law school exams and am finally getting around to my google reader.

  20. That looks really yummy,I will try your reciepe but use our Dove Chocolate Discoveries Chocolate.

    I hope he had a very Happy Birthday !!

    Join my Team Of Chocolate Lovers,become a Dove Chocolatier.

  21. I just finished making the devils food cake and buttercream frosting for my son’s 9th birthday today! It turned out amazing! (If the crumbs and licked frosting beaters are anything like the real one, my kids give it a thumbs up!

  22. Love the fancy cake. So much more than I could ever put together!!

    But I love the t-shirt cake even more. What a fun idea to have your son design t-shirts and give them out. Love that!! And a cake to match? Brilliant 🙂

    I have my son’s bday cake on my blog right now, but it’s not so fancy!!

  23. This is now my new favorite chocolate cake recipe!!!!! I’ve made it twice, first time for my son’s birthday (requested chocolate cake and chocolate frosting….and steak of course!) and then again for the big family b-day party (used it as the 2nd layer of a guitar cake). Both times this recipe turned out GREAT! LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Wow! That DOES look divine! Even my husband would eat that. (He doesn’t like cake or frosting–unless its chocolate decadent like this and not too much cake! YUM!

  25. Hi Honey!

    What a beautiful recipe, thank you for sharing!

    I love it so much I’ve included it the “Top 21 Chocolate Cake recipe posts on twitter”

    Keep up the good work!


  26. Zoe,
    I love the cakes stand. Where could I find one that is similar and does it have a top? I am looking for a great chocolate cake for my husband. I have made 4 or 5 home made chocolate cakes in the last 2 years and he still likes a box cake better. Go figure…

  27. hey zoe! i ve made your outrageous mocha buttercream for a friend bday and it totally rocked…now im back to bake another one for valentines day and i thought id give this a shot..sure looks awesome!!! =) though in our neck of the foods its hard to come by malted powder…will horlicks do??

  28. Zoe,

    Unsalted butter is hard to find in India. Is it advisable to use salted butter in the cake and buttercream?


  29. Hi Zoe! I watch your videos on youtube all the time and you make things seem so easy 🙂 I am going to make this cake for my boyfriends bd tommorow , I only have a 9” spring cake pan , is that ok? seeing as it will be thinner should I bake it for less time?

  30. Hi Zoe,
    What a fabulous site you have! So many scrumptious-looking yummies! I’d like to make this icing but simply as chocolate, i.e. minus the malt, as my sweetheart isn’t a big fan of it. Do I need to adjust for the missing malt, like add 1/4 cup more of the confectioner’s sugar, or should I just leave it out and not worry about it?
    Thanks very much!

    1. Hi Liz,

      I think you can safely just leave it out, but if it is too soft, then add a touch more confectioners’ sugar.

      Thanks and enjoy, Zoë

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