This Hot Chocolate Layer Cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes is the perfect cold weather dessert, although it would be equally as excellent in the summer or spring or fall. You get the picture, it’s great for any occasion. With hot chocolate as its inspiration, it has layers of Devil’s food, slathered with a deep, dark, luscious chocolate icing, that is like whipped ganache, but better, then I topped the whole thing in homemade marshmallows. I am not a big fan of bagged marshmallows, which taste like sweet, dried out sponges, but the homemade version are amongst my favorite treats. When they are toasted, with a torch, of course, they are soft, melty and delicious. You can flavor them with anything from vanilla to cardamom, or even swirl in chocolate.
I made this cake twice, once with my tried and true Devil’s food and then again for my friend, Stephanie Meyer’s birthday. Stephanie (Fresh Tart) doesn’t eat gluten, so I made the cake with a gluten-free flour blend and it came out just great. This cake was inspired by a cake I saw years ago in Fine Cooking Magazine.
To take the hot chocolate cake to the next level (and in a S’more direction) toast the marshmallows with a blow torch!
If you are not a toasted marshmallow fan, you can go without.
Serve the hot chocolate cake at room temperature. It can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours, then covered and refrigerated for a couple of days.
- 8 tablespoons (112g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) mild-flavored oil (such as vegetable oil)
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 5 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (60g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (sifted if lumpy)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream, plus more as needed
- 1 cup (220g) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 16 oz (450g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups (300g) confectioners' sugar (sifted if lumpy)
- Toasted Marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C. Generously grease the three 8-inch / 20cm cake pans, then line them with greased parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.
- Turn the mixer speed to medium, add the oil and sugar to the butter, and beat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and about double in volume.
- Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing each until incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and sour cream.
- Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and add half of the milk mixture, mixing until combined. Repeat with another one-third flour, the remaining milk mixture, and then finish with the final one-third flour. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
- Divide the batter into the prepared pans and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Gently tap the pans on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles.
- Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Remove the parchment paper and place one cake layer on a serving plate.
- Make the frosting: In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, butter, espresso powder, and salt and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring often until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and swirl the pan until the chocolate is submerged in the hot cream. Let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let the mixture cool to room temperature; it will become quite thick as the butter and chocolate set.
- Turn the mixer speed to low, add the confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, and beat until smooth and spreadable. If the frosting is at all grainy, add additional cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it's smooth. The frosting will be quite soft but firm enough to cling to the cake and spread evenly. Use immediately.
- Using a metal decorating spatula, spread 1/4-inch / 6mm-thick layer of the frosting over the cake, making sure it goes all the way to the edge. Place the next cake over the frosting and top with another layer of frosting. Repeat with the last cake. If desired, at this point, you could crumb-coat the cake.
- Decorate the cake with a smooth layer of the remaining frosting. Top with marshmallows.
- Serve the cake immediately or store at room temperature, covered, for up to 48 hours.
The chocolate cakes can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic. They can be frozen for a month.