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Is there anything more celebratory than a slice of cake?

Our take on the classic chocolate variety is decadent and visually striking thanks to the black cocoa powder. Best served with champagne, bien sûr!

How to Make It

Difficulty: Moderate

Overall Time: 2 hrs 45 min

Prep Time: 50 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Serves: 8 to 10



  • ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp black cocoa powder, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


  • 1 cup 35% cream
  • 225 g pkg semi-sweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • ¾ cup black cocoa powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Position rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 325°F. Butter two 8-in round cake pans, then dust the inside edges with 1 tbsp cocoa powder, discarding any excess. Line the bottoms with parchment.
  2. For the cake, sift flour, ¾ cup cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and ¼ tsp salt into a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat ¾ cup butter with granulated and brown sugars in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Reduce speed to low. Beat in half each of flour-mixture and buttermilk until combined. Beat in remaining flour-mixture, buttermilk, and vanilla extract until combined. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and smooth tops.
  4. Bake until a skewer inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then turn cakes out onto the rack. Remove parchment. Let cakes cool completely, about 1 hour.
  5. For the icing, combine chocolate and espresso powder in a large bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Remove immediately and pour over chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Refrigerate chocolate-mixture until cooled, about 30 minutes.
  6. Sift icing sugar and ¾ cup cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Set aside. Beat cooled chocolate-mixture, using an electric mixer on medium speed, to break up ganache. Beat in butter, vanilla extract, and salt until combined. Reduce speed to low. Gradually beat in cocoa-mixture until smooth, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. To assemble cake, place one cake layer on a large plate or cake stand. Lay short strips of parchment paper under edges of cake to protect the plate. Spread 1 ¼ cups icing over cake layer right to the edge. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread ¾ cup icing over top and sides of cake. (It will be a very thin layer.) Refrigerate cake until the icing is firm, about 15 min. Spread remaining icing all over top and sides of cake, using an off-set spatula or the back of a spoon to create dramatic swirls.

How to Store It

Cake can be made ahead and kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Kitchen Tips

Use the butter stick wrappers to grease your baking pans.

Black cocoa powder is cocoa powder that has been heavily dutched or alkalized (removing all acidity). It will give your cake a rich, dark, almost black color. Substitute with an equal amount of dutch process cocoa powder, if desired.

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