I’m all for healthy baking. I absolutely love desserts but they are so high in fat and sugar, and consequently, calories. Instead of completely eliminating them from my diet, I have endeavoured to explore baking healthier versions of old favourites over the years.
Nevertheless, I feel that full-fat, full-sugar, high calorie desserts do have a place in a healthy diet if they are eaten in moderation (and if you maintain an active lifestyle! You know the rules.). Right now I try to limit myself to one or two per week. In addition, even with the best intentions, not all healthy baking attempts end up well.
Two years ago my then-boyfriend-now-husband celebrated his 23rd birthday and I wanted to make him something extra special. I knew that there would be no healthy version of the perfect chocolate cake, so I didn’t even bother. It would also be too easy (and embarrassing) to turn to a pre-made cake mix.
So I made the cake entirely from scratch with two layers, no less. I think this was actually the first time I made a layered cake, since I remember looking up how to cut the tops, ice the cake, etc.
He drove from his hometown in Québec and I surprised him at his home with this amazing cake that afternoon. I made the perfect chicken pot pie from scratch for dinner too, but that’s for another post. THE CAKE TURNED OUT PERFECTLY. Bonus: no need for a stand mixer or electric mixer. I can personally attest to mixing this cake just with a bit of muscle! The taste was absolutely to die for. I think the coffee adds an interesting depth of flavour here.
The perfect chocolate cake a.k.a. the best chocolate cake recipe (ever)
From Add A Pinch
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder – I recommend using the best quality you can afford. I have used both Hershey’s and Fry’s cocoa.
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (or instant coffee if you don’t have espresso powder. I have used both, but I like it better with the espresso powder. I just ground up some coffee beans in an espresso machine.)
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water (essential)
- Chocolate buttercream frosting
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
- Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
- Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
- Frost cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, or store-bought frosting if you don’t have time or motivation. I’ve made only this particular frosting for this cake.
- Decorate cake! In the past I’ve decorated it with strawberries, cherries, and almonds (slivered and crushed – the crushed ones pair well with the cake). I didn’t own a piping set until recently so to make the letters, I’ve melted white chocolate chips in the microwave and made a DIY piping bag from ziplock. Scoop the melted white chocolate into the ziplock and cut a tiny hole at the end. Working quickly, write out the letters on the cake.
I have made this recipe a grand total of three times – for my husband’s birthday (as pictured here), a summer barbecue with university friends, and my cousin’s birthday. Each time it has been a complete hit! This recipe is fool-proof.
The next time you feel a craving for a chocolate cake, MAKE THIS. Your effort will be rewarded a hundredfold!