Ina Garten’s chocolate cake recipe has a secret.
I’m a sucker for a good cake recipe. Even if it’s not someone’s birthday, I’ll jump at the chance to whip up a tiered treat. When I came across this Ina Garten Chocolate Cake (AKA Beatty’s Chocolate Cake), I knew I had to make it.
This beauty has over 2,000 reviews and maintains a 5-star rating! So one snowy day, I gathered my ingredients and put his recipe to the test. Here’s what happened when I tried to cook like the Barefoot Contessa. And if you don’t want to prepare it at home, you can order it online and have it delivered to your doorstep.
Discover our best chocolate cake recipes.
The famous Ina Garten chocolate cake recipe
- Butter and flour, to grease the molds
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of sugar
- ¾ cups of good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
- 6 ounces of good semi-sweet chocolate (Ina recommends Callebaut)
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/4 cups sifted icing sugar
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
Tools you will need
Step 1: Get ready to bake
I started by preparing my pans and my ingredients. First, I preheated the oven to 350°F. Next, I used butter to grease two 8-inch by 2-inch round cake pans, then placed a circle of parchment in the bottom of the pan, buttered the paper, then lightly coated the surface with flour. (If you’ve never done this before, check out our foolproof guide on how to grease a cake pan.)
Next, I measured all my ingredients. This technique, called mise en place, can create a few extra dishes, but it makes the cooking process much easier. When everything is pre-measured, there’s no need to stop and level a cup of flour or worry about forgetting to add an ingredient.
Get more of Ina’s top cooking tips.
Step 2: Sift the dry ingredients
Once my ingredients were ready to go, I used my KitchenAid Sifter & Scale attachment to quickly combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of my mixer on basement. I mixed the dry ingredients over low heat until well combined.
You can use a traditional sieve or even a mesh sieve if you don’t have one of these fancy KitchenAid accessories.
Step 3: Mix the wet ingredients
Then, in a separate bowl, I combined the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Before adding the buttermilk, I made sure to give it a few quick whisks because Ina specifically mentions in the ingredients section that the buttermilk needs to be shaken. I put my mixer back on low, then slowly incorporated the wet ingredients with the dry ones.
Editor’s Tip: Buttermilk is an invaluable baking ingredient. It adds hard-to-find (but delicious) flavor while creating a more tender cake.
Step 4: Add the secret ingredient
At this point in the recipe, the batter looked (and smelled!) delicious, but I still hadn’t added Ina’s secret ingredient: freshly brewed hot coffee. With my blender on low, I added the coffee until just combined.
Don’t miss all of our secret baking tips to take your treats from good to great!
Editor’s Tip: Adding coffee to your chocolate cake won’t make it taste mocha. Instead, coffee and instant espresso help accentuate the chocolate’s natural flavors.
Step 5: Bake
I divided the batter between my prepared cake pans and put them in the preheated oven. As I poured the mixture, I realized that the batter was really that flows. This made sense – since the recipe called for 2-1/2 cups of liquid – but I was a bit concerned that the cakes wouldn’t firm up.
Step 6: Remove the cakes
After 35 minutes I checked the cakes and they were perfect! Clearly, I had nothing to fear. Ina knew what she was doing. I set my timer again – this time for 30 minutes – to let the cakes cool. When the time was up, I worked a butter knife around the edge of each pan to help loosen the cakes, then invert them onto a wire rack to cool.
Step 7: Melt the chocolate
While the cakes were cooling, I started Ina’s Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. First, I chopped and melted the chocolate in a double boiler. If you don’t have a water bath, it’s very easy to make one. All you have to do is place a heatproof bowl over a few inches of simmering water. And There you go ! Water bath. Once the chocolate has melted, set it aside and let it cool to room temperature.
Check out other easy ways to melt chocolate.
Step 8: Beat butter until fluffy
For the next step, I used a hand mixer to beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. About three minutes should be enough. Then I added the vanilla and continued beating for another three minutes.
By now, you’ve probably noticed that the original Ina Garten chocolate cake recipe calls for an egg yolk. I chose to omit this ingredient because the FDA recommends cooking egg yolks until firm. If you choose to add the egg yolk, you’ll get a richer, more decadent glaze. But honestly, it was just as good without the yolk.
Step 9: Finish the icing
When the butter and vanilla were light and fluffy, I added the icing sugar and blended until creamy.
Next, I measured out 2 teaspoons of hot tap water and dissolved the instant coffee powder in it. While continuing to beat on low speed, I added the chocolate and butter coffee, mixing until combined.
Step 10: Frost the cake
Since the frosting contains melted chocolate, it firms up the longer it sits, so I knew I had to work fast. I started by placing four small pieces of parchment paper around the edges of my cake plate. These would catch the drippings of frosting and keep my cake plate clean while I worked. It’s a frosting technique Taste of home Test the uses of the kitchen.
I placed the first cake, flat side up, on my plate. I used an offset spatula to spread a generous layer of frosting over the first layer. Then I placed the second cake on top of the frosting layer. I used my spatula to glaze the top and sides of the cake. After smoothing the surface, I created texture by gently working my spatula from side to side, creating waves in the icing. Finally, I slipped the pieces of parchment under the cake.
Check out more Test Kitchen frosting tips for a stunning cake.
I cut myself a slice of cake and—Oh. My. My God. It was so good. The coffee really boosted the flavor of the chocolate, creating a dark, rich cake. And the icing? Die for. It was thick, luscious and extremely decadent. I only needed a small piece to feel satisfied.
I asked a few family members to try the cake too. They all agreed it was delicious, but one mentioned it was a bit dark for his taste. She prefers sweeter cakes and is a huge fan of milk chocolate, so keep that in mind if you’re baking for a big sweet tooth! Another tester thought that a fruit curd – like lemon or raspberry – in the middle layer would take this Ina Garten chocolate cake to the next level.
Wait, I’ve seen this recipe before!
If this cake sounds familiar, it’s because Ina’s recipe is the same as Hershey’s Black Magic Cake. She admits on her show, The Barefoot Countessthat the recipe comes from his friend Michael’s grandmother.