Dark Chocolate Cake…and a Shake

Someone in this house is turning 39 this week! All right, it’s me. And I’m celebrating with Dark Chocolate Cake…and a Shake. It’s my rendition of the best dessert I’ve had in San Diego (so far), which they make at D Bar in Hillcrest. It’s good old-fashioned chocolate layer cake, with some of the softest chocolate sour cream frosting you’ll ever taste, and served with a little vanilla shake on the side. It’s my birthday, I can indulge a little!

Can we talk about the frosting first? I hope you can tell from the photos how almost mousse-like this frosting is. It starts with melted chocolate, rather than cocoa powder, and gets its creaminess (and subtle tangy flavor) from sour cream. When I tried this cake with this frosting at D Bar (it’s the recipe they use) I couldn’t get over how homemade and never-been-refrigerated it tasted. You may want to make this cake for the frosting alone.

The cake itself is probably a familiar one – it’s the recipe from the back of Hershey’s cocoa powder, although this time I used the Special Dark powder to step up the chocolate intensity. A notable feature about this recipe is its use of boiling water as an ingredient – the batter turns incredibly thin, but in the end you’ve got super-moist, fluffy cake and deeper chocolate flavor. After I posted a cupcake version of this recipe three years ago, a reader commented that she loves to bake this cake with coffee rather than the boiling water to really bring out the chocolate flavor. I gave that suggestion a try and YES, do it!

A few tips:

  • I finally bought an inexpensive cake leveler, and I’ve been very happy with the nice, even layers I’ve been able to achieve.
  • To get nice, clean slices, run your serrated knife under a hot faucet for a few seconds and dry it before slicing – it’ll slide through the cake much easier. (An awesome tip I learned from my blogging friend Jennifer at Savory Simple!)
  • Since this frosting has sour cream, you’re going to need to store the cake in the fridge once you’ve frosted it to keep it fresh. BUT please bring it out to room temperature before serving it!
Dark Chocolate Cake

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  1. I’m absolutely in LOVE with how dark this cake is. Gorgeous!

    Posted 9.4.13 Reply
  2. Maria wrote:

    Best dessert ever!

    Posted 9.4.13 Reply
  3. Angela wrote:

    This looks really moist! And really good! Happy Birthday!!

    Posted 9.5.13 Reply
  4. I’m such a dark chocolate lover this is soooooo up my alley! Drooling!

    Posted 9.5.13 Reply
  5. This sounds so good! Perfect birthday dessert!

    Posted 9.5.13 Reply
  6. Mike wrote:

    Sour cream frosting absolutely makes this cake sing!

    Posted 9.5.13 Reply
  7. I love that the cake is dark chocolate! And the frosting looks like it would be good all by itself 🙂 I’m gonna have to try this one soon!

    Posted 9.5.13 Reply
  8. What a gorgeous cake!

    Posted 9.7.13 Reply
  9. Jenn wrote:

    I just made this for my husband’s birthday, and we both agree it’s the best we’ve ever had! I would comment that the sugar in the frosting is definitely 1.5 cups….not sure it weighed the 3/4 pound as stated in the recipe. Thanks!

    Posted 2.7.14 Reply
    • I’m so glad you guys loved it, Jenn! ~Kathy

      Posted 2.7.14 Reply