Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake is a great recipe. For one thing, it employs all the tricks you've heard of for making moist cake. Those "tricks" include using buttermilk, substituting brown sugar for all or part of the white, and incorporating vegetable oil. The cake calls for both buttermilk and coffee for the liquid, has a mixture of butter and oil, and calls for 2 full cups of dark brown sugar. It's definitely NOT a dry cake, and along with chocolate it has a complex flavor.
Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake Notes
The original version of this chocolate cake with brown sugar is from Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures. If you want to see it, Michelle posted it on her blog. It's called Rick's Favorite Chocolate Birthday Cake.
Rick's Favorite is frosted with a chocolate ganache, but I prefer my usual favorite chocolate frosting. And just for fun, when I made the cake for the photo I used the filling from a recipe called Ding Dong Cake. So I'm 100% sure Rick's is as good or better, but the cake is pretty versatile and you can change up the frosting or add a filling if you want.
Compared to other cakes this one is not only moist, but surprisingly not-too-sweet even with all the brown sugar.
Update: We love this cake, but I still don't use Rick & Lanie's ganache. If you'd prefer to use the ganache frosting, I've included it in the notes of the recipe.
Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour (260 grams) plus more for pan
- ½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt Rick used ½ teaspoon
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (114 grams)
- 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (420 grams)
- 1 cup hot coffee or boiling water
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (114 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons sour cream (42 grams)
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar plus more as needed
- 4-6 tablespoons half & half or a mixture of whole milk and cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch or two of salt — if using salted butter omit
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9x2 inch round cake pans.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, melted butter and brown sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg is added. Beat in the vanilla.
- By hand or using lowest speed of the mixer, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Stir until fully blended.
- Pour the hot coffee over the batter and stir until blended.
- Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn from pans and cool.
- Frosting: Mix together the softened butter, sour cream and confectioners' sugar until blended, then add the cocoa powder and stir until it because a messy mass. Gradually add the half and half (or milk and cream), stirring until blended, then beat in the vanilla. Beat, scraping bowl often, until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- 1 lb bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup corn syrup
- ¼ cup very strong coffee
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, corn syrup, and coffee. Heat over medium, stirring often until steaming.
Pour over the chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted.
Let cool slightly, then place in refrigerator and stir every 15 minutes until spreadable. This could take up to 2 hours.
Use about ¼ of the frosting between the layers. Then spread ½ of what is left on the sides and the rest on the top.