Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Cocoa Nibs

This is Zoe Nathan's favorite chocolate cake—it's moist, tender and subtly spiked with coffee. She likes to top the fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting with cocoa nibs, while her son, Milo, prefers M&M's. Either way, it’s a crowd-pleaser.

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  • Servings: Makes one 9-inch-square cake

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  • 3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent), finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled slightly
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • Cocoa nibs, for garnish

How to make this recipe

  1. Make the Cake

    Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on 2 sides. In a medium glass bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly.

  2. Make the Cake

    In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In another medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the coffee and vanilla.

  3. Make the Cake

    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. At low speed, in 3 alternating batches, beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Fold in the melted chocolate.

  4. Make the Cake

    Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 45 minutes. Using the foil, transfer the cake to a rack to cool completely.

  5. Meanwhile, Make the Buttercream

    In a glass bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly. Scrape the chocolate into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. At medium speed, beat in the cream and confectioners' sugar until smooth. At high speed, grad­ually add the butter and beat until the frosting is thick.

  6. Meanwhile, Make the Buttercream

    Transfer the chocolate cake to a serving platter and discard the foil. Spread the buttercream frosting evenly over the top and sprinkle with cocoa nibs. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

Make Ahead

The frosted cake can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Contributed By Photo © Brigitte Sire Published July 2014

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