“Disappointing cakes have often been sitting out too long,” says Tom Douglas. “They should last just long enough to have the last pieces the next morning with coffee—who doesn’t love cake with coffee?”
This extraordinary dessert, made with crisp chocolate-hazelnut meringue and whipped cream, is simple to make. But pastry chef Daniel Jasso has nicknamed it “the beast,” because slicing it can be tricky—the meringue tends to crumble. The solution: Freeze the cake, cut it with a serrated knife and let it return to room temperature before serving.
The genius of this layer cake is its extraordinarily crunchy filling, made with almonds, salted peanuts, creamy peanut butter, chocolate and Rice Krispies. The silky milk-chocolate ganache frosting almost pushes the recipe over the top.
In this fun variation on traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves gets frosted with a slightly tangy, super-caramelly frosting. It's delicious served cold or at room temperature.
The version of Dominican cake that Scott Conant’s friends introduced him to was a white cake layered with dulce de leche filling and frosted with a very sweet meringue. In his adaptation, Conant (along with his pastry chef Gerry Minos) lightens up on the sugar in the meringue and adds a nutty liqueur to the filling and frosting, giving it an Italian flavor. The cake is a knockout, with or without the liqueur, and stellar with either homemade or store-bought dulce de leche.
Sam German created the mild, dark baking chocolate called Baker’s German's Sweet Chocolate in 1852; in the late 1950s, a Dallas newspaper published a recipe for German’s Chocolate Cake. The dessert took the South by storm and has been a staple ever since.
Sacher torte is a classic Austrian chocolate cake layered with apricot preserves. Lidia Bastianich’s version uses the cake layers, as a thick filling between the layers and as a glaze to seal the cake before covering it in chocolate. The cake is moist and luscious on its own, but it’s also delicious served the traditional way, with unsweetened whipped cream.
Because Tyler Florence wanted Wayfare Tavern to feel like a century-old San Francisco institution, he researched menus dating all the way back to the Gold Rush. This cake couldn’t be more traditional: four layers of rum-brushed yellow cake filled and frosted with a light and airy, coconut-scented meringue-buttercream.
Coconut cake, a dainty dessert, was in vogue in the 1920s for ladies' gatherings. Traditionally made with marshmallow frosting, the cake was famously served to President Truman during a trip to Florida in the 1950s.
“This is the most fabulous chocolate cake that I’ve ever made,” says Ina Garten, host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa. “It’s so easy and so moist and light. There’s buttermilk and a cup of coffee in the batter! The frosting is just buttercream and a little coffee.”
This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.
This recipe, adapted from Dolphin Dishes: The Submarine Cook Book, published in 1952 by the New London Navy Relief Society of New London, Connecticut, has a somewhat puzzling title. Perhaps this cake was considered Japanese because it contained coconut, an exotic ingredient at the time.
This cake from pastry chef Karina Gowing is perfection for anyone who loves frosting. The ultracreamy icing, which is almost like a milk-chocolate ganache, gets spread liberally over layers of light, delicate, cocoa-flavored cake.