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At NYC’s Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, Umber Ahmad and Shelly Acuna Barbera make one of the most perfect chocolate cakes ever: It’s rich, moist and not too sweet, with a deeply chocolaty whipped ganache frosting. Slideshow: More Cake Recipes 

March 2017


Credit: © John Kernick

Recipe Summary

3 hrs 15 mins
30 mins
One 9-by-13-inch cake




Instructions Checklist
  • Make the cake Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with the instant coffee, then whisk in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Stir in the brown sugar and buttermilk until no lumps remain. Let cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the vanilla.

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter at medium-high speed until lightened, about 1 minute. Beat in the granulated sugar in 3 additions, beating well after each one, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients and the cocoa mixture in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary, until just combined.

  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, then invert the cake and remove the parchment. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, make the frosting Put the chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let the ganache cool until barely warm, 45 minutes. In the stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the ganache at medium-high speed until light and spreadable, about 2 minutes.

  • Spread the ganache frosting over the top of the cake, top with pearls (if using) and serve.


Crispy chocolate pearls are available at specialty food shops and from amazon.com.