Maybe this blog should be renamed “Sprinkle Bakes Chocolate Cakes“. I’ve had a serious romance with the confection all year. First there was a very special chocolate cupcake recipe for pyromaniacs, soon after came Chocolate Whiskey Cake, then Chocolate Gâteau on the Half Shell, Nigella’s Chocolate-Honey Cake, the proportionally epic PBC4 (as I’ve come to call it), and last week’s post was dedicated to the marriage of chocolate cake and red wine.
I may need an intervention, but like most addicts I don’t want one.
I’ve tasted many, but this chocolate cake may be my favorite, ever! It is indulgently rich with a generous amount of chocolate icing, and in contrast the cake has a light, moist crumb. It is pretty in an unconventional way, which is my favorite kind of pretty. The ingredients are easy enough to put together, but you will need a standing mixer of some sort. Otherwise your hand mixer may bog-down or your arm tire midway through whipping the icing. Oh, the icing!
This was the strangest technique for making icing that I’ve ever encountered. After mixing up the ingredients, the mixture is poured into a 9×13 pan and frozen for a few hours until firm. After freezing it is scooped into a stand mixer (do this as best as you can, it’s like a mini La Brea Tar Pit) and whipped until light and fluffy.
As you can see in the picture above, two cake layers are stacked and frosted…
… and the third cake layer is cut in two pieces horizontally (some of you may know this as “torting” a cake). The halves are then cut into cubes, triangles, rectangles – whatever shape you wish – and then assembled willy-nilly onto the frosted cake. It’s almost impossible to mess up the decorating of this cake. It’s so easy and fun!
Important note: This recipe requires a whopping 3 cups of cocoa powder. That’s more than the 10 oz. container most home bakers have on hand. Be sure to have extra when planning to make this cake.
One more thing! You can tell a lot about a girl by what’s in her purse. Take a peek in mine at That’s What We Said!
Chocolate Quake Cake
Adapted from The Pastry Queen Christmas
Yield: 14 servings [click for printable version]
Note: Make the frosting first, it will need to chill in the freezer for at least two hours.
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large saucepan combine the cream and butter and set over medium heat. Stir until butter is melted. Whisk in the granulated sugar, cocoa powder and corn syrup. Whisk until smooth.
- Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Pour into a 9×13″ pan and freeze until firm, 2-4 hours. While the frosting chills, make the cake layers.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil, or other light tasting oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (again, I used dark cocoa)
4 cups all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and another rack in the upper third. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three round 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Grease parchment paper. Dust pans with flour and knock out the excess over the sink.
- In a large (5 quart at least) saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, water and oil. Cook until butter is melted. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa and flour. Pour into the butter mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in the eggs, one at a time then whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk in the baking soda and salt. Divide batter among prepared pans (I found this to be about 3 1/2 cups of batter per pan). Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool about 20 minutes in the pans, then turn out on a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Remove frosting from the freezer and scrape out into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat frosting on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Paddle attachment will loosen the frosting enough for whipping. Switch to the whisk attachment and whip 5-7 minutes at high speed, or until frosting has lightened in color and is fluffy.
- Remove parchment paper from cake layers. Spread 1/3 of the frosting on the top of a cake layer and top with a second cake layer. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides. Slice the 3rd layer horizontally into two even layers. Cut each layer into strips, then into various shapes (cubes, triangles, rectangles). Press the cake pieces into the top and sides of the frosted cake until it is completely covered.
*Note: Entire cake may be dusted with 1/4 cup powdered sugar before serving.
i have never seen anything like this and i absolutely love it. says the true chocoholic. 🙂
wow, love this idea! so easy and loving all the chocolate!!!
That frosting sounds really interesting, I cant wait to give it a try 🙂
so cool! this is like cake decorating for the piping challenged (me)! this icing sounds very intriguing.
This is seriously AMAZING. You come up with the coolest ideas EVAH!!
What an interesting cake – I've never seen anything like that. At first I thought you had just thrown a bunch of cake cubes on a plate!
This is absolutely amazing! I have never seen an earthquake cake look so gorgeous before! You rock 🙂
Whoa, that's so cool! Very neat look to the cake, and also looks delicious! 🙂
What a unique way to finish up decorate the side of this cake.
oh wow! heather, this looks so awesome & amazing! i am in love with squirrel… so adorable 🙂
and what did you use for your background? i really like that pattern.
LOVE the QUAKE CAKE!! What a great concept and squirrel is cute too!
I love this look!! And since dark cocoa is my favorite thing ever, I'm absolutely craving this cake right now. You've made another winner, Heather!
so unique! what a great concept!
what a cool idea, i've never heard of a quake cake before! looks SO fun to make!
Wow, that cake is amazing! That frosting looks ever so luscious…
Wow your photography is truly amazing! and I want to eat that big spoonful of icing, it looks delish – I have never heard of that technique either! and I love the random shapes of cake around the outside of the cake…awesome!
Oh my is that cool! LOVE IT!
All right–you got me. I'm fascinated by the icing and by using a layer of cake basically to decorate itself. Plus, it does look nice and tender! I'm pretty sure I have the same look on my face as Mr. Squirrel.
This cake looks like the best chocolate cake ever. And I love that you make tons of varieties of chocolate cake!
What a cool frosting method, too! I think it's so sweet that there are so many frosting methods out there. This frosting looks especially chocolatey.
P.S. LOVE the squirrel. I have a couple little skunk figurines that would totally be his BFFs.
That is so crazy awesome!! And if you say it is the best yet, I believe you!!
A dusting of powdered sugar could really raise it to new, decadent heights!
You take fantastic pictures too!
Thank you for sharing! Have a great weekend ^^
I am salivating! Light-headed at the sight of so much chocolate. I had never even heard of an earthquake cake – you have just rocked, or should I say shaken, my world (pun intended)!! I will have to try this one for sure.
You make delicious cakes but what I like the most are the innovative decoration ideas from donuts & cake cubes. Love your blog.
Oh my goodness, 3 cups of cocoa!?! This is my kind of cake! You sure find some phenomenal recipes, Heather! Love the banner too~so cute! HAPPY WEEKEND to you!
now that's a cake my dear!
i'll be right over, save me a seat!!
That cake is awesome! I'm not so good at pretty icing, so this would be perfect for me! Lovely as always!
Just found your blog and sooo glad I did! This looks wonderful!
this cake is such a beautiful mess, I think I could handle that! I'm not good at frosting cakes and making them pretty…but this – this I could do.
and that frosting sounds so interesting!
I want to make it but with cut up brownies on the outside. mmmmmmm
DO IT! Best idea ever! (And let us know how it turns out if you do.) 🙂
The frosting sounds like a whipped ganache to me. That of course would be awesome. 🙂 Love me some chocolate. I still need to find a really good standard vanilla cake recipe. I'm on the lookout if you have one. I'd love a vanilla cake post as only you would do one, fabulous as always.
This looks SO fun!!! Love it and sneaky sneaky hiding a full cake under the cake squares ha. At first I totally thought the whole thing was somehow just bunches of squares 🙂
All I can say is – WOW!!
Love it, stellar idea.
Ditto to what Heidi said – it's whipped ganache, with cocoa powder instead of melted solid chocolate. (I almost said "it's just …" but there's no "just" about it because whipped ganache is, imo, a food group unto itself. Yes, it will send you into a chocolate coma when eaten by the spoonful, but sometimes, you just hafta.) I love this cake! It has the-decorating-challenged (me!) becomes-awesome-cake-baker (crossed-fingers!) written all over it. 🙂
This is awesome! Looks deliciously rich…and a great way to make a show stopping cake!
I'm pretty sure I got several cavities just looking at how much sugar is combined to make this recipe, but the chocolate lover in me doesn't care. This sounds hecka great, especially the forsting. My word that frosting looks too good to be true. This cake kinda reminds me of that brownie earthquake sundea at Dairy Queen.
This is an amazing cake! So impressive and perfect for me. My birthday is coming and I'm always making my own cakes. Being a chocoholic, this is the ideal b-cake for me!
Wow, what a fun cake!!!
That is one awesome cake. I've never seen anything like that before.
I have never experienced something more chocolatey than this. Thanks for the important note. It is safest to have more chocolate powder in stock to make sure the cake will be perfect. Long live chocolate fanatics, and I mean real chocolate fans! This may not have the usual frosting procedures but it will be worth every extra step, I swear. The picture gets me so excited!
This cake is bad ass!! So cool.
looks way too good! and that little squirrel is adorable!
This is my first visit to your blog and I have realized already its not going to be the last one, I loved it all! x
Of for the love of chocolate, I need to make this one! I had never ever seen a quake cake before, I just love seeing what you come up with Heather. Must buy some cocoa! xo ~Lili
I love your "SWEET" blog….found you through Prairie Flower Farm. I plan to try out some of your great recipes for the Holidays!
I tried this recipe for my husbands birthday this past weekend. We weren't wild about the frosting but the cake itself is AMAZING. We threw on some whipped cream and have been in hog heaven ever since. The cake is moist and flavorful and chocolaty and everything I have been looking for in a cake!!!
I gained ten pounds reading this. Holy crap. But it was delicious!
God this looks so wonderful!!!!.
I adore chocolate cake and way you decorated this one it looks divine…
i wish I could dig in right now.
I knew this was a Rebecca Rather cake as soon as I read "3 cups of flour" and the bit about freezing the icing and then whipping it. Two of her trademark methods – but they yield HEAVENLY results 🙂 This looks absolutely incredible! I'm bookmarking it for my dad's birthday.