devil’s food cake revisited


I had a craving for this cake last weekend.  I originally created it for the Mr.’s birthday last year, and the recipe is pretty hefty in size, making either a 3 layer cake or 36 cupcakes. That makes sense when you’re hosting 40 people, but not so much for a random day in April.

Much as I’d like to believe everyday I wake is cause for celebration, I came to my senses, and have Allison Fishman to thank. I’m completely smitten with her new cookbook You Can Trust a Skinny Cook.


Piles of cookbooks are commonplace around here. Every day a new one arrives, and while many have some interesting recipes, very few make it to my permanent bookshelf. I just don’t have the space in this 2-bedroom Brooklyn shack.

Allison’s is a keeper.

So much so, that I wish she could come tuck me in every night and read a chapter to lull me to sleep. I often fall into slumber thinking about recipes, so while a cookbook seems an odd bedtime story, for me it would be like a cup of steamed milk for the mind.


What I love most about Allison’s book is her sense of humor and understanding of our relationships with food. Unlike healthy cookbooks that preach about why processed foods are bad, You Can Trust a Skinny Cook focuses on why cooking for yourself is a good thing. She doesn’t make you feel bad about what you shouldn’t eat, she gives you the necessary tools to eat what you should—quick, easy recipes made with real ingredients. Allison also has one of the friendliest, honest voices I’ve ever come across in a cookbook. Though we’re only twitter pals, I can see we’d be great kitchen buddies too.


So, what does any of this have to do with that devilish cake pictured above? Well, Allison does have a flourless chocolate cake in her book, but I had this hankering for frosting. I might rewrite my will to have a bucket of chocolate ganache buried with me to help pass the time in my afterlife.

Fresh off reading a few chapters of Allison’s book, though, I realized I didn’t need to make a 9-inch three-layer chocolate cake to satisfy my urge. A few bites would mean I could have my cake, eat it too, and not kick myself with guilt. Instead, I scaled my own recipe back by two-thirds and made a petite 6-inch, two layer cake, and only frosted the top and filled the middle. This was a huge sacrifice because the frosting slicked up the sides is my favorite part. I systematically eat my cake, saving the sides for last. I also have a method for eating gummy bears, so maybe I just have issues.


While I haven’t cooked anything from Allison’s book yet, I’ve been around enough recipes to know if they will work on read, and I have no doubt about her’s. More importantly, Allison inspired me, and that is what I, and I think most veteran cooks, look for in a cookbook.

Recipes I can create on my own, no problem.

The ability to see the way I eat and cook in a different light is what makes me giddy as a school girl these days.


Jennie’s Master (mini) Recipe for Devil’s Food Cake

makes 12 cupcakes or two 6-inch cake layers

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for coating pans

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons brewed coffee

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and well combined (take a look at the pic above again).

Meanwhile whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Mix the milk, coffee and vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.

Line cupcake tins with recycled paper muffin cups or grease two 6-inch cake pans. Place parchment circle in bottom of cake tins and dust sides of pan with additional cocoa powder.

Add the eggs to the creamed butter mixture, and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour and milk mixtures to the butter-egg combo, and mix on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds (this may take longer is using a hand mixer). Scrape down the bowl well, and beat on medium-high speed for 15 seconds more, until batter is well-mixed.

Fill cupcakes 2/3 full or evenly divide batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes and cakes for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin or invert cakes, leaving parchment circle intact and let them finish cooling completely on the rack. This is also a good time to get started on the frosting.

Rich Chocolate Frosting

makes enough to frost one 2-layer 6-inch cake or 12 cupcakes

3 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon corn syrup

Place the chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl. Combine cream  and sugar in a small pot and heat until very hot, just before it reaches the boiling point. Pour over chocolate. Add corn syrup and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Let cool for another minute or two to use as a glaze —simply dip the cupcake tops in and decorate with sprinkles, or let cool completely, stirring occasionally to use as a thick frosting, which is better for filling and frosting layer cakes, but is divine on cupcakes too.


14 Responses to “devil’s food cake revisited”

  1. I keep looking at this cookbook and wondering if I REALLY need one more. You have convinced me I do so I will be ordering it today. Now I rarely ever bake sweets for just the two of us, but this chocolate cake looks so good I’m thinking I may just bake the cupcake version, keep a couple (few) for us, and share the rest with our neighbors who do not bake at all!

  2. Try going here for chocolate cake nuked in a coffee mug. No frosting, though:

  3. What a lovely post! As a food editor by day (blogger by night/weekends) cookbooks constantly show up at my desk too – completely agree that Allison’s really stands out. I’m already a big fan and am looking forward to profiling the book and a recipe in my weekly column. AND … I’m forever on the lookout for great, old-fashioned chocolate cake recipes so will give tuck this one away for the next cake occasion. Thanks Jennifer!

  4. Icing slicked up the sides… A good icing and cake are like the perfect lead singer in a band. I systematically eat my cake reserving the fork frosting as the final nosh. Chocolate cake holds a special place in my heart.

  5. I often skip baking because the recipes are just too large for a household of two. I love the idea of a mini cake.

  6. I must have issues too. I have methods for eating gummi bears and tiny teddies and savour my cake by starting at the inside bottom corner and working my way towards the icing. Glad to know I’m not the only one! = )

  7. I love chocolate cake and the picture alone grabbed my attention! Your post about it and this cookbook convinced me I really need to make this one! And if you have issues regarding saving the top and side frosting to eat last, then so do I! Cake is just an excuse to eat frosting in my opinion! Ever since I was little, I always ate the cake first leaving just a smidge attached to the frosting, then, totally in my glory, nibbled my way through the frosting! Glad to know I’m in such good company!
    Thanks for the post! A great read! Glad I found your site – looking forward to more!

  8. Great recipe! The cake is delicious, the only thing that I noticed is that I had to make two recipess, I would of not had enough with one, but other than that I loved it!

  9. What a fabulous idea, adapting a full-size cake for two! I often make a smaller version of chocolate self-saucing pudding, it’s great for a treat but I don’t want anought for 6 people! Well, I do, but I shouldn’t.

  10. Thanks for this recipe! My parents don’t eat much cake/chocolate/junk food in general, so whenever I make something it usually goes to waste since I’m the only one that eats it.
    I’ve had a craving for chocolate cake all day so I’ll try this one out – I love how super dark and wonderful it looks, like an Oreo cookie. Don’t feel bad about only frosting the middle and top either… I think it looks more “photogenic” that way.

  11. I just made these cupcakes this afternoon and I just found my favourite recipe! Delicious 🙂 Thanks for sharing it!


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