"Little Black Dress" Chocolate Cake

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“A party without cake is just a meeting.” Julia Child

This recipe is the "little black dress" of chocolate cakes, it should be in everyone's baking repertoire. Nobody ever believes a cake that tastes this good can be as simple to make as it is, but I promise you this recipe is a total cinch. It is also as versatile as it is simple, in a pinch I’ve substituted olive oil, almond flour, and a variety of different flavorings. A moderately well stocked pantry is likely to have all the necessary ingredients for this cake, making it perfect for impromptu entertaining. After you taste it though, you’ll see how it can easily be the star of a well planned special occasion, too.


"Little Black Dress" Chocolate Cake
Erin Duffy Osswald


1 ⅛ Cups Butter cubed (2 sticks plus 2 Tablespoons)

12 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

¾ Cups Granulated Sugar

¾ Cups Cake Flour

3 Large Eggs

½ Cups Coffee

2 Tablespoons Vanilla

2 Tablespoons Almond Flavoring


Special Equipment:

Baking Dish large enough to hold Springform Cake Pan for Bain Marie (Water Bath)

Ramekins or any other type of object(s) to be used as a 1" stand under the Springform Cake Pan

Aluminum foil



Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.

Prepare a 9” springform pan for baking in a water bath by sealing around the outside with tin foil. Wrap lengthwise using 6 inch wide strips, from ¾ of the way up the side, down around the outer edge and under the bottom of the form. Compact the foil tightly around the bottom seam to keep water from getting in (a little is ok). Grease springform pan with baking spray or butter. Set the greased pan onto the stands in the baking dish you have chosen for the Bain Marie.


In a saucepan over low heat combine the coffee, flavorings, sugar and butter. Slowly melt all of the ingredients, stirring occasionally. When it is completely mixed together add the chocolate chips and remove from heat, stirring constantly. (If you have elected to use a different kind of chocolate, chop it into small pieces before adding to the saucepan.) As it cools, keep stirring the sauce pan to be certain all of the chocolate has dissolved. Let cool.


In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs together thoroughly. Slowly fold the cake flour into the eggs. Once combined, add the chocolate mixture to the egg and flour mixture. Gently stir together until the two mixtures have formed a velvety cake batter, about one and not more than two minutes. Pour batter into the prepared springform pan in the baking dish.


Using a kettle or pitcher, carefully pour water into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan (be careful to stay below the top edge of the tin foil). Place the baking dish with the springform pan into the oven. This cake needs to bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. I recommend setting the timer for 45 minutes to rotate the baking cake halfway through. I start checking for doneness at one hour. The cake will test done, but the extra ten minutes creates a delicious crispy crunch on the top and edges. There is so much butter in this cake that over cooking it is probably impossible. Never underestimate the power of butter! Let cool for at least 20 minutes, but preferably an hour before digging in (which is going to be hard once you know this cake).


When the cake has cooled sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar. A standard sprinkle does the job nicely, but you can get a little fancier if you like. A paper doily makes a nice and easy design, for example. Now that the winter holiday season is upon us I think a nice paper snowflake would make the perfect stencil! Serve with a tiny dollop of whipped cream, a little scoop of vanilla ice cream, or on its own. A little goes a very long way with this delectable cake, small slices are the way to go.



Now that you’ve got the basics, how would you like to experiment with this recipe? Dress it up with cool mint flavors, or get a little nutty perhaps? Let your creative spark take you someplace unique, all the butter and chocolate in this recipe will ensure whatever you bake will taste great!


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