American Mud Cake


This chocolate cake is one of the best chocolate cakes that I have ever baked. It is packed full of chocolate flavor. It has both a nice cake-like crumb while also being dense and fudgy. And, it is topped by an incredible chocolate frosting. Moreover, this cake and the frosting are both ridiculously easy to make.


As is the case with many of my desserts, I’d been planning to bake this for awhile, but it just got lost in the queue until now. This occasion was a little spontaneous. My wife gets screwed over having a birthday two days before Christmas. Gifts get lumped together into combination birthday/Christmas gifts, and birthday cake often gets substituted with Christmas cookies or another celebration cake. So, I made the decision to bake this cake for her about a week early so that we wouldn’t go indulge too much the following weekend (there are 8 types of cookies and a few other special desserts planned).

I told her I would scale the size of the cake down so that we wouldn’t have leftovers, but I decided to nix that plan when I started putting everything together because IT’S A BIRTHDAY CAKE! Ha.


I didn’t use cake strips when I baked these cakes, and they did dome a bit. I resisted the temptation to keep the cakes “as is” and removed the domes (perfect to eat as a make-shift trifle with extra frosting later…), but next time I’ll probably go back to using the cake strips.

I baked the batter in three 8″ round pans, and each of the layers is ~1″ in height. I think I could have easily baked the batter in two 8″ round pans (and possibly cut each cake in half for four layers). There was a bit of leftover frosting that probably could have been used to coat the extra layer, but it was also enough to enjoy with the domed cake scraps.


The cake lasted a few days, but I thought it was best the day it was baked. I’ve read about applying simple syrups to keep cakes moist, so this might be something to test with future cakes.

Based on recipe found here.


American Mud Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, in 4 tbsp. halves
7 oz. (198 g) 72%+ dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 oz. (2 cups, 397 g) granulated sugar
2 oz. (1/2 cup, 57 g) dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups strong hot coffee or hot water + 1 tbsp espresso powder
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
10 oz. (2 cups, 284 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. (5 g) baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. (9 g) baking soda
1/2 tsp. (4 g) salt

Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting:
4 1/2 oz. (1/2 cup, 128 g) sour cream
3 1/2 oz. (1/2 cup, 100 g) granulated sugar
5 1/4 oz. (1/2 cup, 150 g) light corn syrup
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 oz. (1 cup, 100 g) dutch processed cocoa
16 oz. (4 cups, 454 g) powdered sugar


  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack to middle position. Butter and flour two or three 8″ cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. In a large glass bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute followed by 30 second intervals, whisking until completely melted.
  3. Whisk in sugar, then cocoa powder until fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add hot coffee/espresso in three increments, whisking until smooth after each addition.
  5. Add the vanilla, then the eggs one-at-a-time.
  6. In a stand mixer with wire attachment, beat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 30 seconds.
  7. With mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Once added, increase speed to medium-high for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, then beat for an additional 30 seconds until smooth.
  8. Divide batter evenly among the cake pans (~525 g per cake). Bake 35-40 minutes (less for three cakes, mine took ~25 minutes), or until cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let the cakes cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the cakes. Flip cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely (~2 hours) and remove parchment paper.
  10. For the frosting: Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl.
  11. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds to help dissolve the sugar. Stir in the vanilla, then set aside.
  12. In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter for 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  13. Reduce speed to low, then mix in cocoa powder.
  14. Gradually add the sour cream mixture, then beat for 30 seconds to incorporate.
  15. Add the powdered sugar until smooth.
  16. Frost and decorate the cakes as desired.

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