Ultimate Chocolate Cake


I stumbled across this recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Cake via Eater.com a long time ago in a post highlighting the use of GMS as the secret ingredient to the perfect chocolate cake. I ignored the recipe at the time because I didn’t think it was worth buying GMS only for this cake (and ultimately such a small quantity). But, the internet led me back to this cake recipe eventually, I caved, and I bought the GMS to make this cake in advance of Mother’s Day because chocolate.

OK, that picture is a lie. That is not the Ultimate Chocolate Cake. It’s actually this American Mud Cake recipe (… again). This is the Ultimate Chocolate Cake, in all its beauty:


#cakeproblems. I couldn’t bring that cake to a Mother’s Day BBQ, so I scrambled quickly and made the American Mud Cake that I knew would be a hit. As terrible as it looks, however, the cake (and frosting) is actually quite good. So good, in fact, that we ended up eating this cake off the scrap heap over the next few days even though it essentially became a trifle after it toppled over.

So, what happened? Well, these cakes are so incredibly light and moist that they started crumbling as soon as I flipped them from the pans. Since they baked a little unevenly, I attempted to smooth the layers, but that just created more of a crumbly disaster. I knew immediately that I would be baking another cake, so I continued anyway because, as my sister would tell me, “it’s still edible!”

To add insult to injury, the frosting is effectively fudge. The video from the original recipe shows the frosting being piped onto the cake in a spiral, but I thought that was just for aesthetics. Nope. It’s because the cake is so delicate that trying to spread this thick frosting with an offset spatula rips it apart. I tried to pipe the frosting on the second and third layers with moderate success (which I then tried smoothed with less success. why?).


Reading through the comments under the recipe, I realized that I was not the only one to experience the light, fragile cakes crumbling and the difficulty of spreading the thick, fudge frosting. Since the cake was so delicious, I’m going to try making it again. To firm the cakes, I think I will freeze them in the pans. I also might consider lining the pans with aluminum foil before the parchment paper and grease to lift the cakes out rather than flipping them (in the absence of three springform pans or separate bake times because I have only one springform pan). I also didn’t use cake strips, which may help even the layers. The frosting must be piped, however, the frozen cakes might provide some flexibility in this regard.

Based on this recipe.


Chocolate Cake:
420 g cake flour
620 g granulated sugar
130 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
15 g salt
15 g baking soda
15 g baking powder
11 g glycerol monostearate (optional)
340 g buttermilk, room temperature
340 g canola oil
150 g eggs (about 3 large)
25 g vanilla extract
340 g water

Simple Syrup:
200 g granulated sugar
100 g water
50 g vodka (or other spirit with 35-40% ABV)

Chocolate Frosting:
900 g powdered sugar
450 g butter, room temperature
150 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
110 g milk
30 g vanilla extract
10 g salt

Chocolate shavings and/or sprinkles, as desired


  1. For the cake: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease three 9″ round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, then dust with cocoa/flour.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cake flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and glycerol monostearate, then sift into another large bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix buttermilk, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla extract on low speed until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients one spoonful at a time, continuing to mix on low speed until just combined.
  5. Bring water to boil, then add water slowly on low speed.
  6. Divide batter among the prepared pans (~600 g each).
  7. Bake cakes on center rack ~40 minutes, or until core temperature has reached 205 degrees. Remove cakes from the oven, then slam on the counter-top. Allow cakes to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pans
  8. For the syrup: While cakes are baking, in a medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil over medium-high heat.
  9. Remove from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cool, stir in the vodka.
  10. Remove domes from cakes, if necessary, then brush each layer of cake with 100 g of syrup.
  11. For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix all ingredients together on low speed. Gradually increase speed to high, scraping sides as needed.
  12. Frost and decorate cake as desired.