Chocolate is on the brain, and not just because Valentine’s Day is this month. It’s because, well, chocolate is always on our minds. And also because we're debuting a fresh batch of chocolate recipes this month (including a special version of our Recipe of the Year), plus a roster of flavorful cocoas available in our Shop, each of which brings its own unique characteristics to the baking party.
From special occasions to everyday snacking, we’ve got a chocolate cake for every occasion you might need one — and more.
When you’re baking for a hot date night: Fudgy Chocolate Date Cake
Dates may secretly be the best ingredient you can pair with chocolate, especially in cake form. The caramel notes pair with cocoa’s bitter flavor, while the jammy texture of soaked, smashed dates gives this cake an irresistibly gooey, fudgy texture. Made with both chopped chocolate and cocoa, this is the indulgent dessert your upcoming Valentine’s Day is missing.
When you want Italian rainbow cookies, but also chocolate: Ombre Chocolate Cake Bars
These striped bars have the soft, cakey texture and almondy perfume of Italian rainbow cookies and the cocoa-forward flavor of a classic chocolate cake. Sandwich the tri-colored layers with the jam of your choice and douse in chocolate glaze to assemble.
When you know brunch will be better with chocolate: Triple Chocolate Coffee Cake
Our Recipe of the Year is a coffee cake that takes many different forms and flavors, and this version is for those of us who can’t get enough chocolate in our lives (or mornings). Its name comes from the three forms of chocolate used in the cake itself: chocolate milk (!), cocoa powder, and mini chocolate chips.
When you want to use up your sourdough discard: Sourdough Chocolate Cake
If you’re drowning in discard, there are few better ways to put it to use than in a chocolate cake. In this recipe it’s mixed with pantry staples including oil, sugar, flour, eggs, and milk to yield a moist sheet cake that pairs well with confectioners’ sugar icing and a chocolate drizzle.
When you (or loved ones) are eating keto, but still need dessert: Keto-Friendly Chocolate Cake
Chocolate cake stops for nothing and no one, not even a keto diet. If you or someone you’re baking for are looking for a low-carb, low-sugar cake, this keto-friendly chocolate cake is it. It’s made with Keto Wheat Flour and Baking Sugar Alternative, both of which replicate their traditional counterparts for a tender single-layer cake.
When you’re craving something ultra-rich: Flourless Chocolate Cake
The lack of flour in this gluten-free cake makes it dense, rich, and decadent, like a truffle masquerading as a cake. Chocolate chips and butter are melted together, then combined with sugar, eggs, cocoa, and flavorings for a simple batter. You can add the chocolate ganache glaze, but truthfully, this cake is indulgent enough that it’s not even necessary. A dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche adds a fresh tang to complement.
When you need a failproof, classic birthday cake: Chocolate Cake
Whether it’s a ninth birthday or a ninetieth, chocolate cake is always the perfect celebratory dessert. This version is a nostalgic classic that relies on a few tricks to ensure success every time: oil guarantees it never turns out dry, brewed coffee boosts flavor, and the simple frosting makes decorating a breeze. You can use either natural or Dutch-process cocoa here; the Dutch-process cake will be darker in color and slightly less sweet.
When you want an impressive cake that will make jaws drop: Chocolate Caramel Cake
For a next-level chocolate layer cake, try this recipe. Sure, it’s a lot of effort, but it’s worth it: The visual contrast of smooth white icing, deep chocolate cake layer, and thick caramel-fudge filling makes for a slice so pretty, you almost don’t want to eat it. Almost.
When you’d rather make a special occasion cake that skips the stacking: Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake
Of course, not all of us are the most confident cake decorators. If layer cakes make you freeze in a panic, try this pleasantly dense Bundt cake instead, which relies on the decorative Bundt shape and a thick layer of shiny ganache for an eye-catching presentation — no piping bags necessary.
When you need chocolate cake right this second: King Arthur's Original Cake Pan Cake
There are few things more urgent than the strike of an unexpected chocolate craving. Satisfy it in just over half an hour with this simple, straightforward recipe, which can even be mixed directly in pan in which it’s baked (hence the name). Though basic, the resulting cake is unfailingly moist and deeply chocolatey — exactly what you’re looking for in a snacking cake.
When you’re on the go: Mocha Whoopie Pies
Not all cakes are actually cake. (Ponder that, Socrates.) If you’re looking for a grab-and-go option for weekday lunches or picnics outside, whoopie pies are the way to go. Plus, there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about these childhood bakes, whether you’re making them for (or with!) kids or just indulging your inner child.
When you could use a trip to Europe, in cake form: Sacher Torte
When I was in Vienna with friends years ago, I had only one mandatory excursion: We had to go to the Sacher Hotel to try their Sacher Torte. This classic cake dates back to 1832 and is famed at the hotel itself and throughout Vienna, where you can find countless iterations of this delicate chocolate cake sandwiched with apricot jam and enrobed in chocolate glaze.
Dutch-process, natural, black … ever wondered what the difference between all those various types of cocoa is, anyways? For more on how to select cocoa powder and the effect it has on your baking, see our previous post: Types of cocoa, explained.
Cover photo (Sourdough Chocolate Cake) and food styling by Liz Neily.