Today is my hubby’s birthday. He is my fourth and final birthday celebration in May and by the time his birthday rolls around we are usually all “caked” out. I’m feeling a little cake-fatigue at this point, and the leftover “Happy Birthday” napkins and streamers are on their last legs. Usually my husband requests brownies for a birthday treat as he’s not the biggest fan of cake in general, though he does love a really good chocolate cake. This cake is so good and so easy to make that I’m debating if I should make it instead of a pan of brownies for his birthday today.
Deep, dark chocolate flavor in this cake
What makes this chocolate cake so delicious is the deep, dark flavor of chocolate (beware: not for mild chocolate lovers) and the ethereal chocolate frosting that is super simple and super delicious. Boiling water (which I boil in the microwave to make life easier) is mixed with chocolate chips and then cocoa powder which “blooms” the chocolate giving it a rich and deep chocolate flavor. I stick this mixture in my fridge and stir it every so often to cool it down before adding it to my whipped butter, sugar and eggs.
I also love that this cake bakes up in a small 8 by 8 pan, perfect for a Sunday dinner dessert or just when you have a hankering for some really delicious cake. It is easy to take to a friend’s house for a casual BBQ or fancy enough to dress up for a party. However you choose to make this cake, you won’t be disappointed.
The best chocolate frosting recipe
And now I have to devote an entire paragraph to the frosting. It is my favorite. This frosting has been my go-to chocolate frosting for years and it is the one I use when I want a quick, easy, creamy chocolate frosting. Sometimes I don’t have cocoa powder on hand…but I always seem to have a bag of chocolate chips, so I love that this frosting calls for chocolate chips in place of cocoa powder. It is dangerously easy when you are looking for something sweet to dress up your graham crackers or even to frost a couple cupcakes.
I don’t think this frosting refrigerates very well on a cake. If you are planning to refrigerate your cake, you may need to choose a different frosting. It will still taste delicious but won’t be as creamy. If you want to make the frosting ahead of time you can do that and refrigerate it. Just bring it to room temperature and whip it again when you want to use it.
Whenever you choose to make it (today? tomorrow?…), whether for a celebration or a lazy Sunday afternoon, I hope you love the rich, chocolatey goodness of this cake. Enjoy…and happy birthday to my main squeeze!
Easy Chocolate Pan Cake
Yield: One, 8 by 8 pan of chocolate cake
Time: 20 minute mix (allow for cooling time), 35 minute bake
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ½ cup (3 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup melted semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pour ¾ cups of water into a liquid measuring cup. Microwave until the water is boiling (usually a few minutes). Once the water is boiling, add the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Mix together until smooth. Stick this mixture in the refrigerator to cool down or leave at room temperature until cool. It is important that the mixture has cooled before adding to the cake.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract. Mix completely for about 3 minutes.
- Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and mix to combine.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until all incorporated (or if you don’t want to wash another bowl…add the baking soda, salt and flour in that order to the butter/sugar mixture).
- Pour the cake batter into an 8 by 8 baking pan or a 9 inch cake pan. Bake about 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
- Melt the chocolate chips. I like to use a liquid measuring cup and melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring after every 15 seconds or so. Be careful not to let the chocolate chips go too long in the microwave or they will seize up and not melt anymore. Let the chocolate cool completely before adding to the butter.
- Whip the unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and cream together. Mix in the vanilla extract and salt. Whip together.
- With the mixer running, add the cooled, melted chocolate and continue whipping for about 3-5 minutes. The key to light and fluffy frosting is to keep whipping!!!
- Spread on top of the cooled chocolate cake and enjoy!
Recipe Notes: If you want to make cupcakes, you can. Preheat oven to 425 and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 10-12 minutes until baked all the way through. This cake is very moist so I’ve found the cupcakes a little crumbly but still delicious. My kids love them either way.
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