by Caroline Schiff

Recipe time icon
2.5 hours total
Recipe yield icon
Yields 1 8-INCH CAKE
Recipe quotation mark

What more can we say, than what Caroline Shiff wrote in her astute introduction to her chocolate cake below? Caroline is a 2020 Rising Star Pastry Chef, and gearing up to re-open Downtown Brooklyn's historic oyster and chop house, Gage & Tollner, plus her book "The Sweet Side of Sourdough" will be released in the fall of this year.

Over it. That’s honestly how I feel these days, after all — gestures wildly — THIS. I just want to go into my pantry, and make an easy, delicious chocolate cake with things I most likely already have on hand. Fine — I’ll walk to the bodega for some heavy cream, but that’s it. No, I don’t want to take out my mixer or hand beaters. I want it to be straightforward and ideal for a snacking, single gal. Me. I’m the snacking, single gal. I want to eat it by the giant forkful, alone while standing in my kitchen, staring into the abyss. I might not even slice it. No one cares. I just want the simplest, most comforting chocolate cake. Just. Chocolate. Am I asking too much? I don’t think so.

This recipe is my go-to. I’ve been making it for years, and it’s just a straightforward chocolate cake with a rich ganache frosting. That’s it. No funny business. You’re welcome.



  • For the cake:
  • 1 1/2 cup (180 g) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp (3 g) baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) baking powder

  • 1 tsp (4 g) kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup (53 g) dutch-process cocoa powder

  • 1/3 cup (76 g) boiling water

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (225 g) granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup (161 g) canola oil

  • 2 tsp (8 g) vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup (188 g) sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk

  • For the salted ganache frosting:
  • 9/16 cup (128 g) 70% Large Chocolate Chips

  • 1/2 cup (118 g) heavy cream

  • 1 Tbsp (14 g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp (1 g) sea salt or more to taste

  • Directions


    Heat the oven to 325° F with a rack in the center. Line an 8” round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and spray well with neutral non-stick pan coating. Set aside.


    In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine and set aside. In another large mixing bowl combine the cocoa powder with the boiling water and whisk to make a paste. Add the sugar and eggs to the cocoa paste and whisk to incorporate. Add the oil and vanilla and whisk to emulsify fully.


    Switching to a spatula, add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together gently until uniform and no dry bits remain. Last, gently fold in the dairy until fully incorporated.


    Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth it out into an even layer. Transfer the cake to the oven on the center rack and bake until set and a toothpick or cake tester in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.


    While the cake bakes, make the ganache. Place the chocolate in a deep mixing bowl. Bring the cream just to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for five minutes and then stir vigorously until smooth and shiny. Add the butter, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine fully. Cover and leave at room temperature while the cake cools.


    Allow the cake to cool fully in the pan. Once cooled, run a paring knife around the edge to release it from the sides of the pan. Gently invert the cake onto a plate, and then flip it over so it’s right side up again. Once the ganache is a spreadable consistency — like pudding — use a spatula to transfer it to the top of the cake. Smooth it out, swooshing however you like, with a spatula, butter knife, or offset spatula.