Who doesn’t love a hefty slice of dark chocolate cake? This one has an appropriately diabolical twist: a hint of ancho chile powder for warmth and complexity, but that won’t light anyone’s tongue on fire (chileheads can add a teaspoon of cayenne). Spread the layers with sweetened whipped cream or buttercream and sliced strawberries; top with toasted almonds. For something more traditional, get Ina Garten’s Devil’s Food Cake recipe.
- Yield: 2 (9-inch) cake layers
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hr
- Active: 25 mins
- 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for coating the pans and parchment
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment and dust with flour; tap the side of the pans on the countertop to dislodge any excess flour.
- Whisk the cocoa powder into the boiling water until smooth.
- Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- Onto a piece of parchment, sift together the measured flour, baking soda, salt, ancho chile powder, and, if using, cayenne.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the measured butter with the white and brown sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times while beating.
- On low speed, add half the dry ingredients, all of the cocoa mixture, and the remaining dry ingredients, beating after each addition until combined.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans (you can make sure they’re divided evenly by using a scale to weigh them).
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
- Let cool in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the racks, peel off the parchment, and let cool before frosting.
Variations: • To make a plain devil’s food cake, omit the ancho chile powder and optional cayenne. • To make a chocolate-mocha cake, omit the ancho chile powder and optional cayenne. Substitute hot coffee or espresso for the boiling water. • To make a chocolate chocolate-chip cake, omit the ancho chile powder and optional cayenne. Stir in 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips along with the last addition of the flour mixture.