Use High-Quality Unsweetened Cocoa
Chocolate cake is cherished for its rich and satisfying flavor, so be sure to use the best quality of cocoa powder possible. The darker the cocoa, the more depth the flavor will be. Using pure unsweetened cocoa means you can gauge how much additional sugar you should add. There are many fantastic and mediocre cocoa brands out there, making it even more confusing when you need to decide what’s best. King Arthur Flour black cocoa is an extra dark Dutch-processed variety ideal for achieving intense chocolate flavor in your cake. The Dutch process of washing the cocoa powder balances the cocoa’s natural acidity, so it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda. For a milder flavor profile than black cocoa, Frontier Natural makes a more mellow Dutch-processed variety. While Dutch-processed cocoa is flavorful, be sure you use it only in recipes that specifically call for it since it reacts with other batter ingredients.
Get the Best Chocolate You Can
If you’re using chocolate in your batter or frosting, you should definitely splurge on high-quality chocolate. The quality of chocolate will affect how your finished chocolate cake tastes, and isn’t that just about everything? Our rule is to make our chocolate cakes with the kind of chocolate we would be happy to snack on. For the chocolate cake, we find that slabs of chocolate are quite versatile. Suppose you are not using chocolate in the cake batter but rather for the frosting or filling. In that case, we prefer disc-shaped and ideal for melting or eating by the handful.
Let the Cake Cool Completely Before Frosting, Preferably Overnight
We have all frosted several not-yet-cooled cakes to disastrous results. While it may seem evident that even a slightly warm cake will melt the frosting, our impatience meant we just couldn’t wait to finish our cakes! Of course, you should allow your chocolate cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the baking pan before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you have the time to do so, you can also wrap the cake at room temperature in plastic and place it in the fridge overnight. This prevents crumbling, making the surface nice and smooth for applying the icing. Moreover, the cake will be infinitely easier to slice through. We hope these simple tricks of the trade embolden you on your path to making the chocolate cake of your dreams.