Chocolate Cake

Note: It’s a bit ironic but Whisk, where I got this chocolate cake recipe from, is having a contest for a set of lovely spatulas from Le Creuset here.

Indecisiveness + procrastination = Bad news bears.

Sometimes it’s not called procrastination and it’s really just being too busy to think. This was not one of those times.

We had talked about it for over a week. A friend’s birthday was coming up and she wanted to go out to dinner followed by a comedy show in our area. The tickets had already been bought and so all that was left was whether or not we wanted to bake her a cake for her birthday. Actually, the immediate answer was a resounding yes. I bake cakes for all my med school friends’ birthdays! The tradition started in second-year of medical school when Boy (who I was not officially dating at the time) asked for an ice cream cake the day of his birthday dinner (which had been thrown together the day of his birthday). I think he may have been joking. I had never even heard of a homemade ice cream cake. But we were on the verge of being something good so I spent the entire day looking up recipes and baking/freezing a mint chocolate ice cream cake. While it turned into a disaster of sorts on the way to the restaurant involving me and a roll of toilet paper, the cake was actually quite good. The ice cream had melted, giving the chocolate cake a moistness and a flavor that I have never been able to match otherwise. It was loved by all. And so I started making cakes for birthdays. So why would this one be different? I would make a cake.

Except this time, Boy wanted to help. See, I wasn’t great friends with the celebrant but he was and he and another friend had collaborated on a no-bake cake the year before. Even though I would be attending this party and could produce a cake on my own he wanted a hand in it so we went back-and-forth all week about flavor profiles, when we’d bake it, who’d be the head baker and the assistant (we bicker about these things), etc. And it finally came to the decision on Thursday that he would take the lead and I’d just be there to hand him the whisk and wipe his brow from time to time. Perhaps feed him a grape. Offer some encouragement.

Surprise surprise. Friday rolls around and he has no plans to bake a cake or even any idea of where to begin.

Surprise surprise. I began scrambling. I was already home from work, it was 4.30, dinner was at 8.15, I hadn’t yet showered and didn’t know what I was going to wear, but I needed to come up with a cake ASAP.

I came up with the heavenly combination of this cake with this frosting, halved the cake recipe to serve 8 people and not leave behind a ton of cake when we went from dinner to the comedy show, and decided to fill it with raspberry jam that was sitting in my fridge since I wasn’t sure how much frosting I would have.

Friends, the ridiculousness was all worth it. It was so delicious. Friend loved it. Other friend ate 3 slices. Cake was completely consumed according to the “No Cake Left Behind At the Restaurant” policy. It exceeded expectations. The cake was light and airy. Not too sweet and perfectly complemented by the other aspects. The frosting was just as light and airy as the cake itself and the raspberry jam pushed it right over the top. If ever you need a fabulous cake and have no time to go to the store, you probably have all these ingredients in your kitchen too. It’s a pretty awesome go-to.

ps. Boy did show up and help me frost in the end. He did all the writing on the cake as proof of his contribution.

pps. I am not a cake baker. My frosting skills are less than perfect and I have no offset spatula or proper cake stand [I know, I know]. Don’t hate on the less-than-professional cake. It tasted great and that’s always my number one priority.

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling and Cooked Vanilla Frosting
adapted from Whisk and Tasty Kitchen


For cake:
1 1/2 c sifted cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5/8 c unsweetened cocoa [1/2 + half of a 1/4 c measure – make it up]
1/2 c boiling water
3/8 c cold water [halfway between the 1/4 and 1/2 c mark – make it up]
1/4 c sour cream [original called for yogurt but this is what I had]
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
1 1/2 eggs [make it up]

For frosting:
1 c milk [2% is my staple]
5 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c butter [2 sticks.. I know I know but you won’t get a mouthful of butter. I promise.]
1 c granulated sugar, NOT powdered

For filling:
1/3 c raspberry preserves [make your own or buy pre-made; try different flavors; go nuts!]

Preheat oven to350F and line the bottom of 2 round cake pans with parchment paper.

Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Pour boiling water over cocoa, stir to combine, and refrigerate [to speed up the process] until lukewarm.

While waiting for cocoa to cool, beat butter using a hand or stand mixer in a large bowl until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light in color and texture, approximately 5-6 minutes. Whisk eggs slightly and add to batter. Mix until well combined, a couple minutes. Once cocoa is lukewarm, take out of refrigerator and stir in cold water, sour cream, and vanilla. Add 1/3 flour mixture and mix well followed by 1/2 cocoa mixture. Continue adding flour in thirds alternating with the remaining half of the cocoa mixture, mixing just until ingredients are combined.

Split among pans and bake 20-25 minutes. [You can rotate halfway through. I didn’t. But you can.]

While it bakes, make the frosting [or take a shower and get ready for dinner like I did].

In a small saucepan, whisk flour and milk over medium heat. Stir constantly until it thickens. [You’ll know when it does this. It comes together quickly once it starts.] Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Add vanilla.

While the milk mixture cools, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with a hand or stand mixer. Add the cooled milk mixture and beat until it looks like whipped cream. [Neglected to take a photo. Sorry! Time constraints!]

To assemble: You know the drill. Place one cake on a stand of some sort, top with raspberry jam, then layer other cake on first cake. Frost like you mean it. With love.

It may not have looked professional but it sure tasted like a high-end cake.


– Sharlene



  1. Joanne Said:

    Oh boys. can’t live with em or without em. I bake cupcakes or some kind of dessert for all of my med school friends’ birthdays as well. Once you do it for one, you have to do it for all of them…it’s a domino effect (not that I mind…it means I get to eat cake).

    This looks delicious! I love the sound of that raspberry filling!

  2. Stephanie Said:

    MMM that sounds so great. taste is FAR more important than look in food as far as i’m concerned!

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