This deep, bittersweet chocolate cake is the perfect canvas for a spooky holiday dessert. Top it with a spider web or a mummy made up of melted and stretched marshmallows.
2/3 cup oil, plus more for greasing the baking pans
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook's Note)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Filling and Frosting:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
Spider Web or Mummy Decoration:
2 cups mini marshmallows (about 4 ounces)
Candy spider or candy eyes, for decorating
two 9-inch round cake pans
How to Cook
- For the cake: Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment and grease the parchment and the sides of the pans with oil.
- Stir together the cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl and let sit to bloom for 5 minutes (this step intensifies the chocolate flavor in the cake).
- Whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the bloomed cocoa, oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla during a medium bowl. Pour the cocoa mixture into the sugar mixture and stir until smooth (the batter is going to be thin). Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake until the cakes recover when pressed within the middle and a toothpick inserted within the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans on a rack.
- For the filling and frosting: Heat the cream in a double boiler over low heat, whisking occasionally, until it steams. Whisk within the chocolate, chocolate, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the butter until melted. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated. Let the frosting cool completely.
- To assemble: Put 1 cake, bottom-side up, on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread about 1 cup of the frosting over the highest but not all the way down the side. Top with the opposite cake, bottom-side up, and frost the highest and sides with the remaining frosting.
- For the spider web or mummy decoration: Microwave the marshmallows in a microwave-safe medium bowl until they grow in size and are soft enough to stir about 1 minute. Let sit two minutes until cool enough to the touch. Spray your hands with cooking spray. For a spider web, devour a tablespoon-sized blob of the melted marshmallow and stretch it over and around the cake; repeat in order that the strings of marshmallow crisscross one another in many directions and continue until you have what looks like a spider web. For a mummy, stretch the marshmallow in order that all the strings on the highest of the cake run within the same direction, leaving a brief gap between strings for the mummy's eyes to peek out. Garnish with a candy spider or candy eyes.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry cup and level the surplus. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, leading to dry food.)