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Hot Chocolate Cake

This hot chocolate cake is an intensely rich chocolate cake made with one and a half cups of real hot chocolate, iced with chocolate frosting on top of a layer of chocolate ganache, and filled with marshmallow buttercream. 

The real pièce de résistance is my hot chocolate cake is made with hot chocolate mix right into the cake batter. It helps to add a deep, rich chocolate flavor and makes this cake taste like the comfort of a cup of hot cocoa.

Hot Chocolate Cake

prep time: 10 MINUTES cook time: 45 MINUTES additional time: 25 MINUTES total time: 1 HOUR 20 MINUTES

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ sticks butter at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot chocolate powder/mix
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water or fresh brewed coffee
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (see notes)
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature (see notes)
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini-marshmallows or more depending on preference

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chocolate Cake

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy on a medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Beat butter mixture at a medium speed for about 1 minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture while alternating with water. Be sure to start and end with the dry ingredient mix.
  6. On a low speed, mix until creamy. You should not need to mix longer than a minute at most. With that said, be sure not to over mix.
  7. Pour cake batter into a prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan. After, invert onto cooling rack and let cook entirely.

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

  1. If not already done prior, sift 3 cups of powdered sugar. When finished, measure out 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar and put away what’s left.
  2. Beat butter, shortening, and marshmallow cream together until well combined, light, and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  4. Place your stand mixer, or hand mixer, on the lowest possible setting. Begin to slowly and gradually add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. (see notes)
  5. Add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating buttercream at a medium speed until light & fluffy. (see notes)
  6. If you’d like to cut the sweetness, you can incorporate a pinch of salt.

Chocolate Buttercream

  1. Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar & set bowl aside.
  2. Cream butter & shortening.
  3. Add cocoa powder & vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the sides.
  5. Place your mixer on the lowest speed & slowly add in your powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
  6. Do not worry if your buttercream looks crumbly & dry because we will fix that next.
  7. Scrape down the sides one last time.
  8. With your mixer on, slowly add in heavy cream.
  9. Turn mixer up to a medium speed until you have light & fluffy consistency you are looking for (about a minute or so).

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a glass measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup of heavy cream and heat for 60 seconds in microwave.
  3. Pour hot heavy cream over chocolate chips and allow to sit for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Mix chocolate chips & heavy cream until fully combined and you are left with a silky smooth chocolate ganache mixture.

Decorating

  1. After your cakes have cooled, level your cakes. If you’d like to make this a 4-layer cake, half each cake.
  2. Place your first layer onto your cake turntable.
  3. Spread a generous amount of marshmallow buttercream on top and spread evenly with your straight or offset spatula.
  4. Drizzle chocolate ganache.
  5. Place your next layer of cake, top with more buttercream, and spread evenly before drizzling more chocolate ganache. Continue these steps for all of your lays.
  6. Once your cakes have been filled and stacked, begin to cover your cake in chocolate ganache. All cake to set in fridge for 5 minutes.
  7. When ready to add chocolate buttercream frosting, start from the bottom, and while rotating your cake turntable, pipe on your chocolate buttercream in an upward motion.
  8. Using a cake frosting scraper, straight spatula, or offset spatula you will want to smooth over your chocolate buttercream. The best way is to hold your smoothing tool upright and gently pressed against your cake while rotating your cake turntable.
  9. You’ll want to continue this until you have a smooth coating. When you’re doing the final smoothing and you notice the texture of the buttercream become a bit ragged there’s an easy fix! Get a bowl of HOT water and dip your tools into the bowl to warm them up. pat dry and smooth. The warm metal will melt the buttercream and give you a nice SMOOTH finish.
  10. Smooth the top of your cake with an offset spatula.
  11. Set in the fridge and allow to chill for 5 minutes.
  12. After your cake has set, begin your chocolate drip. Begin to drip your chocolate ganache off the sides of the cake before filling in the top.
  13. Decorate with a ring of mini-marshmallows around the outside edge of your cake.

Notes

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Be sure to allow your dairy ingredients to reach room temperature. Room temperature ingredients not only combine more effortlessly (no over-mixing needed) but they also trap air so much better. This trap air will expand and produce a fluffy texture during your baking process.
  • Prepared Pan: There will always be the “next best way to prepare your pan” article. Simply put however, the most effective way i find in my kitchen is a light rub of shortening around the sides, parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, & a very light dusting of flour (cocoa powder for chocolate baked goods) all throughout.
  • You can use this buttercream right away or place it in an airtight container in your fridge until ready to use. Just be sure to whip before using.
  • If you’d prefer to skip the shortening, simply swap it out with 1 additional stick of room temperature butter.
  • If you’d prefer a more white, stiffer, buttercream then simply omit the butter & replace with 1 additional cup of shortening. Also be sure to swap out the vanilla extract for clear vanilla extract.
  • Make sure you sift your powdered sugar. This will help the sugar mix into the butter & shortening smoothly.
  • When all your powdered sugar has been added in, the buttercream will appear dry. Don’t raise the alarms. When adding in your milk or heavy cream, your buttercream will start to have the fluffy texture it‘s known for.
  • Keep in mind that your heavy cream should be added in 1 tablespoon at a time. I do this way to make sure I am not drowning my buttercream to the point of a soupy mess.
  • Also worth mentioning, if desired, you can easily swap out the heavy cream for equal parts of your preferred milk such as whole milk or buttermilk.
Daniel Pagan
Dan is the creator and sort of charming host of the YouTube Channel MANCAKE, dad to Gwennie the Corgi, downtown Pittsburgh resident, and an avid baker of all things delicious since he discovered his passion for it many years ago. (He / Him / His)