Very Moist Chocolate Layer Cake

  • Serves

    serves 10


The recipes my grandmother passed down are simple and durable, having survived repeat performances at all manner of family gatherings. A special place is reserved for this chocolate layer cake. It delivers a velvety crumb, an honest chocolate taste, and a rich icing. It is a cake from my family's heart. –Robbin Gourley, from "Chocolate Cake" (September/October 1994)


For the Cake

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Icing

  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 cup milk
  • 14 cup light corn syrup
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Step 1

For the cake: Bring milk to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and cover; set aside for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9" cake pans; set aside. Whisk together flour and salt in large bowl; set aside. Dissolve baking soda in 1⁄3 cup hot water; set aside.

Step 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat both sugars and shortening until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth. Add flour and chocolate mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Beat in soda water and vanilla. Divide batter evenly among pans, and smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 3

For the icing: Heat chocolate, sugar, milk, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan, and cook until mixture thickens and reaches 220° on thermometer.

Step 4

Pour icing into a mixing bowl; beat on medium speed of a hand mixer until slightly cooled. Add vanilla, increase speed to high, and beat until consistency of frosting. Working quickly, place 1 cake on a cake stand; spread about 1⁄2 cup icing on top. Cover with second cake; spread with 1⁄2 cup icing. Cover with last cake, and spread icing over top and sides of cakes. Let cool to set icing before cutting and serving.

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