I have been DYING to share this with you guys! To celebrate one of our favorite holidays, my talented friend Lindsey (you may know her as @theinfernalqueen on social media) and I decided to collaborate and bring you some Halloween inspiration.
Linds is the queen of reading and reviewing books, and she was telling me about some of her favorite creepy stories of the moment. I’ve been trying to decide on a fun cake to create for Halloween, so when we got talking about one of her current reads, Hunting Prince Dracula, we decided to run with the idea.
Thus my death by chocolate cake was born! And let’s be honest–death by chocolate doesn’t seem like a bad way to go. It’s got layers of my favorite chocolate cake, frosting made with special dark cocoa, dark chocolate ganache, and it’s covered in “dusty” marshmallow cobwebs and drips of even MORE ganache. So you see where it gets its name; it is rich. The cocoa powder is definitely key to this recipe, so allow me to have an Ina Garten moment: I highly recommend using a good quality, dark, dutch processed cocoa powder. However, if you’re like me and don’t want to make a special trip to hunt down the good stuff, you can find Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa at the grocery store; it will give you that extra dark look that dutch processed cocoa has. For my ganache I used 70% cacao chocolate pieces (Ghiradhelli makes a good version that you can find just about anywhere). If you’re not a dark chocolate person like me, you can use a semi-sweet chocolate, you just won’t get the same, deep color. Since it’s Halloween, I also added a touch of black food coloring to my ganache to make it extra dark. Pro tip: take a moment to dip a strawberry in this stuff and eat it. You will have no regrets. Now let’s chat about those marshmallow cobwebs! This is easily one of the messiest things I’ve ever made, but you’ve just got to know that going into the experience and let it be fun. The idea is to melt your marshmallows and allow them to cool to room temperature (I also added a touch of cocoa and food coloring). At this point the mixture will be super sticky (It will honestly stick to EVERYTHING, so be careful!) and pliable, so you can stretch it out between your fingers and wrap the strands around the cake. Once you get the look you’re going for, enjoy a nice, long hand washing sesh 🙂 I wanted this cake to look gooey and imperfect, so I added a very generous drip of ganache to finish it off. I can think of so many ways to decorate this cake that would make it fun and extra creepy… our personal favorite topper was a butcher knife!PS. stabbing the cake was pretty therapeutic… In case you’re having a rough day.You’ve got to check out Lindsey’s beautiful Instagram feed and blog! Her photography is incredible and she’s always reading something good.
Death by Chocolate Cake
Dark chocolate cake layered with rich chocolate frosting and dark chocolate ganache.
- For the Dark Chocolate Cake:
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk (room temp)
- 2 eggs (room temp)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water For the Dark Chocolate Frosting:
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 cup dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup good quality chocolate pieces
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda together (this will get rid of any lumps). Whisk in the sugar and salt, making sure all the dry ingredients are combined.
- Mix together beaten eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Make sure each ingredient is room temperature (this will help the ingredients be better incorporated and keep the texture of the cake light and moist). Do this by leaving the cup of milk and two eggs out for an hour, or soak the eggs in warm water for about 10 minutes before using.
- Pour the wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined. Then add the boiling water (heat in microwave or on the stove) and mix until batter is smooth (again, don’t over mix).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 18-25 minutes using 3, 8″ round pans or 4, 6″ round pans. To prevent sticking, line the pans with parchment paper rounds, running a knife around the perimeter after the cakes have cooled for 10-15 min. They should easily turn out onto a cooling rack, allowing you to peel off the parchment paper. Allow them to continue cooling for about 40 min.
- Once cakes are completely cool, trim any uneven edges and wrap in plastic wrap, placing in fridge or freezer until ready to use.
- Cream room temperature butter on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add in the sifted cocoa powder a little at a time, and the vanilla. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk and continue to mix until all combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Heat cream over the stove or in the microwave until warmed through, stirring often. Add dark chocolate pieces and cover, setting aside for 15 minutes. Whisk the mixture together until combined and smooth. If the ganache is still not fully melted, microwave in 10 second increments and stir until smooth.
- Let the ganache cool to room temp before using.
- Between each layer of cake, spread chocolate frosting and top with a generous drizzle of chocolate ganache.
- Once all the layers are stacked, add a simple coat of frosting to the sides and top of the cake to lock in the crumbs (a crumb coat), then place in the fridge or freezer to set for 20-30 min before adding the final coat of buttercream. For smoothest results, use an icing scraper or a straight spatula to smooth the sides, then return to fridge/freezer. Note: To add to the cake’s rustic appearance I added a generous amount of frosting between layers and left the outside with just a crumb coat.
- For the marshmallow cobwebs, melt 1/3 bag of mini marshmallows and allow them to cool to room temperature (I added a touch of cocoa and food coloring while the mixture was still warm). The mixture will be very sticky and pliable so you can stretch it out between your fingers. Wrap the strands of marshmallow around the chilled cake until you reach your desired look.
- Chill the cake again before adding the ganache drip so it will set properly.
Dark Chocolate Cake:
Dark Chocolate Frosting:
Dark Chocolate Ganache: