Food October 28, 2020

Make this easy fudgy cake for National Chocolate Day

WATCH: How to make chocolate Pop-Tarts at home

What better way to celebrate National Chocolate Day than with a classic chocolate cake!

Yossy Arefi's new cookbook, "Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings," is filled with delicious and easy confections.

The food photographer, food stylist and recipe developer shared her cake recipe that's perfect any day of the week or for a chocolate-filled celebration.

Fudgy Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

Yossy Arefi
Chocolate cake with fluffy chocolate frosting from "Snacking Cakes" cookbook.

This cake is dense, fudgy and super chocolatey. The buttercream frosting pushes it directly into dessert territory, but sometimes you just need a fluffy frosting cap on your cake to turn your day around. This frosting is one of the few recipes in this book you’ll have to pull out a hand mixer for, but if that’s not your speed, try the Cocoa Glaze instead.


1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, well-shaken

1/4 cup (60ml) neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed

1/4 cup (55g) unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (68g) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup (60ml) hot coffee or water

1/3 cup (55g) chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips (optional)

Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, very soft

1/4 cup (23g) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

1 cup (100g) confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Shaved chocolate or sprinkles, to finish


Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or coat an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over two of the edges.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Add the buttermilk, oil, butter, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth and emulsified. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda and whisk until well-combined and smooth. Gently stir in the coffee, then fold in the chocolate (if using).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula.

Bake the cake until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting add the butter to a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth and creamy.

Turn the mixer to low, add the cocoa powder, and mix until smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary, then slowly add the confectioners’ sugar.

Mix until the sugar is moistened, then add the vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons milk. Turn the mixer to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy, adding more milk as necessary to make a smooth and fluffy frosting.

Top the cooled cake with swoops of frosting and scatter the shaved chocolate or sprinkles over the top. (Store the cake, covered, at room temperature or in the fridge for up to three days.)

Adapt this recipe in another pan

LOAF: Bake in a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan until puffed and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

ROUND: Bake in a 9-inch round pan until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.

SHEET: Double the ingredients for the cake and bake in a 9 x 13-inch pan until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Double the ingredients for the frosting, too.

Flavor Variations

Top the cooled cake with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting or Fluffy Strawberry Frosting instead of the chocolate frosting.

Chocolate turtle cake: Fold 1/2 cup (65g) finely chopped toasted pecans into the batter (save a tablespoon or two to sprinkle on top of the cake) along with the chocolate chips. Bake as directed, then let the cake cool. Top slices of cake with warm caramel.

Dress It Up

Serve slices of cake with ice cream if you really want to take this cake to party-town.

Reprinted with permission from Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings by Yossy Arefi copyright © 2020. Photographs by Yossy Arefi copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.