Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Cake


When I saw the video of Ina Garten making the chocolate buttercream frosting, I was immediately sold! I was like, this is it! This will be the next cake I’ll be making. And I never regretted it. The cake is moist and has deep chocolate flavor. Not too mention, quite easy to make. The frosting, however, is the kicker. Instead of American buttercream, which oftentimes only has butter, melted chocolate and powdered sugar into it, the frosting has meringue incorporated into it (Swiss Buttercream) which makes the frosting much lighter and I think more flavorful.

This recipe makes a lot of cakes and a lot of frosting. You won’t have to fear if you have enough frosting for the layers and the pipings, as I guarantee you that you’ll have enough. I ended up with 3 6-inch round cakes and about 30 mini cupcakes. The frosting is enough to frost both the cake and the cupcakes. I guess you can halved this, but I dare not try yet.


Chocolate Cake

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups good cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (4 to 5 extra-large eggs), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 3-5 minutes.


While the butter and sugars are whisking, sift all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda) together. I sifted them twice, just to make sure that everything is light and fine.


In a another bowl, stir all of the wet ingredients (buttermilk, sour cream, coffee and vanilla extract) together.


See how light and fluffy the butter and sugars came out?

Mix in the eggs one at a time into the mixture. Barefoot Contessa often prefers extra-large eggs, but I merely used large eggs with the same quantity.


Gently pour in half of the buttermilk mixture into the mixing bowl while the mixer is still running, followed by half of the dry ingredients. Make sure that everything is incorporated, then add the rest of the buttermilk mixture then the rest of the dry ingredients.


Once incorporated, stop mixing and scrape the bottom using a spatula and fold to make sure that everything is well blended.


Pour the chocolate cake batter into greased cake pans and bake in the preheated oven. The mini cupcakes are done much faster, about 12-18 minutes. The 3 6-inch cakes are done after 45-60 minutes.

Let the cakes cool completely before frosting them.

Moving on to the frosting and the best part of this cake.


Chop all pound and 12 ounces of chocolate. You can also use chocolate chips, in which case, you won’t have to do the chopping. Melt the chocolate over a pan with simmering water. Melt them nice and slow, stirring occasionally. Once melted, set aside and let cool.


Into a mixing bowl, add sugar and egg whites and whisk them. Place the bowl over a pan with simmering water, whisking constantly to prevent scrambling the egg whites. Do this for about 5 minutes or so, or until the mixture is comfortably warm to touch and you don’t feel the grittiness of the sugar in your fingers.


Remove the bowl from the double boiler, and using a whisk attachment or even a handheld mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. While it’s still whisking, meanwhile, cut the butter into small chunks. Once the stiff peaks is reached, put the butter one small chunk at a time while the mixer is still whisking. You may see the frosting become gritty-looking, but just continue whisking on. It should become smooth,velvety and fluffy again.


The melted chocolate should have cooled down a little bit while doing the meringue buttercream. Now that it has slightly cooled, gently pour the melted chocolate into the meringue buttercream, whisking.


And you should end up with a velvety, chocolate-y, and smooth frosting.

Frost the cooled chocolate cake, and mini cupcakes.

I recommend to use the frosting right away. It uses real chocolate, instead of just cocoa powder, so mine became slightly stiff and un-spreadable after probably about 30 minutes at a cool temperature. When that happens, just simply whisk the frosting, and it should return to its smooth and fluffy texture.


If the cake been’s sitting in the fridge before serving, I suggest to take it out to sit at room temperature, probably about half an hour or more before serving.

One thought on “Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Cake

  1. I love the Barefoot Contessa, I’ve been watching her show for years. The cake turned out great! Those cupcakes look perfect too. So that recipe is for a huge cake!

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