One chocolate cake recipe, five delicious variations

A few tweaks and twists and this favourite Chatelaine chocolate cake recipe becomes six.
Chocolate cake with mocha frosting Chocolate cake with mocha frosting

A very important date passed earlier this week and we're still celebrating! In case you missed it, mark National Chocolate Cake Day on your calendar for next year and start perfecting your recipe now. And, if you're like us, and are happy eating chocolate cake five days a week, we've got you covered with a chocolate cake recipe that can easily be tweaked into five delicious variations.

Start with our chocolate cake with mocha frosting recipe. And then try...

1. Boozy bourbon chocolate cake

Instead of a traditional cake pan, select a 10-cup tube pan, bundt pan or a fluted tube pan (if you have it) for the pretty aesthetic.

Ingredients: Chocolate cake 4 tbsp unsalted butter 1/2 cup sugar 3 tbsp bourbon pinch salt

GREASE a 10 cup tube or bundt pan and dust with flour. Prepare the cake batter (omit frosting). Bake slightly longer than the original recipe because of the depth of the pan, 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in centre of cakes comes out clean. Continue with recipe. MELT butter with sugar, bourbon (or your preference) and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium low. Stir just until butter has melted then remove from heat. Poke holes into the top of the cake (its okay if it's still warm), then slowly pour  half of the syrup over the cake, giving it time to absorb. Once the liquid has absorbed, repeat with remaining liquid.


2. Choco-Boston cream pie

Somewhere between a Boston cream pie and a Boston cream donut, this is a great flavour combination. Add a layer of creamy custard and frost it with our dark chocolate ganache. Yum and yum.

Ingredients: 11/2 cups milk 6 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 3 tbsp cornstarch 1 tbsp butter 1/2 tsp vanilla chocolate cake with mocha frosting 2 batches dark chocolate ganache

HEAT milk in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until steam begins to rise and bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Remove from heat. BEAT yolks with sugar in a stand-up mixer fixed with a paddle attachment on medium-high until very thick and pale, about 3 to 4 min. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in cornstarch. Slowly pour in scalded milk, with mixer running constantly, mixing constantly until it has all been incorporated. POUR mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, 5 to 7 min. When mixture becomes very thick, use a whisk to smooth and continue cooking and whisking for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter  and vanilla. Pour into a shallow baking dish and spread with plastic wrap so that it is touching the custard. Refrigerate immediately and chill until cold, about 2 hours. PREPARE two batches of dark chocolate ganache. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. PREPARE cake according to package direction, omitting the frosting. SLICE each cake in half horizontally. Place one layer on a large plate or cake stand, cut-side down. Spread cake with 1/2 cup ganache. Top with another cake layer, cut-side down and spread with 1 cup vanilla custard. Top with third cake layer, and spread with 1/2 cup ganache. Top with final cake layer. Spread remaining ganache on top and around sides of cake, smoothing or swirling surface. Refrigerate cake for 1 hour to firm icing before serving.

3. Mint chocolate chip ice cream cake:


This tenderness of this cake makes it an ideal candidate for ice cream cakes. You can use any flavour of ice cream you like for this cake, mint chocolate chip is just my preference. If your cake has been in the freezer for more than 3 hours, pull it out 30 minutes before you plan to slice it. For frozen desserts I sometimes find butter-based frostings too heavy, so here I opt for a "lighter " alternative.

Ingredients: chocolate cake with mocha frosting 2 cups whipping cream 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup chocolate syrup 2L mint chip ice cream, in a rectangular box

GREASE a 9x13 baking dish. Prepare the cake batter as per recipe instructions (click on the link above), omitting frosting. Once cake has cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 45 min to 1 hour (this will make it easier to slice). WHIP whipping cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Whip in vanilla and chocolate syrup. You may need slightly more or less syrup depending on how chocolatey you want it. Refrigerate. REMOVE cake from freezer and carefully slice it in half horizontally. Set the top portion aside. Slice the ice cream lengthwise into 3 rectangles and position on the bottom portion of cake. Trim as needed to make the ice cream fit. Top ice cream with the remaining portion of cake. Freeze for 30 min. SPREAD whipped chocolate cream over cake. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

4. Black forest cake

A few very small additions to this recipe and it takes on a whole new feel. If you are so inclined, whip 1/2 cup whipping cream to pipe rosettes on the top and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.


Ingredients: chocolate cake with mocha frosting 500ml jar sour cherries in light syrup 3 tbsp Kirsch 2 tbsp sugar

PREPARE the cake batter and frosting as per recipe instructions (click on the link above) up to the point of assembly. DRAIN cherries, reserving the liquid. Soak cherries with 1 tbsp Kirsch in a small bowl, set aside. Heat the cherry liquid in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and stir and stir until sugar has dissolved. Stir in remaining Kirsch. Remove from heat and let cool. FOR assembly, brush each cake layer with a generous amount of cherry syrup before spreading on frosting. Top with 1/4 of the marinated cherries. Repeat with remaining syrup, frosting and cherries.

5. Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

The classic combo: chocolate and peanut butter. Here we switch this into cupcakes, to help satisfy the mini form!

Ingredients: chocolate cake with mocha frosting 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 2/3 cup peanut butter 2 1/2 cups icing sugar 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/2 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts 1/4 cup chocolate shavings LINE a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. Prepare the cake as per directions, omitting the frosting. Bake 2 batches of cupcakes for 15 - 20 min each, or until a cake tester inserted in centre of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool. BEAT butter with peanut butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and smooth, about 2 min. Beat in cream and vanilla and beat for 3 more minutes until frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 more min. Beat in icing sugar in small additions until fully combined. Leave at room temperature. FROST each cupcake with peanut butter frosting. Garnish with salty peanuts and chocolate shavings.


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