Think – {Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream}

Enjoying the damp, dark quiet of an unremarkable night, I’m walking alone on the sidewalk. It seems to move beneath my feet like a giant treadmill and I find myself feeling, although mobile, quite stationary. Lighted by street lamps and porch lights, the path ahead is clearly defined, empty, and normal; but somehow it seems as if my steps are being delivered at the sounding of my souls.

I imagine, briefly, the satisfying thud calling forth the next foot of Earth. Buildings drag by and cracks slip away – each sight eventually erased by a few swift steps and a blurry peripheral view. I picture the great gears associated with turning the ground and wonder how the track will be replaced after years of shoes like mine tear and fray it to shreds. I know this straight path will take me far enough to reach my house, but I wonder, then, how much farther I would have to walk until it looped around.

Just how large can this treadmill be? I ask myself. But then, more importantly:

How long, exactly, have I been doing homework?

I shake the imaginary treadmill from my consciousness and attribute its conception to the materials in my backpack. A drained laptop, a pair of worn notebooks, a scratched calculator, and a single dulled pencil; all remnants of an evening spent preparing for exams.

And now, as evening has turned to night, I’m drained. I realize that I’ve studied myself into a mild state of senselessness and now I’m paying for it with lucid visions of insanity.

I hold the conclusion for a moment, pitting the worth of grades against that of sanity. Not just for myself, but for everyone. From the particularly studios inhabitants of the library (in other words, not me) to the drunk porch inhabitants adding spark and zest to my walk. Grades are certainly important – I know – but there’s a balance to be found.

Because you can’t allow imagination – what I suddenly realized I had called senselessness – to become foreign. Otherwise it’s all down hill from here.

Deep Chocolate Cake adapted from Allrecipes
This is a very dense, moist and chocolaty cake. It’s my go-to, and it never EVER lets me down. The recipe below will make two 6-inch layers. Doubling it will produce, two 9″ layers.
Printable Recipe

1 1/3 c (166 g) flour
3/8 c (33 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (118 g) butter, room temp
1 1/2 c (213 g) brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c (157 ml) sour cream, room temp
2/3 c (157 ml) hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Oil and line either two 6-inch pans. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar, until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until very well incorporated. Add the vanilla. Being sure to scrape the bowl often, pour in a third of the dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add half of the sour cream and mix until just combined. Repeat, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Gently stir in the hot coffee, and pour into prepared pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Place baked cakes in pans on a cooling rack for ten minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely before continuing.

Italian Meringue Buttercream
For step-by-step directions for making Italian Meringue Buttercream, please click here!
Printable Recipe

1/4 c (63 ml) water
1 c (210 g) sugar
5 egg whites
1/4 c (53 g) sugar
1 c (237 g) butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Heat the 1 c sugar and water on the stove to 245F stirring occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved. When it is within the range of 230F to 235F, begin whipping the egg whites. When they get to soft peaks, begin adding the remaining 1/4 c sugar and continue whipping to medium peaks, being careful not to overbeat. When the syrup is the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the eggs with the mixer on high. After the syrup is fully incorporated, beat the frosting 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temp. Lower the speed to medium-low and begin adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until fully incorporated before adding the next piece. The frosting will deflate a little, but
it’s ok. Once all the butter has been added, return the speed to high and keep whipping until the frosting comes together. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Chill the cakes for at least two hours, then split them. Fill with Italian Meringue Buttercream and crumb coat. Frost and serve at room temp.

How to stack and crumb coat.
How to frost a cake.


  1. says

    that cake is very oreo looking and it sounds good… i may try this frosting out for my kids birthday… do you think little kids would like this frosting? it sounds amazing.

  2. says

    I make Italian BUttercream using the same recipe as you. I have a few questions as to your method of construction (sorry i have sewing on the brain, lol) Why do you reserve the 1/4 cup of sugar and mix it into the egg whites instead of melting it down with the rest in the saucepan? Why only one cup of butter? (mine usually calls for 2)

  3. says

    Do you have any good fondant recipes? Try as I might, I can't get fondant to taste very good. I'm starting to think it's against the rules or something. πŸ˜›

  4. says

    This cake looks amazing. Try as I might, I cannot ice a cake with totally smooth sides like yours. Your layers are so level and your filling is perfectly level as well. What am I doing wrong? Ahhhh!!!! Beautiful cake. I will have to try the choc cake recipe. Even though many folks thing choc cake is choc cake..they are all a bit different. Yours looks like a nice deep chocolate.

  5. says

    WOW gorgeous cake! I love baking cakes yes I do! Frosting them as well! It's lot of fun. Especially when my daughter is around to help. She's very good at this kind of stuff.

  6. says

    I made mine with a Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream and this is the most delicious chocolate cake ever! So moist and that hint of coffee really went with the Bailey's! Kaitlyn I doubt I'll ever have the presentation skills you do, but all of your recipes are foolproof and tasty!

  7. says

    Thank you for your kind comments, everyone! <br /><br /><b>@Katy Rose</b>: I add that 1/4 c of sugar into the egg whites because it makes them harder to overbeat. Also, I know that most recipes for Italian Meringue call for 2 cups of butter, but I don&#39;t think they need it. It always comes together with 1 cup for me, and it tastes lighter, in my opinion. <br /><br /><b>@Rachel</b>: I made

  8. says

    I love that your cakes are always ridiculously tall. I always say a single layer cake is just lazy; two layer cake a perfect afternoon snack, three layers for the weekend, four for weddings, five for birthdays. πŸ˜‰ I&#39;m addicted to cake.

  9. says

    I made your italian butter cream over the weekend and it was awesome! My new favorite frosting! Quick question though – this recipe calls for 1/4 cup of water, but the longer tutorial says 1/2 cup water… does it matter?

  10. says

    This cake looks so yummy and it is out of this world BEAUTIFUL!!! Coming by from my friend Kat&#39;s blog…she was so nice to lead me to your awesome blog…yes you now have a new follower:)<br /><br />Blessings,<br />Linda

  11. says

    The cake looks delicious, and I have to say your writing is pretty beautiful too! I made my way over from Low Tide High Style just too say, &quot;Good luck with everything, and by the looks of things you&#39;re on the right track!&quot;

  12. says

    from the look of your pictures, i can tell why this is your go-to recipe! i was looking at a similar recipe and im now in a dilemma. heck, i might just make both recipes! now the question is, how soon?

  13. says

    Sounds lovely! And smells good, too! The chocolate cake just came out of the oven. It fell a little on the cooling rack. Can that be avoided? (Not that it really matters as it will be covered in buttercream but still…)<br />Now on to the buttercream challenge!

  14. says

    Thanks for your comments, everyone &lt;3<br /><br />Colleen and Johanna – I&#39;m happy to hear you liked it! Johanna, I&#39;m not sure why the cake sank :( Sorry!

  15. says

    I&#39;ve made this cake twice and it&#39;s so yummy! The first time I used it to make ice cream cake and it was PERFECT! I layered vanilla ice cream and frosted with French vanilla cool whip!<br />today I made it with the frosting. I need to work on my buttercream but it was good!<br />mine doesn&#39;t come out as dark as yours …but it tastes good!

  16. says

    Love your blog…your tutorial on IMBC and SMBC got me through successfully the first time! Do you know how this cake would hold up to carving and stacking under fondant? Thanks so much!

  17. Anonymous says

    this looks so pretty and perfect!<br /><br />sorry if this question is stupid but in this recipe, do you use dutch cocoa or normal unsweetened cocoa? i have some cocoa barry extra brute but im not sure if i can use it for this cake? <br /><br />samantha

  18. Heather says

    I have a question and I hate to bother you with it. Can you really taste the coffee in the cake? I want a really nice chocolate cake for a child&#39;s party, but I don&#39;t think coffee would go over well.

  19. says

    So I am finally getting around to using this recipe. Instead of regular coffee I used Chocolate Raspberry Truffle coffee. It smells incredible. Getting ready to start the butter cream. I will let you know how it turns out. From the smell of it I am going to say AWESOME!

  20. says

    Okay, the raspberry coffee was a huge hit. My frosting was soupy, probably because it is hot here and my house was still warm from the oven. But after lowering the temp in the house, putting it in the fridge for 7 minutes and adding about three pads of butter it thickened! Thank you for sharing this. Last year the only thing good on my daughter&#39;s birthday cake was the frosting, I am positive

  21. Anonymous says

    Hi…I made this cake today and it turned out great. Just a couple question – the weight of the flour seemed off on my scale. Is it 1 and 1/3 cups total? That was over 200 grams. Also, what brand of cocoa and brown sugar do you use? My cake tasted delicious but it wasn&#39;t nice and dark like yours. Thanks for the great recipe!

  22. says

    It&#39;s almost time for my daughter&#39;s birthday again, which means I WILL be baking this cake again! I am SOOO excited! :) She is too! My uncle wants me to make two. One for the party, and one for just him. He LOVES this cake (I made him one for his birthday) and every time he thinks about it, he requests one. πŸ˜‰ Thank you again for your lovely blog and being so helpful! Most people post and

  23. says

    Made this for my step mom&#39;s birthday and everyone agreed it was the best cake they&#39;d ever had. Btter, deep, rich, not too sticky sweet… I&#39;m allergic to chocolate so I took their word for it on the cake, but I loved the frosting!

  24. Sindisiwe says

    This is still my favourite cake in the world. I’m so glad you’re posting again! I particularly love that you do everything from scratch – I live in South Africa, so a LOT of the pre-prepared ingredients available in the States just don’t exist here. Plus, everything tastes better home-made. πŸ˜‰ Thank you for all the recipe love that you give us!

    • says

      You’re so sweet! Thank you! And I’m glad you appreciate the from scratch aspects too. I agree it tastes better – and it’s so much more fun that way too!

  25. Stephanie Piquero says

    I have used your recipes for the last few years, and find the tutorials so easy to use! I would like to make the chocolate cake, but my daughter wants a Barbie doll cake, so I plan to use a bundt pan. I am wondering about the cooking time. Do you know how I should adjust the cooking time to ensure the cake cooks correctly in the bundt pan? Also, for a 3 layer cake, do you think I will need to double the recipe? Thank you!

    • says

      Aw, thank you Stephanie! I am happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed the recipes!

      Do you plan to fill the bundt pan three times to make a three layer cake? To bake one bundt, I’d start checking it at ~40 minutes :)

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