The Not-So-Secret Ingredient to Ina’s Best-Ever Chocolate Cake

updated Jan 14, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Kitchn’s editors have written about Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake not once or twice, but at least three times. In fact, it won our chocolate cake recipe showdown last February. Why is it such a winner? It’s incredibly tender, moist, and full of chocolate flavor — basically everything you’d dream a rich chocolate cake to be.

The recipe includes the usual suspects (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, cocoa powder), but there’s one extra ingredient in both the cake and the frosting: coffee. Here’s how Ina uses our favorite morning beverage to make this awesome chocolate cake.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

A Double Dose of Coffee Makes Ina’s Chocolate Cake the Best Ever

Seasoned bakers know that coffee is often used in chocolate recipes — the bitter notes of coffee bring out the best of chocolate’s bittersweet flavors. What makes Ina’s recipe a little bit different is that she uses two different forms of coffee: one in the cake and the other in the frosting. First, she stirs a cup of strongly brewed black coffee into the cake batter. Studio Food Editor Jesse Szewczyk suggests you don’t skimp on the quality of this brew. “The coffee is what made this cake so delicious, so make sure you’re using coffee you would actually drink,” he wrote in his full review of Ina’s winning cake. Not only does the brewed coffee add flavor, but it also adds moisture, giving the baked cake a fine, soft texture. Of course, the water from the coffee helps to this end, but the acidity from the coffee also reacts with the cake’s leavening (here, baking soda) to contribute to the cakes rise.

Next up is the frosting, which gets its rich smoothness from a raw egg yolk and its deep flavor from fancy chocolate boosted by instant coffee. Instant coffee brings a consistent coffee flavor without adding too much extra liquid to the frosting. The coffee flavor is more pronounced in the cake and less so in the frosting, but the combination of the two is magical, which is why this treat is such a hit with the Kitchn crew. In keeping with Ina’s theme, we suggest pairing the dessert with a cup of coffee.

Ready to try it for yourself? Get Ina Garten’s Beaty’s Chocolate Cake recipe.