Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chocolate cake with dark brown sugar

The weather has finally turned and it’s starting to feel like autumn. Rain, dark skies and all that is characteristic of Dutch cold weather is back, while raincoats, boots and woolen socks have finally replaced open-toed shoes, t-shirts and skirts.

It is that time of the year. When the warmth of the oven is again pleasant and I can’t wait to be tucked in my little kitchen, bake my favorite cakes and try new ones.

This one is a cake I have been making quite often for the last two-three years and it is so scrumptious it is difficult to keep around for more than a couple of days. It is a chocolate cake made with dark brown sugar, cocoa and dark chocolate and it is my favorite everyday chocolate cake ever.

It is light and fluffy yet has a rich and deep flavor of chocolate accentuated by the molasses sweetness of dark brown sugar. Its smooth crumb and lovely crust on top, its beautiful chocolate aroma and slight moistness, makes it a perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee or tea, and it is certainly ideal for breakfast before heading out to face the day or for a sweet treat in the afternoon when those sweet cravings kick in.

Chocolate cake with dark brown sugar
Adapted from here

I usually serve this plain but you can dust it with icing sugar that will cover those inevitable cracks on top, or with a patterned glaze made with icing sugar and milk.

You need to use chocolate with a high percentage in cocoa solids to balance the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients. The soft dark brown sugar makes the cake wonderfully moist and adds a level of sweetness as well as an interesting flavor, but the cake needs the bitterness of the chocolate to keep the flavors balanced.

Update 06.11.2014: Some of you have asked me about the sweetened condensed milk in the recipe. Since the cake doesn't contain a lot of sugar, the small amount of sweetened condensed milk gives the required sweetness and contributes to the cake's fluffy texture. Therefore, I wouldn't suggest you substitute it with another type of milk or cream.

Yield: 1 cake / 8-10 pieces

25 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
50 ml cold water
100 ml boiling water
50 g good quality dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids), finely chopped
100 g unsalted butter, softened and cubed, plus extra for greasing the pan
175 g soft dark brown sugar
125 g sweetened condensed milk
2 medium-sized eggs
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
200 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

Special equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, sieve, loaf pan (23 x 9 x 8 cm), baking paper

Butter the bottom and sides of your loaf pan with butter and line it with baking paper.

In a small bowl, add the cocoa powder and cold water and mix with a hand whisk until you have a smooth paste. Pour in the boiling water and whisk, then immediately add the chopped chocolate. Leave it for 2 minutes to melt and then whisk until you have a smooth mixture.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl), add the softened butter, the soft dark brown sugar and the sweetened condensed milk and using the paddle attachment (or your hand-held mixer), beat on medium-high speed until very smooth. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
Sieve together in a bowl the flour and baking powder. Add half of it to the egg mixture and beat on medium-high until well incorporated (about 20 seconds). Add the chocolate mixture and beat to incorporate. Add the rest of the flour and beat until smooth (for about 20 seconds). In the end you should have a very fluffy and luscious cake batter.

Empty it into your prepared loaf pan and straighten the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
Place the pan on the low rack of your oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then transfer it to the middle rack of the oven and bake for a further 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.

Once ready, take the pan out of the oven and place it on a wire rack until the cake cools. Then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool completely on the rack.

Serve cake as is cut into pieces, or dust it with icing sugar (it needs to be completely cool otherwise the icing sugar will melt into the cake), or glazed with icing/frosting.

You can keep it at room temperature, covered, for 4-5 days.


  1. This is just so beautiful in all ways. The texture of the cake is incredible with that dusting of sugar. The perfect chocolate cake for me as I am not an icing fan. Just perfect.
    Wouter just said this morning that "this is Dutch" weather that we are having here in Nashville, TN.

    1. Thank you Teresa! Sounds like Wouter is a homesick :)

  2. Even though I'm on a sugar-free option, I will make this cake for our next celebration. It really looks moist and rich and dense and dark - perfect!

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it. It's worth breaking the sugar-free diet :)

  3. The texture of that cake is amazing! You can just see that from the crumb itself :O

  4. Magda, I haven't eaten breakfast yet and your cake is making me so darned hungry I can barely stand it. I love how rich and moist it looks. I need this cake in my life;)

  5. Beautiful Magda, I agree with Lorraine - the texture of that cake looks amazing. I can't wait to try this recipe soon!!

  6. I wrote a comment that I just lost while signing in. Lokking at your blog is so comforting:) food wise:). Lara

  7. I just love the texture of your cake. So soft and fluffy. I'm bookmarking it. Will definitely try it! (ziet er heerlijk uit hoor) :)

  8. This is the best recipe everrrrrr.. made it the first time misjudged the portions and it overflowed in the oven .. and yet it was amazing .. my daughter loved it . & her friends loved it and came back for seconds the next day :) ... making it in a round tin this time .. already smells good ...

  9. Best recipe ever ... over flowed the first time in the oven (i misjudged the portions) and yet it turned out amazing .. we even added bit of crumbled cake in some vanilla ice cream and it tastes like heaven... Making it in a round tin this time .. it already smells goood :)

  10. Does anyone have the recipe converted to cups, etc instead of grams and mL?