Classic American Chocolate Layer Cake

A deep, dark chocolatey cake that is moist and almost custard-like, while still being light. The mayonnaise is an unlikely key ingredient that makes this cake so full-proof and special. The crumb is delicate, but sturdy enough to hold any kind of icing you wish to spoon on. This recipe makes 3 9-inch round layers (for a tall layer cake) or one 11 x 15-inch sheet cake. To avoid over mixing, I make this cake by hand and not with my high-powered stand mixer. Gently mixing the ingredients is important, as over mixing will result in a poor rise of the cake.

A deep, dark chocolatey cake that is moist and almost custard-like, while still being light. The mayonnaise is an unlikely key ingredient that makes this cake so full-proof and special. The crumb is delicate, but sturdy enough to hold any kind of icing you wish to spoon on. This recipe makes 3 8-inch round layers (for a tall layer cake) or one 11 x 15-inch sheet cake.

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons salt

4 eggs 

1 1/2 cups mayo

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 3/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons strong coffee

2 teaspoons vanilla

Cake Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.   Prepare 3 – 8 inch round pans by coating the inside of each pan with shortening, then dusting with cocoa powder.  I also like to cut pieces of parchment paper to match the bottom of each pan to ensure a 100% successful release. See video at the 3:41 mark for a visual.

– I like to make this cake by hand as opposed to using the my KitchenAid Mixer.  I think that mixing this cake by hand makes a lighter, fluffier cake.

The mayonnaise is an unlikely key ingredient that makes this cake so full-proof and special. When you really think about it, mayonnaise is made of eggs, oil and vinegar – all things that are great in a cake.

Please use only dark brown sugar in this recipe.  Usually, I find the difference between dark brown sugar and light brown sugar in recipes negligible, but in this recipe the dark brown sugar really adds to the depth and richness of the cake. 

Another key ingredient in this recipe is the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder.  Dutch processed cocoa powder (the lighter stuff) is not going to give you such a deep, dark, rich cake. 

Strong coffee is also an important ingredient.  As a substitute, you can add 1 teaspoon instant coffee to 1 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water.  Just make sure you adjust the water quantity to include the 2 Tbs liquid you would have added with brewed coffee. 

Mixing the dry ingredients is the first step. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Mixing the egg, mayonnaise and brown sugar is the second step.

The egg, mayo and brown sugar mixture is almost caramel-like.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the mayo/egg mixture.

Pour half of the water/coffee mixture to the bowl. Stir, and repeat until all of your ingredients are incorporated.

You don’t have to mix until the batter is completely smooth. A little bit of lumpiness is actually optimal for a light cake.

Prepare 3 – 8 inch round pans by coating the inside of each pan with shortening, then dusting with cocoa powder.  I also like to cut pieces of parchment paper to match the bottom of each pan to ensure a 100% successful release. See video at the 3:41 mark for a visual. 

Bake cakes at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Be sure to cool completely before icing.

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter – softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing instructions:

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.

You can see this process by going to the 4:23 mark of the video.

Measure the chocolate chips into a glass bowl.  Melt for 30 seconds, then stir chocolate chips even if they don’t seem very warm yet.  Pop them back in the microwave for 30 more seconds and stir again.  Keep the chocolate chips clumped together in a little lump, them melt for 20 seconds.  Stir well, then melt for 10 seconds.  By this time the chocolate chips will be mostly melted, and the bowl will be very warm.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Make sure that the chocolate has cooled to room temperature before you proceed.

Whip the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a high powered stand mixer – or with a hand mixer.  Add the melted chocolate.  

Whip on high for about 3 minutes, using the balloon whip attachment (if you are using a stand mixer).  This will make the buttercream light and cloud-like.  

Fill and ice the cake.  Enjoy!

Be sure to print this free recipe for future reference.  

Thanks so much for being here, 

Shannon Vavich 

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Shannon’s Dark Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Shannon Vavich
A deep, dark chocolatey cake that is moist and almost custard-like, while still being light. The mayonnaise is an unlikely key ingredient that makes this cake so full-proof and special. The crumb is delicate, but sturdy enough to hold any kind of icing you wish to spoon on. This recipe makes 3 9-inch round layers (for a tall layer cake) or one 11 x 15-inch sheet cake. To avoid over mixing, I make this cake by hand and not with my high-powered stand mixer. Gently mixing the ingredients is important, as over mixing will result in a poor rise of the cake.
5 from 1 vote

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, large and medium
  • whisk
  • rubber spatula
  • Parchment paper for lining pans

Ingredients
  

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder I use Hershey's "special dark".
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Egg/sugar mix:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise I like to use a good mayo like Hellmann's, Duke's or Best Foods.
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Liquids:

  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs strong coffee

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.   Prepare 3 – 8 inch round pans by coating the inside of each pan with shortening, then dusting with cocoa powder.  I also like to cut pieces of parchment paper to match the bottom of each pan to ensure a 100% successful release. See video at the 3:41 mark for a visual. 
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.  Stir to combine.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs then add the mayonnaise.  Whisk to combine.  Add the dark brown sugar and whisk until smooth and caramel-like.
  • Measure out 1 3/4 cups water and add 2 tablespoons strong coffee.
  • Add 1/2 of the dry mixture to the egg/mayo/sugar mixture and stir gently.  Add half the water/coffee and stir again.
  • Repeat until all the ingredients have been incorporated.  Add the vanilla and stir.  It's best if this batter has a few small lumps in it.  You do not need to stir until it's completely smooth.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pans, and bake for 25-50 minutes.
  • Cool cakes for about 10 minutes before turning them out on a cooling rack and peeling off the parchment paper.  
  • Make sure cakes are 100% cool before you ice them.

Video

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream

Shannon Vavich
Light and airy – real melted semisweet chocolate makes this buttercream exceptionally decadent. Whipping this buttercream using a balloon whip make it as light as a cloud! It's almost like the inside of a 3-Musketeers bar!
5 from 1 vote

Equipment

  • glass bowl for melted chocolate
  • small rubber spatula stirring melted chocolate
  • heavy duty stand mixer with balloon whip attachment or hand mixer

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Melting the chocolate

  • Measure the chocolate chips into a glass bowl.  Melt for 30 seconds, then stir chocolate chips even if they don't seem very warm yet.  Pop them back in the microwave for 30 more seconds and stir again.  Keep the chocolate chips clumped together in a little lump, them melt for 20 seconds.  Stir well, then melt for 10 seconds.  By this time the chocolate chips will be mostly melted, and the bowl will be very warm.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  • Make sure that the chocolate has cooled to room temperature before you proceed.

Whipping the icing

  • Whip the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a high powered stand mixer – or with a hand mixer.  
  • Add the melted chocolate.  
  • Whip on high for about 3 minutes, using the balloon whip attachment (if you are using a stand mixer).  This will make the buttercream light and cloud-like.  

Video

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About

Shannon Vavich has been working in the food industry since 1999 as a cake designer, pastry chef, recipe writer, caterer and cooking teacher. Originally a musician by education - she's also a classical vocalist. She is a military spouse of 26 years. Because of her husband's military career she has lived around the world and studied culinary arts in Morocco, England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, New Orleans, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Boston and more. She currently lives in a small Medieval-era village in Baden-Württemberg, Germany with her husband and children. Shannon's two oldest children serve in the Marine Corps and the Air Force, respectively. She recently adopted a little rescue dog - a former street dog from Bursa, Turkey - and named her Nutmeg. Shannon and Nutmeg enjoy walks through the German countryside, creating seasonal dishes in her studio, and early bedtimes.