Sixteen years ago today I ate chocolate cake. It was a beautiful three-tiered dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling and white fondant, and I joyfully shared it with 160 people. It was our wedding cake!

There was likely a fair share of dubious guests toasting with us that Sunday evening and dancing into the wee hours of Labor Day. After all, Dave and I had met on a blind date, gotten engaged seven weeks later, and were married within five months. (And no, our first baby was still almost a year-and-a-half off…I know what you were thinking!) But as they say, when it’s right, sometimes you just know it instantly. After every blind date, my grandmother would call from Boca to check in for a debriefing, and the morning after Dave and I closed Capriccio’s, I told her that I had just gone on my last first date! (Granted, I had to go emergency shoe shopping the next day for shorter heels in time for our second date, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!)

Anyhoo…I digress. As is customary, the top tier of our wedding cake was wrapped up and frozen, along with a note from one of my bridesmaids that read, “Whoomp, there it is!” For the next 10 anniversaries, we defrosted the cake, initialed and dated the yellow Post-It note, and shared a little bite — at first just the two of us, and then four more Reisers joined the party over the next five years. Believe it or not, the fondant preserved the moist cake delightfully right into the next millennium.

With the original wedding cake long gone now, I thought our anniversary would be a lovely day to make my favorite chocolate cake, which happens to be in one of the Barefoot cookbooks. Ina credits the recipe to her friend, Michael, whose grandfather used to have a milk route in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Adorably, Michael’s grandmother used to make the cake for her husband to deliver to his customers along with their milk. With buttermilk and hot coffee in the batter, it’s by far the moistest, most luscious chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

So here’s to my handsome prince:


May our life together continue to be as sweet and rich and delicious and fulfilling as this chocolate cake. Happy anniversary!

In love forever,


Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Barefoot Contessa At Home, ©2008


    • Butter, for greasing the pans
    • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
    • 2 cups sugar
    • ¾ cups good cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
    • ½ cup vegetable oil
    • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
    • Chocolate frosting, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.


Chocolate Frosting

    • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
    • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

4 Responses to “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake”

  1. Jill Olswanger says:

    Why oil instead of butter?

    • Andrea says:

      Wish I knew! It’s a Barefoot Contessa recipe, and it just always comes out perfectly moist and light rather than dense. Whenever I make it, it brings back memories of adding oil to Duncan Hines cake mix when I was growing up…but this is a million times better.

  2. Tammy Thompson says:

    Can this cake be stacked into three tiers; 10″;8″;6″??? I’ll be using swiss buttercream icing.

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