Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate Cake

Six Inch Chocolate Cake.png

Little Miss Cleaver just turned five in March. (I know, I have no idea how that happened so fast either).

To celebrate such a momentous occasion, we had a big friend birthday party about a week before the actual day.  But, in LMC's words, the "real party" was the one with family on her actual birthday. So even though we were solidly cupcaked-out by that point, a cake was still in order. Enter this deeply chocolaty, but petite cake - just enough for the three of us to handle and cute to boot.

There are hundreds of chocolate cake recipes out there, so I'll just say that this one was still really moist after three days at room temperature and I use my blog as my own personal recipe box and I wanted to put this out there so I can remember it for the next birthday. 

This recipe will fill any of the following:

  • One 9" cake pan
  • Two 6" cake pans
  • About 10-12 cupcakes
  • Or a really thick 6" cake, plus a small ramekin. (which is what I did).


Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate Cake


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbl cold coffee
  • 3 Tbl milk


  • 4 Tbl salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • up to 3 tbl milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional (lots of sprinkles to decorate)


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease pan(s) and coat with cocoa powder or use liner if making cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt,  In a small bowl or  large measuring cup, combine coffee, milk, and yogurt. 

In a  large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla to sugar and mix until well combined.

Starting and ending with the flour mix, alternate adding flour mix and yogurt mix to sugar/egg mix, making sure batter is thoroughly combined before each addition. 

Scrape batter into prepared pan(s), keeping the distribution as even as possible if using multiple pans. 

Bake cake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Start your timer at 20 minutes and check every 3-5 minutes thereafter, cooking times will vary based on which pan you choose. 

Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes then invert unton rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting: Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add cocoa and powdered sugar to butter. Add milk a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieve and then beat in vanilla. 

To decorate as shown: Place a large amount pf sprinkles into a pie pan or rimmed baking dish. Frost sides, but not top of cake. Being very careful, tilt the frosted cake into the pie pan and roll until sides are coated with sprinkles. Gently place cake unto serving dish or stand and press sprinkles into the side as needed. Frost top of cake. To make number, print out number of choice in a very large font (I think I used Impact here) in the center of a 5" circle. Cut out number with sharp scissors or an craft knife. Place template gently on top of cake, trying not to stick it to the frosting. Pour sprinkles into your template, mushing them into the frosting gently with you fingers and carefully remove template. 

Goes excellently with a glass of milk.

Adapted from Ghirardelli's Grand Fudge Cake (aka the one on the back of the cocoa powder bag).

To print, see button at bottom of post.

Six Inch Chocolate Cake 2.png

Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate Cake

Serves 9 Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup salted butter, softened 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar 1 tsp vanilla 1 large egg 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 3 Tbl cold coffee 3 Tbl milk Frosting 4 Tbl salted butter, softened 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder up to 3 tbl milk 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/2 teaspoons salt,

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Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Quick Buttercream Frosting

Life can be intense sometimes. Flavors can be intense. While I love 70% dark chocolate with sea salt caramel as much as the next person, some days, I just don't want intense. 

Some days I just want something easy to make and easy to eat.

These chocolate chip cupcakes hit on both marks. The simple cake base receives a punch of sweetness from mini chocolate chips and a few tablespoons of orange juice in both the batter and frosting keep it bright, without tasting overly citrus-y. The frosting is so easy, you'll wonder why you ever popped open a can. 

As for being easy to eat? Let's just say that most times in my household, I end up eating the majority of my bakes because the rest of my family isn't all that into dessert. These cupcakes, however, were devoured two at a time and didn't last the weekend. :D

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Quick Buttercream Frosting

Makes 20-24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the muffin cups.


  • 2 1/3 cup cake flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/3 cup cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperture)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Slightly less than 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Measure out lemon and orange juice into a liquid measuring cup and add milk until total liquid is 1 cup. Set aside.

Using a wooden spoon or mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add vanilla to mixture. 

In a separate bowl or sifter, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If using bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

Starting and ending with the flour mixture, add flour and milk to egg/sugar mixture in alternating portions, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next.

Add chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Scoop batter into prepared pans, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Clean up any drips and place pans in the center of the oven and bake from 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the top of the cake springs backs when touched.

After about  five minutes, remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • up to 1 Tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave and allow to cool. Mix together powdered sugar, butter and salt until well-combined. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, milk and orange juice. Mix until well combined, adding additional milk or orange juice until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes. 

See the bottom of this post for a print-friendly button!!

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Recipe: Chocolate-Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust

Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust
Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Shortbread Crust

I was recently discussing my s'more pie with a friend who had made it sans marshmallows. We were talking about how the filling could work well with a variety of different toppings/fillings and I mentioned that I thought it would be particularly good with crushed raspberries and a shortbread crust. 

A few pints of raspberries and one satisfied taste-tester later, here we are.  :)

Chocolate & Raspberry Tart 

Shortbread crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks cold butter, 6 ounces, cut in small pieces
  • If your dough isn't holding together, you can add up to 1 egg

Chocolate filling

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) heavy cream
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (not more than 65% cacao if marked)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries, plus more for decoration (~2 pints in total)

NB: depending on the size of your pan(s) you may not need all the dough or filling.

Make and "Blind Bake" Tart Shell

Make and Blind Bake Tart ShellSpray a tart pan, or several mini tart pans with cooking spray. Combine crust ingredients with a pastry cutter or food processor, until the mixture clumps, if needed, add up to one egg. Using fingers, press dough evenly into tart pan bottom and up sides past edge of pan. Prick the dough with a fork, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights/rice/beans etc.

Cover crust and chill for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Place tart pan(s) on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Make Filling

Bring cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt in another bowl until frothy, then fold into melted chocolate.

Set aside about dozen raspberries for decorating (or 1 per mini tart ) Crush the remaining raspberries in a sieve to drain the excess juice and spread crushed berries along the bottom of the cooled crust and then pour filling on top.

Bake until filling is set about 3 inches from edge but center is still wobbly, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as tart cools.) Cool completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour.

Remove from tart pan and decorate with remaining raspberries.

If kept at room temperature, chocolate will have a mousse-like texture, chilling the tart in the refrigerator will give it a firmer texture.

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There is a Pound of Chocolate in These Cookies

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Remember when I used to regularly post recipes on this site? Well it's been a while. Not that I haven't been cooking or baking, I've just been doing a lot of old standards or not photographing. I also like to put original or family recipes, but this one was too good to pass up.

After seeing these cookies on smitten kitchen last week I just had to make them and man are they good - if the pound of chocolate alone doesn't convince you perhaps I can. These are deep and rich and complex  - so much so that I, a cookie fiend, can only handle about a cookie and a half at a time. They go brilliantly with a glass of ice cold milk. It is a little hard to find the toffee bars, but it is so worth it. 

Chocolate Toffee Cookies from smitten kitchenAdapted from Bon Appetit

Makes around 30-36 cookies

1/2 cup all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped (if you use good-quality chocolate chips, it saves a little work - as usual my favorite is Ghiradelli) 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar 4 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath or Skor), coarsely chopped 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped* Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)*

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in a metal bowl set over simmering water or doubled-boiler until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

Beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a log 1.5 inches in diameter and chill it.  When ready to bake the cookies, cut it into 1/2-inch slices. You can store the dough log in the freezer, wrapped in waxed paper and then two layers of plastic wrap for up to a month, just baking the cookies off as you need. Cookies baked straight from the freezer may need an additional minute or two in the oven, depending on their thickness.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. This is a must - otherwise they will stick like crazy!!

Place sliced cookies on the lined sheet spacing tehm two inches apart. Sprinkle with the salt, if you’re using it. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

* I didn't bother with toasting the walnuts or the salt, but it may make the cookies even better, so give it a good if you'd like.

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Chocolate Banana Bread Cake

Chocolate Banana Bread

The way these recipes are coming, people are going to start to think that the only place I ever ate decent food was in Portland, Maine and that I don't live in a rather major U.S. culinary city these days - because, yes, today's recipe was inspired by something I ate in Portland, Maine.

The restaurant in question today is Bibo's Madd Apple Cafe. This lovely and eclectic little spot is right next door to the theatre I used to work at. Actually it's the same building. In any case, this is one of my favorite eateries in the city and exactly what I like to think a cafe should be: classier and more adventurous than a diner or sandwich/burger joint, but not so intimidating that you couldn't eat lunch there. That is, a place a low-paid twenty-something could take both her friends and her parents. The jaunty atmosphere doesn't hurt either.

The first time I went there for lunch I sprung for dessert: the ever-so-delicious Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding Cake (with a warm chocolate center and whipped cream). Now as readers of this blog may know, I love me some banana bread. I also love me chocolate. So this dessert was right up my alley.

Though my Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe isn't the same as Bibo's (frankly, I'd have to try it again to get a better feeling of the dish), I'm pretty happy with how this variation turned out. This recipe is based on the aforementioned banana bread recipes and Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini Cake from her cookbook. I wanted a texture that was somewhere between cake and bread and this does that pretty well. The chocolate flavor is prominent, but not overly sweet and a sprinkle of powdered sugar makes a sweet compliment. I don't know if I'm completely finished with the recipe, but I've made a lot of banana bread in the past month or so, so I'm giving it a rest for now.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread Cake

(inspired by Bibo's Madd Apple Cafe and Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini Cake)

Makes 1 medium-sized loaf

  • 2-3 overripe bananas
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate melted and mixed with 1/2 a cup of granulated sugar (or 4 oz. of chocolate chips).
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup wheat flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup unsweeted cocoa
  • ½ tsp salt
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F

Break up the bananas and butter into a large mixing bowl. With a sturdy whisk, mash together the butter and bananas until mixed well - the butter will still be a little chunky, but should be about pea-sized. Add eggs, milk and lemon juice, adding the juice last. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix flours, brown sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. If desired, you could add some unmelted chocolate chips at this point. Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Bake 55-60 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie

Although our apartment doesn't have the greatest view (McDonald's parking lot anyone?), we have a pretty great place in a nice building.

One the best parts? Our cadre of doormen - kindly folks who open doors when our arms are full of groceries, sign for our packages, give movie recommendations, discuss local sports, and know both my maiden and married names. I don't know who is in charge of hiring these people,  but seriously, they are awesome and deserving of the best cookies I know how to make - Ghirardelli chocolate chip.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year! 

Because of the pre-holiday craziness and a lack of all-purpose flour, I didn't get a chance to make these in time for Christmas - so now they get to be surprise New Year's cookies.

This recipe comes from the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag and is good.

I grew up in the Bay Area so I have a special place in my taste buds for Ghirardelli chocolate, it's not the fanciest chocolate out there, but among the brands commonly found in grocery stores, I think it's the best - so take that Toll House!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients

Our Cast O' Characters 

Adapted from 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Yield: 4 dozen 

  • 1/2 bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 bag of 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 3/4 cup(s) package brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup(s) all purpose flour (I use wheat flour for the 1/4 cup - it makes me feel a teensy bit healthier about the whole 2 sticks of butter thing)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar. Although the Kitchen Aid Mixer is the traditional wedding gift in our family, Mr. Cleaver and I opted out on that one. If I don't make butter cream by hand how would I work my biceps?

Butter/Sugar Crea

Baker's Workout - Butter Cream

Add vanilla and eggs to the butter cream. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt, mix well. Add the flour mixture to the butter cream. This cookie dough is VERY dry, so this also takes a little oomph - more calories burned for me! (See new year's working out is easy!).

After the dough is mixed well add in the chocolate chips. Jewel had a buy one-get-one-free offer of chocolate chips, so I used two different kind here: semi- and bittersweet, but it works fine with just one.

Put in the Chips

Maybe one the most wonderful sights in baking. 

Mixed Dough

The finished dough on the way to my mouth.  My mother always said that the sugar counteracts the egg, so you can't get salmonella, I chose to believe her.

Cookies on Sheet

Pretty Maids all in a row. 

I've found the cooking time on these varies wildly from oven to oven - until I moved into my current apartment it always took around 12, but now it takes eight.  So watch the first batch carefully.

Cookies in a Row

I like my cookies on the larger side - who doesn't - but I usually end up with fewer than the four dozen the recipe indicates, in tonight's case - it was 39. 

Quality Control

Err, 38. Quality control. 

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