Chocolate cake is a classic dessert that can take many forms, from cupcakes to flourless cakes and even layered cakes. While there are hundreds of different chocolate cake recipes, I tried three different recipes from some of my favorite celebrity chefs.
After making a huge mess in my kitchen with flour, cocoa powder and copious amounts of chocolate chunks, I found a winner for the famous chef’s best chocolate cake recipe of the three I tried from Christina Tosi, Ina Garten and Guy Fieri. To figure out which one was the best, I had a formula to follow: the ease of the recipe to follow and make, the ease of acquiring the ingredients, the appearance of the cake when assembled and glazed, and the general taste.
Here are the recipes I tested, ranked from good to best. And for more, don’t miss these 15 classic American desserts that deserve a return.
Christina Tosi is known the world over as the queen of sugar and baked goods. His imaginative cakes and cookies delight almost anyone who eats them. After trying my hand at his German chocolate cupcakes, I have to say this recipe is not for the average home baker.
Was the recipe easy to follow and prepare? This recipe is quite difficult. There are three parts: the cupcake, the cracker pie frosting, and the pecan crunch. You will need more than just basic knowledge for this recipe, and while Tosi explains things well in the directions, there is a lot of room for mistakes.
One thing I didn’t like about the recipe was how finicky the “crack pie” frosting was. A few seconds too long in the oven can result in unusable burnt topping. I ended up making two different crack pie toppings and the one I used required a lot of babysitting in the oven to make sure it didn’t overcook and turn hard like caramel .
Are the ingredients easy to acquire? The ingredients in this recipe ranged from basics like flour, sugar, and eggs to things much harder to find, like corn powder and feuilletine cookies. You will have to scour the internet for these few ingredients.
The appearance of the cake once assembled and glazed: German chocolate cupcakes weren’t the nicest cakes I’ve tried, but they still looked tempting. One thing to be aware of is that the cupcakes can sink in the middle if the batter is mixed too much or if you take the baked cupcakes out of the mold too early, so be sure to follow the directions carefully.
General thoughts: The Tosi cupcakes were too sweet for my taste, but people with a sweet tooth will love them, especially the “crack pie” frosting. This is an all-day baking project, so make sure you allow plenty of time to get everything ready, or make the cupcakes a day ahead and put them in the freezer, then crunch the cupcakes. frosting and pecans another day and assemble.
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Ina Garten’s recipes are among my favorites because of their simplicity, with almost guaranteed results and easy-to-find ingredients. This chocolate cake is a cake you can bake really quickly on a weeknight and is so dense it almost looks like a brownie.
Was the recipe easy to follow and prepare? The recipe was super easy to follow and make. The instructions are clear and don’t use culinary terms the average baker wouldn’t be familiar with. You will need special equipment in the form of a springform pan, but these are easily found on the Internet and are relatively inexpensive. If you don’t have a springform pan and don’t want to wait for a pan to arrive, consider using a round cake pan, but be aware that your cake may be more difficult to slice and serve.
Are the ingredients easy to acquire? The ingredient list for this cake is quite small and includes very basic ingredients. The only thing that can be hard to find is the sweet and sour chocolate in bar form, which will melt more evenly than the chips for this recipe. Just like cooking with wine, only pick chocolate that you would eat on your own. It will really make a difference in this recipe.
The appearance of the cake once assembled and glazed: There is no frosting on this cake, but I served it with some homemade whipped cream as suggested in the book. The cake was dense and gooey and was almost a mixture of a brownie and a molten lava cake. A small slice of this is enough to curb any sweet cravings you might have.
General thoughts: It was the easiest of the three cakes to bake and get all the ingredients. The chocolate cake had a deep, rich chocolate flavor that went well with the whipped cream. Next time I do, I would probably serve strawberries with it to help reduce the richness of the cake. All in all it was a major win for me and my family for a weekday treat.
The Mayor of Flavortown not only knows how to find some of the best restaurants, but also knows how to bake a cake that kills. This cake isn’t for kids because of the whiskey that hasn’t been baked, but for adults it’s a cake you’ll want for every birthday party from now on.
Was the recipe easy to follow and prepare? The recipe was moderately easy to follow and make. There are four different parts to the recipe, and some involve knowing more intermediate cooking skills, like using a double boiler and soaking eggs. Because the recipe has so many parts, you will probably need to set aside a whole day to make it, but it will be worth it in the end. Just make sure you read the instructions carefully before you begin so you know what you are getting into.
One thing I didn’t like about the recipe was the English whiskey. It was finicky and required quite a bit of work, even when the cake didn’t need anything more like this to win over the top.
Are the ingredients easy to acquire? Each of the ingredients can be found in a well-stocked grocery store. One thing to note is to use the type of whiskey you like to drink. Guy suggests Jack Daniels, but I love Garrison Brothers so this is what I used. You’ll need a lot of chocolate for this recipe, so I suggest you get the Pound Plus bars from Trader Joe’s and chop the chocolate yourself. You’ll save money buying these products instead of crisps, and the bars will stretch farther into the recipe than the crisps.
The appearance of the cake once assembled and glazed: Honestly, it was the nicest cake of the three. The chocolate ganache on the outside was cascading over the layers of the cake and making it very appealing. Once I cut into the cake the layers were separate and the cake and frosting came through.
General thoughts: After spending an entire afternoon baking this cake, I can understand why Guy is the mayor of Flavortown. The cake was chewy, had a great chocolate flavor, and was a decadent treat. Even if I was just making the frosting, I would eat it with a spoon, it tasted so good. After serving this to my family, they all agreed that they wanted this as their next birthday cake.