In times of stress, only excess will do: This is an enormous cake. But it keeps very well. And there is no such thing as too much chocolate cake.

Serves 20 to 25


For the cake:
  • 1 1/8 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process), plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs

    For the frosting:
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


    Preheat the oven to 350° F.

    Butter 2 large, rectangular baking pans (13- x 9- x 2-inch) and line them with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with cocoa (you could use flour, but cocoa adds both color and flavor to your cake). Hold the pans over a sink and give them a gentle tap so the excess cocoa floats off.

    Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl, and whisk in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water until it is smooth, dark and so glossy it reminds you of chocolate pudding. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.

    In another bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt.

    Put the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the sugars until the mixture is light, fluffy and the color of coffee with cream (it will take about 5 minutes). One at a time, add the eggs, beating each for about 20 seconds before adding the next. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour.

    Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the pans rest on cooling racks for 2 minutes, then turn the cakes onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

    To make the frosting: Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. Let it cool so that you can comfortably put your finger in it. While it's cooling, mix the butter with the whipped cream cheese. Add the chocolate, the vanilla, a dash of salt and mix in the confectioners' sugar until it looks like frosting.

    Assemble the cake by spreading about a third of the frosting on one of the cooled layers, putting the second layer on top and swirling the rest of the frosting over the top and sides.

    Excerpted from My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl. Copyright © 2015 by Ruth Reichl. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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