An extreme chocolate cake that’s perfect for Valentine rebels

Like a big buzzkill, Valentine’s Day falls on the first day of Lent this year. (Seriously, calendar?) For those who vow to give up chocolate this year it means you’ll have to find dessert love elsewhere on Feb. 14 and the 39 subsequent days. 

Of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t have your chocolate love cake before Wednesday. In fact, a pre-Valentine’s cake is a wonderful idea, whether or not you observe Lent. Think about it: 

Does the very thought of Valentine’s Day and its canned romance annoy you? Here, have some chocolate cake! Savor it before the crush of people-in-love and their snuggly, candlelit photos invades your senses. Savor it first. Share it if you want, or not at all. By the time the heart-filled photos stream into your social feeds, you’ll be all: “That random, weekday chocolate cake was amazing. Hey, what’s with all these hearts?” 

It’s awesome, like giving the universe a reality check of its own. 

Here’s a recipe for one of those ultimate chocolate cakes. It comes from Caroline Wright’s 2016 book “Cake Magic!” (Workman Publishing), which hits upon a “magic” cake mix that can be used in most classic cakes. 



The following recipe is adapted from Caroline Wright’s 2016 book “Cake Magic! Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations” with permission of its publisher, Workman. 

Best Blackout Cake 

Cookbook author Caroline Wright combines three decadent chocolate recipes from her “Cake Magic” book – her Darkest Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Syrup and Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting – to create this Best Blackout Cake. Call it a triple-threat cake worthy of Valentine’s Day and beyond. 

As most of Wright’s cake recipes, this one begins with her “Cake Magic!” Cake Mix, a no-fail foundation for a variety of classic cakes.  


For the Darkest Chocolate Cake 

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pans 

½ cup sifted, unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting the pans 

4 cups dry Cake Magic! Cake Mix (see recipe below), whisked well before measuring 

¼ teaspoon baking soda 

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled 

¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt (preferably not Greek yogurt) 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil 

1 cup water 

4 large eggs, at room temperature 

For the Chocolate Syrup 

½ cup sugar 

½ cup water 

Pinch of salt 

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

For the Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting 

1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 

Pinch of salt 

4 cups (16-ounce box) confectioners’ sugar 

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled 

Cake Magic! Cake Mix 

2½ cups all-purpose flour 

1½ cups sugar 

¾ teaspoon baking soda 

¾ teaspoon baking powder 

1 teaspoon table salt (not coarse) 

  • Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well to combine. Make sure to whisk the mix again before measuring out. Use only table salt in cake mix to keep salt from settling out of the mix.  

Make the cake: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan(s). Dust with cocoa powder to coat, then invert and gently tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.) 
  2. Whisk together the ½ cup cocoa powder, cake mix, and baking soda in a large bowl to combine. 
  3. Stir in the melted chocolate, yogurt, butter, water, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to over mix). Divide the batter between the prepared pans. 
  4. Bake until the layers are domed and fragrant brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 35 to 40 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a Bundt, 25 to 30 minutes for a 13 by 9-inch cake, and 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes). 

Make the syrup: 

  1. Make syrup while cake is in the oven. Combine the sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for about 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder and remove from the heat. Set aside to cool. 
  2. Use the syrup warm or let it stand, covered, until it reaches room temperature. 
  3. When baked, remove cake from oven, but keep in pans. Using a skewer or thin knife point, pierce cake layers in 1-inch intervals. Evenly brush or ladle the syrup over the cake layers. Set cake (in pans) aside on wire rack to cool and allow the cake to soak up the syurp. 
  4. When the cakes are cool and no longer wet to the touch, 1 to 2 hours, make the frosting. 

Make the frosting: 

  1. Combine the butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and 2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. 
  2. Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes. 
  3. In a slow, steady stream, drizzle in the melted chocolate and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 

Frost the cake: 

  1. Run a knife, or an offset spatula, around the edge of one of the cake layers to loosen it. (Turn the layers out of their pans as you are ready to frost each of them.)
  2. Place the layer on a cake plate. If you’d like, use strips of waxed or parchment paper underneath to catch any drips. 
  3. Spread the layer with about a third of the frosting on top.  
  4. Run a knife, or an offset spatula, around the edge of the remaining cake layer. Invert it onto the frosted layer. 
  5. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Frosting will keep in an airtight container in fridge for 1 week. To use again, bring back to room temperature and stir well.)

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