The Best Chocolate Cake

by Jamie on October 11, 2011

Post image for The Best Chocolate Cake

We’re a family that loves to double down on chocolate.

For birthdays, we have to do it up right by making my version of cake bliss. But, as you may have caught on at some point by reading MBA, I have a little bit of a multi-tasking problem.

My family enjoys watching me flit from one thing to another like I’m their own personal reality show for entertainment. They love to point out when my missing spatula can be found at the computer desk, or my phone in the pantry, and helpfully letting me know that the oven timer has dinged at least 15 times.

I also like to do things in excess – you know a little mound of frosting will never do in this household. I need to swirl on a pile of it on top, and then top it off with ganache just for the fun of it. So when I organize birthday parties – I of course go a little overboard.

I started my chocolate cake adventure by baking this cake – twice. Twice because I was mixing it while on the phone. Only to realize after it had baked that I left out a full cup of sugar and all of the vegetable oil. I think you can imagine how well that turned out: i.e., not at all.

I quickly whipped it up again, this time focusing my full attention on the process. The cake turned out beautifully and I quickly frosted it while preparing the other gazillion components of the meal.

After all the feasting, no one had room for cake – in fact, we left for the night without busting into song over 37 lit candles. So – a cake that was never meant to be blogged is here today simply because I made too much food (aaaand we’re right back to doing things in excess).

This cake is dark, moist, rich and incredibly decadent. Green Mountain Coffee’s Vermont Country Blend blended amazingly well with the cocoa to create the most intense and delicious chocolate cake that I have ever tasted. It’s the perfect sort of cake for a birthday or a Tuesday. Make sure to enjoy it with a very large glass of ice cold milk!

Print

The Best Chocolate Cake

October 11th, 2011

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time:

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Black Cocoa, optional
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee (I used Green Mountain Coffee’s Vermont Country Blend)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
4. Frost as desired. I used a simple and delicious Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Savory Sweet Life. One batch was perfect for this layered chocolate cake.

Notes:

- The Black Cocoa from King Arthur Flour is optional - it simply provides a great depth of flavor and color to the chocolate cake.
- This cake also pairs beautifully with a simple chocolate ganache.

Recipe adapted from Hershey's Black Magic Cake


{ 585 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa September 24, 2014 at 2:35 am

I tried this recipe the other day for a carved custom cake. It was amazing. Then I used the trimmings for cake pops and they were the best I’ve made.
Have you tried this recipe for cupcakes.

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Jamie September 24, 2014 at 11:15 am

I’m so glad it worked for you and it will work for cupcakes as well. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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christine November 13, 2014 at 10:53 pm

What frosting did you use for your cake pop

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Shakirah Walid September 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm

hi.. wanna try this soon.. I live in Srilanka and can I know what is buttermilk

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Jamie September 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm

You can add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a scant cup of milk and allow it to set for a few minutes to use as a buttermilk substitute. I hope this is helpful.

-Jamie

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African Kaya October 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm

you can also use fermented/ sour milk if its available

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Vanessa January 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Traditional buttermilk is the liquid that remains after you have turned cow cream to butter. However, a lot of North American buttermilk is cow milk with good bacterial cultures added to it.

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Jamie January 18, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Vanessa-
Thanks for stopping by with the information on buttermilk.

-Jamie

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Ellie Wendt September 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm

This is without a doubt the best ever chocolate cake recipe. I will follow any other
recipe other that this one for chocolate cake. Its moist and rich. it was a huge hit with my family.

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Jamie September 30, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Thanks so much, Ellie! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed it.
-Jamie

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Craig October 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Hi, silly question maybe as I don’t do any baking, but is the coffee diluted with water or a cup of granules?

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Jamie October 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

I used brewed coffee, I hope this helps!

-Jamie

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christine October 4, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Hi jamie how do you make 1 cup coffee. How many teaspoon of coffe doni need to put. I dont really drink coffee.

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Jamie October 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Christine,
2 tablespoons for about 8 ounces of water should work for 1 cup of coffee. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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christine October 6, 2014 at 1:19 am

Jamie i forgot to ask abt the coffee cold hot or warm

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Jamie October 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

Christine-
Room temperature would be best. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Ida October 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm

hi Jamie

I am trying this recipe right now. Just need to know that do I also use the whisk attachment when I add in the eggs, buttermilk etc?

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Jamie October 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

Ida-
The whisk attachment should work. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Anne October 10, 2014 at 9:33 pm

i just put these cakes on wire racks to cool. They puffed up quite a bit in the oven but have now fallen very flat on the racks. Did I do something wrong? I’m thinking about making half the recipe again to get a third layer just so it’s a bit taller.

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wylief October 13, 2014 at 4:33 am

Hi,
What can substitute in for the coffee? I’m not a big fan of coffee. Thanks for any help .. :)

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Jamie October 13, 2014 at 10:38 am

Wylief-
You can just use water in place of the coffee.
-Jamie

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Cheryl November 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Just an FYI – You don’t taste the coffee. Coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate.

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James December 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Cheryl… For people that drink coffee you may not notice but I do not like the flavor and I do taste it.

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jo January 14, 2015 at 9:55 am

Thanks or asking I was just wondering the same thing.
Did your cake turn out?

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Alyson October 13, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Does the cake taste quite a bit like coffee? Was planning on doing a mint chocolate filling and wondering if the coffee flavor is at all overpowering?

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Jamie October 14, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Alyson-
The coffee just enhances the chocolate flavor, I don’t think the coffee flavor is too strong. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Alyson October 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Yes it did! This cake was a HUGE hit. Thank you so much!

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Jamie October 20, 2014 at 10:03 am

Alyson-
Thanks for visiting!
-Jamie

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jam December 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm

ok then

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jam December 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

yumm cake even tho i haven’t tried it

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Amy October 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I was just wondering if a single batch be adequate for a 9×13 cake or if I will really need to make two layers?

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Sarah October 18, 2014 at 10:36 am

How long would you bake these for regular size cupcakes? I’ve made this cake several times for special occasions and it is always a hit!!!

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Jamie November 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Sarah-
I would recommend checking them at around 20 minutes. I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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Amanda October 18, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Tried this recipe exactly and it was super moist and delicious. I was nervous about it being very thin liquid batter but it baked wonderful. The coffee flavor was very little and not overpowering. I will continue to use this recipe, thanks!

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Jamie October 20, 2014 at 10:05 am

Amanda-
I’m so glad the recipe was a success for you. Thanks for visiting.

-Jamie

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Amanda October 25, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Thank you for this lovely recipe! Hope my mom loves this! I changed the coffee for a local soda companies ginger beer soda. So far so good! I used my 9″ cake pans but they are only one inch tall and aaaaalmost ran over the edge. Maybe add a note about how tall the pans should be ;)

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Amanda October 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Update: the cake has just runneth over. Glad I put down foil! Lol. I wanted to add that I used the warm milk lemon juice substitute whenever I need buttermilk. Seems to work well for me. This bad boy is going to be covered in a pumpkin buttercream frosting!

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Jamie October 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Amanda-
I’m sorry to hear that your cake baked over! It sounds delicious with the pumpkin buttercream. Thanks for visiting.

-Jamie

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Jamie October 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Amanda-
Thanks for stopping by!

-Jamie

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Grace October 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

The only oil I have in the house is olive and coconut! Can I use coconut oil?

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Jamie October 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Grace-
I have not tried substituting the coconut oil but I think it would work. Let me know how it turns out if you do.

-Jamie

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Jennifer October 31, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Your recipes are wonderful! My husband is a foodie and very particular. He loooooves this chocolate cake recipe I used for cup cakes. I love your tips also. Thanks so much!

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Jamie November 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Jennifer-
I’m so glad the recipe worked out well for you. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

Reply

Miriam November 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Hi Jamie,
I have not tried your recipe yet but will definitely do so! From all the great reviews I’ve read, this is a must! I am a huge fan of Giant’s Grocery Food Store cakes and I’ve been looking for a recipe that I can do myself. So far only your cake recipe and picture has looked amazing and caught my attention! Thank you for sharing it!
– Miriam

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Jamie November 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Miriam-
I hope you have the chance to try this cake. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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Jeena November 4, 2014 at 12:22 am

Is it okay if I put in less than 2 cups of sugar?

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Jamie November 4, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Jeena-
You can use less sugar but it will yield a different sweetness to the cake. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Jeena November 5, 2014 at 5:37 am

Thank you Jamie. Going to try it out now. :)

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Jamie November 5, 2014 at 10:38 am

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!
-Jamie

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Debbie November 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I made this cake a couple of weeks ago, and had to come back here to comment. The cake was delicious – I will definitely make it again.
I didn’t have black cocoa, so added in 2 tablespoons of regular cocoa. I have since ordered some black cocoa from KAF, and will try this recipe again as soon as I get it. Yay for having to bake this again!
The batter was really runny, so I went overboard on buttering, lining with parchment, buttering and then flouring the pans. No sticking after all that. I baked for the full 35 minutes, and could probably have gone another minute or two.
I made the frosting with room-temp brewed coffee instead of milk/cream and upped the amount of sugar a bit. Super yummy on top of a super cake.
Thanks again for the fab recipe!

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Jamie November 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Debbie-
I’m so glad the recipe worked for you. Thanks so much for visiting.

-Jamie

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christine November 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Where i can i buy king arthur flour dark cocoa

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Jamie November 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I purchased mine online directly from King Arthur – I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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Dilini November 17, 2014 at 1:02 am

This cake is awesome. I made this cake for my son’s 3rd birthday party. It came out really well. Kids and grown-ups loved it equally. It was also super easy, moist and soft. I used the chocolate frosting referenced in the recipe with almond frosting. It was a wonderful combination. Thank you so much.

Reply

Jamie November 17, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Dilini-
I’m glad the recipe worked so well for you. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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Marilyn November 20, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Hi there,

Could you tell me How many C o F

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Jamie November 21, 2014 at 11:45 am

Marilyn-
350 Degrees F would be 176.667 C. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Shannon November 23, 2014 at 7:47 am

This really is THE BEST chocolate cake ever. I made this one time for a family reunion and I could hardly get out the door that day without people wanting the recipe. I’m asked to bring it every year for every occasion. I make the butter cream frosting using almond extract instead of vanilla. I think it compliments the cake incredibly well. Thank you so very much for the recipe!

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Jamie November 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

Shannon-
I’m so glad the recipe was such a hit for you. The almond extract in the buttercream sounds wonderful. Thanks for dropping by.

-Jamie

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Julie November 26, 2014 at 10:25 am

If you haven’t tried this recipe, do it this holiday season. I use this recipe for every occasion. It is simply THE BEST chocolate cake.

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Jamie November 28, 2014 at 9:26 am

Julie-
I’m so glad the recipe works for you. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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samaneh December 1, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Hi.I have a problem for making of the cream how you make the cream of this cake?

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Jamie December 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Samaneh-
I used this recipe for frosting and filling the cake: http://savorysweetlife.com/2011/04/chocolate-buttercream-frosting/ You can use any frosting that you like. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Kristina December 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Gotta be honest… im the baker of the family, i do all of the cakes… I typically have a different recipe to use for chocolate cake that everyone loves, but decided to try this and it was just awful. No one liked it at all, so ive currently got another.round of cake in the oven using the other recipe. Everyone likes what they like, but personally, i hated this
recipe.

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Angel December 18, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Hello would like to ask you. How much will the cake weigh with butter cream icing.. will it be 1kg oe 1 1/2 kg.. please let me know asap. A Is your butter icing same as American icing?

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Jamie January 29, 2015 at 12:06 am

Hi Angel,

Unfortunately, I have no idea how much this cake weighs, or if “American” icing is the same as buttercream. We don’t often weigh our cakes in a home setting, and we don’t use the term American icing in the U.S., so I can’t really say. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

– Jamie

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Jan December 19, 2014 at 11:18 am

My friend is getting married tomorrow. I am going to bake this for her wedding. She is a coffee lover so tis recipe is perfect!

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Nancy December 26, 2014 at 2:22 am

Can I do regular milk instead of butter milk?

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Jamie December 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Nancy-
You can pour a scant cup of milk and add in 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for the buttermilk. I hope this is helpful.

-Jamie

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Patty December 26, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I made this cake for Christmas and it was fabulous! I live in a high altitude area and the cakes sunk a little in the middle. Do you have high altitude directions? I imagine I increase the flour and decrease the liquid? Thank you!

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Jamie January 28, 2015 at 11:45 pm

Hi Patty,

Thank you so much for coming back to say you enjoyed the cake! Unfortunately, I’ve never lived at high altitude and have absolutely no experience with altering baking directions for that. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

– Jamie

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cristian January 1, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Hi!

What brand of cocoa powder do you use??

Thanks!

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Jamie January 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Cristian-
I used King Arthur Brand which is available on their website. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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khushboo January 7, 2015 at 7:52 am

is there any other alternate for eggs

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Jamie January 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Khushboo-
You might try 3 tablespoons of pureed fruit for each egg. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Dianne February 12, 2015 at 10:34 pm

I have substituted 1 tbsp of ground flax to which you add 3 tbsp of water. Stir well and let sit approx 5 min until “thickened”.

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Jamie February 13, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Dianne-
Thanks for stopping by to share your tips.

-Jamie

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Kristin Harris January 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Hi,
I am making a 1/2 sheet cake (12 x18). Would I need to double or triple this recipe to make it? Or would I need more?

Thanks for your advice.

Kristin

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Jamie January 30, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Kristin-

Since I have not tried this alteration, I honestly don’t know the answer to your question. Sorry I am not more of a help.

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Sharon January 8, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Instead of the Black Cocoa, would Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa work?? Thank you!

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Jamie January 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

Sharon-
I think that would work just fine. I hope this helps!

-Jamie

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Jamie January 11, 2015 at 7:37 pm

Sharon-
Yes, that will work just fine!
-Jamie

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Supriya January 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Hi Jamie,
I made this cake today and it turned out to be perfect! My family just loved it. I made the chocolate butter cream too. It was good but I do not like it to be too sweet so I took only 1 and a half cups sugar and it worked for me. Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe. I will be making it again and again.

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Jamie January 14, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Supriya-
I’m so glad the recipe was successful for you and I appreciate you stopping by to let me know that you enjoyed it.

-Jamie

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Darci Laws January 13, 2015 at 11:26 pm

If you mix the cocoa with very hot coffee it will bloom the cocoa and give the cake a deeper chocolate flavor. Then just let that cool a bit before adding it to your wet ingredients.

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Jamie January 14, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Darci-
Thanks for stopping by with your substitution tips.

-Jamie

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Stacy January 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I actually made the mistake of putting in an entire (measured cup) of coffee. I feel like a dork and my cake is ruined. Could you please clarify this in the directions? Every other ingredient is written precisely as you should measure it so for us non-coffee drinkers, this would be helpful.

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Jamie January 18, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Stacy-
I’m so sorry the directions were not clear for you. It should be one cup of brewed coffee. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Melissa January 21, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Want to make a special cake and cover it in fondant. Is this cake okay for that? Needs to be able to hold up okay.

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Jamie January 28, 2015 at 11:38 pm

Hi Melissa,

I have never tried to cover this cake in fondant, so I can’t speak to whether it will work or not. My gut tells me it will be fine, but you’d need to make sure the cake were frozen or refrigerated for a while before doing so.

– Jamie

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Bess January 21, 2015 at 11:41 pm

Hi!
Can I use a regular hand held mixer if I don’t have a stand alone mixer?
Will the quality of the cake be affected?

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Jamie January 22, 2015 at 8:34 am

Bess-
Your hand held mixer will work just fine. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Christine January 27, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Hi, Just wondering if I could use decaf coffee? Obviously, it wouldn’t taste as rich as a good dark roast of coffee (not that I’m a coffee drinker but I can imagine), but I’d like to make it for my 2 year olds birthday and we’ll be having it for dinner and would rather him not be bouncing off walls from the caffeine (chocolate and coffee combined) after he has it. :-) From the picture, it looks delicious!

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Jamie January 28, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Hi Christine,
You can absolutely use decaf, or any kind of coffee you’d like. You can also substitute water for the coffee, leaving it out entirely. It might not taste quite as fudgy, but it’ll still be a fantastic chocolate cake. Thanks for stopping by!

– Jamie

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Pusha February 1, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Hi Jamie,

I’m planning to use your recipe to make cupcakes. Do you know how many cupcakes this recipe will yield? Also, can I reduce all the ingredients by half for a smaller batch, will the recipe still be as effective? How much should my cooking time be in that case?

Thanks in advance!
:)

Reply

Jamie February 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Pusha-
If I remember correctly, this recipe will yield a little over 2 dozen cupcakes. I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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Shelley February 1, 2015 at 8:26 pm

This is seriously the best chocolate cake I have ever made from scratch! I wanted to do something different for my 25th birthday (Jan 9th, 2015) and so I found this recipe and my dad opted to make it for me. I wanted to help cause I like baking and so we made it together.

We used all the ingredients except for King Arthur Flour Black Cocoa. Also, we didn’t have buttermilk on hand and so I looked up on the computer how to replicate buttermilk. It said to use Homogenized milk (same amount as you would buttermilk) and then add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to it, let it sit for 5 minutes or until thick and then it’s good to use for the batter. We also cooled the coffee until it was luke warm before adding it into the mixture as it didn’t specify if it should be poured in hot or not. We did exactly that and this cake turned out phenomenal!

The cake was everything you’d want: Moist, rich, the perfect amount of dense and fluffy, and the best part, chocolatey! I thought adding the coffee would make the cake mocha flavoured, but it didn’t.

At the end of January, there was another birthday in the house and I made the cake again as requested by the birthday boy (who is 56 haha). He loved it so much he wanted it again!

So thank you for this delicious recipe! It will be used over and over again! <3

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Jamie February 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Shelley-
Thanks so much for reporting back on your success with the recipe and thanks so much for stopping by!
-Jamie

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Kaitlin February 3, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Thank you for this wonderful recipe! It turned out amazing and was a huge hit at my party. The flavor and texture are perfect. I’ve learned that I can trust your recipes, so I don’t hesitate to make one I haven’t made before, even for guests. My only problem is that I can’t stop eating it! :)

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Jamie February 3, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Kaitlin-
I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping back to let me know that you loved it.
-Jamie

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Connie February 3, 2015 at 10:35 pm

I made this just now, followed the recipe exactly (except the 2 Tbsp King Arthur cocoa), real buttermilk, room temp coffee, 9-inch pans. It looked beautiful after 20 minutes but when it was time to take them out, they had FALLEN. I’m so dissappointed. I used natural cocoa, not Dutch processed, I hope that was not my problem. Your pictures are just beautiful. I was hoping for a nice tall cake like that. Luckily it’s just for a small family function so I can get away with cutting them in half circles and stacking them four high.

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Susan February 8, 2015 at 8:45 am

THE BEST chocolate cake EVER! Made it last night exactly from your directions for the first time. Given all the wonderful reviews it received, I wasn’t worried in the least about taking it along to a church dinner. And that chocolate buttercream recipe was perfect with it. I’ve been looking for THE perfect chocolate cake/chocolate buttercream combo for my birthday cake (can you say chocoholic?!) and this is, indeed, perfection! Thank you for such a moist, luscious recipe!

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Jamie February 8, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Susan-
I’m so glad you had the chance to try this recipe and happy that you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for stopping by.

-Jamie

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Liz February 13, 2015 at 6:29 am

This is by far the BEST chocolate cake ever. I made it for a bachelorette party with raspberry preserves for filling and buttercream coating. It was *heaven* :) . Coffee + buttermilk do wonders for chocolate cakes.

L

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Jamie February 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Liz-
I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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Susan Devitt February 15, 2015 at 9:10 am

My husband and I made this together on Valentines day. When I say we, he mostly watched, but it was still fun. DELICIOUS!
Happy Valentines Day!

Reply

Jamie February 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

Susan-
I’m so glad you had the chance to try it. I hope your Valentine’s Day was wonderful. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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Alexa Andes February 16, 2015 at 8:47 am

This recipe sounds great ! I’m going to make this for my friends 18th birthday. One question: Can I use melted butter instead of oil ? I really don’t like the taste of vegetable oil

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Jamie February 18, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Alexa-
Butter can be substituted in this recipe. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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Angela February 26, 2015 at 10:18 am

Hi, is it okay if I use cake flour? will it affect the recipe? thanks!

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Jamie February 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

Angela-
You should be fine using cake flour. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

Reply

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