This is an American classic that I prepared as a demonstration at the second Zurich Salon du Chocolat in March of 2013.

A devil’s food cake should be very chocolaty and also very moist, two qualities that don’t often coincide.  The icing is easy to make – I’ve simplified the method.  In the past, it was prepared like a cooked meringue in which the egg whites are whipped and hot sugar syrup is poured over them.  The method here combines all the ingredients and heats them over boiling water – it’s faster and more reliable.

Makes one 9-inch round 2 layer cake, about 12 servings


Devils Food Cake Batter

2 cups/15 ounces sugar

1 1/2 cups/7 ounces all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely cut

1 cup/1/2 pint hot brewed coffee

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 stick/4 ounces unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup/4.5 ounces sour cream

Fluffy White Icing

4 large egg whites

Large pinch salt

1 1/4 cups/10 ounces sugar

1/2 cup/5.5 ounces light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Two 9 inch round layer pans, 2 inches deep, buttered and lined with a disk of parchment

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. For the cake batter, in a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.  Place the cut up chocolate and butter in a bowl and pour the hot coffee over it.  Let stand while the chocolate melts.  Whisk the chocolate, butter, and coffee smooth and whisk in the eggs until liquid, vanilla extract, and sour cream, one at a time.  Whisk the flour mixture into the liquids.
  3. Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans and smooth the tops.  Bake the layers until they are well risen and feel firm when pressed in the center with a fingertip, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold, turn right side up again and cool completely.
  4. For the icing, half fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Combine the egg whites, salt, sugar, and corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk by hand, just to mix together.
  5. Regulate the heat under the pan of water so that it boils gently and place the bowl on the pan.  Whisk gently until it is hot (about 140 degrees) and all the sugar is dissolved; whisk in the vanilla.  Place the bowl on the mixer with the whisk and whip the icing until it has cooled and become white and fluffy.
  6. Put one of the cake layers right side up on a cake cardboard or platter.  Spoon a little less than half the icing on the layer, using a medium metal offset spatula to spread it evenly and to the edge all around.  Invert the second layer on the icing (the smooth bottom of the layer is now uppermost) and gently press the layer into the icing.  Spread the entire outside of the cake with the remaining icing, using the point of the spatula to swirl it all over as opposed to spreading it straight and flat.