A Happy Birthday Post: Dark Chocolate Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Tomorrow is my father-in-law’s, Robert Sr’s,  51st birthday. Last year was a big celebration complete with a surprise party to ring in the big 5-0. However, this year was much more low key, which is right up his alley

To help wish Robert a very happy birthday, I made him a chocolate cake with brown sugar frosting. If there’s one thing I know about my father-in-law it’s that once he finds something he likes, he’s pretty content. This brown sugar frosting has been a staple in the family for quite some time. It’s rich, fudgy, and absolutely delicious. It’s no wonder it’s such a favorite.  To sass it up a bit, I baked my favorite chocolate cake in 8 inch rounds and then spread the frosting between the cakes for an extra layer of goodness. I assembled the cake at my parents’ place, but I didn’t have my pastry equipment with me. As a result, I just melted chocolate chips and piped out decorations on parchment paper with a sandwich bag and then let it harden in the fridge.

I was trying to go for a more manly-looking cake, but it ended up looking like cheetah print. The good news- it still tasted the same, cheetah or not. 😉

Happy birthday, Robert Sr! You are one of the most genuine, hard-working, and kind people I know.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Printable Version

Yield: 16 servings


For the cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

For the frosting:

Melt the butter in the saucepan; add the brown sugar and whisk together until smooth. Heat for two minutes, whisking constantly. Stir in the milk. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm. Place the mixture in a bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in milk if it’s too thick.

Source: Cake- barely adapted from Ina Garten; Frosting- Old Thyme Cooking

8 Comments Add yours

  1. This is one gorgeous birthday cake! It looks absolutely professional and delivers a great mix of flavours 😀
    Thank you so much for joining my blog – using another email I will be joining yours ASAP (recipes recipes recipes! :D)

    Choc Chip Uru
    Post To See: Fresh Fruit Tart

  2. Connie says:

    Thank you so much for the cake. Really was m m good ! We really enjoyed having you home.
    When its good why do you want to change it. Roberts famous saying.

  3. khaki says:

    what does “barely adapted” mean? I says ,if’n you tweek it ,make it yours!

  4. megan says:

    you just cant imagine how i felt when i discovered he cake was LEAVING my ‘flat’ and i wasnt going with it!!!!!

    1. khaki says:

      that ain’t right

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