The first time I had this cake, I was visiting my parents for my dad’s 60th birthday in January 2012. Historically, he is a lover of super chocolatey things (he wanted their wedding cake to have chocolate frosting), and my mom had made this one for this birthday. When we rolled into town around 10 p.m. on that Friday night, after their dogs and ours crashed around and did their best to permanently cripple my mom, she served up the leftovers.
At this time I was just about three and a half weeks into my new year’s resolution of eating better, so I said no thanks. Who needs cake, really, at 11 at night? (OK, I know. I know. But if you’re really being disciplined, who needs cake at 11 at night?)
Anyway, I passed on my piece, and just had “a bite” of Sam’s. Lol.
For reasons I can’t totally explain, this cake screams BIRTHDAY!!!!!! to me. I guess it’s similar to the cakes I had growing up–no flowery, white sheet cakes with cursive frosting greetings, no sir! It also resembles the cake Molly the American Girl had for her birthday, and I’m fairly certain this shaped my imagined platonic ideal of birthday cakes. This cake cries out to be porcupined with dozens of rainbow colored, re-lighting candles.
I made it last year for Lara’s birthday (at least….I think I did? I hope that’s not an invented memory!) and then again a few months later for my own. This time, the honoree was Kevin, who is known for bringing in Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bars to our office. This was appropriate because that’s exactly what this cake is: Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa cake. The recipe (and the recipe for the frosting, too) come right off the label on the package. Actually, here’s a secret: the exact same recipe is also on the regular, non-Special Dark Hershey’s cocoa package. The jury’s still out on whether there’s actually a difference in flavor between these.
In short, this cake is reliably easy to make, and really friggin good. Recipe below.
Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Cake
- 2 c. sugar
- 1 3/4 c. flour
- 3/4 c. Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil (experiment with substitutions at your own risk)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. boiling water
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes (I just used a whisk to combine all the ingredients. Probably for way less than 2 minutes. And it worked fine). Stir in boiling water (mixture will be very thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Move to wire racks and let cool completely. Frost to your heart’s content.
Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Frosting
- 1/2 c. butter
- 2/3 c. Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
- 3 c. powdered sugar
- 1/3 c. milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating until it looks delicious and smooth. Stir in vanilla last.
(Making 1.5 times this amount of frosting gives you the freedom to apply it most liberally)