This recipe makes a large quantity of cake. And since I mainly build cakes for large gatherings these days, this is a perfect recipe for my needs. And it is perfect for more reasons than just the quantity! This recipe produces the most perfect moist, dense, simple, and deeply flavored chocolate cake ever. No cake flour required or melting expensive chocolate. Just standard ingredients most of us usually have on hand anyway. Amazing! I found the cake recipe on the Taste of Home web site. The frosting I have been making for more years than I care to admit.

Now if you are like me (and I truly hope that is not the case), trying to decide what size cake pan to use when the recipe calls for three 9-inch round pans and you want to make one single layer cake calls for some algebraic action. And since I can remember virtually nothing from my 9th grade algebra class (except of course how much I hated it), I decided to elicit the assistance of the resident genius. (At least I knew that a 9-inch round pan and a 9-inch square pan do not contain the same amount of square inches. I believe that much knowledge should garner me at least some respect.) I also know how to figure the square inches in a square or a rectangular pan. Square pan – inches along one side times the same number i.e. 8-inch pan – 8 x 8 = 64 square inches. Rectangular pan – one of the short sides times one of the long sides i.e. a 9 x 13-inch pan = 117 square inches.

But then came the part where I needed Mr. Cs fine brain. How to figure the square inches in a round pan. Simple if you know (or can remember) the formula, that is)! Pi x the radius squared. Right, like I remembered that from a class 143 years ago! But thanks Mr. C. for “reminding” me of this very important equation. Whew, taxes the old brain I’ll tell you that!

Anyway, because I am on your side and don’t want you to have to go through the mental gymnastics I went through when I prepared this cake, I am going to give you the square inches of an 8-inch round pan and a 9-inch round pan for future reference. You can proceed from there! An 8-inch round pan has the equivalent of 50 square inches. A 9-inch round pan has the equivalent of 64 square inches. And as a bonus, 1½ times this recipe fills a 16-inch square pan beautifully and requires a double recipe of frosting. It also serves about 50 starving adults!

(And I know it seems like a lot of unnecessary mental work to figure out just the right size cake pan to use. But you really don’t want to end up with a cake the thickness of a cookie or the batter so thick in your pan that the middle has no chance of getting done.) But enough with the math Patti!

I guess the only thing left to do is invite you to bake this chocolate cake for your family and friends in the near future. I know you will not be disappointed. In fact Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And nothing says “I love you” like chocolate. Need I say more?


  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. room temperature coffee or 1½ c. water and 1½ rounded tsp. instant espresso coffee
  • 1-1/3 c. sour cream

Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and sour cream, beating well after each addition.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch glass pan and an 8×8-inch square or round pan* or three 9-inch greased and floured round baking pans. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Don’t over-bake! If you are going to build a layer cake, let cakes cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. If you are making just single layer cakes, just place pans on wire racks to cool as soon as they come out of the oven.

*Using the 2 pans allows you to take the larger cake to work or a function and still have a small cake for yourself and family at home. No more – “mom/honey, don’t we get any of the cake”? How sweet is that?


  • 6 oz. good semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 2 tsp. Kahlúa or other coffee flavored liqueur or 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. instant espresso coffee (I use Medaglia D’oro)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2½ c. powdered sugar or more as needed

Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in your microwave. Measure the sour cream, liqueur, instant espresso, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the melted chocolate and butter. Whisk in powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Spread over the top of the single layers or between layers and over top and sides of triple layer cake.

Please Note: If you are making a 3 layer cake, you will need to double the frosting recipe. Also, it sometimes helps with the frosting effort if you spread frosting over the first layer, refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes, add the second layer, frost the top, and refrigerate again before proceeding to the top layer.



Please let me know if you like this recipe. Thanks