Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake

Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake is so decadent and incredibly tender. It has a rich chocolate buttercream frosting and is topped with Chocolate Crispearls for decoration. This is the perfect chocolate layer cake for all of the chocolate lovers out there.

A chocolate cake with smooth frosting and a dense layer of small round chocolate beads on top, displayed on a white background, inspired by an Ina Garten recipe.


I first knew I had to make this recipe when I was reading an article from thekitcn on how this recipe is the best chocolate cake recipe and I'll be honest, it did not disappoint. Whether you know it as Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Cake, Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake, or Aunt Beatty's Chocolate Cake, it's a total keeper.

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Why You'll Love This Recipe

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - This recipe is not only highly recommended by myself but also by The Kitchn.
DECADENT - This chocolate cake is so rich and incredibly chocolatey thanks to the coffee and coffee granules.
EASY - This recipe is so easy to make and one of the very least fussy cakes to make.


See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for all ingredients and quantities.

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  • Vegetable oil - You can use canola oil in place of the vegetable oil. Melted butter and olive oil won't make a good substitute for this recipe.
  • Buttermilk - This provides a tangy flavor to the cake but can be substituted with a soured milk. You can make the soured milk by adding 1 cup of whole milk minus 1 tablespoon with 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar and letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Cocoa powder - You can use natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder for this recipe since it also has baking soda and baking powder. Dutch-process cocoa powder is neutral and typically requires baking powder to react.
  • Coffee - Freshly brewed coffee is highly recommended as it helps enhance the chocolate flavor in the cake, but can be substituted with water.

Substitutions and Variations

  • You can make this recipe into a 9x13 sheet cake instead of an 8-inch 2-layer cake.
  • The vegetable oil can be swapped for canola oil.
  • You can substitute the buttermilk for soured milk.
  • The semi-sweet baking chocolate can be swapped for a bittersweet baking chocolate or even a milk chocolate baking chocolate.
  • The egg yolk in the frosting can be substituted with 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream or full-fat sour cream.
  • The instant coffee granules can be left out of this recipe, but I highly recommend trying it.

NOTE: This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations

How to Make Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cake

To make this recipe, you'll start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and preparing two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans. I have 8-inch pans so that's what I used. I like to grease my cake pans and then place parchment circles in the bottom of them to make sure the cakes release from the pan.

Step 1: Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl and whisk until the eggs are incorporated.

Step 2: Using a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.

Step 3: Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fully incorporated.

Top view of a bowl of homemade chocolate pudding with visible bubbles on the surface, based on an Ina Garten recipe.

Step 4: Slowly beat in the cooled coffee until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in any remaining bits.

A slice of Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake with creamy filling on a white plate, showing moist texture and a whole cake blurred in the background.

Step 5: Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans and place in the preheated oven to bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean or with moist crumbs.

If there's batter on the toothpick, let the cake bake longer. You should also know, the cake can fall around where the hole is from testing the cake if it wasn't done.

TIP: If you're making this recipe in a 9x13 rectangle baking pan instead of two 8 or 9-inch round pans, the baking time will be longer.

A slice of Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake with two layers of frosting and chocolate pearls on top, served on a white plate with more cake in the background.

How to Store and Freeze

To store this cake, you can either cover it or place it in a cake container and leave it at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. The frosting will firm up in the fridge.

To freeze the cake, you'll leave the frosting off until when you're ready to serve it. Let the cake cool completely once it's baked. Wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil (because I like to be extra safe) then in a freezer bag. It will last up to 3 months in the freezer.

To thaw the cakes, place them on the counter until they reach room temperature or place in the fridge overnight to defrost.

Recipe FAQs

Can I substitute the freshly brewed coffee for water?

Yes. Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor and won't even be noticeable, but you can substitute it for just water if you need.

Do I have to use an egg yolk in the chocolate frosting?

I was hesitant about it too, but I went for it. The yolk is an emulsifier for this chocolate frosting recipe and can easily be substituted with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or sour cream.

Will I get sick from using a raw egg yolk?

Use pasteurized egg yolks and you won't get sick. You can also add the unpasteurized egg yolk with the coffee granules and water mixture (it needs to be 2 tablespoons of liquid to 1 egg yolk) and cook on very low heat until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Don't let the yolk cook into a scrambled egg mixture, it should still be liquid. Don't add any oil or butter when heating the yolk/liquid mixture.

Can I use melted butter instead of vegetable oil in the chocolate cake?

No, it's not recommended to replace the vegetable oil with melted butter in this recipe.

What are the round chocolate balls on top of the cake?

They're milk chocolate crispies aka milk chocolate edible crispearl decorations.

More Rich Chocolate Desserts

If you try this recipe, be sure to leave a rating below and also share it on Instagram, and tag me! You can also find me on Facebook and stay up to date on recipe releases by joining the Newsletter!

A close-up of a slice of Ina Garten's moist chocolate cake with a thick, creamy chocolate frosting layer in the middle, on a white plate.

Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake

Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake is so decadent and incredibly tender. It has a rich chocolate buttercream frosting and is topped with Chocolate Crispearls for decoration.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 38 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 slices
Calories 747 kcal




  • 6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate chopped
  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons hot water



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray. Place a parchment paper circle in the bottom of each pan and dust the sides with some cocoa powder or flour. Tap out the excess cocoa powder and flour.
  • In a medium bowl, add in the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  • In a large bowl, add in the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while beating with a hand mixer on low. Beat just until combined and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Slowly add the freshly brewed coffee to the cake batter while still beating on low until the coffee is just incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


  • Add the chopped baking chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals and stir after each interval until the chocolate is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in the butter and beat with a hand mixer for 2 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue to beat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add in the powdered sugar and beat on low until most of the powdered sugar is worked into the frosting. Turn the mixer to medium and beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the instant coffee and 2 teaspoons of hot water in a small dish and stir until combined.
  • Add the coffee mixture and chocolate to the butter mixture and beat just until combined.
  • Frost the cooled cakes immediately. The chocolate frosting will set up slightly.


Coffee: If you don't have coffee on hand, you can substitute this out with water. (Who doesn't have coffee??)
Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate: This can be substituted out for bittersweet baking chocolate or milk chocolate baking chocolate. 
Egg Yolk: If you want to pass on the egg yolk, you can substitute it with 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream or full-fat sour cream. 
Storage: You can store this cake covered or in a cake container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. 
Freeze: Leave the frosting off and freeze the cooled cakes by wrapping them tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap. Optional, but you can add another layer of heavy-duty tin foil. Place in a freezer bag or freezer container in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
Thaw: Thaw on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight. 


Calories: 747kcalCarbohydrates: 98gProtein: 7gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 658mgPotassium: 342mgFiber: 4gSugar: 74gVitamin A: 689IUCalcium: 82mgIron: 3mg

(Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.)

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