Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Chocolate Buttermilk Cream Cheese Cake

Why do I do this to myself? I get going crazy with my posts… and then I fall off the face of the earth for a while… bake some things, eat lots of thing, drown myself in hoppy beer, and then finish full circle right here.

I guess I’ll stop yelling at myself and get to the point. But holy shit, this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made.

The other day, a good friend was celebrating his birthday. And instead of the presumed bottle of champagne or handle of shit vodka, I decided to step up my game. And what better way to celebrate good friendship than with a cake? I can think of few.

And I had my work cut out for me. When I asked him what type of cake was his favorite, I expected to hear “chocolate” or “vanilla” or heck, maybe even something fancy and gentrification-adoring like “red velvet.” But no, oh no, I was answered with “chocolate mousse or cheesecake.”

What?! Those are hardly cakes in my book! But I. must. make. it. work.

I had lots of cream cheese in the refrigerator (thank you stock up sale) so I knew whatever direction I went, good ol’ Philly would be a part of the finished product. So I searched and searched for some sort of inspiration. It took a while, but then I came upon this and I knew what I was baking.

I rustled up the ingredients for the beginning of my cake batter to start.

Water, Cocoa, Butter

The beginning of the batter: water, cocoa, butter.

Then it’s time to combine all of the ingredient on the stove to make a warm, thinned cocoa mixture.

Cocoa Mixture Simmering

Cocoa mixture simmering down

After the mixture melted down, I mixed it with all of the other cake ingredients in the mixer. At the same time, I greased 2 10″ cake pans, and then lined them with parchment paper. Once I was able to successfully flatten the parchment (such a chore!) it was time for the batter to go in.

Cake Batter Ready For the Oven

Cake Batter Ready For the Oven

After a nice stay in the 325 degree oven, it’s time to come out and cool.

Cake Ready to Cool

Cake Ready to Cool

While the cake is cooling, it’s time for the best part, frosting making. Now let me preface here. I actually am not a huge fan of frosting making. Almost every time I get to this step, something goes off course. And what sort of a baking adventure would it be, if it didn’t happen. So it did.

Firstly, the recipe I was basing off of called for a heck of a lot of cocoa powder, and well, it ended up being way too rich for my liking. So after mixing more cream cheese, and the ever true baking savior, vanilla extract, it all worked out. Oh and remember that time I said I had a heck of a lot of cream cheese? Well.. I did. Then it all went into the frosting. And then I needed more, and I had no more. Thankfully there is a janky 7-11 a few blocks away that saved me, but man, what would a boy have done without it?

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

Triple Sifted Cocoa and Sugar

Triple Sifted Cocoa and Sugar

And now that you’ve seen the beautiful triple sifted cocoa and sugar, it’s time for yet ANOTHER confession of a baking mishap. My damn sifter broke. I use the shiny object a whole of three times a year, but OF COURSE, right when I have need to lean on it, it succumbs to a sudden death. So my beautiful sifting started off as just that, but soon enough it got very messy!

So now that the frosting is made, the end is almost near.

I slowly cut the 2 cake rounds in half, creating 4 layers for the cake. Each layer gets a hefty layer of the frosting, and then it finishes up with a layer on top. And as the recipe stands, the sides are supposed to be exposed. But, well, if you haven’t learned by now, I am not exactly a perfectionist. And an exposed 4-layer cake isn’t really my style. This is what it would look like…

Sloppy Layers

Sloppy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

So how to perfect it? More frosting!

A patient smear around the edges makes for a much neater presentation, if I do say so myself. And woa, look at those beautiful layers!

Sloppy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Only half left!

And the cake made it to the party in one piece. I’ve gotta say, it was definitely one of the most problematic baking evenings I’ve had, not of much fault of the recipe. At least this beauty made it to the party and was a huge hit. The buttermilk made it super moist, and the cocoa-cream cheese frosting acted as a nice sweet and sour glue. I have a hunch that I know what I’m doing next time a friend asks for a “birthday cake.”

Happy Birthday Dan!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from La Mia Vita Dolce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, grease and line parchment paper into 2 round cake pans.
  2. Place water, butter and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until butter is melted.
  3. Sift flour and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and mix well.
  4. Add cocoa mixture to flour mixture and mix.
  5. Once combined, add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla, and again until incorporated.
  6. Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on racks.
  9. Once cooled, cut cake in half, horizontally. (a nice trick, use unscented dental floss for a smooth, even cut)
  10. Place first layer on cake plate, cover in frosting, and repeat.
  11. Once you get to the last layer, ice the top of the cake, and then smooth around sides.
  12. Decorate with raspberries or whatever you have, and enjoy!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing 

  • 3 containers of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Place butter and cream cheese in bowl of mixer. Beat on high for 6-8 minutes, until creamy.
  2. While the mixer is going, sift cocoa and confectioner’s sugar. Once sifted, repeat two more times.
  3. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and vanilla extract
  4. Increase speed and mix another 6-8 minutes, until frosting is fluffy

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