Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Buttermilk Fudge Frosting

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As you can see, I am still trying to use up that darned carton of buttermilk, but I guess nobody ever complains about chocolate cake. The cake has buttermilk in it. The frosting has buttermilk in it. And there is also glorious, wonderful chocolate.

I read that this cake comes out of the Southern United States. They sure know what they’re doing down there! The smell of the cake alone was incredible as it came out of the oven. It smelled like chocolate cream cheese frosting. Chocolate cream cheese frosting, by the way, is an alternate form of heaven.

The unfrosted cake.

The unfrosted cake.

The frosting for this cake was prepared in a pot over the stove; I had never made frosting this way before. It was supposed to create a rich, smooth chocolate fudge frosting that, after being poured over the baked cake in its warm liquid form, would harden and set when cooled.

Unfortunately, my frosting never completely set properly. The surface set (as you can see by its smooth sheen) but it was a bit too runny underneath even the next day. However, it was still unbelievably delicious. And dangerously addictive. My boss said it was like crack. The buttermilk gave the frosting a very unique flavour; it wasn’t tangy per se, but it was above and beyond any chocolate frosting I’ve had before.

In all its frosted glory.

In all its frosted glory.

This cake was just insane. It was so, so moist and soft, and it had the perfect amount of chocolate flavour and sweetness. It paired extremely well with the frosting; I wouldn’t dream of separating the two. Together, the whole thing is quite rich, but it doesn’t feel heavy as you eat it or afterwards. It also keeps well for a few days.

I actually made a half version of this cake and frosting again a few days later because I just had to let my boyfriend try them. The recipe halves easily and the results are just as good. In fact, the frosting set properly this time! I think the trick is to heat the cocoa mixture until just melted, vigorously whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract as quickly as possible, and pour the frosting on right away before it has a chance to cool in the pot.

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Some sprinkle action!

This was my last dessert for the office, as this is my last week there. I return to law school next week! I am not looking forward to the endless lectures, endless reading, and endless studying. Yuck. But for anyone else who is returning to school or knows someone who is, do yourself or them a favour and make this cake. It’ll make the transition much less painful.

The original recipe can be found here, along with photos of the cake’s interior. My adapted recipe is below. This cake definitely benefits from having something crunchy on top for a bit of textural contrast – chocolate pearls, nuts, sprinkles, or M&Ms are all great ideas.

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Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Buttermilk Fudge Frosting

Cake:
1 cup butter
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

Frosting:
1 cup butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
⅓ cup buttermilk
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
crunchy topping (toasted nuts, sprinkles, M&Ms, chocolate pearls, etc.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Combine 1 cup butter, ⅓ cup cocoa, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter is fully melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  4. Gradually add melted butter mixture, beating until mixed.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to buttermilk mixture and beat until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for at least an hour.
  6. To make frosting, combine butter, cocoa, and buttermilk in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth.
  7. Remove from heat and whisk in sifted confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. Pour over cake while cake is still warm. Sprinkle on desired topping(s). Let frosting cool and set for at least a few hours before slicing.
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