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I tried the chocolate cake that Ina Garten said is the ‘most fabulous’ she’s ever made, and it’s the perfect dessert


Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI made Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, which Ina Garten said is the “most fabulous cake” she’s ever made.

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  • I made Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, which Ina Garten said is the “most fabulous cake” she’s ever made.
  • The chocolate cake and buttercream frosting both feature coffee — the special secret ingredient.
  • Garten’s cake is one of the fluffiest I’ve ever had, homemade or store-bought, and it’s so delicious.

I’ve been cooking my way through Ina Garten’s recipes to gain more confidence in the kitchen. And after mastering quite a few of her delicious pastas, I decided it was time to try some “Barefoot Contessa” desserts

I couldn’t believe how fun and easy it was to make Garten’s delicious mocha chocolate icebox cake, which she once proclaimed was so good “it makes grown men weep.” 

Ever since, I’ve wanted to bake more “Barefoot Contessa” desserts, and I knew the next one had to be Garten’s famous chocolate cake recipe. 

Ina Garten doesn’t just love Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. She said it’s “the most fabulous chocolate cake that I’ve ever made.”Ina Garten in a kitchen, smiling and stirring something in a pan with a wooden spoon.Garten learned of Beatty’s Chocolate Cake from a good friend.

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Garten first discovered Beatty’s Chocolate Cake while having dinner with her friend Michael Grimm, who runs Bridgehampton Florist in the heart of the Hamptons and frequently appears on “Barefoot Contessa.” 

“He actually served this cake to me once at dinner and I just begged him for the recipe,” Garten said on an episode featuring the cake. “I didn’t have to beg very hard.” 

Beatty was Grimm’s grandmother. Monte Mathews, a friend of Grimm’s, shared the story behind the famous cake on his blog Chewing The Fat

“His grandfather had a milk route in Pennsylvania Dutch country and Beatty used to bake this cake to take to the customers on his milk deliveries,” Mathews wrote. “I urge you to try this cake with a tall glass of icy cold milk.  It will take your breath away.” 

Garten’s favorite chocolate cake includes some classic baking supplies — plus her secret ingredient.Ingredients for Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate CakeBeatty’s Chocolate Cake includes cocoa powder, vanilla, and freshly-brewed hot coffee.

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To make Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, you’ll need: 

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (plus more for pans) 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 cup freshly-brewed hot coffee 
  • 1 cup buttermilk (shaken) 
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder 
  • ½ cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Pro tip: You can also use Garten’s recipe for cupcakes! This recipe will make 24 cupcakes, just make sure to reduce the baking time to 25-30 minutes. 

You’ll also need supplies for the chocolate buttercream frosting.Ingredients for the frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeThe buttercream frosting includes semisweet chocolate and instant coffee.

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Garten’s chocolate frosting includes: 

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate 
  • 2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar (sifted) 
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk at room temperature 
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (such as Nescafé) 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
It was time to get baking! But first, I needed to prep the cake pans.Cake tins for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI buttered my cake pans, lined them with parchment paper, then added more butter and flour.

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Garten doesn’t mess around when it comes to her cake pans. 

First, I buttered two round 8-inch pans, then lined the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Once that was done, I buttered and floured both pans. 

Then, I began mixing my dry ingredients.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeFirst, I added the flour, sugar, and cocoa.

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I took Garten’s advice and started adding my dry ingredients straight into the bowl for my electric stand mixer. 

I first added the flour, sugar, and cocoa. At this point, I realized I had forgotten a crucial part of Garten’s recipe. 

“The method of this cake is to sift all the dry ingredients together in a cloud of chocolate,” she said on the “Barefoot Contessa” episode.

Oops! Thankfully, there was plenty of time to correct my mistake.  

I sifted everything together into my mixing bowl.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI also sifted the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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I slowly sifted the three ingredients back into my mixing bowl, then sifted the baking soda, baking powder, and salt as well. 

I returned the bowl to my mixer and turned it to low speed.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeIt only took a few seconds to mix everything together.

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I mixed everything together with the paddle attachment of my mixer until the dry ingredients were combined — which only took seconds. 

Then, I got started on the wet ingredients.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeFirst, I added the buttermilk.

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First, I added the buttermilk to a bowl, making sure to shake it well. 

“Always shake the buttermilk because it does settle,” Garten said. “Make sure it’s well mixed.” 

Garten says you can also add the wet ingredients straight into a measuring cup if you have one that’s big enough, which will help you pour them into the dry ingredients later.

Then, I added the eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeThen, I added the eggs and vanilla.

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Garten said that good vanilla is “really important when you’re doing chocolate.”

I gave my wet ingredients a quick stir.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeGive everything a quick mix.

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And just like that, they were ready to go into the mixer! 

I slowly added the mixture into my bowl of dry ingredients.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI poured my wet ingredients into the mixer, which was on low speed.

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I placed the mixer on low speed and began carefully pouring my wet ingredients into the bowl. 

Then, it was time to add the special secret ingredient.Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeThen I added the coffee — Garten’s secret ingredient.

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“Michael’s grandmother had a secret ingredient,” Garten explained. “This recipe calls for a cup of hot brewed coffee. I always think coffee is really important for chocolate, it makes it taste really chocolaty — and that’s exactly what it does.” 

Once my dry ingredients were mixed, I brewed a cup of coffee so it would be hot and ready to go. I added it with my mixer still on low and let it stir just to combine.

My batter was ready!Making Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI used a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl.

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Per Garten’s instructions, I scraped the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula once I was done mixing. 

I carefully poured the batter into my cake pans.Cake batter in tins for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI poured the batter evenly into my cake pans.

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I made sure to pour the batter as evenly as possible so my two layers would be identical. 

Then, I threw my pans into the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Putting Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate Cake in ovenI baked the cakes for around 40 minutes.

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Depending on your oven, the cakes will bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When your cake tester (or knife) comes out clean, you’ll know they’re ready.

My cakes already looked beautiful when they came out of the oven.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate Cakes after bakingGarten says to let the cakes cool in their pans for 30 minutes.

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I let my cakes cool for 30 minutes. 

Once 30 minutes were up, I took my cakes out of their pans.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate cakeI then let my cakes cool completely out of the pans.

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Garten recommends letting the cakes sit on a cooling rack to cool completely at this step. My cooling rack wasn’t big enough for both cakes, so I just placed the other on a baking sheet. 

She also says there’s no need to worry if the tops of your cakes sink a little in the center — that’s completely normal. 

As my cakes finished cooling, I got started on the frosting.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeTo make my frosting, I first chopped up all my chocolate.

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Garten calls this the “easiest, most delicious buttercream you’ve ever seen.” 

It begins with chopping up all the chocolate. Garten recommends using a good bittersweet chocolate (she prefers Valrhona Le Noir 56% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate) and says to never use chocolate chips “because they have stabilizers in them.” 

Once my chocolate was chopped, it was time to get melting.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI used a bain-marie to melt my chocolate.

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I threw my chocolate pieces into a saucepan, which I placed over a pan filled with simmering water. This technique, known as a bain-marie, helps prevent the chocolate from burning. 

I stirred the chocolate until it was just melted.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeAfter my chocolate melted, I let it cool to room temperature.

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Once all my pieces had melted, I set the saucepan aside and let my chocolate cool to room temperature. 

“You don’t want to pour hot chocolate into butter or else the whole thing will melt,” Garten said. 

After my chocolate had cooled, I got started on the rest of the frosting.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI beat my butter for three minutes, until it turned fluffy.

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I threw two sticks of butter into the bowl for my electric mixer, which I had cleaned after finishing the batter. I beat them on medium-high speed until the butter turned pale-yellow and fluffy — which took about three minutes. 

I added the egg yolk and vanilla and continued beating the mixture for another three minutes. 

Then, it was time for some sugar.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeThen, I added my sifted powdered sugar.

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I turned the mixer to low and gradually began adding the powdered sugar, which I had already sifted. 

I beat everything together at medium speed.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI used a spatula to scrape down the bowl as I beat the mixture.

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Per Garten’s instructions, I used a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl as necessary. I continued to beat the mixture until it turned smooth and creamy. 

Then, I needed to prep the instant coffee.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeGarten also adds coffee to the frosting.

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All you have to do is dissolve the tablespoon of instant coffee granules into two teaspoons of what Garten describes as “the hottest tap water.” 

I added the chocolate and coffee to my butter mixture.Making frosting for Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI mixed everything together on low speed.

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I turned the mixer to low speed and mixed until everything was blended together. Garten says to avoid overmixing, which could turn this into a whip. 

It was time to get frosting!Icing Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI carefully stacked my cakes.

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First, I carefully placed one of my layers, flat side up, on my cake pedestal. Then, using an icing spatula, I spread a thin layer of buttercream on just the top.

Then, I placed the second cake layer, flat side up, right on top of the first. 

Once the cakes were stacked, I spread frosting all over the top and sides.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI covered the entire cake with my buttercream frosting.

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Make sure to smooth the frosting out, but don’t worry too much. 

“The good news about an old-fashioned cake is that it’s supposed to be a little messy,” Garten cheekily said on the “Barefoot Contessa” episode.

As I cut into the cake, I could already tell it was going to be super moist.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI made Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, which Ina Garten said is the “most fabulous cake” she’s ever made.

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The knife easily sliced into the two layers of cake, revealing a filling the color of espresso and that very enticing buttercream. 

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake definitely looks homemade, and I agree with Garten that it’s part of the dessert’s charm. It’s just the kind of cake you hoped to see on the kitchen counter as a kid, praying your parents will cut you a thicker slice than usual. 

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake was unbelievably fluffy.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeGarten’s cake was packed with chocolate, but light as air.

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After my first bite, I wrote in my notes that this cake was “so insanely moist.” The texture truly blew me away. I’ve had so many cakes where the filling is just way too dense and chewy, completely distracting from the flavor. 

But Garten’s cake is somehow packed with chocolate and still light as air — a true feat. It’s honestly one of the fluffiest cakes I’ve ever had, and that includes store-bought. 

And I loved the flavor.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeThe coffee added a really nice kick to the cake’s flavor.

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Garten’s cake is deliciously rich. The coffee adds a nice kick that distinguishes Beatty’s from your usual chocolate cake. And all the flavors were perfectly balanced in the buttercream, which had just the right amount of sweetness. 

Plus, this cake still tastes just as great days later. I brought some back to my boyfriend, and even after a flight across California, it was still super moist — and a huge hit. 

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake is a perfect dessert for birthdays, anniversaries, or just cause you want some chocolate.Ina Garten Beatty's Chocolate CakeI would definitely make Garten’s favorite chocolate cake again.

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I’m not a huge baker or even a big chocolate cake fan, but I would definitely make Garten’s recipe again. 

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake is homey and comforting, but still super impressive. It’s not the quickest or easiest cake to make, but all that effort creates something really delicious. 

When you want to make something special for someone you love, then this recipe really … takes the cake. 

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