Dark Chocolate Cake

Rich, fudgy dark chocolate layer cake that's quick and simple to prepare, with ingredients you probably have on hand!

I’m constantly on the hunt for delicious, easy to prepare dark chocolate layer cake that uses ingredients you almost always have on hand.

So far my favorite is the flourless Torta Caprese but it’s also nice to have a great recipe for a classic rich dark chocolate layer cake. I always have cocoa powder on hand to make hot chocolate, and who doesn’t have flour, eggs, milk and vegetable oil on hand?

I make delicious brownies all the time using cocoa powder so why not do the same with dark chocolate layer cake?

This is what I’ve come up with and it’s the simplest, fudgiest recipe you can imagine, plus it’s not overly sweet, another thing in its favor.

Rich, fudgy dark chocolate layer cake that's quick and simple to prepare, with ingredients you probably have on hand!

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake

Ingredients:
For the cake:
225 g all-purpose flour
350 g sugar
85 g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Two large eggs
250 mL milk
125 mL vegetable oil
250 mL of boiling hot water
For the icing:
250 g dark chocolate
250 mL fresh cream

Procedure:
For the cake:
Butter the bottom and sides of two 8 inch cake pans.
Line the bottom of both cake pans with oven paper.
Dust the sides of the cake pans lightly with flour.
Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
With the mixer on low add the milk, vegetable oil, and eggs all at once and mix until smooth.
With the mixer on medium gradually add boiling hot water to the cake ingredients.
The batter will be very thin and liquidy so don’t be concerned.
Pour the batter into the cake pans.
Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes until it’s firm to the touch and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the cake pans.
If you’re making the dark chocolate layer cake in advance you can lightly cover the cake layers once they are completely cool and leave in the cake pans overnight.
For the icing:
Place the dark chocolate and fresh cream in a sauce pan and cook over a very low flame just until the chocolate is thoroughly melted.
Make sure to stir regularly and thoroughly while the chocolate is melting.
Allow the chocolate icing to cool to room temperature.
Gently remove the first cake layer from the pan, remove the baking paper liner, and place on a serving platter.
Ice the first cake layer.
Remove the second cake layer from the baking pan, gently remove its baking paper liner and place atop the first cake layer.
Ice the top and sides of the chocolate cake with the remaining icing.
This cake can be prepared from one to several days in advance.
If prepared in advance cover the cake and store in the refrigerator.

When you serve the dark chocolate layer cake don’t shortcut on presentation; a lovely cake platter makes all the difference!

Rich, fudgy dark chocolate layer cake that's quick and simple to prepare, with ingredients you probably have on hand!

Rich, fudgy dark chocolate layer cake that's quick and simple to prepare, with ingredients you probably have on hand!

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake

Course: Dessert
Keyword: dark chocolate layer cake

I'm always on the hunt for delicious, easy to prepare dark chocolate layer cake that uses ingredients you always have on hand. So far my favorite is the flourless Torta Caprese but it's also nice to have a great recipe for a classic rich dark chocolate layer cake. I always have cocoa powder on hand to make hot chocolate, and who doesn't have flour, eggs, milk and vegetable oil on hand? I make delicious brownies all the time using cocoa powder so why not do the same with chocolate cake? This is the simplest, fudgiest recipe you can imagine, and it's not overly sweet, another thing in its favor.

Print

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 225 g all-purpose flour
  • 350 g sugar
  • 85 g cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250 mL milk
  • 125 mL vegetable oil
  • 250 mL of boiling hot water

For the icing:

  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 250 mL fresh cream

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Butter the bottom and sides of two 8 inch cake pans.
  2. Line the bottom of both cake pans with oven paper.
  3. Dust the sides of the cake pans lightly with flour.
  4. Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
  5. With the mixer on low add the milk, vegetable oil, and eggs all at once and mix until smooth.
  6. With the mixer on medium gradually add boiling hot water to the cake ingredients.
  7. The batter will be very thin and liquidy so don't be concerned.
  8. Pour the batter into the cake pans.
  9. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes until it's firm to the touch and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the cake pans.
  11. If you're making the cake in advance you can lightly cover the cake layers once they are completely cool and leave in the cake pans overnight.

For the icing:

  1. Place the dark chocolate and fresh cream in a sauce pan and cook over a very low flame just until the chocolate is thoroughly melted.
  2. Make sure to stir regularly and thoroughly while the chocolate is melting.
  3. Allow the chocolate icing to cool to room temperature.
  4. Gently remove the first cake layer from the pan, remove the baking paper liner, and place on a serving platter.
  5. Ice the first cake layer.
  6. Remove the second cake layer from the baking pan, gently remove its baking paper liner and place atop the first cake layer.
  7. Ice the top and sides of the chocolate cake with the remaining icing.
  8. This cake can be prepared from one to several days in advance.
  9. If prepared in advance cover the cake and store in the refrigerator.
  10. When you serve the cake don't shortcut on presentation; a lovely cake platter makes all the difference!
    Rich, fudgy dark chocolate layer cake that's quick and simple to prepare, with ingredients you probably have on hand!

Rich, fudgy dark chocolate cake that's quick and simple to prepare, with ingredients you probably have on hand!Full disclosure: I make a small commission on purchases made through links on my blog. Prices are identical to those on the Amazon website, but purchasing through my link helps support my work in bringing you great recipes and culinary information!

Luscious and moist dark chocolate layer cake

Subiaco: an oasis of natural beauty, peace, history & art

If you’re looking for a day trip out of Rome where you can find an oasis of peace immersed in spectacular natural beauty, yet rich with Italian history, art and culture then Subiaco is a perfect choice.

Saint Benedict Monastery Subiaco

Subiaco is located about an hour and a half southeast of Rome in the upper Aniene Valley and is easily reachable by car or bus. The oldest part of the town is medieval with homes built around a huge impressive rocca, and full of small, winding streets. The lower part of Subiaco was built towards the end of the 18th century.

Entrance to the town of Subiaco

Entrance to the town of Subiaco

The economy of Subiaco is based on agriculture activities, primarily the cultivation of olives and grapes for wine making. There are also a number of artisans with woodworking and iron working shops. The area attracts a large tourist trade mainly due to the extraordinary monasteries located just above Subiaco. The two monasteries are dedicated to St. Scholastica and her twin brother St. Benedict.
Towards the end of the fifth century Benedict, a young man from Norcia in Umbria who was disillusioned with his studies, chose instead to live as a hermit in a cave (the Sacro Speco) in the upper Aniene Valley. This holy cave was the beginning of what would become an impressive Benedictine monastery.
During his three years living as a hermit St. Benedict’s reputation spread throughout the area. Local shepherds would lower food down to Benedict into the Sacro Speco. Eventually Benedict was invited to become the abbot of a local monastery in Vicovaro. It was at this time that Benedict developed and transcribed his ideas on how a true Christian should live. These ideas became known as the Rule of St. Benedict, and governed the way Benedictine monks should live their lives. In 529, after 20 years in Subiaco, St. Benedict moved on to head south towards Cassino where he established the renowned Monte Cassino monastery. St. Benedict died on March 21, 547.
St. Benedict lived his life in a number of spiritual locations, along with his sister Scholastica, and monasteries were established in each of these areas. For this reason Benedict was named the patron saint of Europe by Pope Paul the sixth in 1964.
St. Benedict’s monastery in Subiaco is embedded into the rocky mountainside of Mount Taleo, with a spectacular view of the Aniene Valley.

Saint Benedict Monastery in Subiaco

The monastery is composed of two churches, one above the other. There are also numerous small chapels that follow along the windy passageways of the rocky wall into which the monastery is embedded.


When you visit the monastery a good starting point is the small, delightful rose garden.

Saint Benedict Monastery Rose Garden Subiaco

Supposedly during the time of St. Benedict there were thorns instead of roses in the garden and Benedict would punish himself with the thorns when he had unholy thoughts. When St. Francis of Assisi visited the monastery in 1223 he transformed the garden into a rose garden.

Rose from the Saint Benedict Monastery Rose Garden in Subiaco
The lower church houses the spiritual core of the monastery: the Sacro Speco, or Holy Cave, where Benedetto lived his three years as a hermit in the V century.

Among the numerous splendid frescoes that decorate the monastery walls is the oldest portrait in existence of Saint Francis of Assisi. His pilgrimage brought him to Subiaco in 1223. In this painting he’s portrayed without the halo that you see in future portraits, similar to the one to the left of the painting that the monk is holding up for comparison. St. Francis is holding a document with the words “Peace to this house”. The fresco portrait was painted by a local, unknown Subiaco painter. He signed the painting using the method of the day: a tiny self-portrait located in the bottom left corner of the painting.

Portrait of Saint Francis Monastery Saint Benedict Subiaco
In the ancient refectory there’s another spectacular fresco: a recently restored Last Supper, dating back to the 1300’s.

Saint Benedict Monastery Subiaco Last Supper painting
The monastery was built up over many centuries and finally completed in 1243. Its bell tower dates back to 1053. The entire monastery is full of splendid medieval paintings and frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Saint Benedict Monastery fresco Subiaco: Upper Church: Martyrdom of St. Placidus; XVth century fresco attributed to Ottaviano Nelli

Saint Benedict Monastery fresco Subiaco, Upper Church: Martyrdom of St. Placidus; XVth century fresco attributed to Ottaviano Nelli

The most sacred part of the monastery is located in a chapel on the left side of the lower church, where the Sacro Speco is located. Here you’ll find a marble sculpture of St. Benedict, by Antonio Raji, a disciple of Bernini.

Saint Benedict Monastery Subiaco Sacro Speco sculpture of Saint Benedict by Bernini disciple Antonio Raji

The statue was carved in white Carrara marble but one foot is gold. The gold metal covering was placed on the marble foot to protect it as over the years the constant touch of each pilgrim who passed by was wearing away the marble.

The St. Scholastica monastery is a two-mile walk downhill from St. Benedict’s monastery. As you descend the hill following a number of winding turns you’ll encounter interesting antiquities, including several chapels and the ruins of one of Nero’s villas. After you pass Nero’s villa you see the St. Scholastica monastery to your left. This is one of the 12 monasteries St. Benedict built for his disciples.

Saint Scholastica Monastery Subiaco
The oldest part of the St. Scholastica monastery is near the bell-tower and the elongated part of the building was added in the 17th century. The monastery also has a hostel and restaurant for pilgrims,

Saint Scholastica Monastery Hostel Subiaco

and three cloisters and the church.
This monastery is notable because it contains a library with originals of the very first books ever printed in Italy. The printing press was set up in the 1400’s by two German ecclesiastics. At the time many spiritual works were printed, along with a grammar book for children. After some years the printing press was moved to the Palazzo Massimo in Rome.
The St. Scholastica monastery is a mixture of different architectural styles: an 11th century Romanesque belltower, a 10th-century church that was redesigned in Gothic style in the 14th century. The inside of the church was completely renovated by Giacomo Quarenghi. The church interior has a stark and unusual look because of the unique style used to paint the frescoes. Normally one expects to see bright and colorful frescoes but, apart from the ceiling fresco, these are black and white and use what was known as a grissaio style.

Saint Scholastica Monastery Subiaco grissaio style fresco
The restaurant within the St. Scholastica complex prepares casareccio, country-style meals for visitors. Francesca, the delightful woman who works in the restaurant, bakes dozens upon dozens of delicious cakes and cookies daily which you’ll find for sale. She spends about fifteen hours a day baking and packaging these goodies. She also makes a variety of jams which you can also purchase.

Saint Scholastica Monastery pastries Subiaco
Here, and at the St. Benedict monastery, you can also purchase wonderful items including delicious liqueurs using the monks’ centuries old recipes.

Saint Benedict Monastery Liqueurs Subiaco made with wild fennel blossoms
Both monasteries are easily reachable by car and if you prefer to make a day trip using public transportation that’s possible too. Take the Rome metro line B to the Ponte Mammolo stop. From here you can get a bus to Piazza Falcone in Subiaco. Buses run all day long, (every 15 – 30 minutes depending on the time of day) beginning at 4:30 am until 8:30 pm. You can purchase a ticket at the Ponte Mammolo station (€4.30) or on board the bus (€7.00). It’s a good idea to purchase a round trip ticket at Ponte Mammolo so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re ready to leave Subiaco.
Getting to the monasteries is another story. To reach the upper monastery (St. Benedict) it’s about a 4 kilometer steep walk uphill that will take just under an hour. It’s a gorgeous walk but strenuous.
One option is to take a taxi up to the monasteries. Otherwise there are a few buses daily that leave from Piazza Falcone going up to the monasteries. This schedule was effective May 27, 2018 but be sure to verify the schedule online. The Cotral bus route is Subiaco-Vallepietra: Monday – Saturday: 6am, 10am, 2:15pm* and 6:30pm. Sundays 8:50am and 3:20pm. (*Saturday 2pm)
The return schedule from the monasteries to Piazza Falcone, Subiaco: Monday – Saturday: 7am, 11am, 3:15pm and 7:30pm. Sundays 9:40am and 4:10pm.

Would you like to read more about Saint Benedict? Check out this book

Or try this book for an in depth history of Subiaco.

One of my favorite gifts for friends and family are prints of places I’ve visited in Italy. This is a lovely .

 

Red Wine Cookies (Ciambelline al Vino Rosso)

Red Wine Cookies (Ciambelline al Vino Rosso) 

They make a nice gift, along with other biscotti, for almost any occasion:

Red Wine Cookies (Biscotti al Vino Rosso) are a delicious way to use up that extra red wine you have on hand!

Red Wine Cookies (Ciambelline al Vino Rosso) are the best way to use up leftover red wine. How many times have you had a party or dinner guests and you find a few bottles with just a bit of red wine left over? Lots of ways to use that wine up…including drinking it…but you’ll find these ciambelline al vino rosso are a fast and delicious alternative.

Almost every Italian bakery sells these delicious red wine cookies so if you’d rather buy them than make them they’re easy to locate! One of my favorites is Cipriani Biscottificio.

Biscotti al vino rosso, red wine cookies, ciambelline

Red Wine Cookies (Ciambelline al Vino Rosso)

Ingredients:

Flour, 5 cups
Sugar, 1 cup
Salt, 1/4 teaspoon
Baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon
Dry red wine, 1 cup
Olive Oil, light, 1 cup
Additional sugar for dusting the ciambelline, about 2 cups.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F
Stir the first four dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Stir in the oil and wine until well combined.
Roll the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll it out until it’s about 3/8 inch (1 centimeter) thick. Cut off into 4 inch (10 centimeter) lengths.
Shape each length into a circle, overlapping the ends. Usually the circles are slightly oblong. No need to dust the rolling surface: the oil keeps the dough from sticking to your hands or work surface.

Red Wine Cookies (Biscotti al Vino Rosso) are a delicious way to use up that extra red wine you have on hand!

Dust the ciambelline abundantly in granulated sugar on both sides and place on a cookie sheet.
Bake the ciambelline for 20 minutes, or until they are a rich golden color and the sugar on the bottom of the ciambelline is just beginning to caramelize.
Cool the ciambelline thoroughly, then store in an airtight container.

You might also enjoy making biscotti. I love them with dried cranberries and hazelnuts and love this recipe for Cranberry Hazelnut Biscotti!

Why not try a cooking class while you’re in Rome? You can learn how to make cookies, biscotti, pasta and much more. Check out some of the options in the sidebar to your right.

Please note that the below printable recipe can be viewed in metric or U.S. conventional measurements; just click on your preference within the recipe.

Biscotti al vino rosso, red wine cookies, ciambelline

Red Wine Cookies (Ciambelline al Vino Rosso)

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Calories: 6798 kcal
Print

Ingredients

  • 600 grams Flour
  • 200 grams Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 237 milliliters Dry red wine
  • 237 milliliters Olive Oil
  • 400 grams Additional sugar for dusting the ciambelline Use as needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Stir the first four dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the oil and wine until well combined.
  4. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll it out until it's about 3/8 inch (1 centimeter) thick. Cut off into 4 inch (10 centimeter) lengths.
  6. Shape each length into a circle, overlapping the ends. Usually the circles are slightly oblong. No need to dust the rolling surface: the oil keeps the dough from sticking to your hands or work surface.
  7. Dust the ciambelline abundantly in granulated sugar on both sides and place on a cookie sheet.
  8. Bake the ciambelline for 20 minutes, or until they are a rich golden color and the sugar on the bottom of the ciambelline is just beginning to caramelize.
  9. Cool the ciambelline thoroughly, then store in an airtight container.
Nutrition Facts
Red Wine Cookies (Ciambelline al Vino Rosso)
Amount Per Serving (50 g)
Calories 6798 Calories from Fat 2178
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 242g 372%
Saturated Fat 33g 165%
Sodium 604mg 25%
Potassium 692mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 1064g 355%
Dietary Fiber 16g 64%
Sugars 600g
Protein 62g 124%
Calcium 11.2%
Iron 163.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Full disclosure: I make a small commission on purchases made through links on my blog. Prices are identical to those on the website, but purchasing through my link helps support my work in bringing you great recipes and culinary information!

 

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