Buttermilk Chocolate Cake (or Cupcakes)

 Espresso enhanced - Buttermilk Chocolate Cake | Our Lady of Second Helpings

After all that talk about cake last week did you wonder if I was going to leave you hanging with out a recipe? Oh no no. I just wanted to give each element it’s own moment to shine. As I shared, the Little Helping requested chocolate cupcakes for his birthday party. I cruised around Pinterest to find a suitable recipe. The final choice was a simple buttermilk chocolate cake from Taste of Home. The simplicity appealed to me. I wasn’t look specifically for a lighter recipe however, I appreciated that these ingredients are a little slightly less decadent than other cakes.

Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Cake | Our Lady of Second Helpings

I didn’t set out to alter anything but I decided to punch up the flavor a bit. Without knowing, I got a jump on the baking tips we collected from Johnny Iuzinni and added a hearty scoop of instant espresso powder. It worked! The espresso gave the chocolate a good boost without taking on a mocha flavor. Both the cup cakes and cake were made the same way. For the frosting I was excited to use the technique for homemade Cool Whip for a second time. The simply sweet whipped frosting added a nice fluffy texture, and provided a place for the sprinkles to hangout but allowed the cake to be the star of the show.

Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Cake | Our Lady of Second Helpings

This is a solid recipe; I am sure I will come back to it in the future. The cake turned out moist but not sticky with a texture dense enough to eat with a fork but not heavy. I was only able to make 20 cupcakes from the batter but perhaps I was too generous with my servings. If you are looking for a great no-fuss cake, for birthdays or other celebrations, Buttermilk Chocolate Cake is a great choice.

Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Cake | Our Lady of Second Helpings

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ confectioners sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter the sides of two 9 inch round baking pans and line the bases with parchment cut into circles to fit the pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda then add the salt. Set aside.
  3. Combine the espresso powder with ½ cup of boiling water and set aside to cool.
  4. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl or stand mixer - cream until they are light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time mix well between additions. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Add buttermilk to the cooled espresso. Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until just barely combined. Add ½ of the liquid, again mixing on low until just combined. Continue to add the remaining ingredients alternating dry and wet and finishing with dry. Mix gently on low speed or with a rubber scraper just enough to blend all the dry ingredients into the batter.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool briefly before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting
  1. Chill a metal mixing bowl and your whisk in the freezer for 15+ minutes. Sift the confectioners sugar.
  2. Whisk together the boiled water and gelatin - move quickly at this point so it doesn't have time to solidify.
  3. Pour cream into the chilled bowl and begin mixing on medium speed. When the cream becomes frothy (about 2 minutes) add the vanilla and sifted sugar. Continue mixing another 2 minutes until the cream begins to thicken then add the gelatin. Beat an additional minute or two until the cream is thick and fluffy. Recipe yields approximately 2 cups of frosting (aka whipped topping).
When assembling the cake place the bottom layer face up and the top layer face down. For filling between the layers use a bit of jam, caramel, frosting, or thinly sliced fresh fruit. The cake pictured is filled with homemade cranberry-orange sauce.

*This frosting uses the recipe for homemade Cool Whip reduced in volume.


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