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July 29, 2021

Chocolate Pound Cake

A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.

Of all the recipes I’ve created over the years, I think my original pound cake is one that I’m most proud of. It took me years and a ton of “not quite right” cakes to perfect it but I finally got there.

I’m not a baker by nature. I prefer savory recipes that I can tinker with and tweak as I go (baking requires science and stuff) but since I’d figured out the original pound cake, I wanted to create the perfect chocolate pound cake. Because I love chocolate but also because, in all my life, I’ve never run across a chocolate pound cake I liked.

They’re usually low on chocolate flavor and too pale in color – like the cake isn’t totally committed to being chocolate. And most chocolate pound cakes are dry and almost chalky. Or they’re not pound cake at all, just regular chocolate cake someone baked in a loaf pan and called it a pound cake.

Chocolate Pound Cake - A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.

So I put on my baking hat this summer and decided to go to work on this unicorn and create the impossible: a rich and moist, actually chocolatey chocolate pound cake.

I won’t take you through every failed recipe attempt, but I will tell you some of the key things I learned (some of which I’d already figured out when making the original pound cake which was the recipe I started with to craft this one).

You can’t just add cocoa powder and call it a day. If you add enough to get the flavor you need, the cake will be way too dry (and decreasing flour isn’t the answer because cocoa powder serves no structural purpose in baking). Others have already figured this out which is why there are so many pale colored, bland chocolate pound cakes out there; they just used less cocoa powder so the cake wouldn’t dry out as much.

Chocolate Pound Cake - A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.

I had no interest in melting actual chocolate so I had to figure this cocoa thing out. I remembered Mama’s chocolate sheet cake, which is so super chocolatey and moist and that there’s a step to boil the cocoa powder with liquid.

Several articles and cookbooks later I learned about blooming cocoa. Blooming "opens up" the cocoa powder. Cocoa powder contains ground endosperm of the cocoa bean, many particles of which are still enclosed in pieces of membrane and seed coat which act like a barrier between the cocoa solids and our taste buds. Boiling liquid releases the cocoa and enhances the flavor by almost double.

I decided to bloom the cocoa in hot black coffee since the two flavors compliment each other so well and because it would help get that rich color I was after. 

Chocolate Pound Cake - A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.

I played around with measurements and liquids (and even one version with sour cream which doesn’t work because unsweetened cocoa powder plus black coffee plus sour cream is just too much bitter and sour even for 3 cups of sugar). I added an extra egg to make up for the richness lost between the original recipe’s buttermilk and this one’s black coffee.

I added a bit of brown sugar and a skosh more salt but other than that, the key here was substituting the buttermilk with the blooming liquid.

So, I’m delighted to tell you that my summer of not-so-good chocolate pound cakes lead to this one great recipe… the thing I was starting to believe really didn’t exist and couldn’t be done, the unicorn itself: a moist, tender, chocolate-flavor-packed chocolate pound cake!

Chocolate Pound Cake - A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.

NOTES ABOUT MAKING CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE

  • When baking chocolate cakes that require the pan(s) to be greased and floured, I use a combo of half flour and half cocoa powder. This prevents any white clumps from blemishing your gorgeous cake and it adds flavor.
  • I prefer Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in this recipe for the darker color and deeper flavor but regular Dutch-processed cocoa powder is totally fine.
  • You don’t have to use coffee if you absolutely hate it but I promise the cake will not taste like coffee. Substitute boiling water for coffee if needed (boo).
  • Pound cakes are done when the internal temperature reaches 205-210 degrees. Because pound cakes are so easy to over-cook, I use an instant-read thermometer to check mine (they’re under twenty bucks and worth every penny) but the toothpick test works too.
  • Darker pans cook much more quickly than lighter metal pans (especially aluminum) so the time needed to bake the cake will vary. With my dark, non-stick pan this cake takes 62-65 minutes to cook.
  • It will be HARD to do but the cake will taste better and be moister if you wait until the following day to cut into it. Strength to you, friend.
Chocolate Pound Cake - A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.
chocolate, pound cake, southern, classic, traditional, best, moist, cocoa, bloom, blooming, rich, tub pan, coffee, how to
cakes, desserts
southern, american
Yield: 16 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
Chocolate Pound Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 15 M

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (10-oz) hot black coffee
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) real, salted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. Read all recipe notes before starting recipe.
  2. Bring butter and eggs to room temperature. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Whisk cocoa powder with hot coffee in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Set aside to cool a bit.
  4. In a large bowl or stand mixer beat butter and shortening at medium speed for 1 minute or until completely smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light, fluffy and very pale yellow in color (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined after each.
  6. Whisk brown sugar and vanilla extract into the cocoa/coffee mixture until smooth.
  7. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture and cocoa mixture to creamed butter/sugar, alternating each, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing at low speed until combined.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan then bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes or until done. Cool in pan, then plate top-side up. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Notes:

  • When baking chocolate cakes that require the pan(s) to be greased and floured, I use a combo of half flour and half cocoa powder. This prevents any white clumps from blemishing your gorgeous cake and it adds flavor.
  • "Creaming" is a very important step in most cakes, especially pound cakes, so take care to follow the instructions in Step 4 carefully.
  • I prefer Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in this recipe for the darker color and deeper flavor but regular Dutch-processed cocoa powder is totally fine. 
  • You don’t have to use coffee if you absolutely hate it but I promise the cake will not taste like coffee. We need to bloom the cocoa powder (see article above) in hot liquid so coffee is perfect since it accents the taste of chocolate so beautifully, it gives the cake a richer chocolate color and, well, it’s piping hot! Substitute boiling water for coffee if needed (boo).
  • Pound cakes are done when the internal temperature reaches 205-210 degrees. Because pound cakes are so easy to over-cook, I use an instant-read thermometer to check mine (they’re under twenty bucks and worth every penny) but the toothpick test works too. 
  • Darker pans cook much more quickly than lighter metal pans (especially aluminum) so the time needed to bake the cake can vary. With my dark, non-stick pan this cake takes 62-65 minutes to cook.
  • For questions about making this in a bundt pan, see the post with Mandy's Pound Cake recipe.
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Chocolate Pound Cake - A true southern chocolate pound cake recipe that’s moist and fudgy and packed with rich chocolate flavor.

17 comments:

  1. This looks DIVINE. I am 100% making this over the weekend. Do you think adding a drizzle of something over the top would be too much? Like a ganach or a glaze?

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    Replies
    1. There's no such thing as too much chocolate! I would have considered doing the same thing but I wanted y'all to see what it looks like without.

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  2. Lordy... this is the be all and end all of chocolate pound cakes! Ganache is my choice for a glaze. If you are going to hell, make it a sweet ride. LOL.

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  3. I just took this out of the oven and if it takes as good as the batter off the beaters did, then it's going to be divine! It also smells wonderful-I'll let you know!

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  4. Served this with powdered sugar - divine!

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  5. 7am waiting on little one 5yrs old wake up And we going make this on this rainy day in GA.

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  6. It looks like you made magic here! I love how deep the chocolate color is!!!

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  7. You are a God send!!! I have been looking for a recipe that speaks to my heart!!! I wonder could you put chocolate chunks in it?

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    Replies
    1. Probably, though I don't know how much they'll sink in the batter before the cake cooks enough to support them. If you try it, let us know!

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  8. Made this tonight. Didn't think about that I was using a bundt pan...a 9.75 inch one at that. So I expected overflow. And I got it. But I was also noticing some falling in the middle. Any thoughts on that? Anyone with thoughts? It doesn't have to be just Mandy with input. I do have a tube pan or at least I did at one point. I may try again with a tube pan.

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    Replies
    1. It either sunk because of the overflow or because it cooked too fast in the smaller pan. Likely the overflow. Think of it like building a house... if the walls aren't holding, the roof will fall.

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  9. If I don't have shortening, can I use another stick of butter?

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    Replies
    1. Yes! The shortening just helps it rise a little higher, hold its shape and makes the cake a little more tender.

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  10. Can I substitute Amaretto for the coffee?

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  11. This cake is excellent! I followed the recipe closely, used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa, the mix of butter and shortening etc. I had to sub in 1 cup of organic whole wheat pastry flour for 1 of the cups of white AP flour because I ran out of white flour but with such a dark, dense cake no one could possibly detect it. My son jokes that it makes the cake health food. And you are right - it smells like coffee when it's baking, but no coffee flavor is detectable in the cool cake the next day. I accidentally cooked mine to 220 degrees internal temp, but it is still dense and moist. Thanks for such a good, classic chocolate pound cake.

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Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy