Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake


I’m a self-proclaimed cake-o-phobe. In my mind, baking cakes are like gargantuan hurdles in my short culinary life that I have to go over someday. I’m scared to disappoint my overcritical self with sub-par results. Last week, I finally baked cake, but not without slight mishaps.

Yes, the outcome of this Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake recipe was really good and it was fudge-y the next day. That made me think that it needed some “rest” period. But…[there’s always a but!] I wish I stopped at that and tossed the idea of making the frosting.

Ghirardelli Grand Chocolate Cake

Perhaps it is bad idea to tell you all about my first fudge cake and the forgettable chocolate buttercream frosting that I put on it considering that we’re asking you to vote for us for the Death by Chocolate Contest. Is it?

Please register and Vote for Gourmeted between February 4 and 8. Won’t you please, please — vote for the newbie on the block?
We’ll all have a chance to win a trip to Napa Valley for the annual Death by Chocolate Festival. We’ll take you there with pictures and send you postcards from beautiful Napa, if you want. ;-)
It’s a win-win situation! What are you waiting for? Go vote!

I’m only keeping it real, folks. Sometimes the recipes just don’t work out. And sometimes, you get a leaning tower of pisa out of your first layered cake:

And well, the icing job is, uhm…”cute” at most. It was difficult to spread, in addition to the fact that I did accidentally break the cake when I transfered them so the surfaces aren’t even and pieces of cake kept clinging to the icing when I try to spread them. [Any ideas from cake experts out there on how I can do a good job at this?]. I don’t know if it would be any better if we had an icing spatula:

When the cake dough was baking I suddenly realized that we didn’t have a cake dish. Good thing the biggest round plate we have still has an inch to spare.

The recipe I used for both the cake and icing was from the recipe on the can of Ghirardelli Natural Unsweetened cocoa. I’ve had 90% success with recipes on packages so I was expecting some good results.

The batter of the cake was oh my…I could’ve just stopped with the procedure there and ate it by myself. I knew the cake would taste good from the batter:

I practiced self-control and probably avoided a stomachache, and eventually poured it into the pans and allowed these babies to bake for 30 minutes:

Until they form these pretty gentle-sloping domes:


If you’d like to try this recipe, it’s posted below. I’m skipping the buttercream frosting recipe because it wasn’t good, but if you insist on having the recipe, just let me through the comments section and I’ll send it to you. If you have a good recipe for chocolate (buttercream or not) frosting, please do share!

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake
[also available at the Ghirardelli site’s recipe section]


  • 3/4 cup(s) Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 cup(s) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup(s) milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add vanilla and eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk (starting and ending with the flour mixture), while mixing on low speed. Continue to mix until smooth. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.

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  • February 5, 2008 2:56 pm

    I can’t even imagine how good that cake probably tastes!

  • joy
    February 5, 2008 4:56 pm

    Hillary — It was really good the second day. :-)

  • trish
    February 5, 2008 7:12 pm

    This looks delicious but more importantly – thanks for showing us that big time blog writers don’t always have perfect results. Very refreshing!

  • February 5, 2008 8:40 pm

    wow the cakes came out picture perfect! mine always turn out cracked and sunken in.

  • joy
    February 6, 2008 1:43 am

    trish — Thanks, you’re welcome. Who’s big time, girl? We’re just starting out. I’m far from big time. :-)

    amanda — Thanks! You know, I was actually expecting it to sink in as well, just like when I make brownies. Not sure what makes it different.

  • Elle
    February 6, 2008 6:25 am

    I love chocolate, so I’d still be happy with this cake if someone made it for me! I’m still trying to perfect the 2 layer cake and presentation, but I find my family will joyfully eat even the messy ones.

    Easy and sinfully delicious chocolate frosting? From the Cake Mix Doctor–and I’ve made it too many times to count. Always consistent results:

    Very easy, extremely chocolatey and not sweet. Perfect, like the name says.

    6 oz semisweet chocolate
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 cup butter, cut into tablespoon sizes
    2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    1 place a large bowl, filled halfway with ice, in the sink (a bowl that is large enough to hold the pot that you will cook the frosting in).
    2 in a medium size pot over med low heat; melt chocolate, cream, and butter.
    3 stirring constantly, cook the mixture until all of the butter and chocolate melts and thickens.
    4 cook for 5-6 minutes.
    6 remove pot from heat.
    7 whisk in the sifted confectioners’ sugar until mixture becomes smooth (approximately 1 minute).
    8 then put the pot on top of the bowl of ice.
    9 (be careful to not allow any ice from the larger bowl to get into pot with the chocolate mixture.) beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 4-5 minutes until frosting becomes smooth, thick, and fudgy.
    10 remove from ice.
    11 spread onto cooled cake layers.
    12 the frosting will thicken as it sets up.
    13 if the frosting gets too hard to spread, put back on LOW heat and stir constantly until you get the spreading consistency desired.
    14 ***i have been adding 1 Tbs. of light corn syrup to the initial heavy cream and chocolate mixture to add more glossiness to the frosting.***

    Yield: enough for a 2 layer cake
    Ready in: 15 minutes

  • joy
    February 6, 2008 8:50 am

    Elle – You ROCK!!! I’ll definitely try this. Thank you so much for the recipe. :-)

  • February 6, 2008 12:42 pm

    this looks just incredible. i’m a little bit of a cake-phobe too, although i will happily make tarts and pies all day long. partially i think i’m just scared i’ll eat the whole cake!

  • February 6, 2008 6:26 pm


    That’s all I can say.. and man.. I wish I had some chocolate cake right now.. I am honestly thinking of zipping in the kitchen and whipping some up! But I better just hop back into reality!! :)


  • joy
    February 7, 2008 12:50 am

    katy — Thanks! Hahaha. My problem is that by the time the cake is made, I feel full (or maybe I am from eating the batter…haha).

    That’s My Cake! — That’s how I felt when I went to your site — I want to make and eat what you’re cooking! Go have yourself some instant-gratification cake from a bake shop. :-)

  • February 8, 2008 6:20 am

    Don’t sweat it! It looks delicious and a worthy first attempt.

    If you don’t have an icing spatula, you can use a butter knife if you have one. But if you plan on icing more cakes in the future, at least get a cheap one :)
    Make sure the bottom layer is level to avoid leaning of the cake. You can even cool it dome side-down if you’re feeling lazy and just leave it like that; just put the top layer on dome side-up. If the flat top is not the problem but the icing is too sticky and drags the cake, leave it for a short while at room temperature and work it with a rubber spatula to loosen the icing up, making it easier to work with. It also helps with the crumbs sticking to the cake.
    The preferred way of preventing crumbs going all over your frosting is to make a crumb coat. Take a bit of the frosting and frost the cake all over thinly. Don’t mind if some crumbs are dragged around. Place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the frosting, then dump the rest of the frosting on the cake and frost it all over thickly, taking care not to touch the crumb coat with the spatula as the crumb coat protects the cake inside. You can then use a spoon to create swirls all over the cake.

    Good luck!

  • JohnM
    February 22, 2009 3:46 pm

    Great post… I made the recipe this AM… but centers collapsed. Am baking at 6000 feet elevation (Denver). Any suggestions for improvement?

    Taste is good… agree that it improved with age (a few hours)!

    BTW, what altitude was the original cake baked at? The photo shows a very nicely mounded form.

    Any help is appreciated.
    John in Denver

  • June 11, 2011 7:43 am

    Hmm, I’ve make the butter cream frosting and liked it very much. Temp in the kitchen can affect texture, what didn’t you like about it?

  • Ashley
    August 14, 2011 12:07 pm

    I am planning on making this. So what kind of frosting should i buy?(im only making one from scratch haha)

  • Linda
    August 10, 2012 4:42 pm

    The frosting was fine, but the cake came out dry. I honestly have no idea why!! :-9

    • joy
      September 3, 2012 5:32 pm

      The recipe from Ghirardelli could be a hit or miss, and it could easily be overbaked into dryness. Sorry it didn’t work out quite well. What I usually do if the cake comes out dry is to wrap it in plastic wrap once it cools down and put it in the freezer overnight, then take it out to room temperature the next day. That sometimes help add moisture back from my experience.

  • March 5, 2013 6:10 pm

    I used evaporated milk instead of condensed. It came out amazing!

  • Lizzie
    July 17, 2014 7:28 pm

    I actually make both recipes quite often! The frosting always turns out well for me, though I typically end up using a tiny bit more milk and butter ^^

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