Dark Chocolate Cake with Chile-Chocolate Buttercream {2 years & a giveaway!)

I have this friend. She’s a wise and confident woman with many an opinion. Her view, articulated through crystal clear lenses, is always witty and makes me laugh (and think!). More than once she has managed to fit a crutch under me and uphold me as only a true girlfriend would do. I appreciate and love her more than words can say.

So how could I not fulfill her request when she sent me a link last spring, to a cake she suggested I make? For her. Oh, did I forget to mention she can also be quite audacious?!  ;-)

Angela’s birthday seemed the perfect time to make this cake for her. So last summer I brought it to a little celebration in her honor, where a small group of girlfriends gathered on the patio to enjoy a beautiful Minnesota summer’s evening. Girlfriends, summer, tasty nibbles, wine, and a gorgeous layered cake…what more can a girl ask for?!

The original cake recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine, and featured a cinnamon sponge cake. I thought the cake was good, but not exactly memorable. The frosting, on the other hand, was pure heaven. I have dreamt of that magnificent buttercream slathered over a deep dark chocolate cake ever since. So that’s what I did!

Tessa wanted in on the frosting action!

This Dark Chocolate Cake with Chile-Chocolate Buttercream is a layer cake to remember, for sure. At its core are two layers of that deliciously famous “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake”, found in Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home. The cake is deep, dark, and super moist, and topped with some of the most wonderful buttercream I’ve ever set my fork to. The frosting’s silky sweetness is complex, offset by the warmth of chiles and cinnamon. I love it!

Although this cake would be spectacular served any time of year, I think it would a great addition to an upcoming Cinco de Mayo party. Let me know if you celebrate with it!

Dark Chocolate Cake with Chile-Chocolate Buttercream

Yield: 12 to 16 servings


    for the dark chocolate cake:
  • 1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pans
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. freshly brewed hot coffee
  • for the chile-chocolate buttercream:
  • 2-1/2 c. (5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting the finished cake
  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 5 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled


for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 9'' round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, slowly and carefully add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

for the chile-chocolate buttercream:

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. At low speed, beat in the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, scraping down the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes longer. At low speed, beat in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ancho chile powder and cayenne, then gradually beat in the cooled bittersweet and white chocolate. Scrape down the side of the bowl and the paddle, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light, 3 minutes longer. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously beat the buttercream for 30 seconds to deflate any air bubbles.

to assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer, flat side up, on a plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with almost 2 cups of the frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the remaining frosting onto the top and sides of the cake. (There is plenty of frosting and I've never used all of it.) Lightly dust the top of the cake with additional cinnamon. So pretty!

Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before slicing. If the cake has been fully refrigerated (many hours or overnight) prior to serving, be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving, which can take 30 minutes or more. This cake can easily be made the day prior to serving it and any leftover cake keeps well when covered and refrigerated.


Dark Chocolate Cake slightly adapted from "Beatty's Chocolate Cake" from Barefoot Contessa at Home.

Chile-Chocolate Buttercream adapted from Food & Wine.

We are also celebrating a little birthday of our own here, completely honored and awed with the fact that a farmgirl’s dabbles will be 2 in just a few days. Wow!

We are so very thankful to all of you for reading and connecting with us, and sharing in all the yumminess. And we’d like to give you the chance to win 1 of 2 gift cards, in appreciation. 

We have chosen a few of our favorite places to shop for food related items:

Crate & Barrel

If your name is chosen, you will receive one $50 gift card to the store of your choice! Williams-Sonoma, Target, Crate & Barrel, or Amazon…it’s completely up to YOU!

This giveaway is now closed.
The winners were Mary and Jan, who have each received their prizes.
Thank you to everyone who entered!

You will have 2 ways to enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards. Choose 2 ways from the following list to be entered to win:

  • Leave a comment below, letting me know what food related item(s) you would get with one of these gift cards.
  • Like a farmgirl’s dabbles on facebook. (Leave a separate comment to let me know.)
  • Follow a farmgirl’s dabbles on twitter and tweet about this giveaway. (Leave a separate comment to let me know.)
    Sample tweet: “Celebrate 2 years w/ @farmgirlsdabble – Dark Chocolate Cake with Chile-Chocolate Buttercream AND 2 $50 gift cards! http://wp.me/pTM9A-1Il”

The fine print: Contest ends Monday, April 30th at 6:00 pm CST. Open to US residents 18 and older. Two winners will be chosen via random draw and notified by email. Winners will have 48 hours to reply and claim their prize or another winner(s) will be chosen. a farmgirl’s dabbles is not responsible for lost or undelivered emails.

Disclosure: Prizes offered and paid for by a farmgirl’s dabbles, in appreciation of our readers. 

I’m linking up with:


253 Responses to “Dark Chocolate Cake with Chile-Chocolate Buttercream {2 years & a giveaway!)”

  1. #
    Kimi — April 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I would get some storage items and baking items.

  2. #
    Mary@FitandFed — April 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Hi! I’m not here today for the giveaway but for the recipe. Though I had to bypass all your cute mini-desserts this time to do it, I wanted to see what was in that chili-chocolate frosting because it sounds right up my alley. It looks really good, kind of a Mexican chocolate flavor with even a little more hot spicing than that. And so interesting that it has both dark chocolate and white chocolate. So thanks for that! And congratulations on your two year blog anniversary, what a extensive recipe box you’ve made in that time!

    • Brenda replied on May 8th, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you so much, Mary! If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to know what you think about it!

  3. #
    Amber — April 26, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I would get those adorable mickey and minnie mouse bowls at Target for a Disney theme party.

  4. #
    Jane Sumter — April 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Hey Afarmgirlsdabbles,
    I take your point, Chocolate cakes are voted the most popular desserts ever all over the world. There are many variations of chocolate cake recipe, but a plain chocolate cake with a little twist is all you need most of the time to earn lots of praise for the dessert at your dinner party. Here is a simple and easy to prepare plain chocolate cake recipe that is a delight to look at as well as to eat.
    I’ll be back to read more next time

  5. #
    Deanna G. — April 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’d love to get a new blender! :)

  6. #
    Deanna G. — April 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I follow A Farmgirl’s Dabbles on Facebook(Deanna Cali) & I shared the giveaway:


  7. #
    Rosemary — April 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    This cake looks heavenly! I would probably purchase more baking supplies from Williams Sonoma or Amazon, love those stores :)

  8. #
    Jan — April 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Williams-Sonoma has heavenly looking things don’t they? But I think I would pick Amazon because I would like to try a spice called Garam Masala.. I can’t seem to find it. I would also like some good balsamic vinegar….. mmmmmm.. Amazon would fit the ticket. Now for this cake you’ve shown us. IT LOOKS DELISIOUS… Truely enjoy your blog.. Thank you….

  9. #
    Nancy — April 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Mini muffin pans!!!

  10. #
    Rosemary — April 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I follow you on facebook and just shared about this giveaway: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rosies-Country-Baking/155551561166160?ref=tn_tnmn

  11. #
    Nancy — April 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I am sure I did this wrong.. but I tried Nancy Bateman shared a link via A Farmgirl’s Dabbles.

  12. #
    Penelope White — April 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I would put the gift card towards the purchase price of a convection oven with a rotisserie function, so I could still bake and roast in the summer without heating up my kitchen

  13. #
    Penelope White — April 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm


    This is to let you know I shared the link for the recipe and giveaway on my FB page. Hope I did this correctly since I am new to Apple computers.

  14. #
    Terri Betz — April 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I’d buy some new spices & fancy bacon! Splurges for us!
    Blue Strong on Facebook

  15. #
    Suze from OR — April 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Some Giada products at Target!!!!Congrats on 2 years!!!

  16. #
    Terri Betz — April 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I follow A Farmgirl’s Dabbles on Facebook as Blue Strong

  17. #
    Terri Betz — April 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Shared on Facebook as Blue Strong

  18. #
    Penelope White — April 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm


    I think this is what I was supposed to copy and not what I copied before to show you I had shared your link about the recipe and the giveaway. Sorry! Hope I got it right this time.

  19. #
    Karyn - Pint Sized Baker — April 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I’d love new pans and dessert plates. I can always find something fun at these stores!

  20. #
    Karyn - Pint Sized Baker — April 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Started following you and Just tweeted it @PintSizedBaker

    I already follow you on FB :)

  21. #
    Heather — April 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I would put it towards my first Le Creuset! Congrats on 2 years…I’m so glad I found your blog! (Thanks for sharing!)

  22. #
    Carmen — April 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I have been wanting to get some truffle molds. Would prefer silicone ones so I could use them for my homemade caramels

  23. #
    Amanda — April 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    My mom put a link on facebook and I just had to check out your cake receipe! Sounds super yummy! I would probably get baking supplies at Target. I really enjoyed your website, very cute.Thank you for sharing and congrats on 2 years.

  24. #
    sue — April 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    That cake looks soooo good!!!! I really need to buy a bundt pan and a cake stand… :) Happy birthday!

  25. #
    Rachel@Time for Good Food — April 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Hmmm … tough call. I think I would buy some new baking gadgets! Your cake looks amazing, by the way.

  26. #
    Melissa — April 29, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    It would be wonderful to get some sharp knives with this giveaway! Congrats on 2 years! Love your blog!

  27. #
    Melissa — April 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I follow you on Twitter, which is how I found out about this giveaway!

  28. #
    Tim in TN — April 30, 2012 at 2:25 am

    The chocolate cakes looks fantastic. The frosting has a beautiful old-fashioned bakery pattern, I hope I can duplicate. That said, I’ve had my eye on the BAKED cookbook at Amazon.

  29. #
    Jenny — April 30, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I would get some cookbooks from amazon – or some cooking items from Williams Sonoma!

  30. #
    Jenny — April 30, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I follow you on twitter @icywit

  31. #
    Rosalyn — April 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I liked you on facebook

  32. #
    Rosalyn — April 30, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I would love to win your giveaway. :) And I can’t wait to try your recipe for chocolate cake!
    I just discovered your blog today, through Tasty Kitchen, and will be browsing some more!

  33. #
    Angie — April 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I have a number of items on my kitchen wish list that could be fulfilled. Some of them include: a salad spinner, a micro-plane, an immersion blender…even a nice glass measuring cup like my mom has. :) Thanks for this wonderful giveaway and congratulations on 2 years! What a wonderful online space you have created!

  34. #
    Angie — April 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I have liked A Farmgirl’s Dabbles on Facebook!

  35. #
    Stacie S — April 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    My kitchen is in desperate need of an immersion blender. That’s what the giveaway gift certifical would go towards!

  36. #
    Trish — May 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Not sure… before I can buy more kitchen stuff I need to buy an island or breakfast cart for more storage in my kitchen!

  37. #
    Caitlin — May 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I just bought a dutch oven last weekend, so that’s out, but I do want to get some silicone muffin “tins” (I have no idea what to call them since they’re silicone)!

  38. #
    daniela — May 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hello! I am here just to tell you that this cake look DIVINE! I am ashamed to say that I only discovered ‘spiced up’ chocolate a little over a year ago. And it is the best! It takes the chocolate to a completely new level and makes it so much more satisfying! I will make this cake, I don’t know when because I have a very long list piling up of must make recipes, but this is definitively going on it!!

    • Brenda replied on May 8th, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      I hope you like this cake, Daniela – it’s one of my very favorites! :)

      • daniela replied on May 8th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

        I just made this cake today. I couldn’t wait any longer! I used a different chocolate cake but used your buttercream, and this is THE BEST buttercream I have ever had. I just love it, thank you!

        • Brenda replied on May 9th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

          Oh YAY!! That buttercream…I just can’t help myself!! Thanks for taking the time to come back & let me know. :)

  39. #
    donna — August 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Hi Brenda, Wanted to let you know that my daughter made this cake for our annual Cinco de Mayo party and it was the talk of the party!! Wait til your little ones are old enough to help with serious party preparations……it is great! I am now making the cake for a Lingerie Shower.. the theme is HOT! HOT! HOT! is what Amanda will look like in the lingerie she receives. So the food theme is Mexican and of course we have to have that yummy cake!! Thanks for lots of great recipes

    • Brenda replied on August 6th, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      I’m so happy you liked this cake. That frosting is so addictive!!!

  40. #
    Amy — May 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    My husband and I used to go to a restaurant in Grand Forks, ND that served a chocolate cake with a chocolate chili frosting. We missed it once we moved out of the area and we’ve been searching for a similar recipe since. This one is almost exactly what we remembered. The cake isn’t too sweet and the frosting has an interesting depth of flavors but wouldn’t be what we consider spicy.

  41. #
    Keith — December 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    My daughter made this for my 62nd birthday afte I requested it some time back. It was AWESOME! Thanks for sharing.

    • Brenda replied on December 10th, 2013 at 10:33 am

      That’s so AWESOME to know, Keith. Thank you so much for writing. (And now I’m craving this cake…it’s one of my favorites!)

  42. #
    Kim — February 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Thanks! I just made this cake for a party and it was delicious. Easily got 16 slices from it. My tweaks were to add more cinnamon and use a little less cayenne. Next time I would still add more cinnamon but use the suggested amount of cayenne. The little extra bite would have been nice. I also added a layer of thinly sliced mango with the frosting between the layers.I would do that again – adds a nice brightness to the richness of the super rich buttercream.

    (I had seen the original Food and Wine recipe before finding yours, and I agree, the cinnamon cake in that recipe seemed uninteresting.)

    • Brenda replied on February 12th, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      I just love this cake, and am so glad you liked it, too! (and like knowing that you found the original cinnamon cake uninteresting!!)

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