Cakeover: Beautiful Black & White Cake

C.A.K.E. It’s my favorite four-letter word. No matter the time of day, or the setting, or the circumstances, I never turn down cake. Even the lowliest, skankiest-looking 24-hour-convenience-store shelf cake (think Entenmann’s but without the ‘finesse’) has me squirming with glee. That said, I definitely gravitate towards the more substantive, authentic homemade cakes – those that our mommas and mémères and tantes made. I also love those training-wheel cakes that taught me the flimsiest basics of baking from the back of a Betty Crocker or Dunkin Hines box (did you suspect, as I did growing up in Louisiana, that Betty and Dunkin were – as they said back in the 1970s – ‘an item’?). I’ll even perk up for one of those dreaded wedding cakes (which are not high on my list because they tend to be all about presentation and not so much about flavor – BUT, I must admit, the fact that there most likely will be cake on offer is THE reason I agree to endure most weddings).

Because of my obsession, I have been called a cake-hound, a cake-fiend, and a cake-pig. Guilty, guilty, and guilty. While I’m not particularly picky, I do have some favorites: anything involving citrus (as we learned in last month’s Cakeover), anything showcasing Louisiana’s favorite nut: the princely Pecan; and most absolutely, indubitably, profoundly, assuredly anything CHOCOLATE. Now, I’m married to someone who idolizes chocolate-on-chocolate cake (with a side of cocoa), and that’s all well and good. But my best-est, most craved chocolate cake is a Black and White cake: deep, dark, devil’s food chocolate topped with beautiful, buttery, cream-cheesy, vanilla frosting. It’s the ying-yang thing, the opposites-attract thing, the balance thing – all things of beauty. So this month, we’re doing beautiful, bountiful, bliss-inducing Black and White Cake!

This recipe is an amalgam of chocolate and devils food cake recipes I’ve experimented with over the decades, so not a total Cakeover; more of a classic cake update. The addition of brown sugar is the secret to this ultra-chocolaty and unbelievably moist cake. If you want to switch it to a choc-on-choc affair, feel free to add cocoa or melted unsweetened chocolate to your frosting, but for my taste buds, I’m always gonna go with a Black and White. Get baking!


For the Cake:

  • 3 cups of plain white (not AP) flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder  
  • 1 1/2 cups of boiling water
  • 3/4 cup of full-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 sticks of room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (dark or regular)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs 

For the Frosting:

  • 1, 8-oz package of softened cream cheese
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar 

For the Cake

  1. In a deep bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water until the mixture is smooth and glossy, then whisk in the milk and vanilla.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer beat the butter, oil, brown sugar and white sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each for about 10 seconds before adding the next.
  5. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches and the cocoa mixture in two, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour. 
  6. Divide the batter in three nine-inch baking pans that have been coated with vegetable oil or softened butter, and then dusted with flour.
  7. In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, bake 25 to 27 minutes. A clean toothpick will tell you when your cake is done (keep an eye on it starting around the 25-minute mark – don’t over-bake or you’ll end up with a dry slab of chocolate sadness!)
  8. Allow the layers to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow to completely cool before frosting.

For the Frosting:

  1. In a large bowl, using a hand or a stand mixer, whip the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until you get a thickness you like (you may not want to use all four cups of the sugar).
  3. Whip on medium speed until smooth.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the sea salt and vanilla until fully integrated.

Let me know how it turns out in the Contact section. And make sure to FOLLOW me! (form at the bottom of this page).


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9 thoughts on “Cakeover: Beautiful Black & White Cake

  1. As much as I love chocolate – and I’m an admitted chocoholic – I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake – as in the cake itself is chocolate (although I adore brownies). If it’s cake and chocolate is involved, I want white/yellow cake with chocolate icing. Let’s face it: the icing is the most important part, so having the emphasis on the icing by making it the chocolate part makes the most sense to me. My one exception is Black Forest Torte. My German friend Frankie used to make a great one.

    That said, I’m with you, Mo. Cake is DIVINE (except….red velvet cake; loathe it), and I’ll go almost anyplace for cake.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m totally with you on the Frosting is THE reason for cake. The cake itself is often just a vessel for holding up the frosting. HOWEVER, this cake – just the cake part – is scrumptious, if I do say so myself. I could definitely eat it without the frosting. BUT WHY??? This frosting is the perfect companion to the dark chocolate-ossify going on here. A plain old chocolate cake – NO – that would not be the case. But this one is patterned after a cake I had at a restaurant years ago (my tastebuds never lie) in SOHO, NYC, that I’ve been trying to replicate ever since. It had frosting – for sure – but it stood up on its own. Very much like a brownie in that regard. ANWYAY – I need to fish out that recipe you gave me a few weeks back that came from your family. I haven’t yet made that one – but I will. Indeed!


  3. Chocolate lovers unite! 😊 thank you for sharing the recipe.

    For some reason, red velvet cake (saw in the other comment) really seems to be odd-tasting. We haven’t found a red velvet cake that we liked.

    Great post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Yes – RVC can be tricky to get right, especially above the Mason-Dixon line – you should see what passes for red velvet here in NYC. Oy vey. BUT – when it’s done right, it tastes tangy and buttery, with a back-note of chocolate. Getting the red part right is also tricky. Traditionally, it’s done with beets – but most recipes call for lots of red food coloring. I’ve done it both ways – and couldn’t really taste a difference, but the color on the one with food dye was more vibrant. ANYWYAY – thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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