Chocolate Cake Karma

Happy Mother’s Day to mom, mum and all the other wonderful mothers out there! I hope you get a day to do whatever you need to do for yourself. Now on to the real reason we are all here…cake!

Chocolate Cupcake

I’m sharing this recipe with you based on the reaction my girlfriend had when I sent it to her recently…K and I lived together for a semester in college after I got back from my study abroad in Sydney. Other than being in the same organization, we hadn’t really hung out much until then… it ended up being one of the best semesters I spent at JMU. She graduated into a big fancy consulting job with a big fancy company but I have a vivid memory that even back then she used to say that all she wanted to do was stay home and have kids.  Fast forward a fair number of years….

I recently saw that K was baking cupcakes for a 5th birthday. Princess J is my favourite of the bunch, mainly because the last time we saw the family all she could say was ‘Allo’ and spent the trip smiling endlessly at us.

Princess J-2007

So off the cuff I sent K a link to a fabulous [and probably the easiest ever] chocolate cake recipe I had come across while doing testing, figuring that she had a couple great ones under her belt already and could file it away for later. Halfway around the world and it looks like the telepathy is still working – as she had been making her way through a whole stack of FAIL and was about to loose the plot.

Now this is child number two of four – the eldest being 7 and the youngest only a couple months old. Since K used to sit up with me on my all-nighter art projects, it is fitting that because of this recent exchange I was inspired to finally take pencil to paper and try to draw the madness I see in my head: All I could imagine is a crazy lady in a kitchen covered in flour and chocolate with one kid trying to pull her off somewhere, one ‘helping’, one hanging off her legs and the youngest bungee corded on and probably trying to feed… oh and then subtitle the whole thing in German.

Extreme Baking

From the pics I saw, the cupcakes came out perfectly and the pink princess party was a hit with the birthday girl! The original recipe is most likely from the back of Hershey’s Cocoa Powder or maybe from The Food Network – Barefoot Contessa or but makes appearances in hundreds of different spots. The ingredient list below is a pretty straight intrepretation but I have simplified the method because a mixer is just not remotely necessary for this. I much prefer my Chocolate Fudge Frosting to the Barefoot Contessa’s – due both to the fact that it is way easier and doesn’t have any raw egg in it!

If you have a mother nearby, make this for her today, or tomorrow or next Tuesday just to make her smile, she did give birth to you after all.


Karma Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Hershey’s and all the other iterations of the same.


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour [plus a bit more for cake pans]
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder [dutch or regular]
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee*

Under 100 words:

Line pans, whisk all the ingredients together, bake at 350°F [180°C], cool, frost, inhale.

Full Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Grease the bottom and sides of two 8”round cake pans. Line the base with a round of baking [parchment] paper, then tap flour around the exposed sides. If making cupcakes, line 20 or 24 cups with paper liners – depending on if you want large or small cupcakes.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a jug. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk well until well combined. Add hot coffee and whisk again, scraping down the bowl to make sure it is all combined.

***This batter is REALLY THIN*** like chocolate soup pretending to be cake batter, it is supposed to be this way, just trust in the magic of the oven.

If making cupcakes, divide batter evenly across the cups – it will look like there is not enough – you only need a couple Tbsp in each, they will not be 3/4 full like most cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes or so until a toothpick comes out clean, cool in pan 5 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Fudge Frosting.

For a layer cake, pour the batter evenly into the two prepared round pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, remove parchment paper. Trim tops flat, place 1 layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.


  • The cake does not taste like coffee. Really, it just tastes like even chocolaty-er chocolate. We don’t drink coffee and don’t have anything to brew it in so I use boiling water and a teaspoon or two of instant coffee [the freeze dried crystals], which works perfectly.
  • It gets even better the next day if it lasts that long.


Chocolate Fudge Frosting


3 1/2 cups icing sugar [approx 1lb/450g]
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
170g butter [3/4 cup] room temp
3-4 Tbsp cream, milk or buttermilk


Whip butter with an electric beater for 2 minutes until smooth. Sift over sugar, cocoa and salt. Add 2 Tbsp of the liquid, stir with the beaters until just combined, so the sugar doesn’t fly everywhere. Beat for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy, adding additional liquid as necessary for desired consistency.

Spread generously over cakes. Eat any extra with a spoon.



  1. Kadi says

    Oh Jen, you have NO IDEA how close your pic comes to the reality of my days (if only I was that skinny, though)! Thanks for a really good laugh … I have tears rolling down my face! And thanks again for saving Princess J’s birthday.

    Sending lots of love & hugs to your side of the world,
    K & kids

    PS – I miss our all-nighters!

  2. Belinda Stewart says

    Love the picture & can’t wait to try the cake! Do I really have to put coffee in??!! Belinda xx

    • says

      It makes it so much more chocolaty somehow, not even a hint of coffee once it’s baked! You could use hot water or maybe strong hot tea(?) but a teaspoon or two of instant crystals changes the whole thing 😉

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