A rich and decadent chocolate spice cake with a flavorful ginger buttercream frosting. Three layers all decked out for the holidays with iced gingerbread cookie decorations and sugar-dusted fresh rosemary Christmas trees!
for the chocolate spice cake:
2 cups organic cane sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses¹
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp whole milk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup very hot coffee
for the ginger buttercream:
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room-temperature
1 Tbsp fresh ginger paste²
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
5-6 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
3-6 Tbsp heavy cream, as desired
Make the chocolate spice cake:
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter and flour three 8-inch round baking pans, or line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
Add the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and spices to the bowl of a stand up mixer. Whisk a few times to combine.
Add the eggs, molasses, milk, olive oil, and vanilla to the bowl, and using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Stir in the hot coffee.
Divide the batter between the three prepared pans (it will be thin). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire baking rack to cool completely before frosting.
Make the ginger buttercream:
Using a stand up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the fresh ginger and vanilla, and continue beating for another minute or two.
Add the sifted powdered sugar, a half cup or so at a time, until the frosting is thick and creamy. Drizzle in the cream, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the buttercream frosting reaches your desired consistency. It should be spreadable, but thick enough to hold its shape on the cake.
Assemble the cake:
Place one of the cake rounds on a cake stand or plate. Spread a generous layer of buttercream over the top, using an offset spatula to create an even layer, about 1/4-inch thick. Top with the second cake layer. Repeat with another layer of frosting, and the third cake layer, top side down.
Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the sides and top of the cake to crumb coat the layers. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then spread on a final layer of buttercream, smoothing the sides with an offset spatula or bench scraper, or making decorative swirls or piped on designs.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes for easy slicing before serving. Store any leftovers in a covered container at room-temperature or refrigerated if longer than a day. Enjoy!
¹ I tested this cake with Grandma’s brand molasses. I would not recommend using blackstrap molasses.
² Fresh ginger paste can be found in tubes/jars in the refrigerated section of most well-stocked grocery stores. You can also use minced fresh ginger root, but be sure you smash it with the side of a large chefs knife into a smooth paste so that it incorporates well into the buttercream. Adjust the amount as desired for a more or less pronounced ginger flavor.
³ Cake base adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake