I am very happy to share with you Helen Goh´s chocolate cake, a cake recipe that has been featured as "The world's best chocolate cake". Do I recommend it to beginners? Frankly, it is the world's easiest chocolate cake, also often referred to as "Take home chocolate cake" since it is really easy to transport this cake and doesn't require chilling.
It all started with reaching out to Helen Goh on Instagram, and her giving me permission to share with you her famous chocolate cake recipe from the brilliant recipe book "Sweet" (Written by her and Otto Lenghi).
Look into Amazon for the Book that is on Sale at the moment. 110 innovative recipes are truly one of the best investments you can make.
I honestly love all the recipes from the book, it goes through cookies, cakes, mini cakes, tarts, and cheesecakes. All of them are easy to make thanks to the very well-written instructions. Some of my favorites: Chocolate tart with tahini, Lemon blackcurrant vertical cake, Pistachio cake roll with raspberry and white chocolate, Lime meringue cheesecake, Banana cake with rum caramel... I could list all!
For the Chocolate cake
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. It's one of those rare occasions when the butter does not need to be at room temperature since it will be melted with the chocolate
- Chocolate: The chocolate cake will be as delicious as the quality of the chocolate you are using. Please please please use high cocoa content chocolate which you would anyway enjoy eating on its own and avoid using "baking chocolate". I suggest using dark chocolate or at least semi-sweet chocolate, the one I am using is Callebaut Dark Chocolate (callets)
- Coffee: If you are not using coffee in your chocolate desserts, you are missing out and I think you should seriously consider trying it. Believe me, the cake won't taste like coffee at all however it enhances the taste of chocolate. I recommend brewing a strong espresso type of coffee and using it straight away fresh.
- Granulated Sugar: Standard, all purpose granulated or white sugar is perfectly fine in this, nothing fancy. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Egg: Room temperature always
- Vanilla extract: Avoid using artificial vanilla, there are several great brands out there, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend
- Flour: All-purpose flour or pastry flour makes the best cakes. They are so-called “soft flour” which is low in protein resulting in a delicate, tender texture. In the recipe, I gave instructions for self-raising flour and also pastry flour+baking powder combinations. Make sure you sift the flour to avoid lumps. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my Flour guide.
- Baking powder: Has two functions: increase the volume and lighten the texture. Since self-raising flour already contains baking powder, you will only need baking powder if using pastry / AP flour
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Generally always use unsweetened, 100% cocoa powder in baking. I use dutch-process cocoa powder, it has a lovely dark color and is lower in acidity. Make sure to sift the cocoa powder to avoid lumps
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most dessert recipes. It balances flavor and enhances other ingredients, especially in the chocolate cake it is an absolute must
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all Ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
For the Chocolate ganache frosting
- Chocolate: Same as above. For the frosting, it is even more important to use good quality semi-sweet chocolate which you really enjoy on its own like Callebaut Dark Chocolate (callets)
- Heavy cream: Traditional chocolate ganache is made with 2 ingredients only: chocolate and heavy cream. Heavy cream is also known as whipping cream has a fat content between 36% and 40%. When you make the ganache make sure to heat the cream up exactly just until simmering. If not warm enough, it won't properly emulsify with the chocolate, if too hot, it can burn the chocolate
- Golden syrup: From a taste point of view it does not add much but it keeps the frosting shiny
- Unsalted Butter: Just a tiny bit amount, similarly to golden syrup, keeps the ganache glossy plus it also adds a bit of creaminess. Use it on room temp
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all Ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
7 Expert Baking tips to make Helen´s take home chocolate cake
1. How to melt chocolate without burning it?
A double boiler is a common method for melting chocolate without burning it. You might have to play around with combinations of pans and bowls to find the perfect fit but it works perfectly fine. While melting chocolate, make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove chocolate from the heat as soon as it is melted, it is possible to overheat chocolate and in that case, it will break.
Another option is to melt the chocolate in the microwave stirring every 30 seconds. If choosing the microwave option, I suggest placing chocolate into a plastic container as it is much easier to burn it in a glass container.
Either way, aim to use good quality chocolate with high cocoa content eg. Callebaut Dark Chocolate (callets) both in terms of texture also taste point of view. Low-quality chocolate might already break at the melting stage and become greasy.
2. Step-by-step process of making Helen Goh´s Chocolate cake
Making Helen Goh's Chocolate cake is extremely easy but there are a couple of key steps you have to get right to achieve the right texture.
- Semi Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water
- Brew a strong espresso-like coffee
- Using a hand whisk mix coffee with chocolate and butter just until combined
- Whisk sugar then eggs in
- Sift dry ingredients and whisk into the mixture just until combined. Please note that the mixture will be rather runny and that is how it should be
- Now as you see this is an extremely easy, zero effort chocolate cake, one thing to bear in mind no to overmix the ingredients
- Pour the batter into the prepared 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan
- Bake at 170 C / 338 F for approx. 60 minutes. Do not open the oven door in the first 45 minutes. Check with a skewer or toothpick whether the cake is ready, it should come out clean
Please note that the cake might crack a bit - it is actually written in Helen's recipe - at it is fine! Cool it fully on a cooling rack upside down before frosting.
3. What cake pan to use
There are 3 key considerations when choosing the right cake pan; size, side, material.
Regarding the size, I am using a rather small (15 cm=6 inch) diameter but tall (7 cm=3 inch) cake pan which is size-wise more than enough for a family. The side of the cake pan must be absolutely straight in order to bake a straight side cake. In regards to the material, I recommend stainless steel or aluminum, however, the cake pan preparation is very important in case of both, see my tips further down.
Can I make this Take home Chocolate cake in a smaller pan? Yes, you can but you will need to adjust the quantity as well as baking time (decrease)
Can I make this Take home Chocolate in a bigger pan? Theoretically yes you can, but since it is a very wet (moist) cake, the larger the pan the bigger the risk than it won´t bake properly plus you will need to increase the quantity of the ingredients as well as the baking time
4. How to avoid cake sticking to the pan
The right cake pan preparation depends on the type of cake and/or pan and with this type of cake and cake pan, I use the following: with the help of a pastry brush, brush the inside of the cake pan with a tiny bit of oil then use parchment paper on the bottom and side as well. The oil is only needed for the parchment to stick to the pan. What I love about this pan preparation is that even though it is a rather delicate chocolate cake, with the help of parchment paper it is always incredibly easy to release the cake from the pan. Make sure you do the cake pan preparation before starting to mix the ingredients!
5. How to bake cake that does not dome
Cake pan strip is one of the biggest baking heck, I came across a few years ago and it works like charm. Why use it? Read what Wilton has to say about their cake strips, could not agree more!
“Say goodbye to high-rise centers, cracked tops, and over-cooked cake edges. Just dampen Bake Even strips and wrap around the pan before baking. The moisture in the strips keeps the edges of the pan cooler for perfectly level and deliciously moist cakes—every time!”
I recommend either purchasing the Wilton cake strips or making your own using a paper towel and kitchen foil. I dump the homemade strip into the water the same way as Wilton explains and it works just fine. The key thing is to use some sort of cooling the edge method in order to avoid high-rise centers.
6. How to make chocolate ganache frosting
Making the ganache frosting for Helen Goh's Chocolate cake is extremely easy and quick! It also tastes amazing…and you will need only 2 ingredients (well 4 according to Helen´s recipe but the golden syrup and butter only makes it shinier)
Chocolate ganache is literally chocolate and cream mixture with endless uses; cakes, cupcakes, tarts, etc. As usual, the quality of the ingredients will highly impact the end result. While taste is obviously very important, in the case of chocolate the quality goes way beyond taste, good vs poor quality chocolate that can make or break any recipe. I recommend to chose a high-quality brand with high cocoa content chocolate to avoid disappointment, I am using Callebaut Dark Chocolate (callets) that has high cocoa butter %, tastes amazing, and works wonderfully silky while making ganache.
Regarding the cream, I am using heavy cream that has 36% fat content. Do not make ganache using low-fat creams or vegetable creams.
Chocolate ganache, in general, is a 1:1 mixture of chocolate and warm cream however according to Helen Goh's recipe golden syrup and butter are also used to enrich the frosting
- Place finely chopped high-quality chocolate into a bowl or use Callebaut Milk Chocolate (callets).
- Semi-melt chocolate in the microwave stirring every 30 sec, make sure you do not burn it. No need to fully melt it
- Heat cream and golden syrup until just simmering. If it’s boiling, the cream is too hot and could burn the chocolate. If the cream is not warm enough, it won´t melt the chocolate properly and won’t emulsify
- Pour warm cream over the chocolate
- Let the mixture sit for a minute then stir together or use a blender to emulsify
- Mix in room temp unsalted butter
- Place the ganache into a shallow container, cover the surface with plastic wrap let it cool (=set) at room temp for 2-3hours or in the fridge for an hour.
7. How to frost this cake
Frosting this Chocolate cake is super easy and fun! However, first thing first you have to remember to use the frosting at the right temperature!
Please note that as the ganache cools, it will set, however, you don't want to leave it in the fridge for too long as it might harden then to a point when it is too firm to frost the cake. If you want to make those beautiful chocolate swirls you have to wait for the perfect moment: when the ganache is thick enough but not too thick.
Very important that you cool the cake fully on a cooling rack upside down before frosting. You can decorate with this chocolate ganache frosting in various ways, I really like this fun, rustic style. Use the back of a spoon, press down lightly into the frosting, and swoop it up. You can't really go wrong with this method, if you don't like it, just keep doing it until you are happy with the result.
The cake is the best while it is fresh straight after frosting or you can store it at room temp for 1-2 days. The cake might harden in the fridge though so the best if eaten fresh.
Other Chocolate dessert recipes
World´s best chocolate cake; Helen Goh´s chocolate cake
- 125 g (½ cups) Unsalted butter
- 100 g (½ cups) Dark chocolate eg. Callebaut Dark Chocolate (callets)
- 175 ml (¾ cups) Coffee freshly brewed
- 125 g (⅔ cups) Granulated sugar
- 1 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 120 g (1 cups) Self-raising flour can be replaced with equal amount of All purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 15 g (⅕ cups) Cocoa powder unsweetened, Dutch processed
- good pinch of salt
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Preheat oven to 170 C / 338 F
- Prepare your 15 cm (6 inch) round cake pan as per tips above
- Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler
- Brew a strong coffee and mix into the chocolate butter mixture
- Mix sugar in with Hand whisk just until combined
- Then whisk in egg and vanilla extract
- Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa powder in and fold everything together with a Rubber spatula, do not overmix
- " The batter here is liquid but don´t think you have missed something, this is how it should be" as Helen says!:)
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 60 min or until skewer inserted comes out clean. The top might crack a bit, it is expected according to Helen
- Let the cake cool in the tin for 20 min then flip it over to a Cooling rack
- Prepare the ganache in the meantime. Put the cream and golden syrup into a small pan and place it over medium heat. As soon as it start simmering (before boiling) remove fit from the heat
- Pour warm cream over chocolate, stir until combined then add butter and continue stirring until smooth, for a few more seconds
- Set the ganache aside for a few hours on room temp until it cools and thickens. You can chill it in the fridge for an hour but please don't forget it in the fridge as it might set too hard in there
- Spread the chocolate ganache frosting on top of the cake and decorate with the help of an Offset spatula or spoon. Please note that the temp = consistency of the ganache should be not too cold, not too hot, just cold enough to be able to make the swirls
- The cake is best eaten fresh. Store it at room temperature for 1-2 days