chocolate cake with chocolate ganache

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache & Halloween Candy

This cake is the perfect dessert to display with your Halloween candy haul or to serve at a Halloween themed party for a sugar-high.

My mom decorates the house for every holiday. I don’t just mean just Christmas, I mean full on decorations for the smaller holidays as well – Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, the 4th of July among others. She also has an amazing talent (and patience) for cake decorating. For my 15th birthday party my best friend and I were having a joint-birthday party and we requested a dinosaur holding a disco ball as our cake. (I feel the need to repeat the fact that we were 15 years old at the time of this request.) And it wasn’t just a cake topper – we wanted her to craft a dinosaur and a disco ball out of cake and icing. Instead of laughing at us or telling us to come up with something else, she actually made a cake decorated with a dinosaur and a sparkling disco ball! She is like that, a problem solver - she will follow through with the most random and obscure requests.

I have inherited my mom’s love of celebrating even the smaller holidays with decorations and themed food so whenever a holiday rolls around I turn to her for ideas for desserts. Last year she was visiting me in California around Valentine’s Day and we were making a red velvet cake. We ended up spending the majority of the day baking because I didn’t measure the batter correctly for the size cake pan we had and the cakes ended up spilling over, coating my oven in a burned red velvet crust. It was one of those kitchen failures where you couldn’t help but laugh, clean it up and start over but the story has become one of those inside jokes that will immediately make my mom and I chuckle recalling the “incident”. By the way I am pretty sure I still have some red velvet cake stuck to my oven!



For the chocolate cake:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for pan

¼ cup vegetable shortening

2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for pan

1 cup reduced fat buttermilk


For the frosting:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy whipping cream


For the chocolate ganache:

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy whipping cream


For topping:

Candy corn, as needed

Snack size Kit-kat® bars, as needed

Reese’s® peanut butter cups, as needed

M&M’s® minis, as needed



For the chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter and shortening together. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, mixing to combine. Slowly alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk, starting with the flour, until all has been incorporated.

Divide the mixture between the two baking pans. Bake until the top of the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a wire rack. Let cool to the touch.


For the frosting:

Add the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together until the butter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and continue to beat, scrapping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is completely combined. Add the heavy cream and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Taste the frosting and add additional powdered sugar as needed.


For the chocolate ganache:

Add the chocolate to a medium heat-proof mixing bowl. Add the cream to a small saucepot over medium heat. Bring the cream to a simmer then remove from heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Allow the chocolate ganache to cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before using.


For assembly:

Place one of the cake layers on a platter. Using a rubber spatula, spread 1/3 of the chocolate frosting over the cake, spreading to the edges. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top of the cake and the sides. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the middle of the cake spreading it to the sides so that it just drips over the cake. Chill the cake for about an hour then decorate the top of the cake with the candy until it has been covered.


Serves 9 to 12.  


*Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Food Network recipe



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