Cacao Brownie Cake


I truly believe that some recipes become a part of you as you make them more and more often. They seem to creep into your repertoire and – without intention – start to mix up with big moments and settle into your memories. To me, this brownie is exactly that. Over the last few years I have made it for my graduation party, my goodbye party in Bristol, on many occasions with good friends and only two weekends ago it was to celebrate my good friend Gemma’s birthday.

I have only made small amendments to the original recipe as I think it is just perfect. The cake has an intense chocolate flavor, a chewy interior and a crisp top.

The recipe is reliable and it works hard with a few ingredients. Another upside is that there are very little dishes involved (just one bowl and a spatula) and all comes together very fast.

The principle of making chocolate cake with cacao is that you are totally in control of the sweetness and buteriness of the end-product, without having to rely on all added ingredients in a bar of chocolate (such as milk powder, cacao butter, sugar, etc.).

As I always make this brownie cake for special occasions, this amount serves a crowd (read: the familiar little army). The recipe can, however, easily be halved to produce a modest home version.

Recipe based on Smitten Kitchen’s Best Cacao Brownies
Cacao Brownie Cake

  • 280 grams melted butter (unsalted)
  • 500 grams dark brown sugar
  • 130 grams of unsweetened cacao powder
  • 130 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 grams roughly broken walnuts
  • one small cup of espresso (this is optionally, alternatively you can use two teaspoons of coffee liquor)

This makes a really hefty and large brownie cake. You can easily halve the recipe for a – more decent – home version. For this recipe it is important to use unsweetened cacao and to add the salt, as it brings a wonderufll edge to the sweetness. The luxurious
ingredients such as the vanilla extract and espresso can also
be left out in case you are looking for a more budget or pantry friendly version.

Make the batter by mixing the melted butter with the sugar in a large bowl. Do this by simply mixing with a spatula until all seems incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, cacao powder, all-purpose flour and salt.

After mixing all thoroughly, add the eggs and keep mixing all with a simple spatula or big spoon.
Mix in the broken walnuts and the espresso (or coffee liquor) if used.

Line a baking tin with baking paper (I usually crumple a small sheet under pouring water as it will become very soft and easy to handle). There is no need to butter the baking paper as the brownie mixture contains enough butter to make sure that the cake comes out without any problems.
The mixture will be more liquid than solid and will be easy to pour into a baking tin with help of the same spatula or spoon.

Put the brownie into a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius and bake it until the middle of the cake doesn’t wobble anymore when you move the cake form.

Baking times will differ, depending on the form and amount of batter you use. I have used a fairly small cake tin, with the amounts given in the recipe and needed around 40 minutes to bake this cake.
Let the cake cool down in the oven after turning it off and opening the door. It makes that the end result is a chewier brownie.

To make a real party piece, you might add a package of Malteser chocolates on top of the cake after it comes out of the oven. The warmth of the cake will melt one side of the chocolates and as it cools down this will ‘glue’ the little balls to the cake. It will add a crunch to the cake and will look stunning.

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