Devil’s in the Details | Kahlua Chocolate Cake

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Kahlua Chocolate Cake delivers rich chocolate flavor with warm Kahlua undertones. Two recipes included — a scratch recipe and a doctored box recipe.

Kahlua Chocolate Bundt Cake

The recipe for the first cake I remember baking, a Kahlua Chocolate Cake, comes from one of my mom’s closest friends.  My mom asked for the recipe the very first time she tasted Stephanie’s rich, addictive cake.  It’s one of those desserts that people fall in love as soon as the first bite hits their taste buds.  Without fail, every time I bake it, at least one person asks me for the recipe.

Before I started baking like a crazy person and experimenting with new recipes, I used to bake this cake at least once a week.  The frequency with which I made it must account for the fact that I’ve shared the recipe with most of my friends.

Kahlua Chocolate Bundt Cake

The thing that amazes almost everyone about the recipe — as it amazed me  — is the fact that the first ingredient listed is a box of devil’s food cake mix.   When you bake Stephanie’s famous cake, you simply ignore the directions on the back of the box, follow her directions, and end up with the most delicious, rich cake you can imagine.

In the spirit of ignoring directions, I wondered if I could modify one of my basic chocolate cake recipes to recreate Stephanie’s cake from scratch.

Kahlua Chocolate Bundt Cake

I started tinkering with a simple chocolate cake recipe, but the cake I produced just didn’t measure up to the flavor and texture of the original version.   As I reviewed Stephanie’s directions, I realized that I should have started with my trusted devil’s food cake recipe, since her recipe specifically identifies devil’s food as the box mix of choice.

A full bottle of Kahlua later, my melding of Stephanie’s and Foster’s Market’s Devil’s Food Cake recipes finally resulted in a moist, tender cake full of rich chocolate flavor and warm Kahlua undertones.  With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this dessert may well rank as my favorite.  Ever.

I fully admit that my scratch version veers far from the simplicity of Stephanie’s recipe, so I’ve included both so you can decide for yourself which route to take.   Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Kahlua Chocolate Bundt Cake

Kahlua Chocolate Cake

Inspired by Stephanie Arnold’s recipe.  Serves 10 to 12.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Kahlua
1 cup sour cream
9 tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Chocolate-Kahlua Ganache
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Kahlua

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

Place chocolate in a double boiler and melt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth.  Set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.  Pour Kahlua into a 2-cup glass measure with a pour spout.  Spoon in sour cream until the Kahlua and sour cream reach the 2-cup line.  Mix well and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat until well blended.  Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and stir to mix.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream-Kahlua mixture, to the egg-butter mixture.   Stir until the dry ingredients are just moist and blended.  Do not over mix.

Stir in boiling water and mix until blended.   Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into prepared bundt pan, smoothing the top to even out the batter.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.

Remove from the oven and cool the cake for 30 minutes in the pan.   Carefully turn the cake out onto a rack and cool completely.

For the glaze, place dark chocolate in a 2-cup measuring glass with a pour spout.  Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Pour cream over the chocolate and let it sit without stirring for two minutes before mixing vigorously with a small spatula.  Once the chocolate becomes smooth and glossy, add 1 tablespoon Kahlua and mix until smooth.

Set the rack holding the cooled cake atop a baking sheet.  Stir the ganache well before slowly drizzling the glaze over the cake.  Allow the glaze to set for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve cake slices at room temperature with scoops of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Stephanie’s Kahlua Chocolate Cake

Serves 10 to 12.

1 package Devil’s Food Cake Mix (18-25 ounces)
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in the bowl of a standing electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 3 to 5 minutes.  Mix in chocolate chips.  Pour into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a few clinging crumbs.

Remove from the oven and cool the cake for 30 minutes in the pan.   Carefully turn the cake out onto a rack to cool.

Dust with powdered sugar or glaze with chocolate ganache (see previous recipe).

Pin Kahlua Chocolate Cake Recipe for Later:

Kahlua Chocolate Cake delivers rich chocolate flavor with warm Kahlua undertones. Two recipes included -- a scratch recipe and a doctored box recipe.

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  1. LTE says

    This looks amazing. Do you think it can be made in a sheet pan? I want to take it to a dessert tasting party and cut it into bite sized pieces.

    • Suzanne says

      I think it would work out fine as a sheet cake as long as you reduce the baking time. I’d love to hear how it turns out for you!

  2. Julie says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I just made tonight and got rave reviews! It was sooooo delicious (despite not turning out quite as aesthetically beautiful as yours), it was great! I had to get a little creative with a few ingredients, but the recipe for the cake from scratch worked out wonderfully.

  3. Eric says

    Hi Suzanne,
    Thanks so much for this recipe. I made it today for my mother on Mother’s Day. My mother loved it. I am not a cook/baker, so I appreciate your detailed and precise directions. I will be following this blog.
    Thanks! Eric

    • Suzanne says

      You’re welcome, Eric. How exciting to hear that it worked out well as a Mother’s Day treat! Best to you and your mom 😉

  4. Adrian says

    I first tried this exact recipe (the boxed cake mix version) in 1985 and it has never failed to garner compliments. Works best with mini chocolate chips in the batter and dark chocolate chips for the frosting.

    • Suzanne says

      It’s amazing, isn’t it, Adrian! Thanks for the tip about mini chocolate chips — I’ve never used them in this cake!

  5. Jennifer T says

    I’ve made the version w/ the devil’s food mix several times but instead of Kahlua I used Godiva Cappuccino Liqueur. YUM!! One coworker always requested that for her birthday every year!

  6. Alan says

    I was happy to find this recipe on a Google search.
    I am a purist by nature and I kind of think that the Kahlua Chocolate Cake sounds so much more Luscious and Excitingly Decadent that the ingredients and preparation for Staphanies’ version(using the Devils’s food cake Mix pale by comparison. I am a little confused by the comments as to who’s recipe has been used. But I tend to think the Kahlua Chocolate Cake is the version that tempts me, any feed back about the difference between the two? I sthe time and trouble worth it, and any recommendations for the brand of cocoa and chocolate used in the recipe and the Ganache, many of the higher priced “arty” chocolates are so unpleasant, they don’t taste good at all.

  7. Alan says

    any recommendations for brand of cocoa, and the chocolate( and chocolate chips) are we talking baker’s chocolate or dessert chocolate/ used? Some of the more expensive avant garde chocolate is actually awful tasting-I mean really disgusting-not like a treat at all-more like punishment. 1 can’t wait to try this-your version not the Cake Mix version. Oh and do you recommend cake flour?

  8. Dee says

    I am so happy to have found a made-from-scratch recipe for this! Some of us don’t use things like box cake mixes and pudding mixes – which are often full of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and preservatives. THANK YOU!

  9. Alan says

    Hi, unfortunately nobody responded to my earlier recommendations which was a little dissapointing.

    BUT I have all the ingredients for Stephanie’s cake, one question, as i am not a baker i am wondering why the use of oil instead of butter? As I said in my earlier comments I am a purist by nature and it just seems the cake would be better with butter- so can I use it? Or is it likely to be ruined-I don’t want to waste the ingredients!

    • Suzanne says

      Alan, I’m so sorry you never got my feedback — I do remember responding to you. I was having some trouble with my spam filter awhile back; I finally realized that many of my own responses ended up in my spam folder. Pretty awesome, huh! I will see if I can unearth them there… In any case, oil typically helps a cake stay moist longer. I think it would be fine to replace the oil with butter in this case if you like. Melt it, cool it slightly, and add it as you would the oil. I can’t guarantee that it will work as I have never tested it. Let me know how it turns out if you give it a try!

  10. Erin P says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it into mini-bundts tonight for my friend’s birthday party tomorrow. I had leftover batter, so I made cupcakes with the rest, and WOW – I love the result! The cake is so moist, chocolatey, and with the hint of kahlua, the cupcakes are amazing and I’m trying to maintain self-control to not eat them all :) I am so excited to share the bundts tomorrow at the party! So a big thank you from your neighbor (at Lake Merritt!) and newest fan :)

  11. says

    I love your blog! And this bundt cake is just fabulous!! I am wondering how you were able to have your cake come out without some of the flour on it? I buttered and VERY lightly floured my bundt pan, baked the cake and it came out a light brown color due to some flour residue…no where near as pretty as yours!

    Tina ~ the thankful table

    • Suzanne says

      Thanks, Tina! I have a non-stick bundt pan, and I’m wondering if that made the difference? I think I also must have used dutch-processed cocoa powder, which gives a much deeper brown color to baked goods. If you look at this raspberry bundt cake, it’s much lighter as I used regular cocoa powder.

    • Kelley Dunfield says

      When i made the cake (last night – and boy was it awesome), I used shortening to grease my non-stick bundt pan and used Cocoa to “flour” the pan. I do this with all chocolate cakes and then they come out nice and dark.

      • Suzanne says

        So glad your cake turned out well! Thanks for the tip about shortening and cocoa powder…it’s a great trick!

  12. sandy says

    Stupid question but what is unsweetened chocolate? Just a bar of dark or can i use chocolate chips, semi sweet?

    • Suzanne says

      Isn’t there a rule about questions never being stupid? Anyway, you can find unsweetened chocolate in the baking section of most grocery stores. It looks just like regular chocolate, but it is very bitter because it contains no sugar at all! In a pinch, I have subbed in dark chocolate and reduced the amount of sugar a bit.

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