I love girls night with all my heart.  I have been blessed to have a group of girlfriends that I can laugh with, cry with, act like an idiot with, and still be encouraged to continue discovering the best me I can be. They have been there for me when I’ve been in a place I never want to find myself again, and supported me until I found a better place to be. I love my gals.


A couple nights ago we had an awesome girls night of dessert and wine pairing. The spread consisted of amazing chocolate covered strawberries and cheesecake (courtesy of Shari’s Berries), and chocolate cake (courtesy of yours truly). We paired them with Merlot, and Shiraz.  Both a medium dry to cut all the sweet on our plates.


Pairing wine with sweets

There are many schools of thought concerning wine and dessert pairing.  One that I agree with is; the darker the dessert, the darker the wine.  Chocolate desserts = reds fruit tarts = whites. I disagree with a common thought that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert.  If the dessert is particularly rich (like chocolate cake), a sweet wine (such as Port, which is commonly served with cake) is just overwhelmingly sweet.  Save the Port for a cheese and fruit platter.  Chocolate cake, and cheesecake need something mildly dry like Merlot or Shiraz.


The cake

After much trial and effort, I have found the best chocolate cake recipe ever. In my opinion, a chocolate cake should be first and foremost packed with rich chocolate flavor, fuggy, and moist almost to the point of being dense (but not quite).  This recipe is all of those things.  The cake itself is very rich and, therefore, needs something lighter for filling and frosting.  I filled it with a fluffy stabilized whipped cream that’s similar to a Bavarian cream but lighter in flavor and texture.  I frosted it with a vanilla buttercream which tied everything together beautifully.   (Watch for the filling and frosting recipes)


Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 1¾ cups plus 2 tbsp. (9⅜ oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups (4½ oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp coffee powder
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • ¾ cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (18⅜ oz.) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt


  1. This cake is so moist it needs to be made a day in advance and chilled so it won’t fall apart when you frost it.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F, spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, line with parchment, spray again, and lightly flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water. Whisk until smooth; set aside to cool slightly. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Gradually blend in the sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 min.
  5. Blend in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend
  7. Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream mixture, beating after each addition just until incorporated.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. I weigh them with a food scale to insure even distribution.  I use magi-cake strips so they will be perfectly flat on top.
  9. Bake the cake layers for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  10. Allow cakes to cool completely, then wrap each cakes in two layers of saran wrap and chill in the fridge.  They can also be wrapped in an additional layer of foil and frozen for up to 1 month.
  11. Fill and frost to your hearts content.