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Bake a Layer Cake

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A towering, decadent, showstopping cake is the best way to celebrate a special occasion, whether it’s Easter Sunday or a spring birthday. Here are our best tips for pulling off your most memorable dessert yet!

Our Celebration Layer Cake Pans

make it easy to bake each layer, and with their pretty scalloped edges, you don’t even need to frost the sides before serving! Our Test Kitchen cooks love these pans because they work with almost any batter: our mixes, other prepared mixes or a scratch white or chocolate cake. Whether you’re using the layer cake pans or a regular cake pan, be sure to brush the pans with melted butter and dust with flour before baking, then cool them on a wire rack before frosting.

Slice into layers

If you’re using a standard cake pan, you’ll need to slice it in half horizontally. Hold a ruler up to the side of the cake base and, using toothpicks, mark the midpoint at regular intervals around the cake. Using a long, thin serrated bread knife, split the cake horizontally into even layers. Put one layer, cut side up, on a cardboard circle. Place the other layer, cut side down, on a sheet of plastic wrap.

Fill the cake.

 When filling a layer cake, jams should be spread thinly, while rich fillings, such as curd, pastry cream or buttercream, should be thicker. Lighter fillings like mousse should be thick, but never thicker than the cake layer. Mound the filling in the center of the layer and, using an icing spatula, spread it to the edge. Flip the other layer over onto the filling, cut side up. Gently push the layer evenly into place. Repeat with remaining layers (remember, you can make as many as you want)!

Frost and finish.

Before you start frosting, you need to make a crumb coat — a thin layer of frosting that sticks to the crumbs so they don’t mess up the surface. Place the filled cake on a work surface and put a small amount of frosting on top. Using an icing spatula, smooth a thin layer of frosting over the cake. The crumb coating should be thin and even, covering the entire surface of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, 15 to 20 minutes, before frosting.

To frost, mound the frosting in the center of the cake and use an icing spatula to smooth it gently and evenly over the top. Smooth down the frosting with broad strokes; be sure not to touch the spatula to the cake without icing on it, or you could pick up crumbs.

Dip the spatula in warm water and wipe clean with a damp kitchen towel as needed. The top of the cake should be flat. Whether you frost the sides is up to you — leaving them bare gives you a more casual dessert, while frosting them looks a little fancier.

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15 Decadent Chocolate Desserts

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It’s National Chocolate Day! Time to treat your inner chocoholic to something rich, decadent and melt-in-your-mouth chocolatey. These recipes will do the trick.

 

Chocolate Chip-Pecan BarsChocolate Chip-Pecan Bars
Chocolate chips and pecans add texture and contrast to this big batch of blondies — a delicious twist on on the classic chocolate chip cookie.
Dark Chocolate CupcakesDark Chocolate Cupcakes
When all you want is a simple, classic chocolate cupcake, this recipe does the trick. Moist, tender dark chocolate cake topped with smooth, creamy dark chocolate frosting feeds the chocoholic in all of us.
Chocolate-Dipped Coconut MacaroonsChocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
These chewy coconut stacks are great make-ahead morsels, as they keep well for several days. Dipping them into dark chocolate only makes them more decadent.
Dark Chocolate PuddingDark Chocolate Pudding
This bittersweet chocolate pudding is easy to adapt. You can turn it into a parfait with layers of whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Or, try stirring in a little rum, Amaretto or Frangelico, then garnish the top with crushed chocolate wafer cookies or shaved semisweet chocolate.
Chocolate Caramel TartChocolate Caramel Tart
This tart takes a bit of work to make, but the result is well worth the effort and is always a crowd-pleaser. A thick layer of chocolate, plus a gooey caramel center and a crispy crust — what more could you want?
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie PiesChocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
A retro treat, these whoopie pies feature cakey chocolate cookies sandwiching a creamy filling. For a classic version, swap out the peanut butter filling for marshmallow creme.
Chocolate SouffléChocolate Soufflé
Soufflés are spectacular and surprisingly easy to make. This chocolate version should be devoured immediately, still hot from the oven and topped with big scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Coconut, Almond and Chocolate BarsCoconut, Almond and Chocolate Bars
Nutty, chewy and chocolaty, these bars hit every craving. A toasty almond crust is topped with a creamy coconut and dark chocolate filling, and finished with a thick bittersweet glaze.
Chocolate TrufflesChocolate Truffles
Truffles are easy to make — especially when you get friends involved! These require just 5 ingredients, and they can be stored in the freezer (well wrapped) for at least 3 months.
Chocolate Chip CookiesChocolate Chip Cookies
There are chocolate chip cookies, and then there are these chocolate chip cookies: large, chewy, buttery and with just the right amount of chips and nuts.
Chocolate Brownie CakeChocolate Brownie Cake
This dessert has all the moist richness of brownies but is served like a cake for an elegant presentation. The secret to success: good-quality chocolate and a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder to finish.
Chewy Chocolate MeringuesChewy Chocolate Meringues
Crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, these gems not only are a cinch to make but also are completely addictive—you won’t be able to stop at one (or two or three). The cocoa nibs add a nice crunch and nutty flavor.
Devil’s Food Layer CakeDevil’s Food Layer Cake
This time-honored favorite, layered with velvety chocolate frosting, makes the ultimate cake for a birthday or other celebration. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream.
French Chocolate MacaronsFrench Chocolate Macarons

Delicate chocolate macarons are one of Paris’s most delicious treats. If you’re not traveling to the City of Lights soon, whip these up and pretend — the contrast between the crisp cookies and creamy ganache filling is a revelation.

 

S’mores BrowniesS’mores Brownies
Within this recipe is a fantastic brownie—just the right balance of fudgy and cakey with a crackle top—embellished with crunchy graham crackers and big melting marshmallows. If you’d prefer the classic, just leave those two ingredients out and bake as directed.