Food & Drink

Chocolate Paradise Cake with English Toffee | What’s Cooking

Chocolate Paradise Devil's Food Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting recipe from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Now for dessert: devil’s food cake, whipped bittersweet-chocolate ganache, English toffee-studded frosting and a generous final dusting of cocoa powder—all immersed in a pool of warm caramel sauce. That rich mouthful is how we create and serve a slice of our aptly named Chocolate Paradise Cake. It’s as delicious as it sounds, and our recipe makes it easy. Okay, maybe not as easy as something from a box, but from-scratch results using quality ingredients you know are immeasurably superior make the indulgence seem far more worth it.

Easy devil's food Chocolate Paradise Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting recipe from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.recipe

Our devil’s food recipe is moist, flavorful and can easily serve as your new go-to resource whenever you need a homemade chocolate cake. In the cake, sour cream adds moisture and activates the leavening agents; in the bittersweet ganache frosting, it helps smooth the texture and heightens the chocolate flavor.

And then there’s my favorite part—the buttery toffee, which squeezes in just a little more decadence with a sweet crunch. I couldn’t find a good plain English toffee readily available at my nearby grocery, so I made my own (overachiever!), but a rough chop of any tasty candy with a lot of crunchy toffee would work here. Bonus: For those of us who aren’t master bakers, the toffee sides and blanket of cocoa powder help make even the most rustic icing job look like a pro’s.

Chocolate Paradise Cake
From our Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook
(Serves 12)

Devil’s Food Cake
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing pan
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 cups coarsely crushed English toffee
2 to 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups homemade or store-bought caramel sauce, warmed


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment and then butter the parchment. Dust the pans with flour, coating the bottoms and sides, and then tap out the excess.

Easy devil's food cake recipe

2. In a large bowl, sift together the 2 1/4 cups flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the 3/4 cup butter until creamy. Add the brown sugar and continue beating for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and continue beating until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The butter mixture will look separated and grainy, which is not a problem. Beat in the sour cream and then add the flour mixture in 3 batches. The batter will be quite thick. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, using a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly.


3. Bake the cake layers until a toothpick inserted near the center of each cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes rest in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Place a rack on top of one cake, invert the cake and rack, and then lift off the pan. Peel off the parchment circle. Repeat with the second cake. Let cool completely.

Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, bits or chopped
1 3/4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup sour cream
Pinch of kosher salt

Bittersweet chocolate frosting recipe.

4. To make the Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler or saucepan. Place the chocolate and cream in the top of the double boiler or in a heatproof bowl placed over the pan, and heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts and the chocolate and cream are mixed together and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream and salt. Set aside to cool. When cool, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the frosting until it is thick enough to spread and nearly double in volume (1-2 minutes).


5. To assemble and decorate the cake, using a pastry brush, brush off any loose crumbs from the sides and tops of the cake layers. Using a serrated knife, trim the domed tops of the cake layers, making them level. Place one layer on a cake plate, bottom-side up. Cut strips of waxed paper and place under the edges of the cake to keep the cake plate clean while frosting the cake.

Frosting a cake with layers.

Spread the top of this layer with about one fourth of the frosting. Top the frosting with 1/2 cup of the crushed toffee. Place the second layer, bottom-side up, on top and gently press it into place. Spread frosting all around the sides of the cake and then frost the top of the cake. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift a healthy dusting of cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Carefully remove the strips of waxed paper.




6. When ready to serve, slice the cake and serve each slice centered in a pool of warm caramel sauce.

Chocolate Paradise Devil's Food Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting recipe from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Try this recipe and others at a Nordstrom restaurant near you, and find more recipes to make at home in our What’s Cooking series and Nordstrom Cookbooks. Have a favorite dish or beverage from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!

—Jeff Powell