Sympathy for the Devil's Food Cake

February 16, 2012
Author Notes

I've had cake on the brain for the past week. And after hearing Sympathy for the Devil on the radio like ten times over the past 4 days, someone was sending me a subliminal message, so I felt compelled to make this cake.

There are a few stories about how Devil's Food Cake got its name. One is the cake's red hue - the devil's favorite color. The combination of natural cocoa powder (acidic) and baking soda (alkaline), gives the cake its reddish tone. And the other reason is simply that the cake is so good, it's sinful. I think mine falls under both categories - reddish and sinfully delicious.

The Sweet Spice is adapted from the recipe for Sweet Spice in Eat Tweet by Maureen Evans. The cake is adapted from my Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake here in the food52 archives.

I've often substituted all coffee for the liquid in this cake recipe, so feel free to replace the beer and water with coffee. —mrslarkin

  • Serves 2 sinners or 8 saints
  • Sweet Spice
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Grains of Paradise, or white peppercorns, or black peppercorns, crushed
  • Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons natural cocoa powder, not Dutched
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sweet spice mix
  • 1/2 cup Guinness Stout
  • 1/2 cup espresso or strong black coffee
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • a small handful of Red Hots cinnamon candies, finely crushed (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Sweet Spice
  2. In a small saute pan over low heat, stir spices until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a tightly-sealing glass jar.
  3. Alternatively, if using whole spices, stir in pan over low heat until fragrant. Let cool. Grind in a spice mill and store the mix in a tightly-sealing glass jar.
  1. Cake
  2. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Set oven rack to middle. Grease an 8” cake pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment and lightly spray the parchment. (This is in case you decide to remove cake from pan and frost completely. But usually we just frost the top and eat it right out of the pan.)
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl.
  4. In a measuring cup, mix together stout, coffee, water, vanilla and vinegar. Stir into the flour mixture a few turns, then add your oil and combine until you have a smooth batter.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Check with cake tester, which should come out very slightly moist. Remove from oven and let cool on rack.
  6. FOR THE MARSHMALLOW BUTTERCREAM FROSTING: In a medium bowl, mix together the Fluff, butter, confectioner's sugar and cream using a hand blender on high speed until smooth. This quantity makes just enough to frost the top of the cake. Double the recipe if you want more.
  7. Turn cake out onto cake plate, if you're feeling fancy. Spread cake with frosting. Sprinkle crushed Red Hots over the frosting.

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