Cointreau Double Chocolate Cake

Let’s be honest here: chocolate cake is good. Double chocolate is even better. But double chocolate cake flavored with orange liqueur? That’s the best.

After I made dark chocolate ganache dessert cups, I knew I wanted to create another dessert featuring good quality dark chocolate and Cointreau. It took me a couple of months, but the wait was worth it.

I made a soft, sponge-like chocolate layer cake, brushed on a generous amount of orange liqueur, then frosted everything with a thick, bittersweet sour cream frosting.

I added a ring of raspberries and a shower of white chocolate shavings just to make it a little prettier, but in reality, when you’re eating a cake that tastes this good, you don’t really need to worry about prettying things up.

I made this for a small dinner party I hosted a few weeks back, which coincided with the season opening of True Blood. For some reason, a liqueur-infused cake just seemed right for the occasion. I also served vincotto fettucini (I figured a red wine dish would work while we’re watching sexy vampires) and some appetizers and a cheese plate:

I love serving a variety of little bites when entertaining. My cheese plate consisted of some aged gouda, red pepper jelly, marinated mozzarella balls, dried figs, flaxseed crackers, and strawberries. I also served some orange cardamon chocolate almonds, edamame hummus, mini savory crackers, and olive oil potato chips:

I bought almost everything at Trader Joe’s except for the aged gouda and dried figs (which I got at Whole Foods) and the heavenly almonds (which I received as a sample from Q’s Nuts, thanks again Q!).  There is red pepper jelly at Trader Joe’s, too (mine is from Stonewall Kitchen). And no, this post is not sponsored by Trader Joe’s. I just really like TJs.

But back to the cake.

So yeah, chocolate cake.

That is brushed with Cointreau.

Then slathered with dark chocolate sour cream frosting.

Really is the best kind of chocolate cake.

Cointreau Double Chocolate Cake



2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (for greasing the pans)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (I just used milk with lemon)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1/3 cup orange liquer (Cointreau)


15 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a big bowl and mix until combined.
  4. In another bowl, combine the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix slowly, and add the wet ingredients to the dry. Add the coffee and stir just to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. You can also pop the cakes in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm them up, because that makes it easier to slice off the domed tops. Using a pastry brush, coat the cake layers with the orange liqueur.
  6. Make the frosting. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, using 30 second increments then stirring. Whisk together the sour cream, honey, and vanilla extract until combined. Add the chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform.
  7. Now you can assemble your cake. This recipe makes a substantial amount of frosting so don't be stingy when icing your layer cake :)

cake recipe modified from Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake

frosting recipe modified from Smitten Kitchen

This is just my second attempt at making a layer cake so I’m not making up any of my own recipes yet. I am also learning a lot with each try. I wish I thought of adding Cointreau to the icing itself, or even soaking the raspberries in Cointreau – then adding more raspberries in the middle with the frosting. But there’s always next time. Another cake, another time.

PS – I admit I do like my birthday cake better, but I’m just biased because… well, it was MY birthday cake!


30 Responses to “Cointreau Double Chocolate Cake”

  1. #
    Kathryn posted June 30, 2012 at 8:35 am

    This cake sounds properly epic! Love the sound of that sour cream frosting and the healthy dose of cointreau ;)

  2. #
    Meghan @ After the Ivy League posted June 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Dark chocolate sour cream frosting sounds life changing. Now I just need to find a reason to bake a super chocolatey double layer cake…

  3. #
    Rhonda posted June 30, 2012 at 11:28 am

    That cheese plate has me drooling big time and the cake looks delicious!

  4. #
    Ashley posted June 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Oh man, that cake looks incredible. It will definitely be made soon! Your party also looks awesome, especially with a side of True Blood.

  5. #
    Megan posted June 30, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    My jaw didn’t just drop a little when I saw this title, but a LOT. I definitely need to give this a try!

  6. #
    Daisy posted June 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    you are quite the hostess my friend. you had some very lucky guests that night. your cake looks *almost* to pretty to eat and so does that cheese tray!!

  7. #
    Simply Life posted July 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    wow! what a spread! i need to take some pointers from you! and this cake – oh my! you have some lucky guests!

  8. #
    Erica @ In And Around Town posted July 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    This cake looks amazing! Love the raspberry garnish around the edge.

  9. #
    Judy posted July 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Chocolate and orange — one of my favorite flavor combos. Awesome recipe.

  10. #
    Elizabeth posted July 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Seriously, what I would do to have this cake delivered to my apt right now. Yummm

  11. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted July 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    These are incredible photos, Bianca! And i LOVE hot pepper jelly!!

  12. #
    Chloe@EveryCraving posted July 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    This is a gorgeous chocolate cake! Looks so delicious :)

  13. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted July 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

    That cake is gorgeous. Looks like you had some lucky dinner guests!

  14. #
    Meghan posted July 2, 2012 at 8:26 am

    That cake is stunning! I love chocolate and orange but am not sure I would attempt such a complicated baking feat!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted July 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

      It was surprisingly not that complicated! It just looks really fancy :)

  15. #
    Michelle posted July 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Wow, you are turning into quite the baking pro!

  16. #
    Taryn posted July 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Mmmmm yes please! This is totally my kind of dessert – chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

  17. #
    Joanne posted July 3, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Anything involving both chocolate and cointreau has to be a good thing. And when it also involves a seriously awesome layer cake…EVEN BETTER!

  18. #
    Molly Galler posted July 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Wow! Bianca, you are quite the hostess! That cheese plate looks incredible. I never turn down chocolate cake. This version looks sublime.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted July 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks Molly! Me too – I never turn down chocolate… anything :)

  19. #
    Sacha posted July 3, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    You’ve got to love a booze-soaked cake. Just think of all of the delicious possibilities!

  20. #
    Erica posted July 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    YUM! Who wouldn’t want to come to your party? That is one pretty and delicious cake

  21. #
    Megan posted July 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

    That cake looks amazing! I love chocolate with raspberries!

  22. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious posted July 11, 2012 at 3:09 am

    What a stunning cake! I’ll take 2 slices for myself, please :)

  23. #
    My Inner Chick posted July 14, 2012 at 2:37 am

    —G O R G E O U S
    Cake. WOW. Can I have some?

  24. #
    Honey What's Cooking posted August 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    holy crap this looks amazing. i loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee cointreau, you know, i may just make this for my family very soon. we are all alcohol lovers! :-)

  25. #
    Tally K posted November 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm


    I’ve followed the recipe, but I can’t find where you say to put the liqueur in the cake. Perhaps with the coffee? However, I followed the measurements and I’m afraid my batter will turn out too soupy with the liqueur added in. Any tips?

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Hi, Tally! I didn’t use Countreau on the actual cake batter – I just brushed if on the cake after it was already baked and cooled :) hope your cake turns out great!

  26. #
    Pamela posted March 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I’m glad you decided to use a different frosting other than the one that Ina originally did with this cake. I am FAR more familiar with the original Ina recipe than I want to be at times. I almost think I could do it in my sleep. It’s become my standard chocolate recipe for when I have orders for decorated cakes.
    On a whim I made the Ina chocolate cake for a family member’s birthday (naturally as the cake decorator I’m elected to provide all cakes, including mine) and after the meal was over I actually caught my sister-in-law (who’s cake it was) and her niece eating the cake with their fingers in the kitchen. Being Celiac and having to eat gluten free (trust me, this is NOT by choice but only medical necessity) I taste very little of the regular items I bake. Friends and family members are my guinea pigs to tell me if they like something. Well…..I ASSUMED they liked the chocolate cake. They said it was THE single most delicious chocolate cake they had ever had, and no they hadn’t been smoking pot but the way they were going after that cake you would have thought so. So then I began using this recipe for other cake orders. For good or bad THAT chocolate cake recipe got me my first wedding cake order. After having survived the experience I’m not sure which one it was. It’s a winner you can be sure of that.

    There is just one problem and you found it too, the raw egg in the frosting. During the days 40 or 50 years ago when Ina’s friend’s grandmother would have been baking this cake no one would have thought twice about a raw farm fresh egg. Boy not now. It’s too long and complicated to tell now but I know of someone, the last person ANYONE would have ever thought would contract, much less die, from Salmonella, but they did, and it came from a raw egg. That sold me. I had “pooh-poohed” the theory up until that point but never again. I’m glad you chose one to base yours on from Smitten Kitchen. I have been following her site since the very first time I looked at blogs. In fact, I think she was the first site I ever subscribed to. I now CAN’T WAIT until I can try this cake with the Cointreau. I personally LOVE baking with all sorts of unexpected liqeurs and types of alcohol. If a stanger enters my home and sees a buffet and other counter I have in my dining room they would think I was the biggest lush in the state with all the different bottles of alcohol that are there. But I LOVE finding new liqueurs to try in recipes and add a punch of flavor. I have a whiskey cake recipe that apparently was a George Washingon favorite and a Brown Sugar Bourbon from Southern Living that are a work of art and I get nothing but exclaimations of praise for both of them. This has been one good thing about the internet, how it’s opened the world of baking to everyone. There just aren’t enough days in the week to try all that I want to get to. Now you’ve given me another I’m excited to do….what’s a poor girl to do!!

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