Speckled Chocolate Easter Cake

Every Easter, I become obsessed with all things pastel. Pre-pandemic, Easter brunch was one of the first events we hosted once the spring season arrived, and it’s been a tradition among our group of friends since 2012. In past years, I was usually in charge of making the ham, with a side dish of bacon and cipollini onion, which is really amazing and worthy of its own post! But alas, this year, there is no gathering on account of the pandemic, and an entire ham would be way too much  food for two people, so I decided to focus on making a small cake instead to observe the holiday.

This speckled chocolate easter cake is so cute and reminiscent of robins’ eggs, and I just couldn’t resist baking something that would reflect the pastel aesthetic of spring. I know most people like carrot cake for Easter, and we’ve definitely had some nice Easter Bunny carrot cakes in the past, but I wanted my speckled cake to be a chocolate cake with a simple and rich vanilla buttercream frosting. The cake is so easy to make, with a moist and dense texture, and the buttercream is a traditional vanilla buttercream recipe. With a can’t-miss classic combination of chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream and a seasonally-inspired pastel and speckled visual presentation, the cake is a wonderful way to satisfy the sweet tooth after an Easter dinner menu, or to accompany your brunch spread, and the technique to create the speckled effect is so easy. It’s a dreamy dessert that makes for a festive finish to Easter brunch or dinner or any other spring celebration.

Above all, this was my first time learning how to apply a crumb coat and frosting a cake, so it was really fun to take on this project, and the cake was absolutely delicious to cut into. I chose to layer the cake with the vanilla buttercream tinted in purple shades to contrast with the blue exterior, but you could choose pink or a variety of colors to create the visual appeal that you like. The top of the cake is decorated with a chocolate bird’s nest made with chocolate shavings, filled with candy-coated miniature chocolate eggs for an extra touch of spring decor. For me, this is the dessert with a little bit of everything: I love the soft pastel colors which make it visually appealing, and at the same time it’s a delicious, simple, and classic chocolate cake and the pastel colors make it lovely for spring. Wishing you all a Happy Easter! Spring is in the air and I hope it brings you a lift to try making this cake as the sun beams into the kitchen and the birds sing outside.

Speckled Chocolate Easter Cake 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 28-30 minutes

Chill time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cake Batter:

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • ½ cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup boiling water

For the Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 lb butter
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tbsp milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Blue food coloring
  • Purple food coloring

For the Speckling and Bird’s Nest:

  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 to 8 candy-coated miniature chocolate eggs
  • Solid chocolate bar or block

Instructions:

For the Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and line with parchment paper 3 6-inch round cake pans and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  3. In another, large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla powder, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the sugar to the wet ingredients, beating very well.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients, ½ cup at a time, mixing well, making sure no lumps remain, until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Finally, stir in the boiling water, mixing on medium-high speed for a minute.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until done and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes and then unmold the cakes onto a cooling rack.

For the Frosting:

  1. Using a stand mixer, mix butter and salt on medium speed for 5 minutes, until pale and smooth. 
  2. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, then add vanilla and mix to combine, followed by the milk. Beat on medium for at least 1 minute, until frosting acquires a fluffy texture, and finish on low speed to blend and smooth.
  3. Remove about 2 cups of the frosting from the stand mixer and place them in a smaller bowl. Add blue and red food coloring until you have the desired shade of lavender or purple.
  4. Back in the stand mixer, color your buttercream frosting with a few drops of blue food coloring, adding 1 drop of color at a time, until you reach the desired shade of blue.

For the Speckling:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder with the vanilla extract until completely dissolved.
  2. You should have a thin paint. Set aside with a new, clean paintbrush nearby.

Cake Assembly Instructions:

  1. Once your cakes are fully cooled, use a knife to cut the rounded top and level them.
  2. Place one cake on your cake board or cake stand and spread a thick layer of purple frosting on top.
  3. Place a cake layer on top of that and repeat with purple frosting on top.
  4. Lastly, place the final cake layer on top. Use an offset spatula to frost the cake smoothly with the blue buttercream frosting and apply a crumb coat.
  5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Frost the crumb-coated cake with the blue buttercream. Smooth with an offset spatula and shape to your liking.
  7. Cover your work area with wax paper. This is to avoid having chocolate speckles all over your kitchen cupboards!
  8. Lightly dip your new brush into the chocolate mixture and, holding the brush with one hand, gently flick the bristles with your other hand to splatter the chocolate mixture onto the buttercream, creating the speckled effect. I recommend to dip the brush lightly! A little goes a long way.
  9. Once the frosting and speckles have dried and set, create some chocolate shavings using a potato peeler on a block of chocolate. Arrange the chocolate curls in the shape of a nest on top of the cake and place your candied shell eggs in the nest.
  10. And you’re done! Cut and enjoy the cake. Store in refrigerator.