Light and airy with just a touch of sweetness, this chocolate angel food cake is sure to be the star ending of your next get together.
I remember when when Kevin told me his favorite cake was angel food cake. I remember thinking “what?!?” you have to be kidding me! Not that spongy, flavorless, no frosting dessert masquerading around as cake, you must be mistaken. Nope, unfortunately this was his favorite. What a let down for the cake lover inside of me…
Prior to meeting him, I’d only tried the boxed version (a favorite of my grandmother, bless her heart) or the pre-made version from the grocery store. Now, I do use the pre-made version in my favorite berry trifle because it holds up well against the other ingredients, but eating it on its own is not all that spectacular. Who’s with me?
However, because Kevin loved angel food cake I decided I would try making it myself…. the things you do for love, right? Well now I knew why it was his favorite! Homemade angel food cake almost melts in your mouth and has none of that spongy texture of the ones I tried before. Plus it had sooo much more flavor. It was absolute heaven, which is appropriate given its name 🙂
I usually make a vanilla angel food cake for his birthday, but this year I thought I’d switch it up and make a chocolate one! Like the vanilla version, it was everything an angel food cake should be – light, airy and just a touch of sweetness. When you add in chocolate, it just makes it that much better!
I always thought it would be a lot harder to make than it actually is. For me, the main hurdle is separating the egg whites and yes, there are 12. I’ve found the key is to crack them first into a small dish and then when you are guaranteed no yolk got into the white, transfer the white into your larger bowl of whites. Otherwise, if you’re on egg number 12 and cracking it into the large bowl of 11 other whites, should any yolk get in you’d have to throw out the whole batch and start over! Been there done that, never wanna go back!
A few additional tips:
- Egg Whites: Besides my tip above, make sure you separate the eggs while they’re cold. Cold eggs separate better than warm ones. After separating, you need to let them sit for about 30 minutes in order to bring them to room temperature as room temp whites whip up better than cold ones.
- Sugar: I like to use super fine sugar, which is just regular granulate sugar ground finer in your food processor. I process mine for about 30 seconds, which helps it incorporate better with the egg whites.
- Whipping Technique: You’ll need to whip the egg whites to soft and then medium peaks. If you’re unsure what these terms mean, there’s a great article at The Kitchen, which helps explain the process. They use the term “firm peaks” for medium.
- Addition of dry ingredients: I pour the whipped egg whites mixture from my standing mixer bowl into a larger mixing bowl before adding the flour mixture by hand. I find the bowl of my standing mixer is too small to properly fold everything.
- Cooling Technique: You’ll need a glass bottle that has a long neck, like a vinegar or wine bottle. Turn the baked cake upside down and put the hole of the bundt pan through the top of the standing bottle to rest. Yes, it looks funny and yes, you will probably think it’s going to fall out, but it shouldn’t! This is how angel food cakes need to cool due to its meringue-like nature. There is a photo of this here.
Whew, okay there was a lot to explain there! I hope I haven’t scared anyone off. It’s really not hard to make, there are just a few steps which help ensure you have the most perfect angel food cake! I promise you can do it and you’re guests will all be super impressed!
- 12 egg whites, room temperature
- 1¼ cups super fine granulated sugar
- salt, pinch
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar
- ¾ cup cake flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Separate the eggs, putting only the whites in the bowl of your standing mixer with whisk attachment. Discard the yolks or save them for use in another recipe. See notes below with further directions on how to separate egg whites. Let egg whites come to room temperature, about 30 minutes before starting the mixing process.
- While the egg whites are sitting, add the 1¼ cup granulated sugar to a food processor and process for about 30 seconds, set aside.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and ¾ cup of the super fine sugar and then sift again, set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- When egg whites come to room temperature, add a pinch of salt and with the mixer on low, whisk together until frothy. Once frothy, sprinkle in the cream of tarter and increase the mixer speed to medium or medium high, mixing until you get soft peaks. Slowly add in the ¾ cup of sugar (1-2 Tbs at a time) and continue mixing until you get medium peaks.
- Pour the egg white mixture into a larger bowl. Slowly add about ¼ cup of the flour mixture at a time and fold it into the batter. Be sure to fold gently or you'll deflate your egg whites.
- Once all of the flour mixture is incorporated, pour the batter into an uncreased tube pan with a removable bottom and bake for about 37 minutes. Start testing your cake at 30 minutes with a long skewer. If it comes out with anything more than a few crumbs, it needs to bake longer.
- When the cake is finished baking, turn it upside down with the hole in the cake pan through the neck of a glass bottle. Leave the cake there 1 hour. After an hour, run a sharp knife around the outside and inside rims. Flip cake onto a platter and serve alongside fresh berries and creme, if desired.
*Recipe adapted from Trisha Yearwood