Samin Nosrat's Chocolate Midnight Cake recipe

Samin Nosrat's Chocolate Midnight Cake

This is the cake that nearly made Samin Nosrat faint from delight so yep, it’s a mighty fine cake. I decorate it with fresh cream or chocolate ganache - both are wonderful but the fresh cream version will need to be stored in the fridge. I use ganache when I know that the cake will hang around for more than a couple of days or if I want to freeze some of it, otherwise I use vanilla cream, as suggested by the book. This rich chocolate cake is oil-based so it’s incredibly moist and topping it with freshly whipped vanilla cream just adds to the luxuriousness of it all.


I use non-springform sandwich tins as the batter is quite liquid. The book advises dusting them with flour but I use cocoa powder instead.

My oven is small so I can’t bake two sandwich tins side by side. Instead, I put them on separate shelves and once the cake on the top rack has cooked through I move the remaining cake to the upper rack. It usually needs another 8-10 minutes to finish cooking.

My cakes sometimes rise unevenly, probably because of the shelf variation, so I trim any large peaks to create more of a flat surface (and immediately eat the offcuts). The fresh cream or ganache topping will hide the raw edges.

The original vanilla cream recipe lists granulated sugar in the ingredients but I use icing sugar instead.

Recipe credit

Lori's Midnight Chocolate Cake in Salt Fat Acid Heat (affiliate link) by Samin Nosrat


Serves: 10


  • 55g good quality cocoa powder (plus 1-2 tsp for dusting)
  • 300g sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 255g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml neutral-tasting oil (plus extra to grease. I used light olive oil)
  • 350ml boiling water or freshly brewed strong coffee
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Vanilla cream

  • 225ml double cream
  • 1½ tsp icing sugar, sifted (or sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or seeds scraped from ¼ of a vanilla bean)
  • dark chocolate (optional, for grating)

Chocolate ganache (alternative to vanilla cream)

  • 100ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate


  1. Cake: Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven.
  2. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Add 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder to one of the tins and move it around until the sides are generously coated. Tap out any excess into the second tin and repeat, adding more cocoa if needed.
  3. Add 55g of cocoa powder, 300g of sugar, 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt, 255g of flour and 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to a medium sized bowl, whisk, then sift into a large bowl.
  4. Using the medium sized bowl from step 3, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 125ml oil and 350ml of freshly brewed coffee or boiled water and stir.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and slowly whisk in the oil mixture until both mixtures have combined. Gradually add 2 lightly beaten eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth (it will be quite thin).
  6. Divide the batter between the two cake tins and drop each tin onto a countertop from a height of around 8cm to release any trapped air bubbles.
  7. Bake in the upper third of the oven for around 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the edges are pulling away from the tin slightly.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely in their tins then carefully remove them and peel off the greaseproof paper. If your cakes have risen unevenly like mine often do, trim the tops with a long knife to even them out.
  9. Vanilla cream: Add 225ml of double cream, 1½ teaspoons of icing sugar (or regular sugar) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or the seeds scraped from ¼ of a vanilla pod) into a large bowl and whisk. I use a hand mixer and once soft peaks appear I turn it down low and whisk until the cream is smooth and holds its shape. Whether you whisk the cream by hand or machine, take care not to over-mix or it’ll turn lumpy.
  10. Place one of the cakes onto a plate or serving dish then spread over half of the vanilla cream. Place the second cake on top and spread over the remaining cream. Grate over a little dark chocolate if using. Serve immediately and store any remaining cake in the fridge for up to 2 days, taking it out an hour or so before serving. 

Chocolate ganache alternative: Melt 100ml of double cream and 100g dark chocolate together in a saucepan then leave to cool for a minute. Whisk until the mixture starts to thicken then spoon half of the ganache onto one of the cakes using the back of the spoon to spread it around. Place the second cake on top and spread over the remaining ganache. Store any leftover cake in an airtight tin or container for up to 4 days. Individual slices of the chocolate ganache cake can also be frozen.