Scrumptious chocolate cake. Photo by Jessica Elsemore

If there is one recipe… one way that you will ever make chocolate cake again, this is it.

I was gifted with 2 pounds of raw cacao from Jo Sayer and Chris Beaumont of KAKAW Chocolate of San Pedro, Belize. I imagined the glorious  food I would make upon my return home, and wondered if I would make it through US customs with a big bag of brown powder.   Thankfully, chocolate lovers were posted at every station of my return, and my precious cocoa made it back to my kitchen.

KAKAW cocoa comes from criollo beans that are both fruity, woody and complex.  They make a great cake.


KAKAW Chocolate CakeAdapted from the Recipe by Chef Virgina Willis.  I crafted this recipe after I tried the cake of famed Southern Chef Virgina Willis while she was teaching a class in Maine. It was so good and so close to the oil-based cake recipe I had learned and come to love, except hers was a 1 bowl no-mess operation that came out as good as mine, with a lot less to clean up.  Oil cake is great because it stays moist and lasts a bit longer than butter based cakes. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Makes two 10” round pans or one large sheet pan

Shortening for pans.  Grease pans with shortening and dust with cocoa powder.  Shake out excess.

1 ½ cups Belizean KAKAW Cocoa Powder.  Use the best you can get. I like Ghiradelli or Valrhona as substitutes.   In a pinch, use Hershey’s but don’t use generic.  It is a blend and is very flat in flavor and color.

3 Cups Cake Flour. I prefer King Arthur Flour, unbleached cake variety.

3 Cups Sugar

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder.  I like using Bakewell Cream Baking Powder. Its magic and practically foolproof

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

3 farm fresh eggs – rich in color and flavor.  They cakes are the spongiest when you use farm fresh eggs.

1 ½ cup warm water.  Hot water from the tap is fine.

1 ½ Cups Buttermilk

¾ cup Vegetable Oil

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract.  Do not substitute vanilla flavoring

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add all the dry ingredients and mix for 30 seconds on lowest speed.    Add eggs, water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on low speed until well incorporated and smooth – about 2 minutes.  Batter will be slightly runny.  Divide batter among pans and place in oven on center rack.  Bake 35-40 minutes until springy on top and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.   Cool on rack 30 minutes and then invert onto plate.  Frost with desired buttercream icing.

Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

9 thoughts on “KAKAW Belizean Chocolate Cake: Desserts of Belize

    • You are so welcome. Let me know how it works out! They ate it up here at the Kennebunkport Festival! LOL

  1. FOR ALL INTERESTED PARTIES – You can substitute regular good quality white flour. The cake will be a bit crumblier but still moist and delicious!

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