Artisan Craft Chocolate with Winemaker John Scharffenberger

Listen to the interview.

How does a chocolate maker like to enjoy his chocolate? John Scharffenberger likes to eat it for dessert, paired with fruit, espcially sliced fresh pears and even prunes.  He loves this recipe for That Chocolate Cake, but he also suggests a favorite cake recipe containing an effortless 4 ingredients! Check out Chocolate Orbit Cake on

America’s first contemporary artisan chocolate manufacturer, SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker set out to craft the richest, most flavorful chocolate by sourcing the best cacao in the world, blending it in small batches, and gently processing it to maintain the subtle flavors in the beans.

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker was founded in San Francisco in 1997 by chocolate connoisseur Robert Steinberg and winemaker John Scharffenberger.  Steinberg was a family doctor diagnosed with lymphoma in 1989. It proved to be a life-changing experience, and he decided to dedicate himself to his passion for fine food, settling on chocolate making in 1994.  His ultimate goal was to deliver the very best chocolate from the finest beans nature had to offer, which he did until his passing in 2008. John Scharffenberger’s entrepreneurial spirit, successful business background, and astute palate complemented Steinberg’s skills.   The pair tested multiple combinations before perfecting a unique blend that highlighted the true flavor of cacao instead of masking it with sugar and other flavors. The result is an array of truly distinctive chocolates with balance and complexity—not unlike those found in exceptional wines.


THAT [Scharffenberger] Chocolate Cake!

To Make the Cake

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment and the sides of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed. Mix in the eggs, oil, and milk.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the water. The batter will be soupy.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely.

When the cakes have cooled, check the frosting. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If it is still too thin, allow it to cool longer.

To Make the Frosting

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla.

To Frost the Cake

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a hot palette knife or icing spatula to give the frosting a beautiful shine. Run the knife under hot tap water and dry with a towel. Spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, heating the knife again as necessary

What's Needed:


For the Cake

  • Unsalted butter and flour for pans

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup SCHARFFEN BERGER Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup canola oil

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup boiling water

For the Frosting

Special Equipment

  • Two 9-inch round cake pans

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