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Chocolate Angel Food Cake

This Chocolate Angel Food Cake is light as a feather and not too sweet. Cocoa adds chocolate-y flavor to this classic recipe. Learn which cocoa to use for the best color and flavor.

a slice of chocolate angel food cake on a plate

As I discuss in my post about Flour in Cake Batter, you can turn almost any vanilla cake recipe into a chocolate cake recipe by simply replacing a portion of the flour with cocoa powder.

When I decided to create a recipe for Chocolate Angel Food cake, of course I couldn’t just add a little cocoa to my basic Angel Food Cake batter and call it a day. To make sure I was creating the best version of the recipe, I needed to run a couple of tests to find out the best technique and cocoa for making the batter. Here’s what I found out:

How to use cocoa to make a Chocolate Angel Food Cake:

  • Well, first things first. How to add the cocoa? For test number 1 I replaced a 1/4 cup of the flour with cocoa. I sifted the cocoa with the flour and mixed the batter as I do for the original Angel Food Cake recipe. The cake looked and tasted pretty good, but I had another trick up my sleeve.
  • For test number 2 I “bloomed” the cocoa in hot water before adding it to the batter. I was aiming for a deeper chocolate flavor. In a side-by-side tasting my husband and I both thought the answer was a definite “yes”, the second cake had a better chocolate flavor. I had just one more tweak to make.
  • When I added the cocoa mix to the meringue for test 2 I lost a little volume. For test number 3 I increased the flour by 2 tablespoons. This helped the structure a bit and the cake rose beautifully in the oven. I was very happy with the texture and flavor of cake 3.

Even though I knew I had my final recipe, I had one more question I needed to answer. Was I using the best cocoa?

For over 10 years I have been using Cocoa Barry Extra Brute cocoa exclusively. It’s an alkalized (dutch processed) cocoa. It has a very deep color and flavor, and a super-fine texture that blends beautifully into a batter.

It was time to try the recipe with a different cocoa powder. For test number 4 I used Hershey’s “natural” (non-alkalized) powder, using the same technique of mixing the cocoa with hot water.

Even before the cake went into the oven I was not happy with the results. Where the batter for the other cakes had a deep color, this batter was very pale. The batter made with the Cocoa Barry tasted like melted chocolate ice cream (hey, who doesn’t like to taste raw cake batter?). The Hershey’s batter had a bland, nondescript, sweet flavor. The same could be said for the baked cake.

two bowls of chocolate angel food cake batter
The batter on the left is made with the alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder. The batter on the right is made with “natural” cocoa powder.

I was happy to discover that my favorite cocoa was absolutely the best option for this cake recipe. Honestly, it’s the only one I use. I’m not being paid to promote this product, I truly love it.

three slices of chocolate angel food cake on a wood table.
The top two slices are made with the Dutch processed cocoa. The bottom slice is made with natural cocoa. The cake made by mixing the cocoa with water (middle) had the best chocolate flavor.

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make an Angel Food cake with cocoa powder:

A bowl of whipped meringue
For the best texture, start the egg whites on medium and gradually raise the speed to medium high. Whip to full peak.
folding chocolate into a bowl of meringue
Fold the cocoa mixture into the meringue.
Folding flower into chocolate meringue
Fold the flour in three batches to maintain as much as as possible in the whipped whites.
chocolate angel food cake batter in a pan
Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan. The cake will rise to the top of the pan.

Tips for making a great Chocolate Angel Food Cake:

  • Use fresh egg whites, not pasteurized. Frozen fresh whites are fine.
  • Use a clean bowl and whisk, a tiny bit of grease will collapse the egg whites.
  • Start the whites on medium and increase to medium high after the sugar is added.
  • Don’t add the sugar until the whites reach soft peak, then add slowly.
  • Use Dutch processed cocoa powder for the best color and flavor.
  • I like to use a hand whisk to fold the cocoa mix and flour into the meringue. You can switch to a spatula once most of the flour is incorporated.
  • Use a tube pan so the cake bakes from the middle and sides.
  • Don’t grease the pan and don’t use a non-stick pan.
  • Cool the cake upside down.
a chocolate angel food cake on a cake stand
a slice of chocolate angel food cake on a plate with cream and strawberries

Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with the extra yolks? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra yolks for some great ideas.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Yield: 12 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Light as a feather, not too sweet, tender and moist Angel Food Cake is possible with the right ingredients and, especially, with the right technique. A hint of cocoa add a chocolate-y flavor to this classic recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 oz,112g) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 340g) sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz, 23g) cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) hot water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 egg whites (14 oz, 392g)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have an angel food pan, or tube pan, ungreased, ready for the batter.
  2. Into a medium bowl sift the flour, 3/4 cup sugar and the salt. Whisk the ingredients together to distribute the salt and sugar evenly. Set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, hot water and vanilla until smooth. Set Aside
  3. In a large mixer bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whipping until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue whipping until stiff peaks are formed. The total whipping time will be about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Use a hand whisk to fold in the cocoa mixture until it's about 3/4 the way incorporated.
  5. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the meringue and fold in the flour until it's almost incorporated. Sift and fold in the remaining flour mixture in two batches. Fold just until all the flour is incorporated. You can switch from a hand whisk to spatula to finish folding.
  6. Scoop the batter into the tube pan and spread to even layer. Bake until the cake is springs back when pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately invert the pan over a cooling rack. Leave the pan inverted until the cake is completely cool.
  8. Run a small spatula or paring knife around the sides of the cake to loosen and release the cake from the pan.
  9. The cake will keep, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Kim

Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

I was so excited putting this cake together. I appreciated the step-by-step details as it made it very easy to get this cake actually prepared. Unfortunately, when I took it out of the oven at the specified time, it ended up on my counter in a big chocolate goo. The cake fell out of the pan and was nowhere near cooked. This recipe, I do believe needs cook for longer. I'm sorry I can't give it a five-star review since I ended up having to throw it in the trash. My mom recommended I go with a tried and true recipe from her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I will do that from now on.

Eileen Gray

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

The baking times are always just an estimate since there are many, many factors that can affect the exact baking time. You always needs to go more by the look and feel of the cake than by the timer.