Chocolate Dirt Cake With Rosemary Buttercream

This cake may look like a potted plant, but it's packed with chocolatey goodness.


  • Cake:
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flavorless oil
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • Frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Whisk in the boiling water.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting: In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rosemary, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Strain out the rosemary sprigs and transfer the butter to a large metal bowl. Place the bowl in an ice bath and use an electric mixer to beat it until it becomes pale and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Remove from the ice bath and beat in the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and milk. (Alternatively, you can make the rosemary-infused butter ahead of time, place it covered in the fridge overnight, and then soften it slightly before beating it with the sugar, salt, vanilla and milk.)
  7. Level the cakes and frost as desired.