Tête-à-tête with Chocolate Skillet Cake, Raspberries & Autumn Leaves

Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting and Raspberries (Gluten Free Version from Bravetart). Cast iron pan from Lodge.

What is it about the first blast of chilly, autumn air that brings out my seasonal craving for baked goods? Do you experience this phenomenon as well? Luckily, my family has plenty of October birthdays to celebrate, providing the perfect excuse to indulge! There’s nothing quite like the smell of vanilla and warm brown sugar to put me in the fall spirit. Usually, at this time of year, I’m more inclined toward apple pie. But I’m surrounded by a family of chocolate lovers, and to be honest, who can really resist? Toss a handful of late-season raspberries on devil’s food cake, and I am more than ready to compromise with the party goers!

Although I am an experienced and confident cook, sweets aren’t a daily part of my diet and baking is still something of a novelty for me. Over the past couple of years, in an effort to get more satisfying results, I’ve invested in a new kitchen scale (weighing ingredients really is key), a couple of confectioner’s gadgets and a few cookbooks written by professional bakers. I’ve been following Stella Parks on Instagram and enjoying her creations for Serious Eats, for awhile now —which is where I spotted this chocolate skillet cake— and find her recipes not only easy enough for a beginner, but consistent crowd-pleasers as well. And there’s nothing quite so sweet as praise to encourage a new baker, right?  So when Stella’s new book, Bravetart came out last summer, I checked the mailbox regularly, eagerly anticipating the arrival of my pre-ordered copy.

I have not been disappointed! One of my goals has been to add a few gluten-free options to my sweet repertoire. It seems that whenever I attend a big party, at least two or three people have a gluten intolerance, and they are unable to enjoy conventionally made desserts. That seems very unfair! Fortunately, Stella has includes gluten-free versions of her recipes in Bravetart; all with clear and simple instructions. I’ve made the gluten-free version of her chocolate skillet cake twice now this month —using her homemade wheat-flour substitute— with great results. This weekend however, I was in a hurry. So, for the version below, I simply used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour. Perfection in a pinch.

Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting and Raspberries (Gluten Free Version from Bravetart). Cast iron skillet from Lodge.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting & Raspberries

Adapted from Serious Eats & Stella Park’s sweet cookbook: Bravetart

Special Equipment: Lodge 12″ cast iron skillet, whisk, hand-held mixer and offset spatula


6 ounces unsalted butter

6 ounces freshly brewed, black coffee

1 1/2 ounces Divine or other Dutch cocoa

3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70%)

8 ounces light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp kosher salt

4 large eggs

4 1/2 ounces Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour* (or use Stella’s recipe)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda


6 ounces Endangered Species milk chocolate, or your favorite brand, finely chopped

8 ounces heavy cream

Salt to taste

1/2 pint fresh-picked raspberries (or other seasonal berries), for garnish


For the frosting:

Heat the heavy cream to a simmer in a 10″-12″ cast-iron skillet. Add chopped chocolate to a heat-proof bowl. When the cream is bubbling at the edges, pour on top of the chocolate and whisk. Add salt to taste and continue to whisk until blended smooth. Allow mixture to cool approximately 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to finish the cake.

For the cake:

Center oven rack in lower-middle. Preheat to 350° F.

Warm the butter and coffee over low heat, in the same 10-12″ cast-iron skillet, stirring until butter has completely melted. Remove pan from the heat. Carefully mix in the cocoa and the chopped dark chocolate, stirring until well blended. Add in the brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Gently whisk in the eggs. When combined, add the flour and baking soda. Whisk to combine until smooth.

Slide the skillet into the hot oven and bake until firm. This took approximately 25 minutes in my 12″ Lodge skillet. Bake 5-10 minutes longer in a 10″ cast-iron skillet. Watch carefully, because oven temperatures and pan thicknesses can really vary baking times. Remove the cake from the oven when a wooden stick pulls clean from the center, and cool for approximately 2 hours at room temperature before frosting.


When ready to frost the cooled cake, remove the milk chocolate ganache from refrigerator and stir. Stella suggests beating the frosting with a spatula until it reaches a yogurt-like consistency. I opted to use a hand-held, electric mixer, and whipped the frosting on medium high for a minute until light and fluffy. Gently top the cooled cake with the ganache, using an offset spatula to create swirling patterns. Top with fresh-picked raspberries.

*If you wish to make this cake conventionally, as opposed to gluten-free, simply use 4 1/2 ounces of regular, all-purpose flour in place of the Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour. We could not taste the difference, nor did we notice a change in texture or density, either way!

Ready, set  . . .Devour!

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