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Classic Vanilla and Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

Classic Vanilla and Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

I do love a good bundt cake. I feel like they’re somehow less fussy and formal than layer cake, but still, you know… Cake.

That’s why I zeroed right in on this recipe for Vanilla and Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake in my friend Irvin Lin’s new cookbook, Marbled, Swirled, and Layered.

He makes it with a chocolate-coffee syrup swirled into the batter. Plus chocolate chips. Plus a thick vanilla glaze over top. Game, set, match.

Get the book! Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More by Irvin Lin

If you’ve been reading Our Site for the past few months, you have no doubt noticed some of the recipes Irvin Lin has shared here, like his Easy Peanut Butter Fudge and these very-tempting Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. He does good things with butter and sugar.

In Marbled, Swirled, and Layered, he takes desserts up a notch or three. Not only are all the recipes visually stunning – as you no doubt guessed, they all incorporate some element of being beautifully marbled, swirled, or layered – but also, the flavor combinations are just out of this world.

Allow me to run through a few of the recipes that caught my eye as I paged through the book: Roasted White Chocolate Brownies with Strawberry-Balsamic Swirl, Apple Roses and Spiced Brown Butter Tart, Malted Milk Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting, 8-Layer Orange-Scented Smith Island Cake, and Hazelnut-Cocoa Linzer Cookies with Blackberry-Mint Jam.

No, Irvin is not one to shy away from flavor.

With every recipe, I feel like I learn something new about the way seemingly very different ingredients can actually come together in interesting and unexpected ways. I especially love the way Irvin brings savory flavors into play, like that balsamic swirl in the brownies. It’s never so much savory that the recipe becomes savory, but just enough to make you perk up and pay attention.

If you are the kind of baker who loves to mix-and-match and have a little fun in the kitchen, then I advise you to pick up a copy of this book immediately.

You might be concerned that this is a book for serious bakers only, and yes, most of the recipes require a bit of focus as you’re making them so you don’t accidentally swirl when you should have layered. But I think that Irvin has include a nice mix of “dedication levels” in this collection.

There are some recipes that require very little planning or baking know-how (particularly in the cookie chapter and breakfast goods chapter), a good majority that ask you to set aside an hour or two for some baking fun-times (like today’s bundt cake), and then a few that ask you to clear your schedule and pull all your baking pans out of the cupboard.

Now, let’s talk about this bundt cake.

I confess that I like to eat cake more than I like to bake it, and this recipe was just my speed. Low effort, high reward.

You only need to make one batter (I’ve seen other recipes that have you make two, one chocolate and one vanilla), and then you scoop about a third of it into a separate bowl to mix with the chocolate syrup. This chocolate batter gets sandwiched between two layers of vanilla, which then get swirled together just before going in the oven.

I fretted over my marbling technique the entire time the cake was baking and cooling, but I didn’t need to worry. It was perfect. I love that there were distinct chocolate bits and distinct vanilla bits – tasty and so very pretty. (Follow Irvin’s advice to “sometimes dig deep to the bottom and lift up” as you’re swirling.)

The cake itself was also incredibly moist and tender, which has me thinking that this might just become my new go-to cake for all future cake-worthy events, forever and always.

To sum up, I’m a big fan of both Irvin and his new book. I highly recommend putting this one on your wish list this year.

Get the book! Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More by Irvin Lin

Classic Vanilla and Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Recipe

"Growing up in the Midwest, no potluck was complete without a marbled Bundt cake. My mom made them all the time, one of only two desserts that she was known for, so when I hosted a dessert potluck at a local nonprofit community center with the theme “Like Mom used to make!” I knew I had to replicate her Bundt cake. The secret to this recipe is the homemade chocolate syrup, which you make on the stove before adding it to the batter. Made with coffee and cocoa powder (and a touch of honey), it lends a rich, deep chocolate flavor because the cocoa blooms in the hot coffee. You don’t necessarily taste the coffee or honey, but they both boost the chocolate goodness!" - Irvin

Text excerpted from MARBLED, SWIRLED, AND LAYERED © 2016 by Irvin Lin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


To grease the pan:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the chocolate syrup:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong hot coffee
  • 1/4 cup (85 g) mild-tasting honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake batter:

  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (225 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 3/4 cups (385 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup (210 g) semisweet chocolate chips

For the vanilla bean glaze:

  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups (230 g to 290 g) powdered sugar

For decoration:

  • Chocolate pearls, chocolate shavings, or chocolate sprinkles (optional)
  • 12-cup bundt pan (I have this one)


1 Grease the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the butter in a 12-cup Bundt pan and grease the pan with your fingers, making sure to grease all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the flour all over the pan and knock out the excess.

2 Make the chocolate syrup: Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, and honey and in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup starts to boil. Bring to a simmer, whisking to make sure there are no lumps. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

3 Make the cake batter: Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter looks light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until the dry ingredients are absorbed.

Add the flour in three additions and the buttermilk in two, alternating between the flour and buttermilk and ending with the flour. Beat until incorporated and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

4 Spoon one-third of the batter into a medium bowl and add the chocolate syrup. Stir to incorporate completely and set aside.

5 Layer the batter in the bundt: Spoon half of the remaining vanilla batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Scrape the chocolate batter on top. Spread the remaining vanilla batter on top of the chocolate batter.

6 Swirl the vanilla and chocolate layers: Insert a butter knife or chopstick into the batter and make “figure eight” motions throughout the entire cake to marble the batter. You may want to sometimes dig deep to the bottom and sometimes lift up to make sure the batter really moves around. Just don’t overmix the batters, or else they will blend together instead of marbling.

7 Bake the bundt cake: Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed down lightly, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate while still warm. If the cake doesn’t unmold, gently slip a very thin knife between the cake and the pan all the way around to loosen it and then try again.

9 Make the vanilla bean glaze: Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, if using, and scrape the seeds into the milk in a large bowl. Chop the bean in half and toss the pod in with the milk as well. Let steep in the refrigerator as the cake cools.

Once the cake has cooled completely (after about 2 hours), remove the vanilla bean from the milk and sift 2 cups powdered sugar into the milk. (If using the vanilla extract, add it to the milk right before sifting the powdered sugar; no need to steep it.) The glaze should be thin enough to pour, but thick enough to hold its shape on the cake, similar to honey in consistency. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired thickness.

10 Drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, making sure the glaze drips down the sides of the cake. [Emma's Tip: Tuck parchment paper under the cake while you drizzle to catch the drips, then remove once the icing is set.] If decorating with chocolate pearls, shavings, or sprinkles, sprinkle them randomly on the cake before the glaze dries.

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