3 great L.A. chocolate cakes

Because it may or may not be some sort of national chocolate cake day. Because Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Because the week is far, far from over. Because chocolate cake is one of those glorious inventions that's good pretty much all the time — good for dessert, better for breakfast. Because there are many excellent iterations in bakeries and pastry shops and restaurants all over town, for which we are very grateful. Because we thought we'd call out three of them, just to remind you. 

Proof — When pastry chef Na Young Ma opened Proof in 2010, she may not have known how many loaves of bread, adorable tarts, and pastries she was going to be turning out in her tiny Atwater Village bakery. We're thankful she opened anyway, as her croissants are among the best in town — and her chocolate cake is glorious. The flavor profile of that cake changes with the seasons (she has had a stellar cherry-caramel chocolate cake on the menu). Since December, the cake has been a Valrhona chocolate espresso devil's food cake made with espresso buttercream, milk chocolate crémeux, dark chocolate glaze and dark chocolate cake crumbs. 3156 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 664-8633, proofbakeryla.com. 

Republique — Pastry chef Margarita Manzke has been making wonderful breads and pastries, baked goods and, yes, cakes at Republique since it opened just over a year ago. Her chocolate cake is an old-school masterwork, built with dark Valrhona chocolate and the addition of salted caramel. It's three layers, served by the slice during the day, and with spiced milk if you order it after your dinner. Although Manzke's husband, chef Walter Manzke, had to talk her into making the cakes, they've become one of the best sellers at the wildly popular restaurant, going through two cakes a day, and mostly selling out. 624 S La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 362-6115, republiquela.com

Valerie Confections — Valerie Gordon does many things very well, including pastries, chocolates, toffee (which effectively launched her business in 2004; she and her partner Stan Weightman now own three shops), Blum coffee cake, and their crazy addictive little petits fours. If you're a chocolate cake fiend, there's the option of the chocolate petit four, which is an enrobed chocolate layer cake the size of a tiny ring box. Or there's her normal-sized cake, which also has the benefit of being gluten-free. There's also a standard chocolate cake, with bittersweet buttercream and Valrhona pearls; and a bittersweet chocolate layer cake with vanilla-bean buttercream. 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 621-2781, valerieconfections.com.

Beause taking pictures of food is almost as much fun as eating it, on Instagram @ascattergood.

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