The Best Chocolate Cake

*video recipe (see below)* Wow your friends and family with this ultra-moist, ultra fudgy chocolate cake- the best chocolate cake ever! No kidding. 

chocolate cakeFirst of all, hi.

Second of all, cake. Chocolate cake. The kind that makes you think of spring and sunshine all things happy in this world- contrary to what the cake really is. Devilish. Dark, rich and fudgy- yet light and fluffy. I’ve been looking for a cake who’s texture is similar to that of a box kind- moist and fluffy- I don’t like to use cake mixes because there’s a distinct store-bought flavor- after one bite, you can easily determine the brand of the mix. Plus, baking from a mix takes out all the fun of creating something from scratch.

Anyhow, this particular recipe came about. I remember making it several times years ago- but I think it was just buried under piles of chocolate cake recipes I’ve tried over the past few years. I went to read some reviews on the Hershey’s site (where this recipe originally comes from) – there was this one comment by a lady, who mentioned that she had been making this very cake since 1979- you know it’s a good recipe when people have been making it for that long. And it’s way better than any other chocolate cake I have made in the past- there have been a lot.

the best chocolate cake

“But what makes the cake so moist?” you may ask. Well, here’s a quick chemistry lesson. When sodium bicarbonate combines with lactic acid, it releases carbon dioxide- a chemical reaction. In simpler terms, when you combine baking soda with buttermilk, a reaction happens and bubbles are released- these bubbles are responsible for the fluffiness of the cake. So no, you can’t substitute anything for baking soda or buttermilk- you can, however, add 1 tbsp of vinegar to regular milk as a substitute for buttermilk- same effect.

“How is it chocolatey and fudgy?” Well, the ingredients you use – the cocoa mainly, is plays a huge role in flavor. The better the cocoa, the better the flavor and chocolatey-ness of the cake- also, the darker the color. Devil’s food cake received its name from its light red tint- when baking soda reacts with unsweetened cocoa- a slight red tint is released.

moist chocolate cake

“Can I use melted butter instead of oil?” Sure you can. But it’s not necessary- oil, like butter, is a fat. In a chocolate cake, it’s important for the chocolate to have a stronger flavor- while in a vanilla cake, you want more of a buttery flavor. So you don’t need butter- you can stick with oil. Of course, if you omit fat- your cake will fail. So don’t.

“Why brown sugar?” You can easily use granulated sugar- oftentimes, I do. But quite frankly, brown sugar has more of a flavor, sort of a caramel-y that comes from the molasses in contrast to white sugar. The more flavor in the cake, the better. Same goes for the coffee- you won’t be able to taste coffee (unless you add an overwhelming amount)- coffee is known to accentuate the deep, dark flavor of chocolate- and that’s exactly what it does. I also added a bit of coffee in my chocolate chip cookie dough stuffed chocolate cupcake recipe. You could just use water- but once again- the more flavor, the better. 

Eggs are a leavening agent- they also bind the batter together. If you are vegetarian, I do have an alternate eggless chocolate cake recipe you can use- it’s also vegan-  it just requires a lot more flour- but it’s equally simple to make and just as flavorful.

Frosting- I love sweet chocolate buttercream. The cake has such a rich chocolate flavor that I feel a creamy, buttery chocolate frosting compliments it exquisitely. You can, of course, use your preference of frosting- ganache, buttercream, it’s up to you.

easy chocolate cake recipe

This cake is always a hit at birthdays, parties- you name it. There isn’t a person who doesn’t like chocolate cake. You’ll love it, trust me. People have been making it for decades.

Here’s my video tutorial on how to make the cake!


5.0 from 7 reviews
The Best Chocolate Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
for the cake:
  • 2 cups light brown sugar (I use demerara)
  • 1¾ cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (1 cup water + 2 tsp instant espresso powder)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
for the frosting:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup dark cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
Instructions
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C. Butter 2 9-inch circular baking pans (or a 9x13 inch pan), line the bottom with parchment paper and dust with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt- whisk until incorporated.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the eggs, buttermilk. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the coffee, oil and vanilla and continue mixing until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  6. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
  3. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk and continue beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
Notes
* to make the sour milk, add 1 tbsp of vinegar to the milk and set aside until ready to use.

Both, the frosting and the cake recipe have been adapted from Hershey’s.

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Comments

  1. Sian says

    Just made this cake and i wish i knew how to post a picture! It turned out so great. I normally enjoy the process of baking and watching other people enjoy it but don’t usually enjoy actually eating it haha. But i love this! Would it eat it all myself!

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Sian! Thanks for giving it a try :) I’m so glad you liked it. If you’d like, you can click the link on the right, which will take you to my Facebook page and you can post a pic from there.

  2. Natasha says

    Looks delish. I was wondering if there was any way to prepare the layers and then freeze them to frost later? My son’s birthday falls right in the middle of a camping trip and this looks like one he would LOVE.
    Thanks in advance!

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Yes! you can make the layers, wrap them up well in cling wrap and freeze them for up to a month :)

  3. Catherine says

    I have to agree that this is the best chocolate cake! I tried it yesterday for my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration and everyone loved it! So moist! Unlike the ones I’ve tried before, your adaptation is better than the original which I’ve also tried. I will surely make this again! Thanks for sharing this recipe and the video helped to know that I’m making it right.

  4. Michelle says

    Do you have to use dark cocoa powder or will the regular cocoa powder like the kind from trader joes do the trick as well? If not what brand of dark cocoa powder did you use?

    • hotchocolatehits says

      I used Dutch Cocoa- I don’t know if the brand I use is available outside of Poland- but any cocoa powder should work. Trader Joe’s generally has good quality products so cocoa from there should work great, Hershey’s Dark cocoa would also be fantastic. Hope this helps :)

  5. josé witchall says

    unbelievably perfect chocolate cake. tastes as good if not better than the costa one in the uk.

    • hotchocolatehits says

      I’d say it would probably be a 5, 1 being the taste of bitter chocolate and 10 being sugar. I’d say it has more or less the sweetness of a chocolate cake from a betty crocker cake mix.

  6. Kalyn says

    My cake is in the oven and looks delish! Question….I make my own frosting often and the butter is always softened, not melted and the sugar is sifted…is there a reason why this recipe is different? I was afraid if I melted the butter the frosting would be too runny.

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Kalyn, usually buttercream is made with softened butter, but melting the butter dissolves the cocoa and overall gives the frosting a silkier texture. If you’re worried about a runny frosting, just make sure you cool it (after adding the cocoa) to room temperature before adding the sugar. Hope this helps!

  7. Marisol Rojas says

    Hi Vedika. My name is Marisol and I am from Costa Rica. I was looking for chocolate cake recipes and I found yours. I just made it and it looks and tastes deliciuos. Thank you so much!!

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Marisol, thank you for stopping by and I’m so happy the cake cake out well for you! It’s one of my favorites :)

  8. Cindi says

    Hi Videka. I never post to anything, but after I tried this cake recipe, I HAD to. This may have been the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted, let alone made myself..FROM SCRATCH..This was AMAZING..I literally could not stop eating it. I don’t really care for chocolate cake because it is usually dry..but this cake was sooooo moist and delicious…and the icing was PERFECT for this cake…Thankyou so much for sharing! I have been cooking and baking for over 30 yrs, and have never made a cake this good. You are never too old to learn something new.

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Cindy! I am thrilled that you enjoyed this cake. I love it too! And thank you for your sweet words- you made my day!

  9. Donna says

    This is essentially the same as my great-grandmother’s recipe, which is the ONLY acceptable birthday cake for many branches of my family tree. When I saw “Best Chocolate Cake” on Pinterest, I would have bet five bucks it would be this recipe!
    Try making your frosting with black coffee instead of milk some time. The flavors interact fantastically- more than the sum of its parts!
    Glad to see my ancestral cake is making a comeback- thanks Vedika.

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Donna! It’s so cool that your great-grandmother made this recipe! I am sure using coffee in place of milk would be fantastic. The next time I make this cake I will be sure to give it a try! :)

  10. Aishwariya says

    Hey Vedika.. love your website.. and the cake looks super-good!! I want to give it a try over the weekend but had a question. Do you know if I can substitute the dutch-processed cocoa in the cake with the natural unprocessed one?

  11. Maryesther says

    Hi Vedika,

    I am super excited in making this cake for my mother, however, in the recipe you say dark coco for the frosting and in the video you say dark coco for the cake mix of the recipe, or does it really matter? Do I get one kind of coco or should I get two different kinds of coco. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Maryesther

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Maryesther! I use the same cocoa for both, the frosting and the cake. I just choose a dark cocoa for both because I find it has the most flavor but use your favorite kind. Happy Birthday to you mother! Hope this cake works out well for you :)

  12. Doll says

    This is my 2nd time making using this recipe of yours, it’s so yummy. My frosting on top is butter cream coconut. Good combination.

  13. Jenna says

    Made this for my dad’s birthday the other day with a chocolate fudge frosting. It was amazing!!! I like addition of coffee I think that’s what makes it so moist, wasn’t dry at all! The cake itself wasn’t too sweet but with frosting it balanced out. Might try with 1/3 cup white sugar in place of brown sugar next time. Baked it in two 9″ but want to try and half the recipe and make in a 6″ pan and then split in half and layer it. Thanks for this chocolate cake recipe!! I say 4 stars
    But it wouldn’t let me rate.

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Jenna, I am so thrilled you enjoyed this cake! I also like the addition of coffee, it adds a wonderful flavor. Replacing the brown sugar with granulated sugar is a good idea to make it sweeter, I do like chocolate cake a little less on the sweet size. I really appreciate all the feedback! :)

  14. Khanompia says

    Hi :) the cake looks absolutely delicious……but I kind of have one silly question. Is it ok if I adjust the recipe to fit just one 9″ circular pan and slide it to make a 2-3 layer cake? It just that I read a lot of recipe for this kind of cake and all asked for 2 forms. I have only one for each size and for a family of two I would rarely use 2 forms at once :) would it fit if I make 2/3 of the recipe? Thx ;)

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hey! So if you have only 1 circular pan, you can either bake the cake twice- like in two intervals, or half the recipe and bake it once (then slice it- or frost it as is) OR do you suggestion which is do 2/3 of the recipe- if you do this then you will have to bake the cake for a little bit longer. Either way! good luck!

  15. yessenia says

    Hi, thank you for sharing this recipe! I made it last night and it was amazing!!! One question, do you think this cake would hold well under fondant?

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Yes, I’ve actually tried that and it works great :) just make sure you use a vanilla buttercream frosting instead of chocolate as it might ruin the color of your fondant if you use chocolate frosting. I do have a recipe for vanilla buttercream here

  16. Jason Bronstein says

    I really want to make this cake, but am wondering what the recipe measurements would be to create a 3-layer cake using 8″ round cake pans. Help?!

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Hi Jason! I’ve actually made this cake with 3 8 inch cake pans. There is no need to adjust the measurements at all, just divide the batter evenly between your 8 inch pans and it should come out wonderfully. Good luck!

        • hotchocolatehits says

          Hi Michelle! I have doubled this recipe before and the results were just as good. Make sure you use a big bowl though!

          • Michelle says

            Made a single one today and it turned out fantastic, added a few raspberries to the plate. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Its definitely a keeper

          • hotchocolatehits says

            So glad it worked out for you, Michelle! I LOVE the idea of adding raspberries. Thank you for checking back in!

  17. trevena76 says

    Not a very good baker here :p but wanted to try your cake, do you use coffee grounds or make a cup of coffee?

  18. Amanda O. says

    I was wondering if by chance you though an almond flour would make a good variation of this cake? I’m planning on making this but I love Chocolate almonds but unfortunately all the chocolate almond cakes Ive tried have been rather dry.
    If you think this would work, any suggestions on portion changes?

    • hotchocolatehits says

      I haven’t tried using almond flour- I’m not sure how that would work in this particular cake, but I’d probably use a combination of the two- just because you need the gluten here. Let me know if you make it and how it turns out!

    • hotchocolatehits says

      Either works- and no, the cake batter will not be fluffy. It will be thin. Watch video. The icing can also be done with a whisk or mixer, until fluffy :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] In the last years I have learned how appreciate and love the chocolate as an ingredient. I started using more cocoa than chocolate, and currently I live in a constant search for the best chocolate cake ever. This time I wanted a very dark cake and even with a more full-bodied taste, I found this recipe on the Hot Hits Chocolate (a wonderful site, with super recipes) and loved it so much, that I have repeated a few times. But I warn, this cake is for the strong, for those who really love chocolate. Original recipe in Hot Hits Chocolate. […]

  2. […] So I set out to find the perfect cake. At school, I was told that one of my teachers made a the best Guinness chocolate cake ever, so naturally I asked her for tips. Instead of adding the amount of Guinness required by the recipe, she told me she doubled the amount, and that that made for a moister cake. The first time I tried this out, I added more than double the amount- the result yielded a super gooey and soft, cake with a clear stout flavor. But the second time I made it, the amount Guinness was perfect- the cake was slightly dense, very chocolatey and incredibly moist- very comparable to my Best Chocolate Cake recipe. […]

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