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.
First 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.
“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.
“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.
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!
The Best Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups (400 g) light brown sugar (I use demerara)
- 1 3/4 cups (220 g) all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (85 g) dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (240 mL) buttermilk or sour milk*
- 1 cup (240 mL) strong black coffee (1 cup water + 2 tsp instant espresso powder)
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup (110 g) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup (60 g) dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) milk
- 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
To make the cake:
- 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.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt- whisk until incorporated.
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the eggs, buttermilk. Whisk to combine.
- Add the coffee, oil and vanilla and continue mixing until everything is well incorporated.
- 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.
- Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
- Melt the butter.
- Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
- Gradually add in the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk and continue beating until light and fluffy.
- Stir in the vanilla and salt.