The Best Chocolate Cake

We’re a family that loves to double down on chocolate.

For birthdays, we have to do it up right by making my version of cake bliss. But, as you may have caught on at some point by reading MBA, I have a little bit of a multi-tasking problem.

My family enjoys watching me flit from one thing to another like I’m their own personal reality show for entertainment. They love to point out when my missing spatula can be found at the computer desk, or my phone in the pantry, and helpfully letting me know that the oven timer has dinged at least 15 times.

I also like to do things in excess – you know a little mound of frosting will never do in this household. I need to swirl on a pile of it on top, and then top it off with ganache just for the fun of it. So when I organize birthday parties – I of course go a little overboard.

I started my chocolate cake adventure by baking this cake – twice. Twice because I was mixing it while on the phone. Only to realize after it had baked that I left out a full cup of sugar and all of the vegetable oil. I think you can imagine how well that turned out: i.e., not at all.

I quickly whipped it up again, this time focusing my full attention on the process. The cake turned out beautifully and I quickly frosted it while preparing the other gazillion components of the meal.

After all the feasting, no one had room for cake – in fact, we left for the night without busting into song over 37 lit candles. So – a cake that was never meant to be blogged is here today simply because I made too much food (aaaand we’re right back to doing things in excess).

This cake is dark, moist, rich and incredibly decadent. Green Mountain Coffee’s Vermont Country Blend blended amazingly well with the cocoa to create the most intense and delicious chocolate cake that I have ever tasted. It’s the perfect sort of cake for a birthday or a Tuesday. Make sure to enjoy it with a very large glass of ice cold milk!

The Best Chocolate Cake

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Black Cocoa, optional
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (I used Green Mountain Coffee’s Vermont Country Blend)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  2. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin.
  3. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  6. Frost as desired. I used a simple and delicious Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Savory Sweet Life. One batch was perfect for this layered chocolate cake.


  • The Black Cocoa from King Arthur Flour is optional - it simply provides a great depth of flavor and color to the chocolate cake.
  • This cake also pairs beautifully with a simple chocolate ganache.
Recipe adapted from Hershey's Black Magic Cake

847 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Cake”

  1. Janis — March 15, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Jamie, what can I use to substitute for the buttermilk? I only have here freshmilk and evaporated milk.  I want to make one for my two girls, they love chocolate cake so much! Thank you! 

    • Jamie — March 16th, 2016 at 7:13 am

      Hi, Janis! If you take one cup of regular milk and add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, you’ll have buttermilk! Let me know how it goes. I hope your girls enjoy the cake!

  2. Linda Pereira — March 16, 2016 at 10:29 am

    How do you make one cup strong coffee. Would like to try the cake. Looks very moist.

    • Jamie — March 16th, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Hi, Linda! If you drink coffee in the morning, you can set aside one cup for the cake. It should work just fine. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Claudia — March 16, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for the reply on my previous question, I asked why my cake came out to heavy like a thick brownie texture…..could it be because I used dutch cocoa? or used 2% milk to make my buttermilk?
    Taste is delicious and still soft but….if you try and pick up a cake made of this the actual weight is too heavy not usual weight for a cake…wonder why

    • Jamie — March 17th, 2016 at 8:15 am

      I’m not entirely sure, Claudia…I don’t think the dutch cocoa or milk would have made a huge difference. I’m glad you enjoyed the taste!

  4. Rajeshwari Kanodia — March 17, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Hi, I was just going to try out this recipe. I just have a few questions. 
    A. How many cupcakes would this recipe make? 
    B. Can I substitute applesauce and increase a bit of flour for the eggs?

    Thanks a lot! It looks so delicious 

    • Jamie — March 17th, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      Hi, Rajeshwari! The cake would probably make about 24 cupcakes. You can definitely substitute applesauce for the eggs, and I don’t think you need to add any extra flour. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  5. Kim — March 22, 2016 at 12:06 am

    I have made this cake twice and it has turned out beautifully each time. Rich and moist. Thank you for this recipe!  It’s awesome! God bless you.

    • Jamie — March 22nd, 2016 at 10:25 am

      I’m so glad you like it, Kim! Your kind words made my day!

  6. Kristine — March 22, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Jamie, I had to ask you can I add butter instead of vegetable oil? Let me know the mesurement difference too? and what if I add saffron in subsitute of vanilla extract? 

    • Jamie — March 22nd, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Hi, Kristine! Yes, you can substitute butter for oil. Melt the butter first and then measure 1/2 cup (same measurement as the oil). I honestly don’t know about substituting saffron for vanilla extract…my best advice would be to stick with the vanilla. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  7. hafsa — March 22, 2016 at 8:44 am

    I don’t have baking soda ? what can I use instead

    • Jamie — March 22nd, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Hi, Hafsa! You can try 3 teaspoons baking powder for every 1 teaspoon of baking soda. So since the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking soda, use 6 teaspoons of baking powder, plus the additional teaspoon of baking powder (total=7 teaspoons). I have never tried this, though! Let me know how it goes!

  8. Jennifer Dixon — March 25, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Could I use 9 inch spring form pan for these cakes? 
    Also can it be made day before serving?  If yes, then would I leave it out on counter or refrigerate? 

  9. Jennifer Dixon — March 26, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Can I use a 9 inch spring form pan for this cake?
    Also can it be made day before serving? If yes, does it need to be refrigerated or kept out at room temp?

    Thank you!

    • Jamie — March 26th, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Hi, Jennifer! My only concern with using a springform pan is that the cake batter may leak out the bottom. You could try tightly wrapping the pan in foil to prevent this, but I can’t guarantee your oven won’t be covered in cake batter at the bottom! Yes, you can make this a day ahead and leave it on the counter, preferably in an air tight cake container of some sort. Good luck!

  10. Katka — March 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Jamie,
    what kind of sugar do you use in the cake? Granulated or powdered sugar?
    Thanks a lot.

    • Jamie — March 26th, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      This recipe uses granulated sugar in the cake. Thanks.

  11. April — March 27, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Hello! I was wondering, would cake flour work instead of all-purpose? If so, how much would I have to put?Thanks!

    • Jamie — March 28th, 2016 at 11:19 am

      You could definitely use cake flour, April. Just add an extra 2 tablespoons of cake flour for every cup of all purpose. In other words, substitute one cup + 2 tablespoons of cake flour for every 1 cup of all purpose flour. Let me know how you like it!

  12. Anna Thomas — March 28, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Hey Jamie, 

    You were right! This is by far the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. It’s similar to one that I had when I was a kid. Never had it since. Thank you SO much for the amazing recipe. It was a definite hit. I made the cake with the suggested chocolate buttercream frosting but topped it off with a chocolate mirror glaze and it was divine…!  I just had one question: why did this cake crumble so much? It fell apart quite a bit (compared to the other cakes I’ve made). I’ve never had this issue before and I can’t understand why… Any ideas? Some of it got stuck to the pan when I flipped it, even after the butter and flour. It was very delicate. 

    Again, thank you sooo much! 

    • Jamie — March 29th, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Hi, Anna! I’m so glad you liked the cake. Maybe the cake crumbled because it was still too warm from the oven? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Margaret Alvarez — March 30, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you, Thank you, and did I say THANK YOU! I have made chocolate cake using coffee before and though they have turned out amazing, nothing on earth beats this heavenly chocolate cake! 
    The mixing dry ingredients in the mixer then putting the rest in method made this the easiest and best tasting chocolate cake I have ever made. I wont ever make another variation! 

    • Jamie — March 31st, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you, Margaret! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  14. Mun — April 1, 2016 at 6:56 am

    Baked this cake for my colleagues today! They Loved it and asked for the recipe ! Thank You xx

    • Jamie — April 1st, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      You’re welcome, Mun! I’m glad everyone enjoyed it!

  15. Rachel — April 5, 2016 at 1:21 am

    Hi, can i use Vietnamese coffee filter to make the coffee? And would you recommend a strong black coffee for the recipe

    • Jamie — April 7th, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Hi, Rachel! I think you can use the Vietnamese coffee filter with no problem. A strong black coffee would be great, but I’m sure whatever you have on hand will work. I hope you enjoy it!

  16. Ameena — April 8, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    There is no oven here… What will do for that?

    • Jamie — April 9th, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Hi, Ameena! Do you have a toaster oven? I think you may be able to use that. All the best to you!

  17. Patty — April 8, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I’m wondering if I can replace the coffe or put more as I’m not really a big fun of coffe unless is very light . Thank you ! Can’t wait to bake !

    • Jamie — April 9th, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Hi, Patty! You can replace the coffee with just water if you like. I can assure you that if you do decide to use the coffee, you won’t even taste it! The coffee just enhances the taste of the chocolate. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  18. Cloudy — April 9, 2016 at 7:42 am

    I’ve seen this same picture on other chocolate cakes online and they are all different recipes so what is real and what is not?

    • Jamie — April 9th, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Hello! I can assure you this is my cake. Do you have links where you’ve seen the photo before? I’d like to see them if you do. Take care!

  19. Erin — April 11, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    This is The Barefoot Contessa’s “Beatty’s chocolate cake” recipe on The Food Network website. In fact — it’s exact. I did not see any mention of Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa for credit. Maybe I missed it??? Her frosting recipe was omitted & it makes this cake of hers. Give credit where due. 

    • Jamie — April 12th, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      You didn’t miss a mention of Ina. If you look at the footnote in the recipe card, it clearly states and links to the source of this recipe as Hershey’s Black Magic Cake. I believe the recipe dates back to the 1950’s, so maybe that’s where Ina found her inspiration? Either way, it’s a delicious delicious chocolate cake. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  20. meltem — April 12, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Very good ! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love to bake and have been trying for years to find the perfect chocolatecake. İt’s too moist,too dry or not enough chocolate,yours is perfect. My mom ate a whole slice and my husband ate his second slice after only half an hour and that says a lot because both are not really fond of sweet. Thanks again

    • Jamie — April 13th, 2016 at 8:42 am

      I am so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Jaslin — April 13, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Hi Jamie, your cake look so chocolatey and yummy! I will like to do 4 layers chocolate cake 9 X 4″ high. Do I multiply this recipe? Please advise. Thanks!! 

    • Jamie — April 13th, 2016 at 8:38 am

      You could double the recipe for 4 layers or slice each of the layers in half to create 4 layers. I hope this helps.

  22. Akilah — April 14, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Hi Jaime,
                       I’m really excited to make this cake because I’m a chocolate fan and this looks absolutely delicious, but what I was wondering is seeing that it is so most would it be able to withstand the weight of fondant? 

    • Jamie — April 16th, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Hi, Akilah! I’ve never tried fondant on this cake, so I honestly don’t know how it would turn out. I would say give it a try–and let me know how it goes!

  23. Ineabel — April 14, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Hi there I will be trying out this recipe this weekend and wanted to know if you have a link to make the frosting for the cake. :) 

  24. deb — April 14, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    If I want to make a sheet cake 12x18x1. Would u do the math for me. Have already made this in 9×13 and it was great. Going to a social and wanted to do it in sheet form. Thanks

  25. Deb — April 15, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I am going to answer the question I wrote yesterday. Not thinking in terms of making a box cake mix .I had a ta da moment. You always minus 1/2 cup water for 2 box cake mixes per sheet cake. You just double everything in a from scratch cakes.The coffee equals water just minus 1-2 cup leaving you with 1 1/2 cups not 2. Baked at 350 for 30 minutes came out great. Now I set my timer for 30 minutes so that I could check to make sure if it needed more time to bake due to only being 1 inch side pan.
    I hope this will help anyone else who may be looking for a great sheet cake. Thanks again cake is yummy…..

    • Jamie — April 16th, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Awesome, Deb! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  26. Joy Fabi — April 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Jamie
    Will it make a difference if i dont have the 2 tbsp dark cocoa?thanks

    • Jamie — April 16th, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Hi, Joy! You can definitely leave the 2 tablespoons of cocoa out of the cake. It won’t be quite as rich, but the cake will still be delicious!

  27. Citlalli — April 16, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Hi again. 
    Im making this one again and i’d like to know if i can use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?. I want a more moist and soft taste. Thank you. 

    • Jamie — April 16th, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Hi, Citlalli! You can definitely use cake flour, but you’ll have to add about 3 extra tablespoons of cake flour to the recipe. Let me know how you like it!

  28. Yenny — April 16, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Looks yummy! Will this recipe work in a bundt pan?

    • Jamie — April 16th, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Hi, Yenny! You absolutely can bake this in a bundt pan. Because the pan is deeper, you’ll have to bake it longer (maybe even close to an hour). Keep checking for doneness around the 45 minute mark. Let me know how it goes!

  29. teresita — April 16, 2016 at 10:32 am

    hello mis jamie, how about the measurement is  4 cups of alpurpose flour? may you check my recipe coz im not satisfied for the outcome of my cake.
    here’s my recipe.
    4 cups allpurpose four
    4 cups sugar
    1 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    2 tsp salt
    1 cup oil
    1 cup boiling water/ coffee 
    1 cup evap milk
    4 eggs beaten
    2 tbsp vanilla

    • Jamie — April 19th, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Hi, Teresita! I think four cups of flour seems like a lot for a cake. Maybe reduce it a bit and then try again. I hope it turns out the way you like!

  30. Citlalli — April 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Thank you. Will making it with cake flour give me the softer moist texture i want?. Also what if i add just half of both cake flour and all purpose flour ? Thank you. 

  31. Portia — April 16, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Jamie,  what makes the chocolate cupcakes stick on the pan even when I have applied the baking spray.

    • Jamie — April 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Hi, Portia! I’m not sure why the cupcakes stuck to the pan. Maybe add more baking spray? I hope this helps!

  32. Citlalli — April 17, 2016 at 6:55 am

    I actually made this cake with cake flour and it was great. I wanted to try butter so i added 2tbsp to the mixture and the oil. I sifted all my dry ingredients and then added the wet ones. Thwh came out perfect soft and moist. But then i did a new batter and didn’t add butter. But i did add more sugar and i used pure cane sugar. And on the first batter i used white sugar. And just added 2 cups. My last batter came out so hard on top and shrunk on the middle. What did i do wrong? Please. Help. 
    Could i have over beatten or was the issue the sugar? Thank you. 

    • Jamie — April 19th, 2016 at 10:58 am

      Hi, Citlalli! I’m so glad the cake flour worked out! I don’t think the cane sugar would have made that much of a difference. The cake could have fallen due to not being put in the oven right away or the oven door opening too early. I hope this helps!

  33. Vilma O.Kerr — April 18, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Não sei o que é Buttermilk e essa farinha 
    rei Arthur? Perdoe-me pela falta de saber e obrigada. 

    • Jamie — April 19th, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hi, Vilma! Buttermilk is milk with a little bit of acid, like vinegar or lemon juice. You can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk. Let stand for about five minutes, and you should have your buttermilk! King Arthur is a brand of cocoa and flour that I enjoy, but you can use whatever dark cocoa you can find. You can always ask whatever questions you like!

  34. Coco — April 26, 2016 at 6:31 am

    I have Dutch process and super dark.  Will any of these substitute the black cocoa?  

    • Jamie — April 26th, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Hi, Coco! I think either one will be just fine. I hope you enjoy it!

  35. Siyu — April 27, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    1 cup strong black coffee  -how many tsp? or tbsp of coffee… Can i use Nescafe?

    • Jamie — April 28th, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      Hi, Siyu! I think Nescafe will be just fine. There are about 48 teaspoons in one cup and about 16 tablespoons in a cup. I hope you enjoy the cake!

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