The Best Chocolate Cake

by Jamie on October 11, 2011

Post image for The Best Chocolate Cake

Brian is a man that loves to double down on his chocolate. His favorite cake in the world, one that his grandmother makes for him specifically every time we visit her in West Virginia, is chocolate cake with fudgey chocolate frosting.

His birthday was two weeks ago, and of course you know I had to do it up right by making his 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.

Brian and Husband #2, Corey, will sit and watch 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 organized a birthday party for Brian – I of course went 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!

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The Best Chocolate Cake

October 11th, 2011

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time:

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.
2. 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. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
3. 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. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
4. 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.

Notes:

- 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

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{ 357 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Victoria Allman January 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm

It IS the best chocolate cake! Great recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Victoria Allman
Author of: SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain

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avatar Nina January 21, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Dear Jamie

Just a quick question… do we add a hot cup of coffee or wait for it to cool?

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Nina-
I typically add it in while it’s still pretty hot. I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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avatar Lydia Larrea January 23, 2014 at 7:33 am

I pinned this awhile ago, and went back To find it yesterday morning when I was having a massive cake-craving (at 6 AM!) It is amazing. I was worried that I didn’t have the King Arthur cocoa, but my cake still came out wonderfully dark and rich! (I will be looking for the cocoa to give it a try, though) I used the “perfectly chocolate frosting” recipe from the Hershey’s cocoa powder box. My husband, who is sometimes indifferent towards baked goods (!!) raved over the whole thing! Thank you for sharing!

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avatar Jamie January 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Lydia-

That’s so nice to hear! I’m thrilled that you and your husband loved the recipe. Have a fantastic day and thank you for following MBA!

-Jamie

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avatar mubeena January 24, 2014 at 1:25 am

hello jamie,

soo after baking I shud freeze it.. so tat it doesnt fall apart… Tankew fa sharing n helping us.. :-)

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Mubeena-
You can freeze or refrigerate the cooled layers before frosting them.
-Jamie

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avatar Danielle January 26, 2014 at 5:19 am

Hi, thanks for a beautiful recipe! Can this be turned into a cupcake recipe?

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Danielle-
You can definitely use this recipe for cupcakes, just know that they do not rise very high and will yield a flatter cupcake. I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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avatar emily January 31, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Do you think it would be okay to leave out the coffee?

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Emily-
I don’t recommend omitting the coffee, but if you do, you can sub in water in the same proportion. I hope this helps.
-Jamie

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avatar lisa February 2, 2014 at 11:49 am

I have a question, does this cake have any coffee taste at all? Want to make a made from scratch birthday cake from my husband and this one looks good. Just dont want it to taste like coffee.

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Lisa, the cake will not taste like coffee. The small amount of coffee in the recipe is there to deepen the chocolate flavor, not overwhelm it.
- Jamie

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avatar Leighann February 5, 2014 at 1:48 am

Hi Jamie,

This was an absolutely wonderful cake to make! I am from South Africa and I haven’t baked before in my life. My family and a few friends were shocked, to say the least!
I have tried out a few of your recipes so far, and each one has come out perfect!

Thanks for sharing and happy baking!

Cant wait to see what you come up with next :-)

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avatar Jamie February 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

Leighann-

That’s so great to hear! Thank you so much for following MBA and have fun with baking!

-Jamie

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avatar Tran Khuyen February 5, 2014 at 3:04 am

Thank you very much. I did not have baking soda so I tripled the baking powder. It was so in love with the cake that we finished it within two days (My hubby and I). Thank you for sharing a wonderful recipie

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avatar Jamie February 5, 2014 at 11:12 am

Tran-

I’m so happy to hear that you loved the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping in to share and have a wonderful day!

-Jamie

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avatar Toni February 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for sharing. Do you think this will stand up to the weight of fondant?

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Toni, I think it will if you freeze the cake first, but I’ve never tried it.
- Jamie

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avatar Sandy February 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Could I try this recipe for cupcakes?

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:20 pm

You certainly can, Sandy. Add about two tablespoons of flour to every cup for cupcakes – it makes them sturdier. Everything else is the same.
- Jamie

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avatar Gaye Fisher February 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

What can you replace the coffee with.. No one in my family – or house hold drinks it.
Love your receipe!! I can’t wait to try it!!

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Gaye, simply use water.
- Jamie

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avatar countrygirl2014 February 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I am making this receipt and notice that the ingredient of 1 tsp of salt was not in the direction as to when to included. Just thought I’ld bring it to your attention. Should the salt be added or not.

Thank you

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Yes, definitely add the salt. Thanks for bringing the error to my attention, I’ll be sure to make the correction.
-Jamie

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avatar Mona February 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

This cake looks sooo moist!!
I am looking for a chocolate cake to bring to a friend’s 50th birthday party – and I was thinking of this one, or your Chocolate Stout Cake (http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/chocolate-stout-cake)…. Which one would you recommend?

Thank you for sharing many delicious recipies!

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Mona, they’re equally delicious, but of the two, I call this one the “best” for a reason. :)
- Jamie

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avatar carmen February 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm

i have a question can you cover the cake with fondat???

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Carmen, I’ve never tried. The cake is pretty sturdy, so I would hope you could, but I’d probably freeze the cake first to make sure it’s nice and firm for a fondant covering.
- Jamie

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avatar Emily February 10, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Hi Jamie!
I stumbled upon this recipe on pinterest and thought it looked so delicious and amazing! I do have one questions: Im not using King Arthur Flour Black Cocoa. Also i dont have strong black coffee. Is it okay if i dont use both? What does the coffee add? Is their a substitute to the coffee?

Thanks :)
-Emily

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avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Emily, try to use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder if you can find it, it’s usually available in grocery stores. Regular cocoa powder will not have as deep a flavor. Additionally, that is what the coffee adds here, flavor. You don’t taste the coffee in the finished product, it just deepens your perception of chocolate. You can just use water in place of the coffee.
- Jamie

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avatar Emily February 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

Omg! I tried that it was so delicious!!! I decorated it with hearts for valentines day and it was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Delicious!!! Thank you!

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avatar Andrea February 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

How do you make that frosting

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 11:57 am

Andrea-
Here is a link to the frosting: http://savorysweetlife.com/2011/04/chocolate-buttercream-frosting/ – thanks for stopping by!
-Jamie

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avatar Brooke February 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I’m in Denver high elavation this cake didn’t turn out very well it’s extremly dry any help on this?

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

Brooke-
Unfortunately, I have absolutely zero experience baking at high altitude. Here is a guide from King Arthur Flour that may be useful. I hope this helps. https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/high-altitude-baking.html
-Jamie

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avatar Lora February 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm

JAMIE I HAVE BEEN USING THIS EXACT RECIPE FOR SOMETIME NOW….I GOT IT FROM INA GARTEN “THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA”…..N I AGREE THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE :)

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avatar michele February 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Hi, is the recipe for brewed coffee? Not the grounds right? Such a small amount I wasn’t quite sure. And don’t want the taste of coffee for sure and grounds just seems gross.
Seems like alot of chocolate recipes call for it though.
Looks delicious, definitely will be trying this one out.
Thanks so much for sharing.

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 11:50 am

Michele-
Yes, you will used brewed coffee. Have a great day.
-Jamie

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avatar Chef Richards, CPC February 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm

First: I want to say that I love that I found this recipe about a year ago, I see you posted it way back in 2011, and that you are still keeping the comments up to date and replying to people’s inquiries about the cake. =)

Now for what I wanted to say about the omission of the coffee.
For the Chocolate cake, I do not recommend it. A good coffee or espresso really makes the flavors of chocolate pop to a whole different level.

However! I’ve adapted this recipe to make a vanilla version of the cake by replacing the Cocoa Powder with some Flour and substituting a strong brewed and very flavorful tea in place of the Coffee.
I suggest something a little Floral or a Spice. Such as Orange spice, Chai, Bavarian berry, etc. It’s make for an amazing new experience. If you want plain Vanilla though go ahead and just use water. =)

Sorry for the wall of text, I hope this wasn’t to complicated or confusing.
Happy Baking!

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avatar Monique February 13, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I made this cake last night and have to thank you SO much for the recipe… I LOVE chocolate cake and am usually disappointed by homemade or boxed versions. This recipe is certainly the best one I have ever come across and will be making it on the regular for birthdays! Thanks so much!! :)

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avatar Eva February 14, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! So intense and delicious!!! Definitely the best cake ever, and I’m not even a baker ;)

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avatar Juleann February 15, 2014 at 5:19 am

Love the look of this cake and I am going to make it this week…I am in Australia and we do not have the black cocoa or Hershey cocoa what else can I use because I really want that rich dark cake…can I add dark chocolate… if so how much…. love to hear your reply thankyou

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avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

Juleann-
You can use any brand of unsweetened cocoa powder. I hope this helps – have a great day!
-Jamie

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avatar countrygirl2014 February 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm

I made this recipe and it was wonderful thank you. I will be making it again for my
grandson’s birthday.

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avatar Raquel February 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I don’t know if I did something wrong with the coffee because I totally tasted it through the cake and I thought, ‘okay, maybe I taste it because mentally I know it’s in there and I hate coffee’. So then I had others taste is without disclaimer, lol, and they said it tasted like I put cappuccino in it. Why? :-(

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avatar Chef Richards, CPC February 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Did you use 1 cup of strong brewed coffee, or did you scoop out 1 cup of coffee grounds and use those?

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avatar Maribel February 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I have had this cake pinned for awhile and I had a major chocolate craving today. So I decided to make it today. WOW! It turned out amazing! Super moist and rich and your instructions were very easy to follow! Thank u so much! Just a quick question. Since it has coffee in it, would it be a bad idea to eat at night because of the caffeine? I debated on putting decaf but I wasn’t sure if that would affect the taste.

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avatar Jamie February 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Maribel-

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled that you loved the recipe. The amount of caffeine from the coffee probably won’t affect you, however if you are concerned decaf would substitute just fine! Thank you for stopping in to share your experience with the recipe and have a great day!

Jamie

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avatar Amanda February 22, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I was looking for a moist chocolate cake recipe and this one is amazing! I’ve made it several times now, and it always turns out great. I used a white frosting on it every time, but plan to use the chocolate this week for a coworker’s birthday. Thanks so much for sharing!

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avatar Mamanudy February 22, 2014 at 6:07 pm

What can I sub for buttermilk? I never have that on hand!

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avatar Jamie March 19, 2014 at 11:47 am

Mamanudy-

You can substitute milk and lemon juice or vinegar for the buttermilk. Here’s how..http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-quick-easy-buttermilk-substitute-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-185757. Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

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avatar Eugena Fong February 26, 2014 at 8:21 am

Hi, may I know how long do I have to bake the cake if I put the batter in one 9″x3″ round cake pan instead of baking in 2 separate pans? Thanks!

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avatar Erin March 17, 2014 at 7:34 pm

This is from the Barefoot Contessa. It’s in her cookbooks, on her website and she did it on a show.

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avatar Jamie March 18, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Erin-
Yes, Ina has a recipe just like this. I slightly adapted it from Hershey’s as cited in the bottom of the recipe box. Thanks for stopping by!
-Jamie

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avatar thais figiueredo March 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

buenas tardes !! creo he cometido un error he colocado 1 taza de café fuerte como traduci la receta, pero luego leo q dice q medida pequeña de café :( me podrias indicar q cantidad es por favor ; la mezcla me quedo muy liquida :(

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avatar dhivya March 27, 2014 at 1:10 am

I baked this cake today. It turned out to be great and delicious. My kids loved it.
Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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avatar Deanna March 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Jamie, I added your recipe to my big oven account. It will be our go to recipe for chocolate cake there is really no reason to use any other. It is so moist, rich and delicious! I credited you, your picture and linked your website. Please let me know if you prefer I remove it (there are copyright warnings all over so I want to check with you….. Probably should have done that first) Thank you for such an amazing adaptation from the classic Hershey’s recipe. I will share it with all my friends and family! Oh and the chocolate buttercream frosting from Savory Sweet Life….. PERFECT! So delicious on this cake I added both almond and homemade vanilla extract and it was unbelievable! Best buttercream ever! Thank you again and I am so excited to try some of you other recipes!

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avatar Lakshmi Mohan April 1, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Hi dear,
Can you pls mention the measurement of cup in metric..like how many grams does 1 cup flour andsugar used, how many ounce oil and butter milk should be used…thank you..

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avatar Jamie April 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Lakshmi-
I would recommend Googling the conversions to get accurate metric measurements. Thanks for stopping by.
-Jamie

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avatar Mistyouto April 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I’ve make this cake a dozen times or more….I heat the coffee and while still hot I add the baking soda to the coffee and add to the cake mix while foaming….what a nice flavor and moist cake …stays moist for days..

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avatar Heather April 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

Baked this cake and iced it with chocolate ganache for a birthday and it received rave reviews from all. Thanks for sharing!

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avatar Jamie April 16, 2014 at 9:48 am

Heather-

That’s so great to hear! Thank you for stopping in to share. Have a lovely day and thanks for following MBA!

-Jamie

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