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

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. 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.

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

651 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Cake”

  1. Cherie — March 23, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Hi thanks for this recipe! If I were to make a kid-friendly version, can I go without coffee, instead substitute with water or chocolate milk?

    • Jamie — March 24th, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Cherie-
      You could substitute hot water with no problem. Thanks for stopping by.

      -Jamie

  2. chelsy — March 24, 2015 at 1:40 am

    i have made this cake once before and loved it! now i want to make it again but i want to make it with coconut four. do you think it will workout?

    • Jamie — March 24th, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Chelsy-
      I’m glad you liked the recipe. I haven’t tried it with coconut flour, so I’m not sure if it will work or not. Let me know how it goes if you try it. Thanks for visiting.

      -Jamie

    • cheryl — April 4th, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      I made this version the regular way, with and without coffee, and I used a gluten free flour called (cup 4 cup) and it turned out wonderful. I do cupcakes for craft shows and some people want gluten free and I can not tell the difference.

      • Jamie — April 15th, 2015 at 9:28 am

        Cheryl-
        I’m so glad you had success with the recipe and I appreciate you stopping by with your GF tips!

        -Jamie

    • Chloe — April 10th, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Chelsy – coconut flour will NOT WORK in place of regular flour in this recipe unless you make other major alterations. Coconut flour is very absorbent, and most recipes using it have a very large number of eggs and a very small overall quantity of flour. I once read somewhere that you can use 1/4 cup coconut flour for each full cup regular flour and then add some eggs as well…the total number of eggs in the recipe should equal one egg for every ounce of coconut flour used. (If there are 2 eggs in the original recipe, those are for the first two ounces coconut flour.)

    • Dawn — May 10th, 2015 at 6:44 am

      Coconut flour is very different! You should try experimenting with the coconut flour to get a feel for it. You’ll need more liquids and more eggs

  3. Mayra — March 24, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Hi Jamie,
    Ive just discovered your site and I would like to try out some recipes, I like to be exact when baking, how much is a cup in your recipe? thanks!

    • Jamie — March 30th, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Mayra-
      1 cup is 8 ounces. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  4. preety@cookurplate — March 27, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Looks delicious.

    • Jamie — March 27th, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Preety-
      Thanks for visiting.

      -Jamie

  5. jess — March 28, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Hey, just wondering what can I substitute with king Arthur flour? What is it anyway? We don’t have king Arthur flour in australia

    • Jamie — March 30th, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Jess-
      King Arthur Flour is a brand in the US, I am referring to the Black Cocoa from King Arthur Flour, which is optional – it simply provides a great depth of flavor and color to the chocolate cake, you can substitute any cocoa powder that you have available. I hope this is helpful.

      -Jamie

  6. Carina — March 29, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Hi! I want to try this recipe but I can’t find the KingArthur Flour? what can I substitute for that, is it really different with all purpose flour? It’s really looks delicious and I really want to try it for my niece’s birthday.

    • Jamie — March 30th, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Carina-
      King Arthur Flour is a brand in the US. I am referring to the Black Cocoa from King Arthur Flour, which is optional – it simply provides a great depth of flavor and color to the chocolate cake. You can substitute with cocoa powder that you have available.
      I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  7. Rachael — March 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Hello, I found this recipe and have made it at least twice! It’s amazing!! I want to make this with a white frosting for Easter. should I make it with butter-cream frosting, or white chocolate frosting or something else??
    Thanks!

    • Jamie — April 1st, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Rachael-
      I think buttercream would be delicious! Thanks so much for stopping by.
      -Jamie

      • Rachael — April 1st, 2015 at 6:30 pm

        Thanks so much!

  8. Arwa yousuf — April 2, 2015 at 1:42 am

    I cup of coffee is mentioned. Does it mean a while cup of water or 1 tbsp of coffee powder dissolved in a little quantity of hot water.. Pls rpl fast my ingredients r waiting to b mixed up

    • Jamie — April 6th, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Arwa-
      It is for 1 cup of brewed coffee. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  9. Priti — April 2, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Superb cake and recipe. Whenever I am lazy for making a cake I always order cakes from Monginis online cake shop, Next time I will try this cake. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Jamie — April 6th, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Priti-
      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      -Jamie

  10. Amanda Tippett — April 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I have made this recipe a dozen times & LOVE it!! I want to make cupcakes out of it….do you know how I would need to modify this in order to do that?

    • Jamie — April 6th, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Amanda-
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. To make cupcakes, you might need to adjust the cooking time. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  11. Anna — April 6, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    SO good and rich. Followed the directions exactly (except used Hershey Special Dark cocoa when it called) and it was amazing. Very rich, very moist. I would make it again. For what it’s worth, I added the coffee in when it was hot, a little at a time (to avoid splashing) while the mixer was running. Excellent recipe, thank you:)

  12. Lourdes — April 15, 2015 at 7:05 am

    I love this cake! I do it yesterday, the next time I will do it with butter instead of oil. I replace half of sugar with black sugar (this is for a cake more moist). Although this cake is already moist isn’t? thank you!

    • Jamie — April 15th, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Lourdes-
      I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by.

      -Jamie

  13. sungyu — May 2, 2015 at 10:55 am

    how much is a teaspoon / tablespoons in your recipe
    1 teaspoon = how much is a ounce ?
    1 tablespoons = how much is a ounce ?

    1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour = 6ounce ( is it right?)
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder = 6ounce ( is it right?)

    • Jamie — May 4th, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Sungyu-
      1 teaspoon is 0.166667 ounces, 1 tablespoon is .5 ounces. 1 and 3/4 cup flour would be 14 ounces, 3/4 cup is 6 ounces. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  14. Colleen — May 20, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.
    This cake right here. You got me with the picture. I made it about 3 years ago. After the first bite, I took a bow. I was the only one in the room, but some things deserve that moment of recognition. It is now my go to for chocolate cake. I recentlhy used this recipe to make homemade Ding Dongs as a gender reveal for work. Folks said it was the best thing I’ve ever made. Thanks for sharing this recipe and the enticing photo. Be well and keep baking.

    • Jamie — May 22nd, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Colleen-

      I’m so glad that the recipe has worked so well for you. I really appreciate the feed back and kind words. I’m so glad you stopped by.

      -Jamie

  15. Sneha — May 24, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Hi! This cake looks so so yummy! I will be baking it soon this week, but just wanted to know what would be the best replacement for the eggs( i am a vegetarian)

    • Jamie — May 26th, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Sneha-
      You might substituting a banana for each egg. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  16. Tamsin — May 24, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Hi, I want to make this cake in a few weeks for my mums birthday and I’m just wondering if the sugar is granualted or caster?
    Thank you! :)

    • Jamie — May 26th, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Tamsin-
      Granulated sugar is best for this cake. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by.

      -Jamie

  17. Sadie — May 25, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I’ve made this cake numerous times and it’s consistently excellent! The Hershey’s Black Magic Cake has been around for years, and has been reviewed a gazillion times (aka Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, Farm Journal’s Black Magic Cake, etc), with very few poor reviews. It’s basically foolproof and produces a cake that’s a rich dark color, not too sweet, slices cleanly and is extremely moist. You really can’t go wrong with this one. I subbed 1 tbsp instant espresso for the KAF Black Cocoa, and used vanilla hazelnut coffee for the coffee. You can’t taste the coffee; it simply enhances the chocolate taste. I filled the cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting and used a chocolate sour cream frosting, which isn’t as sweet as a buttercream, to cover the top and sides. Your cake is beautiful, and caught my eye immediately when I was searching for a dark moist chocolate cake recipe. The buttercream frosting seems to be darker in color than some I’ve made, and looks very creamy with less confectioners’ sugar than most standard buttercreams. I’m going to try it for cupcakes I made using the cake recipe (makes excellent cupcakes) to see how well it pipes.

    • Jamie — May 26th, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Sadie-
      Thanks so much for stopping by with your tips.

      -Jamie

  18. hina — May 29, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Hi!I’m making this cake today the recipe is sooo simple love it# love it! love it! Thanks for sharing

  19. Laura — June 2, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I baked this last Friday for a friend who just had a baby and she absolutely fell in love with the recipe! I ended up sending her a link to this post so she could make it herself. Thanks for sharing and making me look like a cooking superstar :)

    • Jamie — June 3rd, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Laura-
      I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for taking the time out to come back and comment. Have a great day.
      -Jamie

  20. Geoff — June 4, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    My wife just turned 45 years young yesterday and since I am making a mid-life career change we are white knuckling on one income. Since she isn’t always the easiest to find gifts for and there is very little discretionary spending, I decided to bake something. I spent an hour or so researching on the internet and decided on this recipe. I have never baked a cake before, not from a box let alone from scratch. I jumped in with a little help from my two teenage daughters. First the cake…came out perfect and I let them stand over night before frosting. I chose to do two types of frosting, cream cheese in the middle and around the sides and chocolate ganache on top dripping down the sides. Wife was blown away!!! She loved it and it really was delicious. Being of the male species,and simple minded, I am a big fan of MBA and following your recipe enabled me to keep my reputation and Man Card in good standing and I will be returning. Thank You Jamie

    • Jamie — June 14th, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      Geoff-
      I’m so glad the recipe turned out so well for you. Thanks for visiting!

      -Jamie

  21. Cristin — June 11, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Uh oh…I accidentally used the coffee grinds instead of brewing the coffee grinds and using the brewed coffee. I really hope it comes out okay…its in the oven now :/

    • Jamie — June 14th, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      Cristin-
      I hope your cake turned out and maybe you can try it again with brewed coffee. Thanks for visiting.

      -Jamie

  22. Maria — June 23, 2015 at 11:18 am

    and butter ? not the ingredients , but if instructions

    Thanks

  23. Maria — June 23, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I mistook the butter and buttermilk

  24. Isabella — June 26, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Do you know any ways I could replace the buttermilk? My family is GF and Paleo, and because buttermilk usually has gluten or possible cross-contaminants, we don’t use it. Do you think almond milk would be fine?

    • Jamie — June 27th, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Isabella-
      I haven’t ever attempted this cake without the buttermilk, so I hesitant to tell you if I think it would work or not, buttermilk has an acidic component that could most definitely change the outcome. If you give it a try, let me know. Have a great day!
      -Jamie

  25. Madison — July 2, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Just wanted to first say that I LOVE this recipe!  I have put it in my recipe book as “The Best Chocolate Cake”, and it’s true.  So easy, so delicious, incredibly moist and perfect texture.  I also used the buttercream recipe you suggested (with just a little less cocoa, and used the vanilla and heavy cream – and I use about 1 1/2 times the recipe for this cake!).  This is my favorite cake!
    My question is: what vegetable oils have you ever used in this recipe?  I have always used canola oil but would love to try coconut oil for a healthier option, but don’t want to sacrifice the perfection that is this cake!  
    Madison

    • Jamie — July 2nd, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Madison-
      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I have only used canola and standard vegetable oil. Coconut oil sounds amazing, but I haven’t tried it – yet! :)
      -Jamie

  26. oneka — July 15, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    can this cake stay out side…I am thinking to make it for my son school picnic

    • Jamie — July 16th, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Oneka-
      I think that would greatly depend on the temperature. I’d be worried about the frosting melting more than I would worry about the cake itself. I hope this helps. Enjoy.
      -Jamie

  27. oneka — July 15, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    sorry I mean with the buttercream

    • Jamie — July 16th, 2015 at 8:47 am

      If it is warm where you live, I would advise against this being outside for too long.
      Jamie

  28. Jacqui — July 21, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Help. I live in Johannesburg, SA. I have tried your cake twice today. I must be doing something wrong. The cake rises perfectly both times. The first time when I opened the door after 30min to check if the cake was ready, the centre of both sunk. So tried again. The second time I extended the time by 10 min (baked for 40min). one the one cake had already sunk when I opened to check and the other sunk while it was cooling. What am I doing wrong?

    • Jamie — July 26th, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Jacqui,
      With all the cakes sinking, my guess would be that your baking powder has gone off. I just had this happen to me recently with a batch of muffins. I thought I was going nuts – until I added some lemon juice to activate the baking soda in the recipe instead of relying on just the baking powder. Sure enough, my muffins puffed and didn’t fall. This is also a great resource for some other things that may be happening: http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2010/11/kitchen-tip-5-ways-to-keep-your-cakes.html
      Thanks for stopping by, and I’m sorry you’re having trouble! – Jamie

  29. Colleen — July 24, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I was hooked with the photo and then I made the cake. 
    My word.
    I’m not allowed to make any other chocolate cake and I would never want to anyway.
    Makes AMAZING cupcakes. The key is preheat oven to 350, but bake at 325.
    This cake is incredible. 
    If you ever need a cake to drown your sorrows or to celebrate, here you go.
    Now, do you have a yellow cake recipe?

  30. Sabina — July 27, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Love the recipe. Cake turned out moist and full of chocolate. How can I make it eggless?

    • Jamie — July 27th, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Yay! So glad to hear to enjoyed the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback. As far as making it eggless, I’m not really sure because I’ve never attempted an egg substitution. Happy Baking!
      -Jamie

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