Black Magic Cake…

Originally I had not planned on blogging this cake, but after the rave reviews from co-workers, I figured it was a must! I made this late Sunday evening and could not get around to photographing it because the ganache had not thoroughly set up before I went to bed. The next morning, it was boxed up and taken to feed the co-workers. I managed to cut one reserve piece before I dashed out of house, just in case it needed to be photographed.

Typically when I make cakes, I like to post a photo of the whole cake and then a piece of the sliced cake; however, my snooze hitting ways did not allow me to do this today. However, this cake was so good I had to post it despite the absent photographs. Apparently this is a very old cake recipe and from what I have read online, it seems to have originated from Hershey’s.

I was introduced to this cake via a cooking/baking forum; it was receiving rave reviews, so of course I had to hop on the bandwagon and give it a try. I was a little concerned about the cup of coffee in the ingredient list, but my anxiety was relieved once I read the finished cake has very little coffee flavor.

Apparently the coffee is used to bring out the flavor of the chocolate – making it more prominent as opposed to flat and one dimensional. This cake is super easy, essentially you dump it all into the mixer and plop it into your pan(s) of choice.

The result is the most decadent, moist, delicious cake that will ever cross your lips! It is full of luscious, rich chocolate flavor that blends harmoniously with a smooth semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

The next time you are looking to impress a crowd or just your significant other, whip up this amazing cake… and be prepared to bask in all the compliments you will receiving.

Black Magic Cake

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  • 1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
  2. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin).Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  5. Frost as desired.


  • To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

229 Responses to “Black Magic Cake…”

  1. Tara — July 24, 2015 at 8:49 am


    This cake is also a favourite in my circle! I stumbled upon the recipe in an old recipe book of my grandmother’s-you know the church group compilations of simple but delcious favourites among congregationalists. There was a gold foil star beside the recipe-my grandmother’s way of indicating that the recipe was a great success and must be remembered for future use. This was all the encouragement I needed! I made the cake to complement the dessert menu of a boutique restaurant, and guests just raved about it. There is something to be said for simplicity and the wisdom of our elders (were my grandmother here today I would suggest she add another gold star to this jewel of a recipe). Thereafter I received several requests to make the cake to order! As the recipe was not my own I was happy to share it with any who requested more information. Since then, my family and friends have come to prefer this cake for birthdays and Sunday dinner events. I’m happy to see that others have enjoyed it as much as we have!


  2. Courtney — July 25, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    replace the buttermilk with coconut milk. you will never use buttermilk again!


  3. Christine — August 21, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    what recipe did you use foe the frosting


  4. Lyndsi — October 3, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Sounds wonderful. I will be making it tonight!


  5. Susan — November 24, 2015 at 11:46 am

    This recipe is amazing!! It is my go to chocolate cake recipe. I’ve made it as cupcakes too and it turns out awesome. I like to put just a simple homemade whipped cream frosting on top and it is to die for. 


    • Jamie — January 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Susan!

  6. Jack W — December 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I have made this delicious beautiful cake a couple of times for friends and it’s just perfect.

    And don’t you dare skimp on that ganache. That’s the part that separates the men from the boys.

    If you want to get big hugs, this is how you get big hugs.


  7. lynn — December 26, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    :(  I don’t get it. I made this, baked it for the minimum time suggested and it was the most mediocre chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. Very dry, not at all moist. I made it with Alton Brown’s chocolate ganache, which is delicious and that was the only good thing about it. I may try it again and turn down the baking time, but it wasn’t burnt so I have no idea what everyone is raving about. Oh well….on to the next…


    • Jamie — January 13, 2016 at 11:23 am

      Hi, Lynn! I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy the cake. I hope I might have another recipe that works out better for you. All the best to you.

  8. Kimber french titter — January 2, 2016 at 11:10 am

    My mom made that cake 4 years she was born in 1921 the icing she used was homade cream cheese icing it’s my favorite cake


    • Jamie — January 5, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Kimber: I love that! Mom’s cakes are always the best.

  9. Kimber french titter — January 2, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Also a trick to sour the milk is a half teaspoon of vinager in the milk a so sifting the flour makes a big difference in the quality of the cake


    • Jamie — January 5, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Kimber: great idea!

  10. Chloe7 — January 6, 2016 at 5:57 am

    WOW! is all I can say – I will smother this bad boy in a butter based dark ganache. I’m a little confused pardon me, but thank you for this! 
    I saw this cake exactly – don’t know where – and the recipe is exactly the same – I think it’s yours both times??? BUT the other recipe asks for 2 tablespoons of Black Cocoa? Isn’t that what makes this cake the thing that it is? Cheers and all the best.


    • Jamie — January 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Hi, Chloe! I’m not sure about the other recipe, but 3/4 cup of black cocoa gives this cake a gorgeous dark chocolate flavor. Two tablespoons might not be enough in this regard. I hope you enjoy it!

  11. Chloe7 — January 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    So sorry, my mistake – I meant to say the 3/4 cup dark cocoa PLUS the 2 tablespoons of BLack Cocoa. Apologies


    • Jamie — January 12, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      No worries, Chloe! The extra 2 tablespoons is optional, but you can definitely add it for a richer taste. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  12. Salma — January 24, 2016 at 6:10 am

    This is literally the best chocolate cake i have ever made!! Thank you so much 


    • Jamie — January 24, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Yay! So glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Blen — February 19, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    I was so excited to try this recipe for myself as a friend of mine has been making it for me for years. The excitement didn’t last long, though. I followed the recipe exactly and made cupcakes. First, the batter was not thin and runny; rather it was kind of goopy. (Doesn’t adding the coffee hot temper the eggs a little bit?!) Second, every single cupcake (2 1/2 dozen!) sunk in the middle. The flavor was okay, but it was just okay. So disappointing. I’ll give it one more shot to see if turns out any better.


    • Jamie — February 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

      I’m so sorry the recipe didn’t turn out for you, Blen. The coffee should definitely not be added hot, just room temperature to cool. I hope you try it again. Let me know how it goes!

    • Kristi — June 17, 2017 at 12:30 am

      I’ve played with this recipe for cupcakes and also had them sink in the middle. After some research I found out that you DO need to add the coffee when it’s HOT! Sounds weird, but it totally worked when I did it that way, cupcakes were not sunk in the middle! I mixed everything together except for the coffee and then left the mixer on low and added the hot coffee so it didn’t screw with the eggs. Maybe give it another go with the hot coffee and see if you have the same luck!

    • Jamie — June 20, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Thanks, Kristi!

  14. mini — March 1, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Hey there!
    What could I replace for eggs?
    Please let me know if you have recipe without eggs. I do not take eggs.
    Thanks mini 


    • Jamie — March 1, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Hello, Mini! You can replace 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce for every egg. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  15. Jeff @ Make It Like a Man! — March 21, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    This cake looks like it was made with Dutch-process cocoa, and the recipe calls for baking powder (instead of baking soda, or a mixture of the two), which makes me think even more that it calls for Dutch-process cocoa, but the way the ingredient list is worded, it makes it sounds like you’re asking for natural, unsweetened cocoa. Which is it?


    • Jamie — March 22, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Hi, Jeff! I used Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe. Let me know if I can do anything else for you!

  16. Brianna — March 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Hi! I adore this cake and have made it many times, always receiving so many compliments for it! But now I’m hoping to make it in 9″x13″ form and I am wondering how to go about it without drying it out or having an unbaked center. Help? :) 


    • Jamie — March 26, 2016 at 10:58 am

      Hi, Brianna! I think the cake with work just fine in a 9×13 pan. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Let me know how it goes!

  17. Angir — April 2, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Is the coffee part absolutely necessary?


    • Jamie — April 4, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Hi, Angir! The coffee is not absolutely necessary, but it really brings out the chocolate flavor in a beautiful way, and you won’t even taste the coffee. If you really don’t want to use it, you could use just water. Let me know how you like it!

  18. Chris chivers — April 5, 2016 at 6:12 am


    Made this fab cake severel times alwats goes down well, can it be cooked in one tin and sliced in two if so how long should I cook it.
    Thanks for recipe happy baking


    • Jamie — April 7, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hi, Chris! I think you can probably bake it in one pan. Just be sure to adjust the cooking times so it’s properly done. I hope you enjoy it!

  19. Frenny — April 29, 2016 at 12:13 am

    No even joking, I have made this cake 10 times in the last 4 months. So easy and great results. I switched to a bundt pan and it takes 38 min. I also reduced the sugar to about 1.5 cups. Such an awesome post, thanks for posting!! 


    • Jamie — April 29, 2016 at 5:31 am

      You’re welcome, Frenny! I’m so glad you enjoy the cake!

  20. Elaine — May 3, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Hi thanks for sharing this recipe. I am actually looking for a good chocolate cake recipe for my son’s  birthday cake. My family doesn’t like cakes that are too sweet. Normally I will half the sugar but am wondering by doing so…will it effect the texture of the cake?


    • Jamie — May 3, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Hi, Elaine! Reducing the sugar could make the cake a little drier. I would suggest adding an extra egg yolk. I hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out!

  21. Helen — May 5, 2016 at 2:19 am

    Can I swap the oil for melted butter ?


    • Jamie — May 5, 2016 at 8:47 am

      I haven’t tried this, Helen, so I can’t tell you what the result will be. Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Ifee from Nigeria — May 10, 2016 at 4:35 am

    This is the best chocolate cake ever! Will give 5 stars! Each time i make i get compliments from people! Must recommend


    • Jamie — May 10, 2016 at 11:15 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  23. Tessa — June 6, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Hi,  do you have a vanilla version to your chocolate.  That’s the best I’ve ever made


    • Jamie — June 7, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Hi, Tessa! I don’t have one at the moment, but you’ve given me a great idea! I’m so glad you like the cake!

  24. Tessa — June 6, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Best chocolate cake ever. Thank you! Very much it has yet to fail me


    • Jamie — June 7, 2016 at 9:46 am

      I’m so glad you like it, Tessa!

  25. Marianne — June 24, 2016 at 4:33 am

    May we have the recipe for the gorgeous glossy ganache used like in the pic?


    • Jamie — June 24, 2016 at 6:55 am

      Hi, Marianne! You can give this Ganache recipe a try. I hope you like it!

  26. licia — June 28, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Hi, it looks delish. What size pan do you use?


    • Jamie — June 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Hi, Licia! You can use two 9-inch round cake pans or a 9×13 cake pan. I hope you enjoy it!

  27. Heather — July 18, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    This cake is fantastic. I have made it several times now for birthday celebrations. It comes out moist and perfect every single time. Thank you for sharing!


    • Jamie — July 19, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that, Heather!

  28. Niyati — August 31, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Hi Jamie,

    Before anything else – HUGE, MASSIVE, GINORMOUS thanks for this. This has become my go-to dessert recipe when people are dropping in for dinner with an hour’s notice. A simple ganache and I’m always being complimented. :-)

    I’m writing today to ask if you’ve tried this with orange flavouring because I have a request for a chocolate orange cake. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

    All best,


    • Jamie — August 31, 2016 at 11:57 am

      I haven’t, but I think that sounds AMAZING! Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words. Let me know how it goes and ENJOY!

  29. Michelle — September 1, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I have made this cake several times and while it is moist I find it does not raise right in 13 x 9 inch pan. Something doesn’t seem right with the ratios. Can anyone tell me if they have had an issue with cake falling slightly in center after baking?


    • Jamie — September 6, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Hi, Michelle! How long are you baking the cake? There are several reasons why the cake could fall: opening the oven door too early, old baking powder, overbeating. Let me know if I can help any further. I hope you give it another try!

  30. Carl Kepner — October 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    This cake was a hit every time I baked one for someones birthday when I was working. Now That I’m retired
    I still get ask to bake one for the managers birthday by his wife. Its his favorite cake. I make a butter cream peanut butter icing. everyone that had it just loves it.


    • Jamie — October 13, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      The peanut butter icing sounds wonderful! Your comments made my day!

  31. Deb Milcarek — October 30, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Loved this recipe!  I used full fat coconut milk and coconut oil (instead of vegetable oil) and organic turbanado sugar.  It was fabulous.  Thanks you!


    • Jamie — November 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      You’re so welcome, Deb!

  32. Indira — November 24, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Actually I am not fan chocoalate cake but this recipe made me suprised. Yes true this is the best chocolate cake I ever had. Thank you for your recipe.


    • Jamie — November 27, 2016 at 8:53 am

      You’re so welcome, Indira! Thank you for your feedback!

  33. Patricia — January 5, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    My comment is in response to Michelle who is having problems with the cake not rising properly and falling in the middle. In addition to old baking powder if you are at an altitude higher than 3,000 feet that could be effecting your cake. If you do live at a higher altitude check out the recipie conversions at the King Arthur Flour website. Here is a link, .

    I live at over 5,000 feet and baked 35, 10 inch, 3 layer cakes this last year and used these conversions for every cake and they all came out perfectly.

    Hope this helps,


    • Jamie — January 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thank you, Patricia! Great advice!

  34. Tony — January 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    This is the “only ” chocolate cake. My mom made this when I was a little boy growing up in the early 70’s. I have her Hershey’s recipe along with the original “Mocha-Chocolate Icing” used on the cake. The recipe for the cake is identical to yours. If you haven’t had this icing, you haven’t had the “Black Magic Cake”. The recipe is as follows- Mocha-Chocolate Icing: 6 T. cocoa, 6 T. coffee, 6 T. butter, 1 tsp. vanilla & 3 C. sifted confectioner’s sugar.


    • Jamie — January 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Wonderful, Tony! I’m going to try the icing…thank you!

  35. Kimberly titter — January 22, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    This is my favorite cake, cream cheese icing goes great with this cake.
    I have Hersheys original cook book it’s very old.
    I have seen other people write this recipe but they didn’t have coffee in it, coffee makes a difference
    So if you make it don’t forget the coffee. Have never tried buttermilk I’ve always put vinegar in the milk
    that’s the way my mom showed me how to do it.
    If you make it and you should ever one will complement you on such a great cake. And use home made
    Cream cheese icing


    • Jamie — January 23, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Hi, Kimberly! I’m definitely going to give the cream cheese icing a try. And making your own buttermilk is incredibly easy….I agree! I’m so glad you enjoy the cake. Take care!

  36. Farah — February 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    I’m new in baking. Please tell me the difference in ingredients if I want to serve 16 persons. And can I use Nutella spread for frosting or please send me the recipe of frosting this black magic cake. Thanks


    • Jamie — February 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Hi, Farah! I think this cake could serve 16 people. The slices may be a bit smaller, but I think it should work fine. I hope you enjoy it! And feel free to use the Nutella or a simple ganache frosting. Good luck!

  37. Pat sulek — February 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    I have made this cake for over 30years. And it is The Hershey Cocoa Cake. The only variation is the coffee, by which it should have been Hot Coffee. The Hershey cake called for Hot Water.and as the other comment states it had a very similar Ganache Frosting.
    This is the same cake just tweaked up.


    • Jamie — February 13, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Yes, it is, Pat! It’s a great recipe!

  38. Gean — February 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Hi ! I love you recipe! I’ve made this twice and my colleagues loved it and I even shared them the recipe. It was very easy :) btw I want to ask, can I use the same recipe and make it into a cake roll?  Thanks :)


    • Jamie — February 21, 2017 at 7:47 am

      Hi, Gean! I’ve never tried this recipe for a cake roll, so I honestly don’t know how it would go. If you try it, please let me know the results!

  39. Queen Ijnanya — March 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I usrd pure almond flavoring instead of vanilla and a mocha frosting with almond flavoring as well.  Next time I’m going to try the coconut milk instead of butter milk.  And call it “BLACK MAGIC ALMOND ENJOY” – OMG


    • Jamie — March 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      That sounds amazing!

  40. Mia — April 27, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Does anyone know if this cake will support the weight of fondant? It’s in the oven right now and it just dawned on me that it may not hold up well! Thank you!


    • Jamie — April 27, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Hi, Mia! Try freezing the cake first. I’ve never tried fondant with this cake, so I honestly don’t know. Good luck!

  41. Teresa — May 3, 2017 at 10:34 am

    How in advanced can this cake be made? Once made, can it be frozen or refrigerated until decorated?


    • Jamie — May 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Hi, Teresa! You could probably freeze this cake for up to about 2 months. Thaw for about 40 minutes before frosting. I hope you like it!

  42. hillary — June 3, 2017 at 1:12 am

    I did NOT like the taste of this cake – the coffee was overpowering. I also baked in a 9×13 for 31 minutes and the center was collapsed as mentioned in earlier comments. Will not make again.


    • Jamie — June 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the cake, Hillary. Thanks for your feedback.

  43. Laura — June 9, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Definitely a keeper recipe! I baked it for the first time a week ago and had an issue with it falling slightly once it came out of the oven. Not in a major way, and really all it meant was that I didn’t have to level it. I had used precisely the ingredients called for and baked it for exactly 30 minutes. The toothpick test came back completely clean, and it was definitely cooked all the way through. It was absolutely delicious, and I knew I had to try it again. I’ve been struggling trying to find a moist, tender cake that won’t fall apart. It’s a hard balance for some reason!

    I baked it again tonight after looking up what might cause a cake to fall. This time, I swapped the oil for melted butter and only used 1/4 cup (to reduce the liquid a bit, plus butter was on sale). I also lowered the baking soda amount to 1.5 tsp (having read that baking soda and chocolate cakes sometimes don’t play nicely together). I also kept it in the oven for the whole 35 minutes (used two 9″ round pans). This time they came out perfectly and maintained their shape with no falling! No idea if one or all three tweaks were the final piece of the puzzle for me, but I’ve got it down pat now.

    The flavour is wonderful. Chocolatey and rich, just the right sweetness, and it’s true – the coffee really enhances the chocolate flavour. The reviewer who said it tasted overpoweringly of coffee probably used espresso, or went crazy with instant coffee, or something silly like that.

    Thanks so much for this recipe! My family can’t seem to branch out and request birthday cakes that aren’t chocolate, so they’ll be super pleased when I starting showing up with these babies. *thumbs up*


    • Jamie — June 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Great suggestions, Laura! I’m really glad you liked it!

  44. Annette — June 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Can I use a homemade white buttercream frosting  or homemade whipped cream frosting  for this cake or is chocolate frosting better for this recipe? 


    • Jamie — June 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Hi, Annette! You can make whatever kind of frosting you like. Enjoy!

  45. Jessica — July 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

    If I don’t have buttermilk or vinegar to make sour milk, can I combine 3/4 cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup water to substitute for sour milk? 


    • Jamie — July 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Hi, Jessica! I’ve not tried this, but I would suggest thinning the sour cream with a little milk. Let me know how it turns out!

  46. Hazel — September 10, 2017 at 6:10 am

    I made this cake it was very easy I used 2% milk it worked great and taste good


    • Jamie — September 12, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Hazel! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your feedback!

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