Chocolate Cake

October 26, 2019

The best Chocolate Cake I’ve ever had! I’ve tested and retested and perfect this recipe. It has a perfectly soft and tender crumb, an incredibly luscious chocolate flavor, and melt-in-your-mouth moisture. It’s easy to make and sure to impress all chocolate lovers!

Slice of Chocolate Cake on a white dessert plate.

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

Here’s the rundown in what you’ll find in each slice of this irresistible chocolate cake:

  • Chocolate flavor: This cake, loaded with it. The boiling water intensifies the chocolate flavor of the cocoa. I’m starting to think it’s a must for all chocolate cakes. You also get plenty of chocolate flavor in the buttercream frosting as well.
  • Moisture: We all hate dry cakes. I like mine really moist and this cake is brimming with moisture.
  • Rich decadence: This cake is packed with richness in both the cake and the frosting.
  • Perfect crumb texture: Is it soft? Is it fluffy or dense? Does it have stability? Soft is definitely a must and I like my chocolate cake somewhere between fluffy and dense. I’m not a big fan of the chocolate cakes that are so fluffy they just crumble apart and don’t have much structure but I also don’t want it so dense that it’s like eating a cheesecake.
  • Buttercream frosting: A heavenly frosting is just as important as a good cake. It is going to crown the cake after all. This frosting is likely the best chocolate frosting you’ll ever make! It’s perfectly buttery and rich with the perfect intensity of chocolate flavor.

In other words this cake is what dreams are made of! It’s the best way to satisfy those chocolate cravings and always perfect for any birthday or celebration.

Chocolate cake ingredients

Ingredients for Chocolate Cake:

  • Granulated sugar, brown sugar and powdered: this sweetens the cake and the brown sugar also adds a little extra flavor and moisture. Powdered sugar is used in the frosting.
  • Cocoa powder: we use a fair amount of cocoa powder here a decadent chocolate flavor. Use good quality cocoa powder for best results.
  • Baking soda: this helps the cake rise. No substitutes here (since the sour cream and cocoa are acidic baking soda is used instead of baking powder).
  • Salt: have you ever accidentally left out the salt. It’s crazy how a small amount of of this can significantly impact a recipe.
  • Boiling water: carefully measure after water reaches a boil. Some of the water steams off while cooking so measuring after is important.
  • Vegetable oil: canola oil works great too. This makes the cake super moist instead of using just butter.
  • Unsalted butter: this adds flavor. While vegetable oil makes moister cakes butter adds a better flavor so I had to sneak in some. You’ll also need lots of butter for the frosting.
  • Eggs and egg yolks: eggs help bind ingredients and also help the cake to rise. Why add additional egg yolks? These have natural emulsifiers which help soften the cake and they also add rich flavor.
  • Vanilla extract: we use a generous 1 tablespoon here because it is the perfect compliment to chocolate.
  • All purpose flour: do note in this recipe how ingredients are measured. Flour should be scooped and leveled (I use the same method as America’s Test Kitchen) vs. spooning and leveling.
  • Sour cream: this adds a very light tang which adds so much flavor and really compliments the chocolate. It also keeps the cake moist and rich.
  • Milk: you’ll only need a little since we used sour cream and water for moisture already. Preferably use whole or 2% milk.

How to Make Chocolate Cake:

  • Heat oven and prepare pans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans then line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment paper. Wrap cake pans with baking strips for the most level cake.
  • Mix dry ingredients, then mix in boiling water: In a large, heat proof mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Carefully pour boiling water in to cocoa mixture and immediately whisk to blend well. Allow to cool 5 minutes.
  • Mix in wet ingredients: Using an electric hand mixer set on low speed blend in vegetable oil and melted butter until combined. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract and blend just to combined. Then add flour and blend until combined, and finish by blending in milk and sour cream just until combined.
  • Pour into pans and bake: Divide mixture evenly among 2 prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 29 – 34 minutes.
  • Cool: Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes, run butter knife around edge of cake and invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  • Frost: Add frosting to top of one round then top with second cake and frost top and sides of cake. Store in an airtight container.

Steps to making chocolate cake

How do You Make Level Cake Layers?

For this recipe I like to use cake strips. Once in the oven these damp strips placed around the cake pans keep the exterior from getting too hot before the interior starts to heat so the cake rises more evenly all the way across.

There are also some DIY methods if you want to make some yourself. You can skip using these then just trim the top of the cake to level.

Can I Add Espresso Powder?

If you love that hint of espresso flavor then yes you can definitely add some instant espresso powder to the recipe as well. Use 1 – 3 tsp depending on how strong you’d like the flavor to be.

Can I Make it into Cupcakes?

  • Yes. I’ve also made this same chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes.
  • To do so divide paper liners among wells of 2 (12 count) cupcakes pans.
  • Prepare batter as directed then divide among cupcake liners filling each 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 18 – 22 minutes.
  • If you want a tower of chocolate frosting (like that pictured below, make 1 1/2 times the amounts of the chocolate buttercream frosting listed).

Chocolate buttercream frosting on top of chocolate cupcake

Can I Halve the Recipe?

If you want to make a single layer cake or 12 cupcakes you can half the recipe. Just use 1 egg yolk.

Can I Make it Gluten-Free?

Yes. To do so use a Cup for Cup gluten free flour blend in place of all-purpose flour. Then of course check labels of other ingredients to be certain they are gluten free.

Or you can try my flourless chocolate cake recipe.

How to Store Homemade Chocolate Cake:

I usually set my cakes on a large flat plat and frost then store in an airtight cake carrier in the fridge up to 4 days. The cake cake can also be store at room temperature but it doesn’t keep as long.

How to Freeze Chocolate Cake:

  • This cake freezes incredibly well up to 3 months.
  • Wrap layers separately in plastic wrap and aluminum foil then store in an airtight container.
  • Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then frost and serve at room temperature.
  • Leftover frosted cake can be frozen as well.

Wanting to Make a Chocolate Sheet Cake?

Try my recipe for Chocolate Sheet Cake HERE. It’s baked in a 18 by 13-inch baking sheet so it’s great for crowds.

Chocolate cake covered in frosting and mini chocolate chips.

Tips and Variations:

  • Don’t eyeball ingredients. As with any baking recipe it’s a science, if ingredients aren’t precisely measured it can drastically effect the outcome. If possible use a kitchen scale to measure for the most accurate results.
  • Be sure to cake test for doneness. If you take a cake out too early the center may fall and cake can be gooey. Use a toothpick and poke into center of cake, it should come out free of batter. A moist crumb or two stuck on is fine.
  • Wait and let cool completely before frosting cake or it will melt! You can speed up cooling in the refrigerator if needed.
  • Frost cake then before frosting starts to set (that outer layer can start to develop a thin dry outer layer) decorate with mini chocolate chips, sprinkles or chopped chocolate.
  • Try this cake with another type of frosting to mix things up. Good flavors include mint chocolate chip, strawberry, or salted caramel (double amounts of those listed for a two layer cake), or try with a cookies and cream frosting, yum!

More Cake Recipe Favorites:

 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

5 from 5 votes

A perfectly decadent, rich chocolate cake. It has the perfect texture, a moist crumb, an abundance of chocolate flavor and its finished with an tempting, creamy chocolate buttercream.

Servings: 16
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cool Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110g) packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (70g) unsweetened cocoa powder (scoop and level to measure)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (235ml) boiling water*
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour (spoon and level to measure)
  • 1/2 cup (116g) sour cream
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans then line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment paper. If you'd like more level cakes wrap cake pans with baking strips (which have been saturated with water, see notes below recipe), or you can cut top to level after baking.

  2. In a large, heat proof mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Carefully pour boiling water in to cocoa mixture and immediately whisk to blend well. Allow to cool 5 minutes.

  3. Using an electric hand mixer set on low speed blend in vegetable oil and melted butter until combined. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract and blend just to combined. Then add flour and blend until combined, and finish by blending in milk and sour cream just until combined.

  4. Divide mixture evenly among 2 prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 29 - 34 minutes. Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes, run butter knife around edge of cake and invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

  5. Trim cakes level if needed. Add frosting to top of one round then top with second cake and frost top and sides of cake. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

  • *Water should be carefully measured after boiling. If measured before you won't have the same amount as some water would evaporate.
  • Store cake in an airtight container. It can be stored at room temperature but for longer shelf life store in the refrigerator or even freeze. 
  • To make batter into cupcakes divide batter among 24 paper lined muffin cups in cupcake pans, filling about 3/4 full. Bake about 18 - 22 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  • Nutrition estimate includes both cake and frosting.
Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 614 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Fat 36g55%
Saturated Fat 24g150%
Cholesterol 118mg39%
Sodium 364mg16%
Potassium 193mg6%
Carbohydrates 74g25%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 56g62%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 789IU16%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 48mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate Cake
Author: Jaclyn
Recipe originally posted February 2014. Some changes to recipe have been made including adding 1/4 cup butter to the recipe and increasing sour cream from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup. This makes an even moister and more fudgy cake with these updates.
Another update to this recipe is to use cake strips, I use these HERE.

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