Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


Here you have it, my new favorite chocolate cake! I’ve made three chocolate cakes this week (and believe it or not I’m still not sick of chocolate cake) but I’ve been on a mission to create my idea of the best chocolate cake. I already have my favorite chocolate frosting that will likely never be replaced so that part was easy, but my old favorite chocolate cake is now just that, an old favorite. I wanted a cake with a little more chocolate (or cocoa anyway), so I decided it was time to create my own chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Cooking Classy

Here’s the rundown in what I’m looking for in a chocolate cake. #1. 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. #2. Moisture. We all hate dry cakes. I like mine really moist. This one, check. #3. 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. #4. Frosting. An incredible 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. Just sayin :). You can reduce the cocoa by two tablespoons for slightly less chocolate intensity or increase by 2 Tbsp for a more rich chocolate flavor (adjust the powdered sugar accordingly though – if you decrease the cocoa by 2 Tbsp add 2 Tbsp powdered sugar, if you increase the cocoa by 2 Tbsp reduce the powdered sugar by 2 Tbsp).

I really hope you love this chocolate cake as much as I do. Find a reason to celebrate and enjoy!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Cooking ClassyChocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Cooking Classy


Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups butter , at room temperature (I like to use 1 cup unsalted and 1/2 cup salted)
  • 3 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. For the cake:
  2. 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 and set aside.
  3. In a large, heat proof mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and brown sugar (lumps are fine), then whisk in cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Carefully pour boiling water in to cocoa mixture and immediately whisk to blend well, about 15 - 20 seconds. Allow to cool 5 minutes.
  4. Using an electric hand mixer set on low speed blend in canola oil until combined, about 10 seconds. Add eggs to cocoa mixture and blend on low speed just until combined, about 5 seconds. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract and blend just to combined. Then add flour and blend only until combined and finish by blending in milk and sour cream just until combined.
  5. 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 (after about 20 minutes of cooling, I placed the cakes into an airtight container to seal in moisture while they finished cooling).
  6. Trim tops from cake to form an even layer (they are quite domed so you don't need to make it completely level across - just add a little more frosting to the edges that aren't as level so you don't have to cut off so much cake). Add frosting to top of one round then top with second cake and frost top and sides of cake. Store in an airtight container.
  7. For the chocolate buttercream frosting:
  8. In a the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment (paddle attachment works too. Whichever you use just pay attention the the shade of the butter), whip butter on moderately high speed until very pale and fluffy (nearly white in color), about 6 - 8 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl. Sift in cocoa powder then add in powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp heavy cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until combine, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed and adding up to 1 tbsp additional cream to thin if desired. Increase mixer to medium-high speed and whip mixture until pale and very fluffy about 4 - 5 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl.
  9. Note that similar to whipped cream the frosting will lose some of its "fluff" after a few hours, it will still taste the same it just loses some of the air that was whipped into it (similar to whipped cream how it loses it's stabilization after a few hours). It is best to prepare and use within a few hours for best (fluffiest) results.
  10. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Cooking Classy


  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: What a gorgeous decadent cake! Jason’s birthday is coming up so I’ll have to surprise him with this cake – he’ll LOVE it! February 19, 2014 at 11:47pm Reply

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks: Thrilled to hear it’s your new fave and that after all these cakes, you’re still not sick of choc cake. That’a girl! :)

    An incredible frosting is just as important as a good cake = SO TRUE!!!! Bad frosting just ruins the whole thing. And also the crumbly part, not so fluffy that it crumbles, I hate that too. I know I’d love this cake! February 20, 2014 at 1:08am Reply

  • Rachel: I think you forgot to say when the oil is added to the cake batter in the directions…I’m loving the method with the boiling water though! I’ll bet you could add hot coffee instead of water if you’re into the sorta thing… :D February 20, 2014 at 6:37am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes I think the coffee would work fine too :). February 20, 2014 at 10:39am Reply

      • Gayle: I have used hot coffee in the original Hershey’s cocoa chocolate cake. In fact, it’s part of my signature cupcake recipe. It works great- very subtle mocha flavor. March 18, 2014 at 12:37pm Reply

  • Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron: Wow!! This looks beautiful and I love all that thick frosting! That’s pretty impressive to make 3 cakes in one week :) Pinned! February 20, 2014 at 6:54am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for pinning Chelsea! February 20, 2014 at 10:38am Reply

  • Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks: I don’t think I could ever get sick of chocolate cake! This one looks fantastic! February 20, 2014 at 7:03am Reply

  • Michelle: Looks delicious. How did you get that beautiful pattern on the top of the cake? February 20, 2014 at 7:12am Reply

  • Amanda: Three cakes this week is awesome. This cake is beautiful :) February 20, 2014 at 7:27am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Amanda :)! February 20, 2014 at 10:10am Reply

  • Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen: This cake looks amazing! There are few things better than a classic chocolate cake! February 20, 2014 at 8:08am Reply

  • Helen @ Scrummy Lane: This looks just like something you would buy from a bakery … very impressive! As you’ve done all the hard work and testing for me, I’m going to pin this for the next time I need a celebration cake! February 20, 2014 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Helen! February 20, 2014 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness: This is beautiful! There isn’t much better than chocolate cake…. Especially with buttercream icing! February 20, 2014 at 2:43pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Taylor! February 20, 2014 at 2:55pm Reply

  • Mimi @ Culinary Couture: So pretty! I have a list of chocolate cake recipes to try, so I can figure out which one I like the most. Can’t wait to try this one! February 20, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Mimi! I hope you do try it. February 21, 2014 at 11:40am Reply

  • Joyce: Jaclyn,
    I have to ask – who gets to savor all these delicious recipes that you create? I am trying to think of a reason to make this cake. Oh my goodness, it looks absolutely scrumptious!!!! February 20, 2014 at 4:53pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Neighbors and family or if it’s bad the garbage. I hate when I have to throw something out. I hope you do try this! February 20, 2014 at 7:20pm Reply

  • Shelly: I am not a big chocolate fan, but this cake just looks like it would be moist & oh so yummy! Now where is the milk? :) February 20, 2014 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress): ahhhhhh so good!!! I can see why it’s your new favorite: CHOCOLATEY goodness! February 20, 2014 at 7:37pm Reply

  • Kate@Diethood: This is stunning! Can’t help but stare at it… I want a slice! Or three!! :) February 20, 2014 at 8:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Kate! February 20, 2014 at 11:02pm Reply

  • Shari Kelley: Wow, Jaclyn, this just looks perfect! I agree with all of your requirements for chocolate cake. I also like that you mix the cocoa with the boiling water. For some reason, when I have made chocolate frosting lately, my frosting is grainy even though I sift the cocoa powder. It seems like this recipe would solve that problem. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you for the recipe! February 20, 2014 at 9:15pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you love it Shari :)! February 25, 2014 at 11:21pm Reply

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci): This looks like the ultimate chocolate cake and your chocolate buttercream is just perfect! February 21, 2014 at 12:04am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Laura! February 21, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

  • Toni Anderson: Chocolate cake is my all-time favorite! My favorite recipe, by far, is one I got from my Aunt V’Ona. She always made the best chocolate cake. Hers has soured milk 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream in it. My whole family declares it the best chocolate cake, ever and it has to be at birthdays or any family gathering, along with the old-fashioned cooked buttercream frosting. My aunt passed about 10 years ago, at the ripe old age of 92, but her chocolate cake recipe will live on in our family forever!!
    Hang on to your favorites–they are real valuables and you family will treasure them forever!!


    Gommy of 5 (and “pending”) February 21, 2014 at 9:02am Reply

    • Jaclyn: The cream in the recipe sounds amazing! Handed down recipes are the best! February 21, 2014 at 11:33am Reply

  • MCS Gal: Nothing can beat a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. February 21, 2014 at 7:22pm Reply

  • TesAnn: This is the most amazing chocolate cake ever! My family and I are completely in love with this cake, so moist and great frosting! You have such an awesome talent for cooking! February 22, 2014 at 9:34pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much TesAnn :)! I’m so glad your family liked this cake! March 1, 2014 at 11:47pm Reply

  • beren: is 350 degrees mean 350 f or 350 c February 28, 2014 at 6:16pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It is 350 degrees fahrenheit. February 28, 2014 at 8:13pm Reply

  • wesam: wow it’s amazing cake i will try it ,
    but i want to ask you I can’t find canola oil What can i substitute for it? February 28, 2014 at 10:12pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Vegetable oil should work just the same. Hope you love it! March 1, 2014 at 12:06am Reply

  • Hannah: Would it still taste as good if I used gluten free flour? My friend wants me to make their bday cake but they can’t have gluten March 31, 2014 at 11:05pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I had someone just mention to me that they used a gluten free flour blend and it turned out great so I guess so :). I’m not sure if you’d want to add a little more liquid or not – you may want to check the label on the flour. April 4, 2014 at 10:12pm Reply

  • Jackie Fessler: Does it really call for 1 Tbsp of vanilla or is that a type-o? June 22, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

    • Jaclyn: It is 1 Tbsp but if you don’t want to use that much you could cut it down to 1 1/2 or 2. June 22, 2014 at 9:51pm Reply

  • Elizabeth Bennett: I have a favorite chocolate cake recipe that is made with the boiling water method. But since I had such amazing results with your lemon blueberry cake and blueberry cupcakes, I decided to give your recipe a try.

    I am so glad I did! It was so delicious! It tasted very much like my recipe, same crumb and texture, but your recipe had fewer steps. It also used canola oil, instead of butter like my recipe. I had never made a chocolate cake with oil before. Since it was for a friend’s birthday, I was a little worried, but it was absolutely wonderful. It was only 2 layers, where mine makes three layers, but that’s okay. Nobody really NEEDS 3 layers of chocolately goodness. WHAT?! Oh, and the frosting was just heavenly. I will use it forever.
    In light of the recipes you have given us on Cooking Classy, I am considering giving you my Wild Blueberry Carrot Cake recipe. It is the first recipe that I made myself, and I won Grand Champion at the Alaska State Fair with it last year. Do you think you would like this recipe? Please let me know.
    Beth June 28, 2014 at 8:22pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the cake recipes Elizabeth! I would love to try your Wild Blueberry Carrot Cake! July 14, 2014 at 10:50pm Reply

  • Angela: How do you make this design on the top? August 8, 2014 at 9:28am Reply

  • Melissa: I am making my nephews cake this weekend for his birthday, and this recipe sounds amazing. Would I just double the recipe to make a 9 x 13? October 6, 2014 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I haven’t tried it in that size yet but would probably just leave it as is for a 9 by 13, then you’ll just need to bake a little longer. October 6, 2014 at 1:04pm Reply

  • grace: This cake looks delicious, I have to try it? Should I use dutch processed or natural cocoa powder? October 11, 2014 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I used natural cocoa powder for this recipe. October 11, 2014 at 10:07pm Reply

  • Rebekah: Can’t wait to try this for my daughter’s 2nd birthday this weekend! Couple questions, can I substitute the chocolate buttercream for your other regular buttercream frosting and still have great flavor? Also, does it matter what percent of milk I use? 1%? 2%? Thank you! I’m so glad I found your site! I will definitely be trying more of your recipes soon! October 16, 2014 at 10:37pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think that the vanilla buttercream would also be delicious and you could use any milk as long as it’s not skim. I hope you love this recipe! November 6, 2014 at 10:17pm Reply

  • Michele: Happened upon your recipe as we’re trying to find one to match a local baker’s creation. Amazing! My son, the family chocoholic, took one bite and declared “That’s it!” Thank you! December 14, 2014 at 7:05pm Reply

  • Shannon: Great recipe! I made this yesterday and everyone loved it! Question though, how do you think it would go with a white choc powder rather than the cocoa? My niece has requested a white choc cake and this texture would be great. Thanks! February 1, 2015 at 6:01am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I have never used white chocolate powder, I actually didn’t know it existed so I have no idea how it would work out in this. Sorry I wish I could tell you! Glad you liked this recipe though :). February 5, 2015 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling | Naturally Sweet Eats: […] inspired by cooking classy, frosting adapted from annie’s […] February 19, 2015 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: This cake was delicious, better the next day.
    A tip I read about cakes with a dome, test the temperature of batter before baking, if its too cool, this causes the dome. I think I read it In a book by the Cake Boss, I’m sure there is a website that might confirm this. If the batter is too warm that can create a problem too. April 29, 2015 at 6:10pm Reply

  • Amy: mmm…delicious…even my brother said it was the best cake he had ever tasted…so definatly a hit!!…thnx so much for sharing…lol…:) May 11, 2015 at 1:57am Reply

  • Kate: Hi I’m making my friends birthday cake tomorrow and for decorating purposes I need it to have three layers of cake should I double the recipe and have leftover or make smaller layers? October 3, 2015 at 12:54am Reply

  • Kate: Hi I’m making my friends birthday cake tomorrow and for decorating purposes I need it to have three layers of cake what should I do?

    I am your biggest fan and love all of your recipes. October 3, 2015 at 12:55am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you love my recipes Kate, thanks for letting me know :)! Sorry for the late response but I’d probably do 1 1/2 of the recipe for a 3 layer cake. And I’d recommend using cake strips for this recipe if you have them (you can even do the diy version here, because it comes out pretty domed without then you won’t have to cut off and waste cake. I hope you love this recipe! October 4, 2015 at 12:14am Reply

  • CeeCee: Hi Jaclyn, will your chocolate cake recipe also work for cupcakes & cake pops? Thank you. October 8, 2015 at 7:15pm Reply

  • runa: hi, love what you do with your cakes ! just beautiful ! got a question ….. can i use all regular white sugar instead of brown sugar part ? whats the impact of light brown sugar in a cake recipe anyways ? please answer because i am waiting to make this cake asap! thank you November 19, 2015 at 4:32pm Reply

  • Maya: Hi! Um I was wondering if you could substitute the sour cream for something else? Sour cream doesn’t sound to good in a cake. Haha. I would like to know because I am possibly making this cake this weekend and I don’t want sour cream in my cake. February 3, 2016 at 4:39pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You really don’t taste the sour cream at all if you are worried about it, the slight tang just enhances the flavor of the chocolate. The general rule though is that you could sub whole fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. February 4, 2016 at 6:01pm Reply

  • Emily: I wanted a good chocolate cake recipe minus the coffee ingredient and knew I could come to you. ;) I’m wondering if this is a good cake recipe to top off with GANACHE instead of frosting. It’s for my husband’s birthday and he prefers that instead of frosting. (But I will make it with frosting later) :) Would it go well with this cake? March 21, 2016 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Tory: Hi! I love the recipe I just had a quick question would the frosting still work with a hand mixer instead of the electric stand mixer? Thank you. March 23, 2016 at 6:39pm Reply

  • amy ruiz: Has anybody tried decorating with the icing? Will it have the right consistency to pipe and do other designs with it? I am making a dinosaur cake for my grandson tonight and i will need to decorate using a star tip. I hope you can reply soon.
    Amy April 14, 2016 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Sora: I did not make the cake, but did make the frosting to go on the Cook’s Illustrated Chocolate Layer Cake. The frosting was delicious and light. I have tried too many chocolate frostings that are too heavy and overpower the cake. This one was just right and made enough to fill and frost a 3 layer cake. Thanks for the recipe! 5 stars. June 19, 2016 at 9:41pm Reply

  • Hamda: Do we require 5 eggs with 3 egg yolks and 2 eggs seperately? Or 3 eggs with 2 of them including egg whites and yolks and 1 of them only egg yolk? This is confusing man! June 30, 2016 at 3:08am Reply

  • Asking: En que parte se añaden los huevos? Con las yemas? August 24, 2016 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Elvia: Can this chocolate icing be used for piping, will it hold a shape August 24, 2016 at 6:28pm Reply

  • Kwanjai Techawatanasuk: Is it natural cocoa powder or dutch-process one? In my country, I can only get the Dutch kind. Can it be interchangeable? January 7, 2017 at 9:21pm Reply

  • Juwairiya: Can the sour cream be substituted with buttermilk? June 21, 2017 at 12:25pm Reply

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