There’s something to be said for a chocolate cake recipe that you can whip up at 9 o’clock on a Friday night, after a serious doozy of a week, when you need some baking therapy that requires little to no brain power. By the time this past weekend hit, I think anything requiring technique or poise in the kitchen would have had induced some kind of cerebral short circuiting – I imagine there would have been sparks, probably some twitching and likely even drool.
Okay fine, so there might have been drool anyway.
Actually, when the cake emerged, there was probably drooling and clapping. I tell you that because I trust you won’t judge me.
This cocoa-based cake is deeply chocolatey and incredibly moist. It surprises me every single time with how good it is for something so easy. It is a great emergency chocolate cake to have in your repertoire for forgotten birthdays, last-minute visitors, or urgent Friday night chocolate cravings. I love to smother it in gooey marshmallow frosting (the seven-minute kind made with just whipped egg whites, sugar, and vanilla). Mmm… Drooling again. Note to self: try to control that. This time I smothered it instead with a super easy cocoa buttercream frosting. Not the fancypants Italian buttercream, the shortcut American-style buttercream that is basically just butter, icing sugar, and cocoa powder. Again, brain short-out aversion strategy.
I have used this recipe to make sheet cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, mini cupcakes… really, you can’t go wrong. Everything gets tossed in the standing mixer (no creaming of butter and sugar, or alternating between dry and liquid as in typical cake recipes), poured into cake pans, and popped in the oven, easy as 1-2-3.
Note: I have been asked dozens of times if you can taste the coffee, and the answer is no; it does not taste at all like coffee. You won’t know it’s there, it just deepens the flavour of the chocolate and the heat helps smooth out the batter and get rid of lumps. But feel free to use just plain boiling water in its place.
Chocolate Cake Recipe Variations
This chocolate cake recipe has been the most popular post on Foodess.com for years – it has been pinned hundreds of thousands of times, and for good reason! Everyone who makes it falls in love, and everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe. You won’t be disappointed. It’s still my go-to, no-fail, delicious chocolate cake recipe for every birthday, celebration, or Valentine’s Day.
I’ve made many variations on it since it was originally posted, and due to popular request have shared the Fluffy Chocolate Frosting recipe to go with it. I’ve also made it as Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting and as Caramallow Cupcakes – chocolate cupcakes filled with creamy caramel and topped with deliciously sticky marshmallow frosting. That frosting, also known as seven-minute frosting, was the way we enjoyed chocolate cake most often when I was a kid and is still probably my top choice. Another favourite way to enjoy this beloved cake is very simply with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
One of the most common questions I get is on how to adapt it for cupcakes or another size cake pan. For cupcakes, bake at 375ºF for 20-24 minutes, until the tops feel slightly springy when pressed. To adapt to a different size pan, if the pan is smaller, start checking doneness 10 minutes sooner, if the pan is larger, give it more time and cover with aluminum foil if the top is getting dark before the middle feels slightly bouncy (your finger shouldn’t sink, like it’s still raw beneath the surface). If you’re not sure, grab your cooking thermometer – the temperature should be 205ºF in the middle. Start testing when the cake has risen and is a shade darker.
This chocolate cake recipe freezes beautifully and I’ll typically make it a few days in advance when preparing for a party. Just wrap the cooled cakes well in plastic wrap before popping them into freezer bags. Freeze them until ready to use, and you can frost them while still cold (this actually makes it easier to spread the frosting). I do make sure that it’s at room temperature by the time it’s served for best texture (although my husband loves it straight from the fridge). If you love this one, I’ve got lots more cake recipes be sure to check them out!
Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans (or line with parchment paper circles) and set aside.
- In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.
- Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.
- Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or frosting.