BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe

Best Chocolate Cake

September 1st, 2023
4.84 from 117 votes
4.84 from 117 votes

This Best Chocolate Cake recipe makes for the most flavorful, moist, and tender chocolate cake you've ever tasted! Everyone LOVES it and you don't even need a mixer to make the batter.  Download my free Buttercream guide here!

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Loaded with chocolate flavor and just the perfect balance of sweetness.
Texture: Crazy moist, tender, and fudgy with the silkiest and creamiest chocolate frosting ever!
Ease: The cake batter is crazy quick & easy. The frosting is a little more involved, but totally doable.
Pros: Best ever chocolate cake… need I say more?!
Cons: Nope, none.
Would I make this again? Of course, this is already my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

This Best Chocolate Cake recipe is your new go-to cake recipe! Birthdays, Christmas, dinner parties, you name it – this cake is the perfect crowd-pleasing dessert. 

beautiful best chocolate cake recipe iced in easy and delicous chocolate buttercream frosting

I have a confession to make. I’m not a big cake fan. As a professional baking blogger, I know this is basically heresy.

But I just find the majority of cakes out there to be either dry and bland, sickly sweet and artificial tasting, or so light in texture that I would rather have a brownie.

That is, until I met this cake! This is the BEST chocolate cake recipe I’ve EVER tried!

a slice of fudgy chocolate cake on a plate with a fork, ready to serve

I could eat this cake and the chocolate frosting weekly… for eternity!

When this best chocolate cake comes out of the oven, the tops of the layers are actually shiny and slightly crackled, almost like a brownie. That’s how fudgy it is.

The cake batter itself is so crazy easy to whip up. You don’t even need a mixer for the batter. That allows you to focus your energies on the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which truly takes this cake to another level.

You could totally have fun and get creative with flavors and fillings here as well. Maybe add some orange zest to the cake & frosting, some raspberries or jam to the filling, or some salted caramel for good measure?

But sometimes there’s nothing better than pure chocolate indulgence. You’ll want to go totally Matilda on this cake!

I hope you make this chocolate cake from scratch for someone special soon!

closeup look at the buttercream frosting

How to Make the BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe

What Kind of Chocolate is Best in Chocolate Cake?

We can’t make the best chocolate cake without paying attention to the chocolate ingredients! The cake contains:

  • Both bittersweet chocolate AND Dutch-process cocoa powder, for as much chocolate flavor as possible.
  • The chocolate frosting uses melted chocolate for the most intense and pure chocolate flavor possible.
  • I like to use semisweet chocolate but feel free to use milk or bittersweet chocolate.
  • Just make sure you’re using the highest quality chocolate you can.

Do I Have to Use Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder?

I do recommend you stick with the Dutch-process cocoa as it actually works differently on a chemical level compared to regular natural cocoa. So why am I using Dutch-process cocoa with baking soda for this recipe? Shouldn’t it be baking powder? Here’s why:

  • Dutch-process cocoa has more fat than most grocery store natural cocoa powder products, so it’s actually used for flavor and moisture in this specific recipe.
  • The vinegar in this recipe activates the baking soda. Do not substitute or skip this.
  • You can find Dutch-process cocoa at many gourmet food stores, like Target, Whole Foods, Sur la Table, and Williams-Sonoma.
  • You can also buy it easily online from Amazon.
  • If you can’t find it, you can use regular unsweetened cocoa powder, just remove the vinegar in the recipe completely.
  • You can learn more about the differences between cocoa powders here.

Why is There Espresso Powder in Chocolate Cake? Can I Omit it?

  • You may have noticed that some chocolate cake recipes utilize hot water or even hot coffee.
  • When hot liquid is combined with the cocoa powder, it helps to dissolve and ‘bloom’ the cocoa to bring out as much flavor with as few cocoa lumps as possible.
  • In this recipe, I use a combination of hot water and instant espresso powder.
  • The espresso simply enhances the chocolate flavor without actually tasting like coffee.
  • Alternatively, you could use strong hot coffee for the same effect.
  • I never have coffee on hand so for me, espresso powder + hot water is easier and cleaner.
  • If you don’t like the taste of coffee or espresso, just use hot water and omit the espresso powder completely.

What’s the Best Pan for Baking Chocolate Cake?

This recipe uses two 8-inch round cake pans. I love these Fat Daddios pans because they bake evenly and come out cleanly.

How to Make MOIST Chocolate Cake

The ingredients below all help to create a moist, tender, and fudgy cake, for the BEST chocolate cake ever.

Oil vs. Butter in Chocolate Cake

  • This chocolate cake recipe calls for vegetable oil instead of melted butter.
  • Oil creates an ultra-moist texture and open, slightly spongy crumb.
  • Cakes made with oil feel more “moist” because the fat is a liquid at room temperature so it coats the tongue.
  • Be sure to use fresh vegetable oil. Give it a sniff before using to make sure it doesn’t have any off flavors.
  • Feel free to use melted coconut oil instead of vegetable oil!


This best chocolate cake recipe uses a combination of granulated and brown sugars, which:

  • Creates a cake that’s flavorful, moist, and fudgy.
  • Brown sugar is more hygroscopic, which basically means it draws and attracts moisture more than granulated white sugar.
  • I also like the slightly complex butterscotch flavor it adds.
  • Don’t reduce the amount of sugar in this chocolate cake recipe – learn why here


The more whole eggs a cake recipe has, the richer it’ll be. Since the yolk contains most of the fat in an egg, it also lends richness to cakes. Adding an egg yolk to this recipe also helps increase the fudge factor. Be sure your eggs are at room temperature so they blend into the batter smoothly.

Can I Bake a Chocolate Cake Without Eggs?

Eggs are a critical part of this particular recipe. If you replace them with a substitute. you’ll likely end up with a texture that’s much less rich and fudgy. However, if you can’t have eggs then my friend Gemma has a great tutorial on replacing eggs in baking recipes.

Why Use Sour Cream in Chocolate Cake?

This also adds such a lovely richness and balance of flavor to this Best Chocolate Cake. It helps make the cake more tender and fudgy. Be sure to use full-fat sour cream that’s at room temperature.

Can I Substitute the Sour Cream?

Full-fat plain Greek yogurt also makes a fine substitute if you don’t have sour cream. I haven’t tried any dairy substitutes.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

  • This recipe uses my all-time favorite frosting: Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
  • It is a little more advanced, but the result is a frosting so silky, smooth, creamy, and not too sweet. It’s 100000% worth the effort.
  • The ingredients & directions are included in the cake recipe below, but I also have an entire step-by-step tutorial on how to make chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream here.
  • I think the best part about this buttercream frosting is how easy it is to work with. It literally just glides right onto the cake effortlessly.
  • Since it is so silky, it’s not the best frosting to use for any super intricate cake decorating.
  • If you don’t want to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you could make a double batch of this dark chocolate buttercream instead, or even use my decadent chocolate ganache recipe!

    Do I Have to Keep Best Chocolate Cake Refrigerated?

    Since frosting acts as a protective seal that keeps the cake moist and fresh, frosted cakes can be stored at a cool and dry room temperature for up to 2 days. Here are my best tips:

    • Cover with a cake keeper to keep the chocolate buttercream frosting intact.
    • Don’t use plastic wrap, which will not only ruin your frosting but also create condensation that can cause the frosting to separate.
    • I personally don’t worry about keeping frosting at room temperature since the sugar acts as a preservative, but if this concerns you then just keep the cake in the fridge.

    How Can I Turn This Into Chocolate Cupcakes?

    Lucky for you, I already have a Best Ever Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe here! It’s the same base as this recipe.

    a slice of rich, moist chocolate cake

    More Cake Recipes:

    My Favorite Cake Tools:

    4.84 from 117 votes

    How to make
    Best Chocolate Cake

    Yield: 12 servings
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour
    This Best Chocolate Cake recipe makes for the most flavorful, moist, and tender chocolate cake you've ever tasted! Everyone LOVES it and you don't even need a mixer to make the batter.  Download my free Buttercream guide here!


    For the cake:

    • 8 ounces (227 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 2/3 cup (57 grams) Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
    • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder*
    • 1 cup boiling water
    • 1 3/4 (222 grams) cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup (227 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil*
    • 4 large eggs plus one egg yolk, at room temperature
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    For the frosting:

    • 2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and at room temperature
    • 12 ounces (340 grams) semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Make the cake:

    1. In a medium heatproof bowl add the chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Pour hot water over mixture. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture gently until smooth then set aside to cool.
    2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, salt, and baking soda.
    4. Whisk sour cream, oil, eggs, egg yolk, vinegar, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until smooth, being careful not to overmix. Batter will be thin.

    5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

    Make the frosting:

    1. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a saucepan filled with 1-inch of gently simmering water. Whisking gently and constantly, heat mixture until sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened and foamy and registers 150°F on a candy thermometer or a digital thermometer, about 3 minutes.
    2. Fit stand mixer with whisk attachment (not the paddle attachment) and beat the egg white mixture on medium speed until slightly cooled and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. If the mixture looks curdled, that’s okay. Just keep beating until it becomes smooth. If the butter becomes too warm and greasy, refrigerate the bowl for 10 to 15 minutes then continue to beat until smooth.

    3. Add chocolate and vanilla and mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.


    1. Place one cake layer on a cake turntable or cake stand. Spread an even layer of frosting all of the cake layer, pushing it out over the edge just slightly. Place the other cake layer upside-down on top of the frosting so that the top of the cake is nice and flat. With an offset spatula, spread the remaining frosting evenly all over the cake, smoothing the edges. Serve or cover and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature for an hour before serving.

    Recipe Video

    Recipe Notes

    If you don’t have espresso powder, you can use 1 cup hot coffee in place of the powder + boiling water.
    This recipe uses vegetable oil, make sure it’s fresh and doesn’t have an off smell before using.
    To Make Chocolate Cake Ahead of Time:
    Cake Layers: Wrap unfrosted, un-cut, cooled cake layers in several layers of plastic wrap and place inside a freezer bag. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
    Frosting: Frosting can be made 1 day ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Warm frosting in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds and re-whip on low, until creamy again, before frosting the cake.
    Frosting can also be transferred to a ziptop bag or airtight container and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge overnight then rewhip in the stand mixer on low until light and smooth.
    Course : Dessert
    Cuisine : American
    Keyword : birthday cake, chocolate cake, chocolate fudge cake, moist cake

    This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated with additional baking tips and recipe improvements. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

    Tessa Arias
    Author: Tessa Arias

    I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

    Tessa Arias

    About Tessa...

    I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

    Find Tessa on  

    Leave a Comment & Rating

    Add a Review or Question

    *Please select a rating to complete your comment.

    Recipe Rating

    1. #
      Michelle Brown — November 14, 2023 at 7:40 pm

      I only have 10 inch round pans. Should I double the recipe?

    2. #
      Deb — October 12, 2023 at 7:06 am

      This frosting looks amazing! Would it also be really good to pipe on cupcakes? Will it be stable enough and hold up? It looks amazing.

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 13, 2023 at 8:15 am

        Hi Deb! Yes, this frosting is perfect for piping on cupcakes! It’s a softer frosting, so it won’t hold up super well to very intricate piped designs, but it will look beautiful and hold up well with a simple star tip. If you find the frosting is a little too soft, refrigerate for 5-10 minutes to firm up slightly, refrigerating a few minutes longer if needed until it’s slightly firmed but still pipeable. Keep the frosted cupcakes refrigerated until about 1 hour before serving, for best results. Let us know how it goes 🙂

    3. #
      Debbie — October 7, 2023 at 7:32 pm

      I am confused about this meringue buttercream. I noticed in your freebie download it says to whip it until stiff peaks but this one did not say that. is that correct? of so, why?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 9, 2023 at 9:16 am

        Hi Debbie! This Swiss meringue style buttercream uses a different method compared to American-style buttercream, so reaching stiff peaks isn’t as important here. Feel free to use either variety of frosting on this cake, but in our opinions, nothing beats the silkiness of this style of buttercream 🙂 Follow Tessa’s directions in the recipe for beautifully smooth, delicious Swiss meringue buttercream! Enjoy!

    4. #
      Elizabeth — October 6, 2023 at 1:16 pm

      This is probably a long shot, but have you ever made a Barbie cake? I want to recreate one for my sister. Any tips on how I might adjust the ratios for this recipe? Thank you!!

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 9, 2023 at 9:02 am

        Hi Elizabeth! We haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for sure. Let us now how it goes if you give that a try 🙂

    5. #
      H — September 29, 2023 at 5:11 pm

      I have made some recipes that claim they are the “Best Chocolate Cake.” They were not! But this one….it’s easy, it’s moist and delicious. The flavor is amazing. I was worried about the vinegar but it’s fine. The espresso powder is a must! Thank you for this! I made my own birthday cake with this recipe and it was perfect!

      • #
        Emily — October 2, 2023 at 8:40 am

        Wow, thank you so much for choosing our recipe to make for such a special occasion! We’re thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed it 🙂 Happy belated birthday from Team HTH!

    6. #
      Nancy — September 16, 2023 at 5:32 am

      Could you put this cake in a tube pan or a Bundt pan? I have a recipe for a coconut filling that you put in the middle of the cake by putting some batter in the Bundt or tube pan then put spoon fulls of the coconut filling and then top with the rest of the batter.

    7. #
      Mary Lynn — August 25, 2023 at 11:45 am

      Is there a reason that you don’t use cake flour instead of regular AP? Also, do you think King Arthur AP flour would work well? It has a higher protein content than most AP flour and it works beautifully for my pie crust recipe, but I used it to make brownies and thought it made them too cake-y.

      • #
        Emily — August 28, 2023 at 2:06 pm

        Hi Mary Lynn! We wanted to create a recipe that used more readily available ingredients, so we stuck with AP flour during the development of this recipe. If you’ve found that you notice a more cakey texture using King Arthur AP flour, I’d recommend trying Gold Medal Bleached All-Purpose Flour, Tessa’s go-to!

    8. #
      Beth Sklar — August 19, 2023 at 12:05 pm

      My frosting did not come out light and fluffy. Kind of runny. What did I do wrong?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — August 21, 2023 at 7:45 am

        Hi Beth! When Swiss meringue buttercream gets too runny, it usually just means it’s too warm. Try refrigerating it for 15 minutes or so, and re-whip until creamy and smooth. If it looks curdled at any point, don’t worry – it’ll come back together! This frosting won’t be quite as thick as typical American buttercreams, but it will taste SO delicious, and glide beautifully onto the cake. Let us know how it goes! Happy baking 🙂

    9. #
      Brandy Hodges — August 15, 2023 at 1:43 pm

      Hi! I’m glad I came across your recipe for this chocolate cake. The instructions were very thorough. I’m a novice baker, and I have a question about how my layers turned out. Initially when I checked my cake layers at the 28 minute mark, I was a little scared the batter was going to overflow, as it was all the way to the very top. When I wet back to check at 32 minutes, my layers deflated by about 1/4″. Is this normal or did I affect the cake layers setting when I opened the oven?? I’m wondering if I should rebake the cake as it is for a birthday celebration next week (my judgment call obviously). Right now the layers are in the freezer, so I have no idea of the texture. Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — August 16, 2023 at 7:14 am

        Hi Brandy! I’m glad to hear that the instructions Tessa provided here were clear and easy to follow! It is normal for cakes to rise in the oven, thanks to chemical leavening agents (baking powder and/or soda), along with various other factors (such as creamed butter/sugar, eggs, and more). The batter will rise and it may shrink down a tiny bit as the batter sets into cake and bakes all the way through, but if the cake sinks substantially or very suddenly, there may be several reasons why. Tessa actually just published an article on How to Prevent Cakes & Cupcakes From Sinking – check it out here! I hope that article helps and provides some insight into what causes sinkage. Let us know if you have any further questions! 🙂

    10. #
      P — August 13, 2023 at 10:37 am

      I have made this before, and it is by far the best chocolate cake ever. So, can it be made in three 8 inch cake pans. Yes, the layers will be smaller, but would the sturdiness be compromised?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — August 14, 2023 at 9:37 am

        Hi there! We haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for sure! You would need to carefully watch the bake time and reduce it quite a bit, to ensure the cake layers didn’t get overbaked and dry out. They also would be a little less sturdy, because they would be thinner. Let us know how it goes if you give this a try!

    11. #
      Jayashree — August 2, 2023 at 11:20 am

      Absolute Delicious! My son loves chocolate cake!
      This cake is delicious, moist and flavorful!
      Yum !!

    12. #
      Amari Perry — August 2, 2023 at 6:23 am

      Question can i make this as a 3 layer cake instead of two ? if so is it the same measurement or double ?

      • #
        Emily — August 2, 2023 at 8:42 am

        Hi Amari! We haven’t tried that, but it should be fine. Just know that the layers will be much thinner, so you’ll need to reduce the baking time. Be sure to follow the sensory indicators in the recipe (“until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean”). Good luck!

    13. #
      Renata — July 16, 2023 at 11:50 pm

      this is the best chocolate cake without a doubt !! it’s moist and delicious….. in addition, the frosting/buttercream is like chocolate ice cream. I’ve made this recipe as cupcakes and people rave about how good they are

    14. #
      A — June 10, 2023 at 5:47 pm

      Could this be made in three 8-inch layers? Could I just make them thinner and bake them less?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 12, 2023 at 9:16 am

        Hi A! We haven’t tested that, but yes, that should be fine – just keep a close eye on the cakes as they bake, as I cannot tell you how long they’ll need to bake! Just be sure to follow the sensory indicators (bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean). Let us know what you think about this cake once you’ve given it a try 🙂 Happy baking!

    15. #
      Ella — June 5, 2023 at 3:35 pm

      This cake is the best! I am wondering if it is too heavy to make a tall cake out of (5×8 inches). I will be using Swiss meringue buttercream. Cake will have tea straws, a support board and a center dowel.

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 7, 2023 at 9:12 am

        Hi Ella! We haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for sure, but as long as you use plenty of supporting dowels and keep everything well-chilled to remain firm, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work! Let us know how it goes 🙂

    16. #
      Margot — May 15, 2023 at 10:10 am

      Okay so I only make chocolate cakes that use real chocolate in addition to cocoa and this is TOP TIER. I’m making it for my friend’s wedding cake and I could not be more excited. I added some spice to the cake itself for a Mexican hot chocolate feel. Thank you for this!

    17. #
      Gail — May 5, 2023 at 3:22 pm

      I absolutely love this cake recipe!!! I need to make 6” cakes, please tell me you if you have this recipe for this size or what’s the time adjustment on this recipe along with how many layers it’s would make following this recipe?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 8, 2023 at 8:52 am

        Hi Gail! This cake was designed for two 8-inch pans, and we haven’t tested it in 6-inch pans, so I can’t say for sure how long that size pan will take to bake. Check out Wilton’s guide for this to help you determine this. You will need more than two layers to account for the smaller size – likely 3-4 layers based on your personal preference. Let us know how it goes! Happy baking!

        • #
          Debbie — October 7, 2023 at 7:30 pm

          I cut the and used 2 6″ pans. I set my timer for 20 min and then tested it. I needed about 5 more minutes. That’s how I did mine.

      • #
        Gail — May 9, 2023 at 10:40 am

        Hi there, I received your email.

        Thanks for responding and for your advice. I was thinking 3-4 * 6” pans and then cut some baking time.
        Then I decided to give my customer ( who absolutely LOVES your chocolate cake) an 8” cake for the price of a 6”. After all, it’s her birthday on Mothers Day.
        I really love a lot of your recipes, they are spot on perfect.

        Take care,
        Gail Webster

    18. #
      Caitlin — May 1, 2023 at 9:11 pm

      Hi! I’ll be making this recipe for a friend who doesn’t like super bitter/dark chocolate

      Do you think it would be too sweet if I use semi-sweet chocolate for both the cake and the frosting recipes? Or anything else you’d recommend?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 3, 2023 at 11:16 am

        Hi Caitlin! Feel free to give that a try – we haven’t tested the cake using semi-sweet chocolate, so I can’t say for sure if that will make the end result too sweet. We really don’t find the cake to be too bitter/dark-chocolate-forward as it’s written, but again, feel free to experiment and see what you think 🙂 Let us know what you think of this recipe once you’ve given it a try!

    19. #
      Amanda Willems — April 28, 2023 at 4:26 pm

      That’s supposed to say “I’m now looking…” haha

    20. #
      Katie — April 24, 2023 at 9:16 am

      I made this into cupcakes with Bob’s Red Mill GF flour for a friend, and she said they were the best gf cupcakes she’d ever had! Love the idea of ‘blooming’ the cocoa for a few minutes beforehand. I’ve been a Drost Dutch Cocoa loyalist ever since it won a blind taste test on America’s Test Kitchen. I order it on Amazon, and it is a little pricey, but so worth it. I also reversed the egg proportions because I had used 3 egg whites for the Swiss meringue frosting, so I used 3 yolks and 1 whole egg in the cake. I accidentally left out the oil, but with the extra fat from the yolks and the cocoa powder, it didn’t end up needing it! Definitely holding on to this recipe!

    21. #
      Samantha — April 18, 2023 at 11:26 am

      Would I be able to make a three layer cake with 10 inch round pans?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — April 19, 2023 at 9:57 am

        Hi Samantha! We haven’t tested this recipe using 10-inch pans, as the recipe was written to use 8-inch pans. If you only have 10-inch pans, you can make the recipe as written, but greatly reduce the bake time and stick closely to the sensory indicators outlined in the recipe (bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean). I cannot tell you exactly how long the cake layers will need, because your larger pans will contain much less batter than when we tested this recipe, but Wilton has a guide that might help. Keep in mind that your cake layers (and therefore, the finished cake) will be much shorter than pictured. I hope that helps! Happy baking

    22. #
      Tiff — April 18, 2023 at 10:37 am

      Is it possible to substitute buttermilk for sour cream?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — April 19, 2023 at 9:52 am

        Hi Tiff! We have only made this recipe using sour cream, so we can’t say for sure. If you’re looking for a delicious chocolate cake containing buttercream, check out this recipe here! Happy baking 🙂

    23. #
      Rita N Paul — April 14, 2023 at 2:36 pm

      How would you make a MOCHA flavor taste to this frosting?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — April 17, 2023 at 8:14 am

        Hi Rita and Paul! Add a little instant espresso powder to the frosting to make it a mocha frosting! I’d probably start with about 1 teaspoon and add more to taste. Happy baking!

    24. #
      Jerry — April 5, 2023 at 6:47 am

      Have made this cake several times and it is my all time favorite. Decided to make this cake for 15 of the most accomplished family members who are amazing in the kitchen and tough critics in the baking department.Over several days (and several cakes) they continued to rave about this cake as incredible. Made it Guittard cocoa and chocolate. Also Wholesome organic confectioner sugar., Thanks Tessa for great recipes.

    25. #
      Sheri — March 19, 2023 at 7:32 pm

      What brand of instant espress powder do you use?

    26. #
      Bonnie Cobarruvias — March 3, 2023 at 6:36 pm

      I have made this recipe several times (including the cupcakes) and it’s my absolute favorite! So much, that even going to bakeries searching for my wedding cake flavor, nothing compares!

      I’m seriously contemplating baking my own small cake for my cake cutting ceremony/ to be put on display and then baking a large sheet cake (or this recipe) myself.

      Do you have any recommendations on how to quadruple this recipe to make a large sheet cake, or do you recommend just baking 4 individual cakes and placing them together?

      Can’t decide if I should x4 all the ingredients or just bake 4 separate cakes and icing together. Any input is appreciated! Thanks!

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 7, 2023 at 10:07 am

        Hi Bonnie! Wow, what an amazing compliment! We’re honored to be considered to feature at your wedding 🙂

        Any time you make a double/triple/quadruple batch of a recipe, you run the risk of accidentally missing larger quantities of ingredients (eg adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder instead of 2 teaspoons, for example). Also, most mixer bowls won’t hold such a big batch of batter, and your ingredients may not be properly combined as a result. So, we typically recommend simply making the recipe as-written four times. That being said, if you want to proceed and are confident you’ll add the correct quantities of each ingredient, go for it – just be careful to mix everything thoroughly and scrape the bowl down extra, to account for the large batch. I hope that helps! Good luck and enjoy your wedding!!! 🙂

        • #
          Bonnie Cobarruvias — March 7, 2023 at 10:40 am

          Yes, that makes total sense. I didn’t think about how large the batter would be. Thank you for your input, and I’ll post a follow up in a few months if I decide to make it! ❤️

          • #
            Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 8, 2023 at 7:21 am

            Sounds great, Bonnie! All the best!! 🙂

      • #
        Kim — July 18, 2023 at 5:48 am

        does this cake freeze well , I have made 2 little cakes plus 2, 8 Inc cakes I want to freeze the bigger ones for the weekend , thank you .

        • #
          Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 19, 2023 at 8:04 am

          Hi Kim! Yes, this cake freezes very well! Tessa included instructions for how to best freeze this cake, in the pink tip box above the recipe, under ‘How to Make Chocolate Cake Ahead of Time’. Happy baking! 🙂

    27. #
      muhammadayyan — February 11, 2023 at 8:50 pm

      So lovely cake . I am so excited for making this chocolate cake

    28. #
      muhammadayyan — February 11, 2023 at 7:05 pm

      Hi, My mother love chocolate cakes .I made it .This is my first time baking cake. Everyone appreciate me. This is a lovely recipe.

    29. #
      muhammadayyan — February 11, 2023 at 9:00 am

      Absolutely delicious, My mother love chocolate cakes. I have made the chocolate cake. My whole family loved it. This cake is so delicious, moist and flavorful.

    30. #
      Elaine — February 5, 2023 at 1:19 pm

      Wonderful!! I frosted it with your Best Ever Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, as that was requested by my family. Absolutely yummy!

    31. #
      Mignonne — December 28, 2022 at 1:08 pm

      This recipe popped up on my Instagram and it was so beautiful it made my chest ache. I made this for Christmas and it’s the best chocolate cake I have eaten or made out of multiple recipes I have made or had at bakeries/restaurants. The cake itself is simple but yields a chocolatey cake with a dense but soft crumb. I ate some scraps by themselves and it was good. This is my first time making a Swiss meringue buttercream. It almost went to ruin since it curdled and became soupy. I did keep beating it for a while and also refrigerated at one point and that didn’t help. I watched a YouTube video which said to put it back on the boiler to help the curdles melt partially and then add the remaining butter back in and that made it come together gorgeously. I would recommend whipping the eggs to stiff peaks and then add the butter in smaller increments. Great recipe.

    32. #
      Oksana — November 15, 2022 at 9:59 pm

      This recipe was to die for!!!! my whole family loved it and made me feel like a professional baker. My daughter wants a vanilla layer cake as moist as this with this chocolate icing for her birthday. Do you have a vanilla cake recipe?

    33. #
      Julia — October 18, 2022 at 11:50 am

      I’ve tried other recipes, but none as good as this one. If you follow the simple tricks Tessa gives in the video or are in the written recipe, for the batter and for the frosting you’ll keep doing it, as myself, over and over again.

    34. #
      Laura — October 15, 2022 at 9:50 am

      Our whole house has the wonderful aroma of chocolate as the cake takes just a few more minutes to finish baking! This special chocolate cake is for our soon-to-be (tomorrow) five year old granddaughter. She is a chocolate princess and I think she will be delighted!

    35. #
      Sabrina — September 17, 2022 at 6:44 pm

      This is defintely the best chocolate cake best recipe I’ve used. I’ve always had an issue with chocolate cakes coming out either too dry or the chocolate flavor not really coming through as much. I made this for my dads birthday and it was a sensation. I used a full cup of coffee since I didn’t have instant espresso powder and it was a game changer. Also paired the cake with your buttercream recipe and it was just amazing.

    36. #
      Carrie — September 14, 2022 at 7:46 am

      If using regular cocoa, you say to eliminate the vinegar, so we also eliminate the baking soda and use baking powder?

    37. #
      Rebecca Phillips — September 4, 2022 at 11:07 am

      This cake turned out AMAZING! The whole family loved it. Will definitely make again.

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — September 6, 2022 at 9:49 am

        Yay! So thrilled to hear that, Rebecca!!

    38. #
      Amy — July 18, 2022 at 6:30 pm

      I made the best chocolate cupcakes and decided to give this one a go for my birthday. Hands down the best chocolate cake I have ever made. I haven’t tried out the icing. I decided to go with a Norwegian coffee/chocolate icing that I always had growing up. Amazing! I topped it with shredded coconut.

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 20, 2022 at 8:45 am

        Hi Amy! We are so excited to hear that you love this cake and the corresponding cupcakes so much! Happy belated birthday 🙂

    39. #
      Amy — July 17, 2022 at 5:34 pm

      I’ve made the best chocolate cupcakes and they were absolutely amazing. Best recipe I’ve ever made and I can’t wait to try this one out for my birthday. Is it possible to use a 9×13 sheet pan instead of the round?

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 19, 2022 at 9:40 am

        Hi Amy! I’m so excited to hear that you love the cupcakes so much! We have not tried making this make into a 9×13 pan, but that should work okay – you will just have to watch the bake time carefully, and be sure to remove it from the oven as soon as a toothpick inserted comes out clean (you don’t want to underbake, but you definitely don’t want to overbake!). As we have not tried baking this cake as a sheet cake, I cannot guide you on how long to bake for, sorry! Alternatively, this Chocolate Sheet cake is similar and also delicious, if you prefer not to experiment a little! Happy baking! 🙂

    40. #
      Katie — June 20, 2022 at 1:20 pm

      I made this for Father’s Day because my dad loves chocolate cake. My mom said it was the best chocolate cake she has ever had! Absolutely delicious and moist. The icing is AMAZING! The only chocolate cake I will ever make again.

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 21, 2022 at 6:59 am

        Wow, what a compliment!! So thrilled to hear you all loved this cake so much! 🙂

    41. #
      Laurie — May 17, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Kiersten,
      Thank you for your quick response! I will try your suggestions for using orange extract and zest in the chocolate cake.
      Thanks again,

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 18, 2022 at 6:32 am

        I can’t wait to hear how it turns out, Laurie! 🙂

        • #
          Laurie — June 10, 2022 at 12:02 pm

          Hi Kiersten,
          I finally made the Best Chocolate Cake recipe and added the zest of two oranges and one teaspoon of orange extract. It was delicious! So many compliments on not only the flavor but also the texture and how moist the cake was.
          I also love the fact that I didn’t need to use my mixer!! Thank you for your input

          • #
            Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 10, 2022 at 2:20 pm

            Hooray!! I’m so excited to hear that, Laurie!! I’ll have to make that version for myself sometime – I LOVE orange chocolate 🙂 Thanks for letting us know how it went!!

    42. #
      Morgan — May 16, 2022 at 5:00 pm

      I am not someone who would usually go for chocolate cake over vanilla. I made this recipe for my mom for her birthday since she loves chocolate cake, and I’ve made it at least three times since then. This cake is so delicious, moist, and flavorful. I’m a chocolate cake convert!

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 17, 2022 at 7:38 am

        Hi Morgan! Wow, that’s such a huge compliment, coming from a vanilla cake lover! So happy you love this recipe 🙂

        • #
          Morgan — October 22, 2022 at 3:33 pm

          And I’m still coming back to it!

    43. #
      Laurie — May 16, 2022 at 6:56 am

      I’m looking for a chocolate orange cake recipe. I see it’s suggested to add orange zest. How much would it take in order for the orange flavor to come through?
      Thank you!

      • #
        Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 17, 2022 at 10:27 am

        Hi Laurie! We haven’t tested an orange chocolate version yet, but a tablespoon should be a good starting point. However, if you are looking for a really bold orange flavor, replace the vanilla extract with orange extract in the cake. You can also experiment with adding orange extract or orange zest to the frosting; just be warned that the orange extract is really strong, so a little goes a long way (and you can always add more to the frosting once you taste it). I recommend experimenting with these combinations and seeing what your taste preference is once baked and frosted. Please let us know how you go with these experiments! Happy baking 🙂

      • #
        Carol Scheck — October 30, 2022 at 1:27 pm

        I would like to expand this recipe to use 3 8 inch cake pans, do you have a recommendation on how to do so?

        • #
          Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — November 1, 2022 at 9:21 am

          Hi Carol! We haven’t tested this recipe using three 8-inch pans, as the recipe was written to use just two 8-inch pans. You could make this into more layers in a couple different ways! Firstly, you could make the recipe as written, and once the cake layers have cooled completely, you could slice them both in half horizontally. This will give you four cake layers. Alternatively, if you wish to bake three individual cake layers, you can make the recipe as written, but greatly reduce the bake time and stick closely to the sensory indicators outlined in the recipe (bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean). I cannot tell you exactly how long the cake layers will need, because the pans will contain much less batter than when we tested this recipe, but I would start around 20 minutes and increase by a few minutes at a time from there, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. I hope that helps! Happy baking 🙂

    44. #
      Baishakhi — May 12, 2022 at 12:31 am

      I love chocolate cake. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    45. #
      Kervin — April 22, 2022 at 10:41 pm

      Wonderful blog!! The recipe for Chocolate Cake is stunning. Writing skills are too good. Love your recipe. Thanks a lot.

    46. #
      Dorothy — April 9, 2022 at 10:20 am

      If I use two 7inch pans how should I adjust the bake time? Also if I want to skip the coffee what’s the alternative? Milk? Thanks!

      • #
        Emily — April 12, 2022 at 8:12 am

        Hi Dorothy! We haven’t tried using 7-inch pans, so I can’t say for sure! We recommend using Wilton’s handy cake serving guide. Please check out the pink box above the recipe for more details regarding the espresso powder. Can’t wait to hear what you think of this recipe 🙂

      • #
        Ava — October 23, 2022 at 12:43 pm

        Would you please share the height of the 8 inch cake pans?
        Wanted to use this information for conversion purpose

    Join the Handle the Heat Community

    Cookie Customization Chart
    Do you want a more delicious life?
    Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
    As Seen On....
    NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed