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4.88 from 8 votes

Our Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe (a PSA)

This chocolate cake recipe is a staple in our family, making appearances at birthdays, dinner parties and any other events that give us an excuse to make it.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: desserts and Sweet Stuff
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate cake
Servings: 12
Calories: 592kcal
Author: Kaitlin


For the cake:

  • a couple tablespoons butter (for greasing the pans)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for pans)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder (Hershey's Special Dark is especially good for this recipe!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (shaken; If you don't have buttermilk, feel free to substitute 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. I've gotten great results creating this substitution with skim milk, 2%, whole, or even half and half!)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (the stronger the better)

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (170g, baking chocolate or regular chocolate chips are both fine)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 extra large egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Grab some parchment paper and trace two outlines of the cake pan. Cut out the outlines (Perfect circles, voilá!) and place a sheet of parchment into each of your pans. Then butter and flour the pans again with the parchment paper in the bottom.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until combined. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  • Now grab your brewed coffee, and with the mixer still on low, slowly add the coffee. Mix just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything's thoroughly mixed. The resulting batter will be quite thin.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, and then (carefully) turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. If you didn’t use the parchment paper, definitely grab a butter knife to loosen the cakes first. The moist crumb makes these guys pretty delicate.
  • While the cakes are done cooling, prepare your chocolate frosting.
  • Measure out your chocolate (if using bars, chop into pieces first) and place in a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Another cheat—it can be a little warm. Your frosting will be safe.
  • While that's happening, use your electric mixer + paddle attachment to beat 2 sticks of butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar. The original recipe says to sift it—but really, just beat the frosting a little longer to get rid of any clumps! Continue to beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Then add in the chocolate and beat until combined. Be careful not to over-whip the frosting.
  • At this point, you can dissolve the instant coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hot water, and add it into the frosting. This step is optional.
  • Now, to frost the cake! Place the first cake layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal. Ina says flat side up. I say whichever the less mauled side is should be facing up. With a butter knife or offset spatula, spread with frosting—a little more than a ¼-inch thick. Carefully place the second layer on top, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.


Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 423mg | Potassium: 282mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 600IU | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 2.7mg