The Perfect Chocolate Cake

filed under: Chocolate Cakes on November 10, 2013

The Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe paired with a Perfect Chocolate Buttercream then decorated with simple rosettes. This is the perfect cake!


Chocolate Cake Recipe

No matter how you decorate this chocolate cake recipe with chocolate buttercream it will taste delicious! This recipe (and the many variations) has been around for many years. This is my version and one that we have been making for many years with great success!

Chocolate Cake on Cake Stand

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

What makes this recipe the best? First off, it is inspired by Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe which is the same recipe my grandma used. They added coffee to their cake which does magical things to chocolate. Second, this is truly a MOIST and flavorful chocolate cake. Is there anything worse than dry cake? Nope. You will never have that problem with this recipe!

The Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe and Perfect Chocolate Buttercream on White Cake Stand

I used two 8-inch pans for my cake, but you can also use 9-inch pans. If using 9-inch, you will want to decrease the bake time by up to five minutes. And don’t forget to use GOOP to prepare your pans… it is the BEST!

Do you have to have coffee in this perfect chocolate cake recipe?

1. No, you cannot leave it out.

2. I mean it.

Ok, ok, so you can if you want. But here is what the coffee does… it enhances the flavor of the chocolate. The cake does not taste like coffee at all… it simply tastes more rich.

If you simply must not use coffee, you can substitute hot water.

Overhead of Chocolate Cake with Rosette Frosting

How to Make a Chocolate Cake

First, I recommend reading through the ingredients and making sure everything is out and ready. The eggs and buttermilk should be room temperature so getting them out of the fridge ahead of time will solve that for you. (Same with the butter in the chocolate buttercream recipe.)

Make sure dry ingredients are sifted and measured properly. When measuring flour, get out your container or bag. Open it and use a fork to stir it, or sift it, loosening it up. Spoon the flour into a dry measure cup then use the back of a knife to level the cup off. (Or you can measure your ingredients on a scale.)

Use the proper tools. For instance, this recipe used a stand mixer. You can use a hand-held mixer (or even stir by hand) but make sure the ingredients are fully mixed and incorporated before moving on to the next step in the recipe.

Use the best quality ingredients if you are able! Dark cocoa’s or high-quality cocoa, fresh eggs, and good quality vanilla make a difference! Feel free to upgrade to all organic ingredients. When it comes to substitutions though, I do recommend making the recipe as-is first, then altering it to make it yours. If you are making adaptations at a higher altitude, be sure to check out my High Altitude Baking Tips.


Homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe with Pieces Missing on Cake Stand


This is one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  It’s moist and fudgy but still has a light cake crumb.  It’s got a depth of flavor (which I would attribute to the coffee) and a distinct rich deep chocolate essence.

Piece of Chocolate Cake on Plate with Raspberries

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

I am often asked how to make this recipe gluten-free. I recommend a good quality gluten-free flour that can be used interchangeably with all-purpose flour. This recipe is best when gluten is used, but will still taste delicious with gluten-free flour.

Double Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of my favorite ways to jazz up this cake is to add chocolate chips to it. My favorite option? Mini chocolate chips! They add the perfect texture and bursts of chocolate. One fun trick when doing this is to add a semi-sweet or dark chocolate chip. For instance, if you are using standard cocoa powder (as the recipe is written) then add semi-sweet chips. If you are using dark cocoa powder or dutch process, try adding milk chocolate chips.

Chocolate Cake with Fruit on Top

Chocolate Wedding Cake

Folks often ask if this is like bakery chocolate cake, or if it can be used in wedding cakes. Yes and no. The flavor and consistency are very similar to a bakery chocolate cake except that it is MORE moist in my experience. Can you make a wedding cake with this recipe? Well, that really depends on the type of wedding cake you are making. The highest I have ever stacked this cake is 4 layers, so I cannot speak its’s durability beyond that. If you are covering this chocolate cake recipe with fondant it may not stand up because of the moisture level.

I made my cake in two 8-inch round cake pans and then divided each layer in two. This made for a 4-layer chocolate cake.

5 from 50 votes
The best recipe you will ever try!
The Perfect Chocolate Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

This rich and decadent chocolate cake has been around for decades and is always a crowd-pleaser! Perfectly moist, rich, and flavorful.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: The Perfect Chocolate Cake
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Amanda Rettke
  • 1 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (112g) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (240g) buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (90g) good unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (237g) freshly brewed hot coffee (I use decaf)
  1. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
  2. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into two 8-inch round prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350°F, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out mostly clean (not wet).

  4. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
5 from 50 votes
Grandma's Classic Recipe!
The Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Amanda Rettke
  • 2 c unsalted butter 4 sticks at room temp.
  • 7 1/2 c powdered sugar or one 2lb bag
  • 1 c good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c whole milk or heavy cream
  1. ***THIS RECIPE IS FOR A CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM ROSE CAKE. You may need to halve this recipe if you are not making buttercream roses!***

  2. Place room temperature butter and vanilla into a stand mixer and beat at medium-high for about three minutes. You want it to appear lighter and fluffier.

  3. While butter is in mixer add powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt to a bowl and mix with a whisk. (sift)
  4. With mixer off, add in one cup of the powdered sugar and cocoa mixture. Turn mixer on to low and then slowly add in remaining powdered sugar mixture, one cup at a time.

  5. With mixer still on low, add in milk. Turn mixer to medium high and blend for at least two minutes.
  6. Frosting will appear very light, but it will darken as it sets.

Piece of Chocolate Cake


I want to share with you 3 AMAZING TIPS for making the perfect chocolate cake recipe.

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients. I say this all the time, but it really is important in baking. To quickly warm up eggs, place them in hot water for a minute or so. To heat up milk or buttermilk, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients. Cocoa is notoriously lumpy and you do not want lumps in your cake. Make sure you sift all dry ingredients at least twice.
  3. Do not open the oven door until cake is almost done. The cake needs to be mostly set before opening the door or the cold air could make it collapse.

Once you get your chocolate fix be sure to try the Perfect White Cake!

If you are planning on making a chocolate rose cake as well, here are some posts to help you along.

Original Rose Cake – Photograph Tutorial

Rose Cake Tutorial on Youtube

The Perfect Birthday Rose Cake

Royal Wedding Rose Cake

Gender Reveal Rose Cake

Neapolitan Rose Cake (one of my favorite cakes of all time!)

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  • Krissy says:

    I have not made this recipe yet and I’m considering using cake flour instead of AP flour. Is this a good idea?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Krissy! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not made this recipe with cake flour, but if you use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour, use 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of cake flour for each cup of all-purpose flour. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Saray Morales says:

    Hi! I really love this recipe and, for me, is one of the besta chococolate cake ever! But for no reason, lately my cakes are having problems. The center is collapsing every time and I don’t know what’s happenning 🙁 I really want to bake them even. Please help me!

    PD:I use room tempeture ingredients and I sift my ingredients 3 times.

    Thank you!

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Saray! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. It could be the oven temperature. Use an internal thermometer to make sure your oven is the temperature that it is set. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Swizel Quadros says:

    Baked this cake and it was an absolute delight however I got a sandy texture in my cake. Why do you think I got that texture?
    I could feel some sandy thing in my cake

  • Jess says:

    I make this recipe all the time and it’s AMAZING. making it for a smash cake for my friends 1yo’s bday and she would like less sugar. Could I cut it back without making the cake flop? Or maybe substitute the sugar with coconut sugar so it’s not so “bad” lol.

  • Mayia says:

    Hi! I tried this cake recipe and the centers fell in. Any recommendations on how to fix this next time? I used an oven thermometer and my oven was set to the correct temperature. I’m wondering if it could be climate-related (I live in a very humid area). Thank you!

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Mayia! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Humidity can definitely affect baking. A couple of things you could try are reducing the liquid in the recipe and increasing the baking time. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Etin Laidler says:

    This cake was moist and chocolatey!! I love chocolate! Only thing was everyone got big pieces of salt from the kosher salt?? Did I do something wrong? I loved it but didn’t get any pieces of salt. Thank you.

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Etin! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. You could try fine kosher salt next time for a smaller grain of salt. I hope that helps, and have a great day!

  • Anu says:

    I made this cake today with chocolate buttercream frosting (on the same website) for my husband’s birthday and I must say this is the best chocolate cake I have made so far. I would love to try more recipes from here. Thank you so much for sharing the recipes.

  • Annie says:

    How do i make buttermilk for this recipe?
    Can I use nescafe and what is the measurement?

  • Mashruka Khaled says:

    Can I add extra egg if large eggs are not available at home?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Mashruka! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. You should be fine using large or extra-large eggs in this recipe. Have a great day!

  • Susan says:

    I am gong to make this recipe – you list cocoa power for the frosting but don’t say if it is sweetened or not. Can you clarify?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      It’s unsweetened cocoa powder.

  • Rabi says:

    Hey .. i love this cake receipe.i would love to try it.can u tell what should i use if i dont get kosher salt??

  • Chip says:

    my email address is an, not Gmail. You site won’t accept it as valid.

  • Shireen says:

    Hello. I have been baking this cake for several years now, with the frosting, and it is a huge family favorite. In fact, extended family love it too. Could I bake this recipe as cupcakes? If so, how many would I get, I wonder, and how long should I bake them? Thank you!

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Shireen! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tried making this recipe as cupcakes, but generally, most cake recipes can be made as cupcakes. However, you will need to watch the baking time because the cupcakes will take less time (up to half the baking time) compared to the cake. The cupcakes are done when a clean toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it, but not wet batter. Let us know how they turn out and have a great day!

  • Anna says:

    Hi! Exactly how big are those extra-large eggs you are using? G?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Anna! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. You could use large or extra-large eggs in this recipe, for the same result. I hope that helps, and have a great day!

  • Nurse Sibiya says:

    I love your recipes

  • Victoria Kolawole says:

    Pls what is the quantity of coffee to be use and its its be desolve in water? If yes, what quantity of hot water?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Victoria! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Use 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee in this recipe. If you are making one cup of coffee, you would generally add 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee to the water. You could also substitute hot water for the coffee if you don’t have any brewed coffee on hand. Have a great day!

  • allison says:

    is there a substitute for buttermilk?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Allison! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tried a substitution for buttermilk in this recipe, but we do have a few homemade buttermilk recipes if that helps you out. Have a great day!

  • Stella says:

    Hello, thanks for the receipe. I really want to try it out but at what point should the chocolate chips be added? Thanks

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Stella! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Fold in the chocolate chips (up to 2 cups) after adding the coffee (right before pouring the batter into the pans). Have a great day!

  • Jody says:

    I love all the little things you say that makes the cake just Scrumptious! Thank you so much for sharing

  • Tracy L House says:

    I have made this cake 100 times. It’s delicious and always turns out so good. However tonight it collapsed in the center completely. What did I do wrong? Oven temp was right. I didn’t open the door. A double checked my ingredients. The only real difference is I doubled the recipe; could that have had some affect?

  • Maya says:

    Stating that it’s the perfect chocolate cake is not a lie. I made this cake last week, and not only was it super easy to make, it was the probably one of the most delicious cakes I ever made and ever tasted. Even after a few days in the fridge (covered) it stays moist and delicious. Definitely on my list of recipes to keep!

  • vicki says:

    This really is the perfect chocolate cake! I’ve made this twice already and the second time I halved the recipe to bake in a 9 inch square pan for like a small sheet cake and it still turned out amazing 🙂 The texture is fantastic; Super moist, soft and not too sweet. Thank you!!