Home > Desserts > Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Best Chocolate Cake Recipe October 8, 2019 | 17 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Three layers of moist and rich Chocolate Cake, frosted with a delicious triple-chocolate buttercream icing. Decorate the outside of the cake or keep it simple with chocolate shavings around the base. This cake pairs perfectly with a large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a tall glass of milk. Utterly sublime. The Best Chocolate Cake It’s no secret we’re obsessed with chocolate at my home, and over the years I’ve shared dozens of chocolate-filled recipes (these Oreo Balls or Icebox Cake are favorites on the site). Today, I’m excited to finally share the absolute-best homemade Chocolate Cake I’ve ever tasted. And this gem of a recipe comes from some of my favorite people — Maria and Josh over at their blog, Two Peas and Their Pod. They recently released a cookbook, Two Peas & Their Pod, and if you haven’t gotten a copy yet, let me tell you how much you need one! It is filled with simple and delicious recipes, gorgeous photography for each recipe, and has the prettiest cookbook cover I think I’ve ever seen. Maria and Josh are sharing their favorite everyday recipes from their kitchen and I’m certain you’ll find dozens of recipes to love. My favorite part of the book is her “entertaining” chapter where Maria shares dozens of foodie party ideas — classy and kid friendly. Congrats Maria, Josh, and boys; the book is beautiful! ❤ And if you get your hands on the cookbook (or already have it), be sure to leave a comment and tell me your favorite recipe from the book! How to make Chocolate Cake The numbered photos above correspond with the numbered descriptions below. Add the dry ingredients in a large bowl. We’ve got flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make sure your baking soda and baking powder are fresh. Dry ingredients are mixed together. Add buttermilk and oil into a separate bowl. Make sure the buttermilk is at room temperature– not cold. Add in the vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Dry ingredients get mixed into wet. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, until just combined. Texture of batter after all ingredients except for hot water have been added. Add in hot water. The hot water “blooms” the cocoa powder, making the cake more flavorful. Don’t use cold or room-temperature water. Finished cake batter. The cocoa powder matters The most important ingredient for Chocolate Cake is the cocoa powder. You want to use a good, high quality Dutch-process cocoa powder. And the better the cocoa powder you use, the better this cake turns out! This is my favorite cocoa powder and what I use in this recipe. QUICK TIP Dutch-process cocoa is made differently than natural (regular) cocoa. Dutch-process is much, much darker than natural. It has a deeper, more intense flavor (kind of like milk chocolate versus dark chocolate), due to a process that amplifies the acidic nature of the roasted cacoa beans. Recipes using Dutch-process cocoa generally use baking powder instead of baking soda, because of that higher acid content. Using the correct cocoa powder in a recipe makes a real difference in the final product! [/quick tip] The cake pans (and lining them) matter I tried this chocolate cake recipe in 8- and 9-inch pans and the cake sank a great deal in the larger pans. While I haven’t tested this cake in other sizes (or pans not meant for cake), I assume there would be similar results. Stick to 8-inch cake pans for best results. Here are the exact cake pans I use. While we’re talking about cake pans, you’ll also want to make sure you line the cake pan with parchment paper. This cake is so fudgy and moist that if the bottom isn’t lined, the cake won’t come out nicely (I speak from experience!). There’s an easy to way to do this; check out this photo slideshow or read the directions below: Tear off a sheet of parchment paper, slightly larger than the cake pan. Fold the parchment in half. Then fold the parchment in half again. Fold into a triangle. Fold the triangle in half again. Hold the triangle against the bottom of the pan from the center outwards. Cut the parchment right where it meets the edge of the cake pan along the curve of the cake pan. Unfold the parchment and press into the bottom of the cake pan. Chocolate Cake: troubleshooting What makes cake moist? Using incorrect ingredients (a natural cocoa powder, for example), over mixing the batter, or baking the cake too long or at too high of a temperature (incorrectly calibrated oven) can result in a dry cake. To make a cake moist, be sure to use Dutch-process cocoa powder and follow baking directions carefully in a calibrated oven. How to get even cake layers When making a layered cake, it’s important to make sure you are dividing the batter equally between the cake pans. It’s important for the cake to look even and pretty, but even more importantly, the layers need to bake evenly. The easiest way to confirm the layers are even is to weigh them! Pour even amounts into each pan and then check the accuracy with a kitchen scale. Adjust the batter in each cake pan so that each pan contains perfectly even amounts. Chocolate Cake tips High-quality chocolate: The better the chocolate, the better the flavor! I love Ghirardelli® or Guittard® chips for the buttercream. Lindt® dark chocolate with sea salt is my favorite chocolate bar to chop for the shavings on the outside of the cake. Spoon and level the flour: If you pack in too much flour, you’ll get dense and dry cake. Here’s a great video showing how to properly measure flour for this recipe. Don’t overbake: To avoid dry cake, you’ll want to make sure you don’t over-bake the layers; they can go from perfectly moist and fudgy to dry and less flavorful in just a few minutes. Let the cakes cool for 30 minutes: Cool in the pan for a half hour before turning them onto cooling racks to continue cooling. Wait for the cakes to be 100% cool before frosting and decorating. Chocolate Cake storage Finished cake: Store Chocolate Cake at room temperature, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, or under a cake dome for up to 3 days. The finished and frosted cake doesn’t freeze and thaw well. Make ahead/Freezing: Carefully wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You could also freeze them wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before frosting and assembling. More delicious desserts Chocolate Pudding Pie no baking required! Chocolate Muffins bakery style Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with a “secret” ingredient Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies reader favorite! Pumpkin Coffee Cake with a streusel and glaze FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Chocolate Cake 5 from 6 votes - Review this recipe Three layers of moist and rich Chocolate Cake are frosted with an incredible chocolate buttercream frosting, made with three kinds of chocolate.Recipe shared from Two Peas & Their Pod cookbook, from Maria of Two Peas & Their Pod SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Chocolate Cake 5 from 6 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Three layers of moist and rich Chocolate Cake are frosted with an incredible chocolate buttercream frosting, made with three kinds of chocolate.Recipe shared from Two Peas & Their Pod cookbook, from Maria of Two Peas & Their Pod Course Dessert Cuisine American Keyword chocolate cake, chocolate cake recipe Prep Time 45 minutes minutes Cook Time 24 minutes minutes Servings 12 -16 slices Chelsea Lords Calories 1213kcal Author Chelsea Lords Equipment3 (8 inch) round cake pansParchment paperNonstick cooking spray IngredientsChocolate Cake▢ 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature▢ ½ cup vegetable or canola oil▢ 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract▢ 1 ¾ cup all-purpose white flour▢ 2 cups white granulated sugar▢ ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (Note 1)▢ 2 teaspoons baking soda▢ 1 teaspoon baking powder▢ 1 teaspoon kosher salt▢ 2 large eggs, at room temperature▢ 1 cup very hot water (Note 2)Chocolate Buttercream▢ 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature▢ 7 cups (2 pounds) confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar), sifted▢ 1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder▢ 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons full-fat chocolate milk (or regular milk or heavy cream), at room temperature▢ 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract▢ ¼ teaspoon kosher salt▢ ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled▢ For decorating: chocolate shavings, sprinkles, or mini chocolate chips (optional)US - Metric USMetric InstructionsPREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans generously with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper (See Note 3), and then spray the parchment paper with the nonstick spray. Set pans aside.WET INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.DRY INGREDIENTS: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder (See Note 1), baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk/oil mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined. Slowly add in the hot water (hot water "blooms" the cocoa powder, making it more flavorful) and stir just to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula before mixing briefly again. Do not overbeat or overmix the batter or it will become dense.BAKE: Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans and bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centers of the cakes. (My cakes are always done at 24 minutes.)COOL: Set the cakes on wire cooling racks to cool in the pans for 30 minutes. Remove the cakes to the racks to cool completely. (You can refrigerate or freeze the cakes at this time.) Do not frost cakes until they are completely cool.BUTTERCREAM: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl halfway through. Add the confectioners' sugar (2 cups at a time) and then the cocoa. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. Pour in the chocolate milk, vanilla, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the melted chocolate. Mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the buttercream is light and fluffy.ASSEMBLE: If the cake layers are slightly domed on top, carefully level them off with a sharp serrated knife or cake leveler. To build the cake, place a tiny bit of frosting in the center of your cake stand (to keep the cake from sliding). Then place the first layer, bottom side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. Using a knife or offset spatula, spread the top of the cake evenly with buttercream. Place the second layer on top of the first, top side up, and spread more buttercream evenly over the top. Repeat with the third layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with chocolate shavings, sprinkles, or chocolate chips, if desired. Slice and serve.BREAKING UP THE PROJECT: Since this is a bigger undertaking than many desserts, you can break up the project by making the cakes in advance. I like to do this so the cake has time to chill, which makes frosting easier. Carefully wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You can also freeze them, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 month. Defrost before frosting and assembling. Video Recipe NotesNote 1: Cocoa powder: The cocoa powder must be Dutch-process (not natural cocoa powder) for this cake. Otherwise it will end up dry and bland. See blog post for my recommendation on cocoa powder. Note 2: Hot water: Coffee can be used in place of hot water, if preferred. Note 3: Parchment paper: Make a parchment paper round liner for the bottom of the cake pans by following these steps: Tear off a sheet of parchment slightly larger than the cake pan. Fold the parchment in half. Then fold the parchment in half again. Fold into a triangle. Fold the triangle in half again. Hold the triangle against the bottom of the pan from the center outwards. Cut the parchment right where it meets the edge of the cake pan, along the curve of the cake pan. Unfold the parchment and press into the bottom of the cake pan. Nutrition FactsServing: 16slices | Calories: 1213kcal | Carbohydrates: 199g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 506mg | Potassium: 326mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 174g | Vitamin A: 1071IU | Vitamin C: 0.02mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 4mg We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.