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Black Magic Snack Cake slice on a square white plate

Black Magic Snack Cake

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This moist, decadent  Black Magic Cake is iced with a silky chocolate buttercream frosting. A perfectly portable dessert, it’s baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan and is terrific to bring for picnics and potlucks!

I had no event in which to take this easy dark chocolate cake, but with home renovations in progress, I’ve scaled back to simpler dessert creations. This two bowl, easy chocolate cake recipe was a win for me, a win for the family.

A slice of Black Magic Snack Cake on a white square plate with a raspberry garnish

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What is a Black Magic Cake?

Black Magic cakes have been around for eons. Originating from Hershey’s, this moist, rich cake is infused with a cup of strong coffee to intensify the chocolate flavor. This 9 x13-inch version makes for a perfect snack cake. A slice of this old fashioned, chocolate buttermilk cake is a delightful after school treat or after-dinner dessert and is definitely less caloric that a slice of layer cake laden with frosting.

Speaking of buttermilk, this ingredient works its magic, too, by ensuring a tender crumb. And take a gander at the photo below and you’ll see why the frosting bowl must be licked! The chocolate buttercream is smooth and luscious.

Black Magic Snack Cake in a white 9 x 13-inch pan partially frosted with chocolate buttercream

Easy Dark Chocolate Cake

Maybe not quite black, but this recipe does make a dark chocolate cake. King Arthur Flour sells a black cocoa that could create an even darker cake. It’s Dutch-processed so you can’t just swap it out for regular cocoa as the leaveners also need to be tweaked. But feel free to accentuate the intensity by substituting 1/4 cup or less of the regular cocoa powder for the black cocoa if you’d like to go that route.

This dark chocolate cake recipe is also super easy. Only two bowls needed. One for the cake batter and one for the frosting. Baking it in a 9 x 13-inch pan makes it a snap to frost compared to a layer cake.

Tips for Making This Black Magic Cake

This cake can be made as a Bundt cake, layer cake, cupcakes or a snack cake, like above. All of the alternatives are baked at 350 degrees, but the baking time will vary:

PRO-Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand you can make it at home. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Add milk up to the 1 cup mark. Let sit for a few minutes as the acid will slightly curdle or thicken the milk. Use as “buttermilk” in the recipe.

More Chocolate Cake Recipes You’ll Love

When it comes to any celebration at our house, invariably a chocolate cake recipe will be requested. A Gooey Upside Down German Chocolate Cake would be my first choice, though we’d all enjoy a big slice of this French Silk Chocolate Cake. This Chocolate Turtle Bundt Cake is a delicious option and my family adores my old-fashioned Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake or my Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake.

Check out my Best Baking Tips for more tips for baking desserts along with my recipe index for more Chocolate Recipes and Cake Recipes.

Black Magic Snack Cake slice on a round plate with a red fork with small piece of cake in the foreground
Black Magic Snack Cake - an old fashioned chocolate buttermilk cake with chocolate buttercream

Black Magic Snack Cake

A one layer chocolate cake that's perfect for picnics, potlucks and family gatherings!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield 24 servings



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick butter)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour  one 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake  35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Frost as desired.

4. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

5. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.


Cake recipe adapted from Hershey's.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 241mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 31gProtein: 3g


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Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

31 comments on “Black Magic Snack Cake”

  1. Chocolate and coffee are simply amazing together. This looks so tender, soft and tempting with that frosting.

  2. This looks amazing and I love the idea of a “snack cake” – that’s a perfect snack in my book! I also love that you used the word “gander,” I use that all the time and never hear anyone else do it, lol!

  3. I love the mix! And that photo is fabulous!

  4. This is my favorite frosting ever! I think I could just eat the whole batch with a spoon. lol.

  5. I haven’t made a cake in so long here but have been dying to. This Black Magic cake looks perfect! It’s not multi-layered leaving you with that awful full feeling even though it tastes great on the way down. I love that it’s in a single sheet pan with just one layer of icing, yet rich and delicious!

    I actually have some black cocoa powder I believe mine is Guitard. So basically I have all the ingredients on hand with the exception of buttermilk but that’s easy. Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to trying it. Happy Father’s Day to your hubby!

  6. I love the coffee added in here – it amps up the chocolate flavor perfectly! Yum.

  7. This looks unbelievably decadent!  I’m a sucker for chocolate cake in any form and I could go for several pieces right now!

  8. Oh yea, I’d snarf this down in a heart beat:@)

  9. I could snack on that beautiful cake all day long, Liz! 🙂

  10. That is a beautiful thing! I must make this, especially as cupcakes. My little grandgirlie would love these for sure. Thanks for the baking time tips for the different shapes and sizes.

  11. This looks like it would be perfect for guests or a small party!! Love the baking tips!!

  12. Hi Liz – this cake looks divine!!! Love it. Buttermilk adds to the tenderness. And “needing” that dark cocoa is a great excuse for me to hop in the car for a hop, skip and a jump up to King Arthur – one of my fave places. Always looking for an excuse… xoxo

  13. Such a perfect slice! I want some of this cake so badly!

  14. A snack cake sounds so lovely and I love the fudge frosting!

  15. Total dessert decadence going on right here! I’m sure this cake disappears fast!

  16. Well I would say this is a win for us also Liz! And not just a yellow ribbon…this one is definitely blue!

  17. Snack cakes are perfect for taking to friend’s houses! This one would be a hit with anyone who loves chocolate, and who doesn’t?

  18. This looks absolutely amazing!

  19. I just love how perfect this looks and sounds! Black magic indeed!

  20. This is the most perfect chocolate cake. Just the right amount of frosting too!

  21. Amazing and I love the name!

  22. Love the look of this cake after taking a “gander”. I also use this word and my husband says it is an old fashioned word. Who cares? I love it! I use many words from the past because they are appropriate for the situation!

  23. Lovely recipe Liz! Is that the buttermilk which makes the cake moist?

  24. My goodness this cake looks fabulous. It looks like a dessert from a fancy restaurant. We love chocolate cake. So glad you join us at Merry Monday. We would not want to miss out!

  25. If all of my kids were home this would last about an hour. It’s gorgeous! I’ve purchased black onyx cocoa from Savory Spice Shop (?) and from King Arthur and loved them both.

  26. Haven’t made yet but wondering if I could substitute Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour?

  27. Made this cake last night and took some to my friend who cuts my hair. She just sent me a text “Holy hell!!! I swear on my sons life that is the best cake I have EVER had! 🤣 Too funny!

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