Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
This is definitely the Best Chocolate Cake Recipe with 3 moist tender layers frosted with a decadent Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Chocolate on chocolate is always a crowd-pleaser with my family!
This Chocolate Layer Cake is perfect for holidays, birthdays or anytime you want to treat a chocoholic to a special treat!
Why You Must Make
- This is a decades-old recipe from Hershey’s and, as expected, the cocoa company had a fantastic chocolate cake recipe.
- A three-layer cake makes a beautiful, impressive statement!
- This is perfect for any celebration.
I thought I found the best ever chocolate cake when I baked my Triple Layer Cocoa Cake, but it’s no fun to make the same cake over and over. So when my friend, Sandra, made this recipe and shared a photo of a decadent slice, I knew I had found my son Nick’s birthday cake! He was adamant that his celebration would involve a homemade chocolate cake and the birthday child always gets what he wants!
- Kitchen Staples – Sugar, All-purpose Flour, Baking Soda, Salt, Eggs
- Cocoa Powder – Not hot cocoa mix, but unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s or Ghirardelli)
- Baking Powder – Typically expires before you use it all. Check the expiration date and replace if needed. If you’re unsure, put a spoonful into a glass of very hot water. It should bubble vigorously if it’s still active.
- Buttermilk – Store-bought buttermilk works best, but in a pinch, a buttermilk substitution can be made by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or neutral-colored vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup. Add 1 cup of milk, stir, then let rest a few minutes to allow the mixture to thicken before using.
- Butter – I use salted butter since a touch of salt enhances even dessert recipes. There is not enough salt in the butter to make the cake taste salty.
- Vanilla Extract – Read the label and make sure you’re not using artificially flavored vanilla. Real vanilla extract always tastes superior.
How to Make
Though I love doctoring up a chocolate cake mix when time is short, there’s nothing better than a cake from scratch. And when you add a third layer, it’s even more celebratory!! It’s the same Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe, just divvied up between 3 cake pans. The buttermilk in the batter is the secret ingredient that makes the cake so unforgettable!
- Get out all the ingredients needed. Note that the eggs and butter for the frosting should be at room temperature for easier incorporation.
- Prep your pans and preheat the oven.
- Mix the batter in the order directed.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three pans.
- Bake as directed.
- Remove to cooling racks, release after 10 minutes or so, then making the frosting.
- When completely cool, frost and layer the cakes.
- Dig in!!
- PRO-Tip: Adding buttermilk is key to making a tender, moist cake.
- By mixing together the dry ingredients first, the baking soda, baking powder and salt will be well dispersed before adding the liquids.
- Preheat your oven before starting to make the batter.
- Also, prep your pans before you start mixing. I like using Bakers Joy as it’s one step, but you can also butter and flour the pans. Then line each pan with a round of parchment paper to ensure the bottoms release properly.
- PRO-Tip: Don’t skip the coffee. Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate without an overt coffee flavor.
- Pull your butter out of the refrigerator early so it comes to room temperature. This will make a creamier frosting.
- Also, sift your powdered sugar before using. It’s notorious for having small lumps and this will also help make a smoother frosting.
- PRO-Tip: Cool your cakes about 10 minutes before releasing from the pans. This gives the exteriors enough time to firm up so the cakes retain their shape. I like to gently jiggle the pan back and forth or run a knife around the perimeter to make sure they release perfectly.
- Make sure your cakes are cooled to room temperature before frosting so the frosting doesn’t melt into the cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
The acid in buttermilk helps break down the gluten fibers in the flour. Gluten is what gives baked goods their strength and structure. It forms an elastic web of proteins when the gluten-containing flour is mixed with liquid. If you want a tender cake, using cake flour works because it contains less protein/gluten. Since this recipe uses all-purpose flour, the buttermilk helps deactivate some of the gluten’s power.
There are two ways to make sure your cake layers are the same height. One is to use a few toothpicks to check the depth of the batter. Just add some batter to your pans, then use a clean toothpick to check the depth of each. Don’t completely distribute the batter as you will need some extra to add to those pans that need some more. Add batter to those with less, checking and rechecking until all pans have about the same amount of batter.
A more efficient method is to use a kitchen scale. Having all the same brand of pans helps, so they all weigh the same. Start by adding batter to each pan without using all the batter. Weigh each pan and add more batter to the pans that weigh the least. Keep weighing and adding batter until all 3 pans weigh approximately the same and the batter is all used.
There are special fabric strips that are moistened and wrapped around the pans before baking. The moisture of these cake strips helps keep the edges from heating up faster than the middle and helps the whole cake bake at the same rate. You can make cake strips at home from an old towel. Just cut strips the height of your pan in a length that will wrap around the outside of the pan with enough overlap to pin to secure.
To use the cake strips, wet them and squeeze out excess moisture. Wrap around the outside of the pans and secure them with safety pins. Bake as directed. Alternatively, Wilton makes cake strips you can purchase. See a link in my recipe card FYI. They’re also available at Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics.
You May Also Like:
- Wacky Cake from Namely Marly
- Devil’s Food Cake
- Coca Cola Cake
- One Layer Fudge Cake
- Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Filling
- Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake
- More Cake Recipes
Moist Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
A classic, old-fashioned chocolate cake with chocolate frosting! Perfect for birthdays and special occasions!
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 cup hot coffee (I used one cup boiling water with 2 teaspoons instant coffee)
- 12 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 1/3 cups powdered sugar
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour (or use Baker's Joy) three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment rounds and grease the parchment, too. Set aside.
- With a stand mixer, stir together the first 6 (dry) ingredients. Add eggs, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla and beat for about 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping sides of the bowl at least once. Stir in coffee.
- Divide batter between the three pans. I like using a kitchen scale to divide the batter evenly. The batter will be thin.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around edges of pans. Carefully remove cakes from pans to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently remove parchment.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, cream the butter. Add cocoa and powdered sugar alternately with milk. Beat until it reaches spreading consistency, adding more milk as needed. Mix in vanilla.
Adapted from Foodess and Hershey's.
If you do not have buttermilk on hand, a simple substitution is to add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, then fill it with milk to the 1-cup mark. Let rest for 5-10 minutes to thicken, then mix and use.
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9-inch USA Pan Bakeware Round Cake Pan
4-Piece Bake Even Strip,Cake Pan Dampen Strips,Super Absorbent Thick Cotton,Cake Strips for Baking,Cake Pan Strips
Nicewell Food Scale, 22lb Digital Kitchen Scale Weight Grams and oz for Cooking Baking, 1g/0.1oz Precise Graduation, Stainless Steel and Tempered Glass
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 568Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 546mgCarbohydrates: 105gFiber: 3gSugar: 82gProtein: 7g
46 Comments on “Best Chocolate Cake Recipe”
That really does look like the best chocolate cake ever! Really like the sound of the frosting.
Wow this is really looking best recipe of choco cake.
Easy and simple way of preparation.
This truly is the best chocolate cake. We love making it at least once a month.
Everyone at my house really loved it! Such a huge hit! Can’t wait to make it again!
I always appreciate your baking tips in your posts, Liz! I have been craving a classic chocolate cake, and this looks like just the ticket! That icing is just perfection. Slice me up a HUGE piece, please!
What a pretty cake, Liz! I can imagine how delicious it is and I’d love a slice now. Buttermilk is great for cakes like this and the buttercream frosting never hurt anything it’s on. Yum!
What a great idea with the strips of fabric, will definitely be making my own this holiday season. The chocolate cake looks wonderful, love double chocolate cake. And this is such an easy recipe, who needs a box cake?
I can only put 2 9 in. Cake pans in my oven. Could this cake be baked in 2 9in. Pans? Would be nice to make this cake for Christmas.
Hi, Mary! Yes, this cake can easily be made into a two-layer cake. The layers may need to be baked a few minutes longer. Enjoy!!!
That looks spectacular! Love that smooth tender crumb…simply perfect!
This chocolate cake is SO GOOD! Literally divine, every crumb was eaten!
This cake is chocolate heaven! It is so incredibly moist and the rich chocolate frosting tops it off perfectly! This one is on permanent rotation at my house!
Always a good thing t have chocolate on chocolate 🙂 and I do love adding buttermilk but did not know the science behind it. Thanks for the info!
Oh boy, did someone say breakfast??? Well… I’d be having a big ole slice with my coffee if I could:@)
Wow, what a cake! I can already imagine the taste of it. Yum.
Lizzy-Your chocolate cake is so decadent, and elegant, this would be the perfect cake for birthdays, holidays, and any occasion. Simple, beautiful, and the chocolate curls are all the decoration you need. Thanks for the inspiration, and for sharing this amazing recipe!!!
Delicious looking chocolate cake!! There’s nothing like a huge slice of cake and cold glass of milk.
What a decadent chocolate cake, so perfect for a birthday celebration!
I love this recipe, it’s really close to Hersey’s which is so moist. I’m always in the mood for a piece of chocolate cake.
Your son is so lucky to have this chocolate birthday cake – coffee always enhances that chocolate flavor 🙂
I bet your son won’t forget this birthday cake. Just got home from N. Carolina and your cake looks as beautiful as some of the desserts I saw this week. Your desserts always look wonderful, no wonder they wanted two!!!