This is absolutely The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake. It is the only chocolate cake recipe you’ll ever need. It’s perfect!
Everyone who’s tried this cake has commented on how amazing it is. The cake is rich and extremely moist from buttermilk. It gets extra flavor and subtle tanginess from cream cheese chocolate buttercream frosting.
I actually like to cut the pieces of this cake smaller than I would other cakes because of how rich and intensely chocolate it is. Get the milk ready!
This cake was adapted from Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe. I switched out the milk for buttermilk to make it extra moist and flavorful. Then, instead of using a standard chocolate buttercream, I added cream cheese. The subtle tanginess of the cream cheese balances out the sweet rich chocolate of this cake perfectly.
How To Make Chocolate Cake
*Note: The full printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post.
- Add sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl.
- Add buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl.
- Use an electric mixer to mix until well combined.
- Add hot water to the batter.
- Mix well. The batter will be thin.
- Pour the cake batter into two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Cool completely before frosting.
Make The Cream Cheese Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Add cocoa powder to melted butter.
- Stir until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese and powdered sugar.
- Mix with an electric mixer until creamy.
- Add half of the chocolatey butter.
- Mix well.
- Repeat with additional powdered sugar and the remaining chocolate butter.
- Beat until light and fluffy.
- Spread 1/3 of the frosting on one of the cake rounds.
- Top with the second cake round.
- Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
Why Isn’t There Coffee In This Recipe?
Some recipes call for coffee to bring out the rich deep flavors of chocolate. I use a different method, blooming. Blooming cocoa powder is mixing the cocoa powder with a hot liquid, like hot water or melted butter.
For this cake, simply mix hot water into the cake batter before it’s baked. The hot water reacts with the cocoa powder in the batter, enhancing its rich chocolate flavor. I don’t even boil the water. Just use hot tap water.
For the frosting, the cocoa powder is bloomed by mixing it with melted butter, creating intense deep chocolate flavor.
What Makes Moist Chocolate Cake?
- Use oil. Don’t try to switch out the oil in a cake recipe for butter. In general, butter may taste better than oil, but baked goods are more moist when made with oil. This cake is so flavorful, it doesn’t need butter.
- Use buttermilk. The acid in buttermilk reacts with the other ingredients in the batter to create a moist, flavorful cake.
- Don’t over bake. I highly recommend testing the cake for doneness even if it doesn’t look done yet. Cake can have a soft spot in the center that looks different, even if it is cooked through. Inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake should come out with moist crumbs, but no raw batter.
What Type Of Cocoa Powder Should I Use?
I recommend Hershey’s Cocoa Powder because you can get it in almost any grocery store in America, and it works. This is unsweetened cocoa powder, NOT the sweetened mix used to make hot chocolate.
You could use another brand of naturally processed cocoa powder, like Nestle or Ghirardeli. I would not recommend Dutch processed cocoa powders in this recipe because they are less acidic and produce less rise in the cake.
How To Store
Make sure to cover the cake so it doesn’t dry out. I use a dome covered cake plate that seals shut to keep air out. I typically store it at room temperature for up to 4 days. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Some people prefer to store it in the refrigerator, just because cold cake is yummy.
More Decadent Dessert Recipes
- The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Decadent Chocolate Cream Pie
- Cheesecake Stuffed Pecan Pie
The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
For The Cake:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (naturally processed, like Hershey's)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk well shaken (full-fat if you can find it)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot water (does not need to be boiling)
For The Frosting:
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (naturally processed, like Hershery's)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
Make The Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter and lightly flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add the buttermilk, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed for two minutes.
- Add the hot water to the cake batter. Mix on medium speed until well combined (the batter will be runny).
- Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the countertop to release some of the air bubbles in the batter.
- Bake on a center oven rack for 32 to 34 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out with moist crumbs, but no raw batter on it. Test the cake for doneness at 32 minutes, even if it looks like the center needs to rise more.
- Cool for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans. Place the cakes on wire cooling racks until they have cooled completely (around 2 hours).
Make The Frosting:
- Add the butter to a medium size sauce pot and place over medium-low heat. Heat until the butter has just melted. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt to the butter. Stir until the cocoa is smooth.
- In a large bowl, add the room temperature cream cheese. Whisk with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Add half of the powdered sugar. Beat until combined.
- Add half of the chocolate butter. Beat until combined.
- Repeat, alternating with the remaining powdered sugar and chocolate butter.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on medium-high speed for two minutes, until fluffy.
Frost The Cake:
- Place one of the cooled cake rounds on a cake plate. Add about 1/3 of the frosting.* Spread evenly over the top of the cake.
- Top with the second cake round. Add 1/3 of the frosting. Spread evenly over the top of the cake.
- Use the remaining 1/3 of the frosting to cover the sides of the cake.