This is an incredibly decadent and moist cake with an an intense chocolate flavor. It is easy to make and will quickly become your go-to chocolate cake recipe.
I have baked this cake more times than I can count. It is hands down my most requested cake, and for good reason. It is soft and moist with a rich, intense chocolate flavor. It is easy and fast to make and can even be done without an electric mixer which I have done on a number of occasions. You will want to keep this one in your recipe box for an easy and reliable recipe that will always give you fantastic results.
The secret ingredient in this cake is coffee yet it does not taste anything like coffee, just chocolate, chocolate chocolate!! Since coffee has the same flavor elements as chocolate it deepens and actually compliments the chocolate flavor without making it taste like coffee.
Adding the hot coffee to the cocoa will melt the cocoa solids and cause the flavor molecules to burst and intensify the chocolate. I mix the hot coffee with the cocoa then let it sit and come to room temperature while I am preparing the rest of the ingredients. This is a simple step that makes a huge impact on the depth and richness of the chocolate.
Every time I make this cake someone comments that it is the best chocolate cake they have ever had. The crazy thing about it is that this cake is the easiest cake I have ever made. There is nothing better than an easy recipe that turns out incredibly delectable.
I keep the ingredients for this cake on hand at all times just in case I need a quick dessert. The ingredients are simple and inexpensive. If your not a coffee drinker then keep some instant coffee in your pantry, stir a spoonful into some hot water then add it to the cocoa.
I adapted this recipe from the back of the Hershey’s cocoa box. I have increased the amount of the cocoa to balance out what was otherwise an overly sweet cake. The result is a perfect chocolate cake.
You can use any brand of unsweetened cocoa powder as long as it is not Dutched processed. This cake uses baking soda as a leavening agent which needs an acidic ingredient in order to achieve proper rise and to balance out the flavors. Believe it or not, chocolate is a naturally acidic ingredient but Dutched processed cocoa has been treated to neutralize the acidity and does not react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda.
I made four layers out of this cake by cutting each of the layers in half horizontally. This is an easy task to do with the use of a cake leveler but if you don’t have a leveler and don’t feel comfortable slicing the layers by hand then I have provided instructions to bake the cake in 4 different pans. Just see the notes at the bottom of the recipe card.
- 1 cup (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
- 1 cup hot coffee (240 ml)
- 2 cups sugar (400g)
- 1 ¾ cup (210g) all purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk (240 ml)
- ½ cup vegetable oil (120 ml)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (120 grams)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4½ cups (560 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of two 8 or 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper, grease and flour the sides. (The parchment paper will make the cake come out much easier than just grease and flour).
- If you prefer to bake the cakes in 4 separate pans, see the notes at the bottom.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the hot coffee and cocoa together until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a whisk, blend and sift the ingredients together.
- Add the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and the cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds until the dry ingredients are moist. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and beat for another minute. The batter will be thin.
- Pour the batter into the two prepared pans and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes for the 9 inch pans or 33 to 37 minutes for the 8 inch pans (a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes should come out clean).
- Let cool in the cake pans for 5 to 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cake from the pans. Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper. (At this point if you re-invert the cakes onto another rack and let them cool with their tops up, they will retain more height and the tops of the cakes will not stick to the cooling rack.)
- To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and beat on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar until it is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high speed for 1 more minute.
- Slice each layer of cake in half horizontally by using a cake leveler or by placing each layer of cake on a turntable and use a serrated knife to slice through the cake as you turn the turntable. This will give you 4 layers to fill and stack. To transfer each layer, use a thin plastic cutting board to slide under the layers.
- Put a dab of icing on a cake plate and place a cake layer on top of the plate. Use ¾ to 1 cup of frosting to spread between each layer of cake then use an off-set spatula or knife to ice the top and sides of the cake.
Use natural cocoa not Dutch processed.
This cake stores 1 day at room temperature, 6 days in the refrigerator and 3 months frozen if wrapped airtight