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Intense Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This is an incredibly decadent and moist cake with an intense chocolate flavor. It is easy to make and will quickly become your go-to chocolate cake recipe.

intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

I have baked this cake more times than I can count.  It is hands down my most requested cake, and for a good reason.  This cake is soft and moist with a rich, intense chocolate flavor.

This cake is easy and fast to make and can even be done without an electric mixer which I have done on many occasions. Check out our chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream to see how I modified the recipe and only used a whisk to mix the batter.

You will want to keep this one in your recipe box for an easy and reliable recipe that will always give you fantastic results. This really is an intense chocolate cake. 

intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

Secret Ingredient

The secret ingredient for this intense chocolate 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.

Why Should the Coffee be Hot?

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.

Rave Reviews!

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.

intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

I guarantee you will get rave reviews for this cake. You don’t have to tell anyone how easy it is to make. Let them think you slaved all day making the most perfect chocolate cake for them! (Because you love them so much).

In the video, I used a mixer to blend the ingredients but honestly, the batter comes together perfectly fine with a hand whisk. You don’t even have to worry about over-mixing the batter like most cakes. Seriously, you just can’t mess up this cake.

intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

 An Intense Chocolate Cake

This recipe was adapted from the back of the Hershey’s cocoa box.  I have increased the amount of cocoa to balance out what was otherwise an overly sweet cake.  In addition, I switched the hot water for coffee to complement and enhance the chocolate. The hot liquid is added directly to the cocoa powder to ensure the cocoa solids melt.

The result is a perfect and intense chocolate cake.

You can use any brand of unsweetened cocoa powder but the recipe works best if you do not use Dutch-processed cocoa.  This cake uses baking soda as a leavening agent which needs an acidic ingredient to achieve proper rise and to balance out the flavors.

Believe it or not, chocolate is a naturally acidic ingredient, but Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated to neutralize the acidity and does not react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda. The cake will rise higher if you do not use Dutch-processed cocoa.

intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

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.

I made this cake with a super creamy, decadent cream cheese frosting. It’s a great combination that everyone loves. If you want a double dose of chocolate, our double chocolate cream cheese frosting is out of this world! 

Video: How To Make Our Intense Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Check out our video and see how easy it is to make this intense chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

For other decadent chocolate recipes:

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Intense chocolate cake

Intense Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

An incredibly moist and intensely chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

  • 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

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (120 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups (560 grams) powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. 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).
  2. If you prefer to bake the cakes in 4 separate pans, see the notes at the bottom.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the hot coffee and cocoa together until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a whisk, blend and sift the ingredients together.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter, and beat until soft and creamy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla beat on low speed until the sugar is mixed in then beat on high speed until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Assemble the cake:

If you baked in two pans:

  1. 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.
  2. Put a dab of frosting on a cake plate and place a cake layer on top of the plate. Use 3/4 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.

If you baked in four pans:

  1. Put a dab of frosting on a cake plate and place a cake layer on top of the plate. Use 3/4 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. 

Notes

  1. If you prefer to bake the cakes in 4 separate pans, line four 8-inch pans with parchment paper and divide the cake batter into the four pans. You will have about 1 1/3 cups or 350 grams of batter in each pan. Bake the cakes, two pans at a time, for 15 to 18 minutes. (you can bake all four pans at the same time if you rotate the pans halfway through the bake time)
  2. Use natural cocoa not Dutch processed.
  3. This cake stores one day at room temperature, six days in the refrigerator and three months frozen if wrapped airtight
  4.  Here is a tip to make it easier to frost the cake: Partially freeze the cake layers for approximately 20 minutes before frosting. After keeping it in the freezer for a short time, the partially frozen cake will be firmer and easier to frost. 
  5. This recipe does well with cupcakes. For standard sized cupcakes, bake at 350°F for 22 to 24 minutes. For mini cupcakes, bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 752Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 598mgCarbohydrates: 99gFiber: 2.9gSugar: 79gProtein: 9.3g

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Sara

Friday 9th of October 2020

Omg best cake EVER! This recipe was super easy and unbelievably delicious! I did four layers and made the full amount of frosting. Next time I’d do only two layers and half the frosting with less sugar. The frosting was supppper sweet and would have been just as delicious without any frosting. Thanks for the recipe - it’s now my go-to cake recipe!!

Dahn Boquist

Friday 9th of October 2020

Yay!!! I'm glad you liked it. This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe too. Thanks for the comment Sara

Olivia

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Could I substitute olive or coconut oil for the vegetable oil without sacrificing the integrity of the cake?

Dahn Boquist

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Yes they both make fine substitutes. They will change the flavor profile a bit and the coconut oil will give the cake a slightly firmer texture but it is still quite delicious. Be careful about the olive oil. Use a very light olive oil because extra virgin olive oil can give the cake a bit of a grassy flavor.

Jennifer

Wednesday 5th of August 2020

Hi. The recipe sounds delicious. I’ve seen many cake recipes that use buttermilk as oppose to regular milk. What are your thoughts on substituting the buttermilk for the regular milk? New to baking cakes from scratch., but want to learn more. Thanks in advanced

Dahn Boquist

Friday 7th of August 2020

Oh yes, buttermilk would work just fine in this recipe. A lot of times, buttermilk will help tenderize a baked good but this particular recipe is already very tender and moist. Switching to buttermilk instead of milk will give a slight tang to the cake.

Jan

Friday 29th of May 2020

Unfortunately my 8” cakes sank in the middle as well. The ingredients were all fresh and the oven temp was preheated to 350 (I used a temp gauge to confirm.)

Dahn Boquist

Friday 29th of May 2020

You may want to try baking it a few minutes longer next time. If it is even slightly underbaked it will sink when it cools

Bob

Monday 25th of May 2020

Hello - What an amazing cake, thank you for sharing this recipe. My family will never need to search for another chocolate cake recipe again! One issue however - I used two 9” pans, but both cakes didn’t fully rise in the middle, leaving a slight bowl. I substituted cake flour for regular flour, so am wondering if that was the reason? I used Hershey’s cocoa powder, Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

Dahn Boquist

Monday 25th of May 2020

Oh gosh, there are several reasons that could cause the cake to fail to rise in the center. 1. Try checking your oven for accuracy. 2. Make sure the oven is completely pre-heated before it goes in the oven. 3. Don't let the cake batter sit for very long prior to putting it in the oven. 4. Make sure it is completely baked before you remove it from the oven.... this is probably the most likely cause of the sunken middle. 5. Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh. 6. Don't keep the oven door open too long when you place the pans in the oven.

Sorry, I can't tell you exactly why but it really depends on so many variables that it is hard to know what went wrong for you. I hope these tips help for the next time you bake the cake. Thanks for the comment.

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