This chocolate cake is decadent and irresistible! The chocolate cake is moist and fudgy and the chocolate buttercream frosting is smooth and packed with chocolate! This is the best chocolate cake recipe!
Ingredients for Chocolate Cake
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour works perfectly in this recipe.
- Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar to sweeten the cake.
- Dark cocoa powder: You can also use regular, but dark cocoa powder adds a deep chocolate flavor and dark chocolate color.
- Baking soda: A leavening agent to help the cake rise.
- Baking powder: Another leavening agent to help the cake layers rise.
- Salt: Salt enhances the flavor of the chocolate in the cake.
- Milk: Room temperature milk. You can also use buttermilk.
- Eggs: Eggs should also be at room temperature.
- Vegetable oil: Provides moisture without weighing the cake down.
- Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract enhances the flavor of the chocolate (believe it or not).
- Boiling water: Boiling water helps bring the batter together.
- Espresso powder: Espresso powder also enhances the chocolate flavor. And no, it does not make the cake taste like coffee.
Chocolate buttercream frosting
- Unsalted butter: Room temperature.
- Powdered sugar: No need to sift unless the powdered sugar is super lumpy.
- Salt: A pinch of salt contrasts the sweetness.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract enhances the chocolate flavor.
- Heavy cream: Heavy cream dissolves the sugar a bit, making the buttercream smooth.
- Dark cocoa powder: Dark cocoa powder adds a rich, chocolatey flavor to the frosting.
How to Make Chocolate Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and parchment circles.
- In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt). Whisk to combine.
- Add in eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined.
- Combine boiling water and espresso powder. Pour into the cake batter.
- Mix the cake batter until combined and smooth.
- Fill the prepared cake pans with batter, divided evenly among the pans.
- Bake the cake layers for approximately 30-35 minutes.
- Cool the cakes in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Whip the room temperature butter for about 5 minutes until light, fluffy, and pale in color.
- Add in half of the powdered sugar and mix on the lowest speed until the sugar is combined with the butter. Then add the remaining half and continue to mix on low speed.
- Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue to mix on low until combined.
- Add in the cocoa powder. Mix on the lowest speed to incorporate into the frosting.
- Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl after this step to ensure everything is well mixed.
- Turn the mixer to medium speed and whip the buttercream for about 3 minutes.
- (Optional) Switch to a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for an additional 5 minutes to remove air bubbles and made the buttercream silky smooth.
For additional flare, you can also make a chocolate ganache drip for the sides of your cake. Check out my recipe blog post on chocolate ganache for more information.
Chocolate Cake Recipe Tips
Bake perfect cake layers
Check out my baking tips blog post on 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cakes for simple ideas to help make your chocolate cake turn out perfect!
Use dark cocoa powder
Even cake layers
To create even, uniform cake layers, I recommend using a kitchen scale to portion the cake batter into pans for even baking.
Assembling the cake
Level the cake layers before frosting
Before icing the cake with chocolate frosting, level the cake layers by cutting off the cake “humps” with a serrated knife. This will ensure that your finished product is even and beautiful!
Storing and serving
Store the frosted chocolate cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cover any exposed cake with plastic wrap to prevent the cake from drying out. Serve the cake at room temperature for the best taste and texture.
- 3 7" round cake pans
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup dark cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk or buttermilk substitute room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tsp espresso powder
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup dark cocoa powder
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare cake pans using cooking spray and parchment circles.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Add in room temperature eggs, buttermilk or buttermilk substitute, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the dry and wet ingredients are just combined.
- Pour in boiling water and espresso powder and slowly whisk until the water and cake batter are combined and smooth. Do not overmix.
- Divide batter evenly between your cake pans (see equipment for sizes). Use a kitchen scale to ensure that the batter is equally divided.
- Bake cakes for approximately 30-35 minutes in the oven until the cakes spring back when gently touched or toothpick comes out clean. *Please note that baking times may be different for different size pans (see blog post for more information).
- Remove cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans on a wire rack until they are at room temperature.
- Run a knife or small offset spatula between the cake and edge of the pan to loosen from the edges. Invert the cakes to remove from the pan.
- Recommended but not required: Wrap cooled cakes in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
- Level cakes using a serrated knife so that the layers are flat.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add in room temperature unsalted butter. Whip the butter for 5 minutes on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides occasionally. The butter will be light, fluffy, and pale in color.
- Add one half of the powdered sugar and mix on the lowest speed setting until fully combined. Add remaining powdered sugar and continue to mix on low until incorporated.
- Add in vanilla extract and salt.
- Add in dark cocoa powder and mix on the lowest speed until well combined.
- Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure the frosting is well mixed.
- Turn the mixer to a medium speed and whip for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway to ensure that the ingredients are well combined.
- If desired, switch to a paddle attachment on the stand mixer and mix buttercream on low speed for 2 additional minutes to remove air bubbles to create smooth frosting.
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream.
- Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir.
- Microwave on 15 second intervals, stirring in between until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Spoon the chocolate ganache into a disposable pastry bag or plastic sandwich bag to drizzle onto the cake.
Assembling the Chocolate Cake
- Place one cake layer on a cake board or plate. Add desired amount of frosting to the top of the layer and spread evenly.
- Continue to repeat this process until the layers are stacked.
- Spread a very thin layer of frosting all over the cake (crumb coat). Chill your cake for 30 minutes until the buttercream is firm to the touch.
- Frost the cake using the buttercream. For smooth results, use an offset spatula with a bench scraper.
- Chill cake for another 30 minutes.
- Take slightly cooled chocolate ganache and gently drizzle down the sides of the cake and spread it over the top.
- Using a pastry bag with a 1M piping tip, create swirls of buttercream around the top edges and bottom edges of the cake.