March 2, 2015

Best Chocolate Cake EVER

Last Summer I started a quest. A quest to find the perfect chocolate layer cake. I found a few fun ones, like that Double Dark Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing (I mean, woah), but that wasn't quite what I was looking for. I wanted classic, special occasion. birthday party layer cake. And guess what?? I found it! Luckily for me, Stephen wanted a chocolate cake for his birthday party this year, AND we had a Super Bowl party to make dessert for, so I got to make it twice, just to be absolutely sure it was perfect. In fact, I made it dairy-free for the birthday party, and it was still completely scrumptious!

Best Chocolate Layer Cake EVER (adapted slightly from Add a Pinch)
*high altitude adjustments in italics*

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder (1 tsp)
1½ teaspoons baking soda (1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup milk (I used coconut milk for my dairy free version)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs (3 eggs)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350ยบ (360 for high altitude) degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch straight-sided cake pans and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix on medium speed until smooth and well combined. Carefully add boiling water to the cake batter and beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few crumbs. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans, on a cooling rack, for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and continue cooling completely before frosting.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1½ cups salted butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder

*I made this frosting dairy-free as well, with margarine and coconut milk, and it was awesome!*

Cream together butter, vanilla, espresso powder and cocoa powder until smooth and well-combined. Begin adding sugar and milk by alternating 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Be careful when adding the sugar, start your mixer on low or it will poof everywhere! Repeat until your frosting is thick and spreadable. I actually stopped at 4 cups of sugar, it was thick enough and plenty sweet!
First of all, this recipe was such a cinch. Can you believe there's no butter in the cake recipe?! I couldn't!! But you would never know, and I don't miss it at all! Stephen was very happy with his birthday cake, and the Super Bowl party guests cleaned the platter. The dairy-free version was a huge hit with Stephen's best friend, she even asked me to print out the recipe so her Mom could try it!
This chocolate frosting is to die for, seriously. If you stick it in the fridge for a little while, it basically turns into a truffle wrapped around a cake! It's rich and deep and velvety, I was amazed that it turned out so chocolate-y just with cocoa powder! I usually scrape most of my frosting off my cake, but I seriously could not get enough of this stuff!
My cake never turned out quite as gorgeously fudgey as the original (link by the recipe title, you should really check it out!) but that's kinda the deal with high-altitude. (I will say that the non-dairy version was just a hair more dry) It was darn close though, and still, hands-down, the best chocolate layer cake I've ever had. **EDIT 1/28/2016: I fixed it!! I adjusted the adjustments and now it's gorgeously fudgy!! The above recipe and printable have been changed**

Soft and fluffy, smooth and chocolately, moist and delicious. Sooo good! And you know I don't get that excited about chocolate! File this one away folks, you're going to want to try it!


  1. I"m making dinner for Miles' bday and I was wondering what cake to make! I will make this one!
    Thanks. Even for a chocolate hater, this looks really good and all my chocolate lovers will love it!

  2. This looks and sounds soooo good! Makes me want chocolate!! :)

    1. Makes me want chocolate too, and I'm not even a chocolate lover! My Dad actually demanded one, no occasion, just "So when are you making me this cake?" He gets one this weekend. :) Thanks for commenting!!

  3. This sounds great! I am bookmarking it because my nephew can't have dairy. I already have my own favorite chocolate cake recipes (er, 2)...I did a massive taste test with a bunch of recipes about a month ago. I think for sure it comes down to personal taste, but it sure is exciting to find a winner that you can always count on to be your favorite!! Anyways, I'm so glad to be able to note your recipe modification as a dairy-free option!

    1. I know, right?? I couldn't believe it when I saw there was no butter! That's a LOT harder to replace than milk! But take my word for it, its fantastic as a non-dairy option. I'd love to see what your very favorite recipe is, I'm always looking for more!

  4. I wish Todd liked chocolate cake! This looks wonderful! xoxo

    1. Well, then you'll just have to demand it for your birthday! Or someone else's... :)

  5. Um. So the Mormon in me doesn't know where to buy Espresso powder... is it just in the coffee aisle? I want to make this cake!

    1. Yep, it should be in the coffee aisle! Look for instant espresso, mine came in a little jar. If you can't find it, 2 tsp of regular instant coffee will work just fine. Good luck! I hope you love it! :)

  6. Chocolate Coma Right Here! Yum!!

  7. Is that 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder? If it is then that's about our entire box of cocoa

    1. Yep, it is! Trust me, this frosting is worth it :)


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