The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

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It took me years to find the best chocolate cake recipe, the one that we’d make again and again. Not uncharacteristically, it took exactly until I stopped thinking I was better than everyone else and opened my eyes and ears to popular wisdom. This cake is adapted from a 1999 issue of Gourmet, via’s most popular recipe of all time. Nearly 1,400 reviewers can’t be wrong.

This chocolate cake is moist and just the right amount dense, with a tender crumb. In the original recipe, it’s frosted with a rich ganache, but we like it better with a lightly sweet raspberry whipped cream, which also has the distinct benefit of being pink.

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe 780 | Umami Girl


This substantial layer cake could work with a wide variety of frostings, but we almost always use the Raspberry Whipped Cream pictured here. It’s our daughter Celia’s favorite combination, and it makes a gorgeous, simple presentation.

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe 780 | Umami Girl

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Our Favorite Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake recipe is the only one you'll need. It makes a large, satisfying, very chocolaty cake with just the right amount of sweetness. Once they've tried it, people request this cake all the time.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Serves Serves 16


  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I sometimes use Ghirardelli 60% chips to save on chopping)
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups (600 g) sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (120 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, NOT Dutch process (I use Hershey's)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. (Yup, just 300!) Lightly butter both pans or spray with cooking spray. Cut out two circles of parchment paper to cover the bottoms of the pans. Place them in the buttered pans and butter or spray those, too.
  2. Combine the hot coffee with the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs until thickened a bit and lightened in color, about 4 minutes. Add the coffee-chocolate mixture, oil, buttermilk and vanilla and beat on low until well combined.
  4. Into a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once and mix on low just until well combined.
  5. Pour half the batter into each pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, approximately 70 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in the pans on cooling racks. Then run a knife around the sides of each pan and turn out the layers. Remove the parchment. The cake is ready for frosting!


For this recipe you will need 2 10-inch round cake pans (or use 9-inch pans and bake a little longer) and parchment paper. Adapted from Gourmet, March, 1999 via Epicurious.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 387 Total Fat:: 14.9g Carbohydrates:: 62.7g Fiber:: 3.4g Protein:: 6g

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  1. Grain Processing Machine

    What a deliciously moist chocolate cake!Can’t wait to try it. =)

  2. molly

    Fog happiness. I know the notion well, knew it must have a name. Indeed, indeed. Thank you for passing it on. (And happy mother’s day — looks like you’ve got it nailed!)

  3. That sounds incredible and I love this post! Such a great view on motherhood – including those yogurt in the hair moments.

  4. Chef Dennis

    what a deliciously moist chocolate cake…I love the addition of the Raspberry whipped cream!

  5. Aww, thanks, everyone. I hope it helps!

  6. Lovely lovely post! I am not a mother but know the joy you are talking about. I nannied for a family for 6 years and practically raised the children. Now we are all great friends and the youngest is my god-daughter. There is not a day that goes by, where they don’t bring happiness into my life!

  7. BigGirlPhoebz

    This post got me a little misty. It’s not often, as a 24 year old, that i think to myself, man, I want kids. Like, right now. But you just made me very excited for motherhood and all the foggy joys that come with.

    Thank you so much again for supporting the Valerie Fund and our sale, and for sharing all the brown-eyed beauties in this post.


  8. thanks for posting. this looks wonderful.

  9. Anne

    Whaaaa! Why do you always make me cry? I just forwarded this listing to Dan and not-so-discreetly asked him to make me this cake for Mother’s Day. The inspiration continues… Also, who doesn’t want a Peant M&M Blondie? What a great idea. Going there now. Thanks Carolyn!

  10. Big Girls, Small Kitchen

    What a beautiful post, child, and cake! I can’t wait to try that whipped cream…We’re so grateful to have you participating in our project!
    -Cara and Phoebe

  11. Jill

    all of it… that cake looks so delicious! I’d like to reach through the computer & chomp on it for breakfast! ;o)
    LOVE the pics!!! & thanks for explaining Fog Happiness!!! Def need to get on the happiness project banwagon… love everything you post about it.

  12. Um, you’re totally my hero. Can’t wait to try this cake!