This Chocolate Cake is chocolate in its most divine form. Rich, lush, and exquisite, each layer of this cake has the deep, irresistible allure of chocolate. Topped with a fudgy chocolate frosting, this cake is a dream come true for every chocolate lover, making it the perfect centerpiece for any gathering where indulgence is on the menu.

This dessert goes beyond mere sweetness, offering a depth of flavor that can only be achieved with the finest cocoa. This recipe, with its layers of rich, moist cake and creamy, fudgy frosting, is my ode to all things chocolate – a true labor of love for those who share my passion for this timeless flavor.

Chocolate Cake being served

The Chemistry of Chocolate Cake

The chemistry of baking this lies in the balance and reaction of ingredients. Baking soda and baking powder act as leavening agents, reacting with the acidic components (sour cream, cocoa powder) to produce carbon dioxide, which helps the cake rise. The cocoa powder, beyond adding flavor, reacts with the hot water to bloom, enhancing its rich chocolatey taste. The addition of sour cream introduces moisture and a slight tang, balancing the sweetness and richness of the cake.

Why add hot water to chocolate cake?

Hot water helps to bloom the cocoa powder, intensifying the chocolate flavor and improving the cake’s moisture.

Can this cake be made gluten free?

Yes, by substituting the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill One to One.

A whole chocolate cake

How to store this chocolate cake?

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to a week.

Can I freeze the chocolate cake?

Absolutely! Wrap unfrosted cake layers in plastic and freeze. I like to frost the cake while it is still frozen. It is much easier frosting a firm cake. Then let the cake thaw back to room temperature before serving.

Serving chocolate cake

What is in chocolate cake?

All-purpose Flour

Builds structure as it absorbs liquids and expands. All-purpose flour falls in the middle of bread flour (high in gluten) and cake flour (low in gluten). It’s exactly what it is named, all-purpose, the most universal flour that can be used in most baked goods.

Granulated Sugar

Adds sweetness, provides a caramelized flavor and crisp texture. Sugar assists with rising when creamed with butter. It helps add moisture to your treat and helps it evenly spread as it melts into a liquid in the heat of the oven. Sugar also helps with naturally preserving your baked treat.

Cocoa Powder

Provides a rich, sweet chocolate flavor. Creates a dark brown color in your treat. Absorbs water in your batter or dough at the same rate as flour. That means, if you add too much, you could end up with a dried, crumbly finished product.

Baking Powder

Puffs up your batter or dough instead of spreading it out. Baking powder contains a little bit of baking soda, an acid & cornstarch. Because of this, it only needs a liquid to react. It also consists of two different acids, so it’s double reacting. It reacts as soon as it’s mixed with a moisture and then again when it’s heated up.

Baking Soda

Elevates the pH level of your batter or dough. It increases the spread in your treat and encourages browning, which gives the crispy outside and soft inside texture that everyone loves. Baking soda needs both an acid and a liquid to react. Things that will activate your baking soda are: vinegar, fruit juice, molasses, brown sugar, tartar, buttermilk and sour cream. Baking soda only reacts once, which is right when it’s mixed into your batter or dough. The soda creates little air bubbles all throughout your treat. When the air bubbles get heated up in the oven, they expand.

Fine Sea Salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt, it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your treat, making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

Water

The hot water helps bloom the cocoa powder, creating a deep, rich flavor.

Milk

Adds moisture to the batter or dough. Milk adds protein and sugar (lactose) to your treat. It encourages browning and adds a bit more sweetness to your baked treat.

Vegetable Oil

100% fat, contains no water and has a higher melting point. This means it will not melt down in your oven, resulting in thicker cookies or brownies. It doesn’t help leaven your treat like butter can, so it can make your treat flatter and greasier.

Eggs

Adds both a protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because, when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the egg white mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking, which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick treats. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters and doughs together and help them from collapsing. Unless otherwise specified, always use large eggs.

Sour Cream

Is a very fatty dairy product. The extra fat will make your treat more moist and rich. It also is acidic so it will help baking soda react, which helps your treat rise.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

Unsalted butter

Often the main ingredient of frosting, it adds structure to your buttercream. It also adds a smooth and velvety texture. Butter melts at body temperature, so it will make your frosting have a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

Chocolate Chips

Is a form of chocolate. Chocolate chips are not pure chocolate, they are typically made up of cocoa, sugar, emulsifier and vanilla.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Makes a softer, more spreadable frosting. When melted with chocolate it adds more fat and moisture to the mixture, resulting in a silkier blend.

Powdered Sugar

Is just finely ground granulated sugar. It will absorb moisture in your batter or dough. It dissolves easily, ensuring a smooth texture without grittiness. Because it is so fine, it can melt quickly in the oven and spread cookies out more. Powdered sugar also stabilizes and thickens the frosting, thanks to the small amount of cornstarch it contains.

A whole chocolate cake

Storage Tips

Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, or refrigerate for extended freshness. Properly stored, this cake can last up to a week. Frozen, it keeps for 3 months. Just make sure to wrap the cake up well when freezing so that it does not get freezer burn.

Making Ahead

Bake the cake layers a day in advance, wrap them, and chill in the freezer for easier frosting. Frost the cake the day of serving for convenience, breaking up the baking project across 2 days.

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Why make chocolate cake?

This is ideal for birthdays, anniversaries, or any celebration calling for a rich, indulgent dessert.

Recipes You May Love

Chocolate Cake

Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 20
This lush chocolate cake is rich and exquisite. Better yet, it is topped with fudgy chocolate frosting. A true winner of a dessert for all chocolate lovers.

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips 1 bag
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda and salt
  • Add the hot water, whole milk and vegetable oil, Stir until combined
  • Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract. Stir until the batter is smooth
  • Pour the batter into three 8" round cake pans or two 10" round cake pans. Make sure to grease the pans and line them with parchment paper first so that the cakes can be easily removed when finished baking.
  • Bake the cake for 25 minutes then remove from the oven to cool.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, remove from the pans and wrap the layers in plastic wrap. Place the cake layers in the freezer to chill before frosting them.

Frosting

  • In a microwave safe bowl add the chocolate chips and cream
  • Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir the chocolate mixture. Repeat and then stir vigorously until all the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  • In a standing mixer whip the butter until smooth
  • Add the powdered sugar and mix it until combined.
  • Pour the chocolate ganache mixture into the standing mixer and stir until combined.
  • Once combined, whip the frosting for 2 minutes until lighter in color and texture.
  • Frost the cake once chilled.

Nutrition

Calories: 598kcal Carbohydrates: 79g Protein: 3g Fat: 32g Saturated Fat: 17g Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g Monounsaturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 73mg Sodium: 246mg Potassium: 143mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 66g Vitamin A: 680IU Vitamin C: 0.1mg Calcium: 60mg Iron: 1mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.

Chocolate cake titled