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The Chocolate Cake Recipe You Need in Your Life…

87 Comments

Chocolate Cake

Every time I ask my kids what we should bake, without fail, they always want chocolate cake! This simple chocolate cake is perfectly dense, moist, and ridiculously good! This basic recipe can be switched up a million different ways with different icings or fillings – get creative!

The Perfect Chocolate Cake

Quick tip: Line your round cake pans with parchment paper to make it easier to remove them after baking. To get the perfect size every time, set your pan on the parchment paper, and trace, then cut around the bottom.

Cake Pan Lining Tip dscn0674 dscn0675 dscn0676

Voila! Perfect!


Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 Tbsp instant espresso (optional)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350° Prepare your 8″ or 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper and non-stick spray. Add sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of your standing mixer, and whisk until fully incorporated.

Chocolate Cake Recipe 2. If using, stir your espresso powder into your strong black coffee until fully dissolved. Add to your flour mixture along with the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, and then continue mixing for 90 seconds. Batter will be thin.

Chocolate Cake

3. Pour batter evenly into prepared baking pans.

Chocolate Cake

4. Bake 8″ pans for 35-40 minutes, 9″ pans for 30-35 minutes, or bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from pans.

Chocolate Cake

See how perfectly they come out of the pan? 🙂


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1 lb (2 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c cocoa powder
  • 7 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c milk

1. Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter alone for 30 seconds. Add salt and vanilla, and continue mixing for another minute.

2. Sift together cocoa and powdered sugar. Slowly add to butter mixture alternately with milk, scraping down the sides of your bowl frequently. Continue mixing until fully incorporated and fluffy.

3. After cakes have fully cooled to room temperature, spread or pipe frosting onto cake, as desired.

Bon appétit!

The Perfect Chocolate Cake


Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.

Join The Discussion

Comments 87

  1. Amy

    Not sure if my kids need caffeine. I make something similar, but I use a cup of boiling water.

    • Emily

      Haha yeah not fond of the coffee idea either but I made a cake like this once with Pero in place of the coffee and it was okay. Good to know that boiling water can work as well!

      • Laura

        What is Pero?

        • Emily

          I’m not exactly sure what it is but it is kind of a coffee substitute. It’s caffeine free, and not made out of coffee beans but it has a similar flavor. I just googled it and I believe Postum is a similar option. You could call it “Mormon coffee” 😉

        • Rios

          …but!

      • Kareena

        Coffee just makes the chocolate more intense , it’s one of the secret ingredient in baking with chocolate, just think of it that way 1 cup of coffee ?!!! your kids will only get a small piece of the cake ,how much caffeine will be in that??? Just a thought!🙂 I ‘ll try the cake this weekend , I’ll keep you posted of how it turned out .
        Love baking ,thanks for the recipe.

        • Erin

          And think how much caffeine (not to mention sugar!) they’re getting if they drink soda!

          That cake looks beautiful! Love your posts, Danielle!

    • Rios

      What does boiling water do?

      • RZ

        helps to dissolve the cocoa powder and extracts the most flavor out of it.

        • Vivian B.

          Coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor it’s a must in all chocolate baking for me.

          • Glynis K

            I totally agree with you Vivian B.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi Amy! Great point to bring up! There’s actually more caffeine in the cocoa powder than there is in 8 oz. of coffee- more than double the amount, in fact. You can absolutely substitute some hot water in its place though. Hope that helps! Thank you! 🙂

    • Emily Sandoval

      Why not use decaf?

      • Lorie Gaffney

        use decaf coffee and omit the espresso powder.

  2. Mel

    Mmmm…thanks Danielle! Great tip about using the parchment paper. I have patched up many cakes because they have stuck to the pan 😣

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      We all have! 😉 You’re welcome!

    • Holly

      Agreed!

  3. Susan K

    This cake looks AWSOME! Great job.

    • jac

      agreed–beautiful job, Danielle!

      • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        Thank you both so much! 🙂

  4. Kim

    This sounds divine Danielle! Coffee brings out the flavor I think! Yum!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes, I totally agree! 🙂

  5. Lisa

    Thanks for the recipe…. always heard that expresso enhances the chocolate flavor in chocolate cake.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome!

  6. Quick

    What is you use regular cocoa powder and not the unsweet cocoa powder? I have all ingredients except the unsweetened cocoa powder.

  7. Nicole j

    You can always use decaffeinated coffee

  8. RZ

    This sounds exactly like Ina Garten’s chocolate cake recipe. I use flour & butter to grease my pans instead of parchment (which is bleached and may contain dioxin) and it comes out fantastic!

    • Oshea

      Which is basically Hershey’s Black Magic cake. The coffee is used to bring out the chocolate flavor. As an FYI, this batter is really runny. Don’t be afraid it bakes up perfectly.

      • RZ

        Yeah, it’s obviously not an original recipe.

  9. Ashley

    Mmmmmm, looks delicious! As for the caffeine, the kids are eating a boatload of sugar in the cake anyhow, maybe caffeine will help it out of their systems more quickly (aka fast sugar crash!). Actually, this might make a very efficient breakfast for me, lol! Seriously though, this is the cake of my dreams!

  10. Denise

    Yum❤️

  11. patricia

    Thanks Danielle,looks amazing. Would definitely make this. Could use a piece right now 😋

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re very welcome! 🙂

  12. Hennie

    Looks yummy. Is there a non-dairy substitute for buttermilk?

    • Emily

      My son is gluten free/dairy free and I make banana bread for him that calls for buttermilk, and I use almond or coconut milk and make “buttermilk” by adding lemon juice to it, just like you would to regular milk. Not sure if it results are the same but it works wonderfully in my banana bread!

      • Kareena

        Vinegar is better if you don’t want lemon flavor in your cake , works great; my son was allergic to milk but his Dr . Said goat milk is fine for him , it tastes great , little strong but I think you might use (if it’s ok in your diet) in recipe with no problem

        • Kareena

          ⚠️Please use caution, ask your Dr before using goat milk, it might not be ok for everyone! It was from my experience only !

    • Deanna

      My son is allergic to many things, but when a recipe calls for buttermilk i use his regular milk, which is rice milk and add a little vinegar to it.

  13. Dee

    I will definitely try that. Looks sooo delicious!!! Yum

  14. Edy

    Looks delicious ! Could have a piece now!! Would add toasted pecans !!! 😋🍰🍨milk!!!

  15. Darcie

    Sounds amazing! This is probably the chocolate cake recipe I DON’T need in my life 😂 since it’ll be so good and go straight to my hips.

    • Tera

      I was thinking that, too!

  16. A.Rich

    The cake looks yum, but what I love most is the description of Danielle good for you balancing your own interests while raising 5 kids that is no easy task.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Awe, thanks so much! I think we’re all striving for balance in our lives, right? <3

  17. Dee

    Here’s a tip: If you choose to grease and flour the pan use cocoa powder instead of flour for a chocolate cake so that you don’t have white flour residue on the edges and bottoms of your chocolate cake layers. Not so important if you frost all sides of a cake, but with naked cakes being trendy, it CAN matter.

    • Susie

      Brilliant!!

    • hellfire gainz

      Or confectionary sugar. I have found just Pam spray works. Never been disappointed.

    • Dianne

      dust your pans with the cake mix before adding liquid!

  18. riss

    The frosting calls for 7 cups of powdered sugar?! Is that really how much sugar goes to my hips? No wonder 😉

    • Jen

      You can use less powered sugar. I use 3-5 cups which is still a lot but it all depends on who will be eating cake. I use vanilla almond milk in my chocolate frosting. Ooooohhhhh so much better.

  19. ohiogirl

    Thanks going to make one today! Does anyone have a recipe for a really moist delicious white or neopaliton cake? Wanting to make one for an upcoming birthday celebration. TIA

  20. hellfire gainz

    Your kids get more caffeine eating chocolate or drinking soda than that slice of cake. The amount of coffee isn’t an issue and it’s actually very healthy in its amount.

    • Megan

      My cousin has a mental health issue from loving caffeine rich beverages as a young child. Caffine and childrens brains do not mix. My children do not get much caffine. Maybe small amouts from chocolate on special occasions here and there. My husband, and I hate the taste of coffee, which is a win win for us. It keeps the stuff out of the house and saves money, coffee is expensive. I think that this is a yummy recipe but just not something for us. I hope everyone enjoys it.

  21. Beamergirl

    Going to make this with peanut butter icing !

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yum! 🙂

  22. Vonda Borer

    This looks delicious and so moist! Thanks for not calling it “crack” or “better than sex”. I stay clear of those LOL

    • Wren

      I agree, Or anything with ‘dump’, just those silly descriptions make me not want to make it 😂

  23. Libby

    Any idea how many cupcakes this recipe turns out?

  24. Diana

    Looks amazing! Has anyone tried to substitute butter milk with anything else? I also want to try to substitute sugar with stevia.

    • RZ

      No, you need the acid for the baking soda in this recipe. Baking soda is a leavening agent which gives the cake lightness due to the bubbles that form when it reacts with acid. Buttermilk is very easy to DIY, but if you can’t have buttermilk then you should use a recipe that doesn’t call for it.

    • Jeanett

      I actually make a version of this cake without buttermilk (although I’m planning to try it with it now), but in that version it’s 1.5 tsp baking soda and 1.5 tsp baking powder. I also use water over coffee (we don’t drink it, so it’s never in the house).

  25. growingbhoomi

    How can I avoid eggs if I dont eat eggs? Any suggestion?

  26. Carrie

    The frosting looks perfect!!! i wish i could design my cakes like that!

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Awe, thank you! You’re very welcome for the recipe! 🙂

  27. StephB

    Yum! Everyone needs a great chocolate and vanilla cake recipe!! Thank you for sharing! You are quite talented at frosting!! I need to practice!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      I totally agree! Thank you so much! <3

  28. Debbie Creagh

    That is a beautiful cake! My daughter is going to make this cake. Thank you for sharing!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  29. Janet

    I do not like coffee. Can you taste it?

  30. Ash

    Hi, the cake looks awesome. I am going to bake it for my daughters birthday. Must the coffee be hot or cold before adding to the dry ingredients?

  31. Lola Carter

    Hi! Is there anyway you could not use coffee? Any certain substitute I could use? I am not fond of the taste of coffee and the caffeine would definitely keep us up.

  32. Patricia Goff

    My kids are caffeine thieves. I am lucky if I can drink half a cup of coffee in the morning. At least when it is empty they take it to my brother so he can refill it. LOL The two year old wakes up asking for coffee. LOL Both boys come into my room to see what I have to drink all the time.

  33. Jyo

    Hi Danielle,

    I have a question. Which tip did you use for the cake? I love your decoration. Thank you in advance.
    Kind regards ,

    Jyo

  34. Jyo

    Hi Danielle,

    I have a question. Which tip did you use for the cake? I love your decoration. Thank you in advance.
    Kind regards ,

    Jyo

  35. Sam

    This is my least favorite recipe I have used in a very very long time. Its my 4th chocolate cake in 3 weeks and it’s horrible, I refuse to serve it. I swapped out the cake pan size which I always do since I like a high cake and the pans overflowed and I will now need to scrub the oven. I don’t like the texture or the taste either. Now I don’t have time to start over so I will be serving store bought cake for my father and cousins birthday. If your going to make this cake do not full the pans to half and only use the pans recommended.

  36. JaraLee

    Hey! Has anyone tried making cupcakes with this recipe?

  37. Liz

    If I want a 3 layer 9” cake what are the proportions of the ingredients and how many will it serve

  38. Desiree de Goede

    I have a love hate relationship with chocolate cake, I love to eat it but I have not yet found a recipe I wanted to go back to! Until now, this will be my go to recipe, I loved it, so did my family and friends! So impressed.

  39. Ella

    I tried this cake for my brothers birthday and it was a big hit. I love this recipe.

  40. Margot Vieytez

    I love the decoration, what number of tips did you use both for the base and to cover the cake?

    • Holly (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi Margo! I’m so sorry, but we aren’t sure which tips were used here. 🙁

    • Sheila Ramsay

      closed star on top and open star tip on the bottom!!!

  41. Seun

    The strong coffee is it liquid or powdered to be use for the recipe ?

  42. Vanessa

    I am allergic to coffee. I used decaffeinated coffee and the cake was delicious and the coffee really does not feel. very soft is really chocolaty !!!

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