The Ultimate Chocolate Cake


This beauty has everything you want in a perfect chocolate cake—a simple, stir-together batter infused with velvety melted chocolate; a no-fail cream cheese–based frosting, and plenty of it; and a stress-free decorating method you can nail no matter your skill level. A scant cup of freshly brewed coffee intensifies the rich flavor of the chocolate cake, thanks to the coffee’s pleasantly bitter notes—use the best-quality chocolate and coffee for the biggest flavor payoff. Love to get ahead? You’ve got two solid options with this recipe. First, make the frosting and bake the layers the day before, then cover/wrap both tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You could also prepare the cake and decorate as directed a day ahead, then cover with a cake dome and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins


  • Baking spray with flour

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • 3/4 cup hot brewed coffee

  • 3/4 cup canola oil

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 8 1/2 ounces)

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa blend (such as Hershey’s Special Dark)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • Chocolate–Cream Cheese Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray.

  2. Combine chocolate chips and hot coffee in a medium bowl; let stand 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted, about 1 minute. Whisk in oil, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

  3. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in wet ingredients. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (about 2 cups per pan).

  4. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert cake layers onto wire racks, and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  5. Spread frosting between layers and on top of cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting on sides of cake, smoothing with a spatula. Chill cake 30 minutes. Spread an additional layer of frosting on top and sides of cake.

    The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
    Greg Dupree
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