The Best Chocolate Cake

from 4 votes

Moist, rich and incredibly chocolatey, this is THE Best Chocolate Cake recipe to have in your repertoire! With a secret ingredient that maximizes the chocolate flavor, you’ll be amazed at just how decadent homemade chocolate cake can be. Just add chocolate buttercream frosting for the ultimate chocolate lover’s dessert!

A slice of the best chocolate cake with three layers and coffee buttercream frosting.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I just launched a new podcast, Sports & Forks. And as soon as I found out I’d be chatting with the legendary Drew Brees, I knew I had to create a chocolate cake using the coffee liquor brand he’s partnered with, State Line Liqueur.

This isn’t just any chocolate cake! Not only does the coffee liqueur (or just freshly brewed coffee!) maximize the rich chocolate flavor, it also adds a subtle depth and complexity to the cake. The coffee’s bitterness perfectly balances out the sweetness of the chocolate while enhancing its natural flavors.

Plus, I’ve incorporated my go-to ingredient for irresistibly moist baked goods: sour cream. Just like in my banana bread, it seals in moisture and adds a subtle tang.

If you’ve been on the hunt for the ultimate chocolate cake recipe, look no further. Let’s dive into the recipe and whip up the most moist and decadent chocolate cake you’ve ever tasted!

This Chocolate Cake Recipe With Coffee Is:

  • Incredibly moist and tender.
  • Rich chocolate flavor.
  • 3 delicious layers.
  • Ready in about an hour.
  • Covered in a coffee buttercream frosting but is easily customizable with your favorite frosting (see below for more frosting recipes!).
A three-tiered chocolate cake with layers of coffee frosting and topped with sprinkles.

Ingredients

This recipe shares the same base as my moist sour cream chocolate cupcakes, with a twist. I’ve reduced the milk slightly and added a splash of coffee for an extra layer of richness and depth.

Chocolate cake ingredients in various sizes of glass bowls, including mini chocolate chips, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, salt, whole milk, sour cream, baking soda, coffee and three eggs.
  • All-purpose flour: For light and fluffy cakes, be sure to use the spoon and level method when measuring your flour. Overpacking your measuring cups will lead to dense, dry cakes.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: Be sure to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder for the best results in this recipe.
  • Baking soda and baking powder: These leavening agents help the cake rise. You’ll need both for the perfect amount of lift.
  • Kosher salt: Balances the sweetness of the cake and enhances the chocolate flavor. If using table salt, use half the amount as it’s more potent.
  • Unsalted butter: Make sure it’s softened to room temp for easy creaming with the sugar. To soften it quickly, cut it into small cubes and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using.
  • Sugar: Sweetens and adds to the tender crumb.
  • Eggs: It’s best to use room temp eggs as they blend more smoothly into the batter. If you forget to take them out in advance, simply place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to quickly bring them to room temp.
  • Sour cream: Adds tanginess, plus contributes to a moist, tender crumb. Swap: Greek yogurt makes an excellent substitute, providing the same tangy richness.
  • Vanilla extract: Adds depth of flavor. If you have homemade vanilla extract on hand, use that!
  • Whole milk: Provides additional moisture and richness to our batter. You can even use chocolate milk for more flavor!
  • Coffee or coffee liqueur: Intensifies the chocolate flavor of the cake. You won’t even taste the coffee, I promise! And for a boozy undertone, try adding coffee liqueur. Kelly’s Note: The alcohol bakes off in the oven, leaving behind a subtle and delicious flavor that’s still kid-friendly.
  • Mini chocolate chips: If you’re a chocoholic like me, adding these tiny treats is a must. They amplify the chocolate flavor and add melty bits of chocolate to every bite.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Do I Have to Use Coffee? ☕️

Before we dive into making this delicious chocolatey dessert, let’s cover why we add coffee to chocolate cake.

Coffee isn’t just for mornings—it’s the secret ingredient for the most flavorful chocolate cake! Forget the idea that it’ll taste anything like coffee; instead, coffee deepens and sweetens the cocoa flavor, creating a richer taste experience.

But have no fear! If you don’t have coffee or prefer not to use it, you can substitute it with an equal amount of hot water or whole milk. The result will still be delicious!

How to Make Moist Chocolate Cake

Making a chocolate cake from scratch is so easy! For this recipe, you’ll need three 8-inch round cake pans. While I prefer using my stand mixer, a large bowl and a hand mixer works, too! 

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  2. In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This process incorporates air into the batter, resulting in a lighter, more tender cake.
  1. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the sour cream and vanilla, beating until combined.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and coffee. 
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the creamed butter and sugar, alternating with the milk and coffee mixture. Mix until just combined – overmixing is the enemy of a tender crumb! Fold in the mini chocolate chips
  1. Divide the batter equally among the three cake pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
  2. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes in a 350°F oven. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans then transfer them to a rack to cool completely before you add any frosting.

Pro Tip: Use the toothpick test to check for doneness. Simply insert a toothpick into the center of each cake layer, and if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs sticking to it, your cake is ready to be taken out of the oven. Every oven is different, so keep an eye on your cakes towards the end of the baking time to avoid overbaking.

Best Frosting For Chocolate Cake

Now for the best part, frosting! When it comes to the best frosting for chocolate cake, you have lots of options. The frostings on this list pair perfectly (and deliciously!) with this fudgy chocolate dessert:

  • Cream Cheese Frosting – with it’s pillowy texture and tangy flavor, this is a great option to balance the sweetness of the cake.
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – a classic choice for chocolate lovers! My recipe is rich, creamy and made with just six ingredients.
  • Buttercream Frosting – a timeless combo that’s sure to please any crowd.
  • 5-Minute Coffee Buttercream Frosting – this is the recipe I used for the pictures you see in this post. Infused with 2 teaspoons of instant coffee, this frosting is for the coffee lovers out there.

Storage Tips

  • Unfrosted cake: Once your cake has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. It’ll stay delicious for up to 2 days at room temperature. You can also store it in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. When you’re ready to frost the cake, allow it to come to room temp for about 30 minutes. This allows the cake to soften slightly, making it easier to work with and ensuring that the frosting spreads smoothly.
  • Frosted cake: If you’ve frosted your cake with buttercream, it can be stored safely at room temperature for up to 2 days, provided that the room is cool and the cake is covered to prevent drying out. For longer storage or if you live in a hot or humid environment, refrigerate the frosted cake. It can last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keep in mind that refrigerating the cake may slightly alter the texture of the frosting, but it will still be delicious. If you’ve frosted your cake with cream cheese frosting, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for up to 3 days.

How to Freeze Cake

Wrap each cake layer tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. This double-layered protection helps prevent freezer burn, ensuring your cake stays fresh and delicious. Don’t hesitate to add an extra layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil if needed! Frozen unfrosted cake can last for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight and bring it to room temperature before adding your favorite frosting and decorations.

Common Questions

How can I make this chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes?

Converting this chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes is a breeze! Begin by lining two muffin pans with cupcake wrappers and preheating your oven to 350°F. Prepare the cake batter as instructed in the recipe. Then, evenly distribute the batter among the cupcake wrappers, filling each about ¾ full. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, typically 18 to 22 minutes. After baking, allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, it’s time to frost your cupcakes with your favorite frosting.

Can I use this recipe to make a 9×13″ sheet cake?

Yes, you can use this same recipe in a 13×9 pan and bake at 350°F for 28 to 32 mins.

Why has my chocolate cake cracked?

There are a few reasons why a cake may crack, including overbaking, high oven temperature, too much leavening agent, sudden temperature changes (such as being taken out of the oven and placed in a cold room) or too much liquid. To prevent cracking, make sure to follow the recipe instructions carefully and measure the ingredients accurately. And if you think your oven is hot, you may want to invest in an oven thermometer to check.

A three-tiered chocolate cake with coffee buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles on a round serving platter.

More Chocolate Dessert Recipes You’ll Love

Craving more? Subscribe to Just a Taste to get new recipes, meal plans and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
Dessert

The Best Chocolate Cake

Moist, rich and incredibly chocolatey, this is THE Best Chocolate Cake recipe to have in your repertoire! With a splash of coffee that maximizes the chocolate flavor, you'll be amazed at just how decadent homemade chocolate cake can be. Just add chocolate buttercream frosting for the ultimate chocolate lover's dessert!
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 4 votes
A three-tiered chocolate cake with coffee buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles on a round serving platter.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 53 minutes
Servings 12 to 14 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup coffee or coffee liqueur
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions 

MAKE THE CAKE:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the sour cream and vanilla, beating until combined.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and coffee. 
  • Alternately add the milk mixture and flour mixture in three increments just until combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. 
  • Divide the batter equally among the three cake pans.
  • Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans then transfer them to a rack to cool completely while you make the frosting.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:

  • Place one cake layer on a serving platter then top it with frosting. 
  • Add the second cake layer on top and repeat the layer of frosting. 
  • Add the third cake layer on top then top with frosting. Decorate as desired then slice and serve.

Kelly’s Notes

  • Forget the idea that this cake will taste anything like coffee; instead, coffee deepens and sweetens the cocoa flavor, creating a richer taste experience. But have no fear! If you don’t have coffee or prefer not to use it, you can substitute it with an equal amount of hot water or whole milk. The result will still be delicious!
Storage Tips
  • Unfrosted cake: Once your cake has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. It’ll stay delicious for up to 2 days at room temperature. You can also store it in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. When you’re ready to frost the cake, allow it to come to room temp for about 30 minutes. This allows the cake to soften slightly, making it easier to work with and ensuring that the frosting spreads smoothly.
  • Frosted cake: If you’ve frosted your cake with buttercream, it can be stored safely at room temperature for up to 2 days, provided that the room is cool and the cake is covered to prevent drying out. For longer storage or if you live in a hot or humid environment, refrigerate the frosted cake. It can last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keep in mind that refrigerating the cake may slightly alter the texture of the frosting, but it will still be delicious. If you’ve frosted your cake with cream cheese frosting, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for up to 3 days.
  • How to freeze: Wrap each cake layer tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. This double-layered protection helps prevent freezer burn, ensuring your cake stays fresh and delicious. Don’t hesitate to add an extra layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil if needed! Frozen unfrosted cake can last for up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight and bring it to room temperature before adding your favorite frosting and decorations.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 437kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 251mg, Potassium: 157mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 44g, Vitamin A: 524IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 2mg

Shoutout

Did you try this recipe?

Share it with the world! Mention @justataste or tag #justatasterecipes!

This post may contain affiliate links.


Feeling social?

Share this recipe!

Categories

Related Recipes

Check out more crave-worthy favorites

Kelly Senyei holding a copy of The Secret Ingredient Cookbook

love the recipes on just a taste?

Check out my cookbook!

Order your copy of The Secret Ingredient Cookbook featuring 125 brand-new family-friendly recipes with surprisingly tasty twists!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Join the Conversation

Rate and Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. This looks so good.
    I don’t have those cake pans.
    Can this be made in a different pan?
    If so, are there adjustments to the ingredients and oven temp and bake time?

    1. Absolutely, Jan! You can make this in a 13×9-inch pan and bake it at 350°F for 28 to 32 minutes. No ingredient substitutions are needed. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Carol! I haven’t tried it in a bundt pan but I absolutely think it’d work. Bake it at 350°F for 40 to 55 minutes. I know that’s a wide range but I haven’t tested the actual bake same so I’d error on the side of checking it at 40 and then continuing to bake as needed. Let me know if you try it!