How to Make the Very Best Chocolate Cake

How to make the very best chocolate cake that’s rich and moist. Jump to the Very Best Chocolate Cake Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.

Very Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

This particular chocolate cake is Beatty’s Chocolate Cake from Barefoot Contessa. It was the first from-scratch chocolate cake I ever made and I’ve been religiously making it ever since.

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Ina’s Genius Chocolate Cake

The secret is a cup of hot coffee in the batter. You don’t really taste the coffee, just more of the chocolate. At first, I was a little worried about the coffee, but who are we to question Ina?

The chocolate comes from cocoa powder, which makes the cake really easy to make. Simply combine dry ingredients — the usual suspects of flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Then mix into the wet ingredients which include buttermilk and vegetable oil — both help keep the cake moist.

Ina's Genius Chocolate Cake

For the frosting we went with a simple combination of melted chocolate, butter, powdered sugar and milk. It’s not what Ina calls for, but it never fails and tastes great. Sometimes we fill the middle with the frosting, but also like to add jam instead. In the photos, we used lingonberry jam (from Ikea). It isn’t too sweet and is really tasty with the chocolate cake.

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Recipe updated, originally posted March 2011. Since posting this in 2011, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

How to Make the Very Best Chocolate Cake

  • PREP
  • COOK

The batter for this chocolate cake is inspired by Beatty’s Chocolate Cake found in one of Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks — here is the book online. It was the first from-scratch chocolate cake we ever made and we’ve been religiously making it ever since. For the frosting, we stick to a simple chocolate buttercream.

Makes 1 double layer cake, 8 servings

You Will Need


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

1/2 cup jam

Chocolate Buttercream

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons milk


  • Prepare Cake
  • 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter then flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

    2In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    3In another large bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla then use a handheld mixer on medium speed to combine. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, mixing gently until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl then with the mixer still on low, add the coffee and mix just until combined.

    4Divide the batter between prepared cake pans then bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

  • Make Buttercream
  • 1Melt 8 ounces of milk chocolate either over a double boiler or in the microwave.Set aside to cool.

    2In a large bowl, combine the softened butter, vanilla and salt. Use a hand mixer to beat on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

    3Add the milk and increase to medium speed. Beat for another 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the melted chocolate (should be at room temperature) and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for one more minute.

    1Place one layer, flat side up, on a plate or cake stand. Fill a re-sealable plastic bag with the corner cut off or a pastry bag with the chocolate buttercream. Carefully squeeze the frosting around the outer perimeter of your cake; this prevents the jam from oozing out.

    2Add the jam to the center of the cake. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Butter and Flour Cake Pans: After buttering, add a little flour to the pan and tap the pan until there is a light coating of flour on the bottom and up the sides of the pan, discard any extra flour.
  • Melting chocolate in the microwave: To melt the chocolate in the microwave, add 3/4 of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and place into the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir the chocolate and continue to microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Add the remaining 1/4 of the chocolate and stir until completely melted and smooth.
  • If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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22 comments… Leave a Review
  • Yoshikeith June 21, 2021, 10:57 am

    Hello, I made this cake for Father’s Day, 2021. I made the frosting with 75 % dark chocolate. It was DELICIOUS! I will be making this cake again!


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