Moist Chocolate Cake

There’s something to be said for a cake that you can whip up at 9 o’clock on a Friday night, after a serious doozy of a week, when you need some baking therapy that requires little to no brain power. By the time this past weekend hit, I think anything requiring technique or poise in the kitchen would have had induced some kind of cerebral short circuiting – I imagine there would have been sparks, probably some twitching and likely even drool.

Okay fine, so there might have been drool anyway.

Actually, when the cake emerged, there was probably drooling and clapping. I tell you that because I trust you won’t judge me.

This cocoa-based cake is deeply chocolaty and incredibly moist. It surprises me every single time with how good it is for something so easy. It is a great emergency cake to have in your repertoire for forgotten birthdays, last-minute visitors, or urgent Friday night chocolate cravings. I love to smother it in gooey marshmallow frosting (the seven-minute kind made with just whipped egg whites, sugar, and vanilla). Mmm… Drooling again. Note to self: try to control that. This time I smothered it instead with a super easy cocoa buttercream frosting. Not the fancypants Italian buttercream, the shortcut American-style buttercream that is basically just butter, icing sugar, and cocoa powder. Again, brain short-out aversion strategy.  UPDATE: Fluffy Chocolate Frosting recipe here!

I have used this recipe to make sheet cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, mini cupcakes… really, you can’t go wrong. Everything gets tossed in the standing mixer (no creaming of butter and sugar, or alternating between dry and liquid as in typical cake recipes), poured into cake pans, and popped in the oven, easy as 1-2-3.

***Note: I have been asked dozens of times if you can taste the coffee, and the answer is no; it does not taste at all like coffee. You won’t know it’s there, it just deepens the flavour of the chocolate and the heat helps smooth out the batter and get rid of lumps. But feel free to use just plain boiling water in its place.

P.S. If you like this, you’ll love my super moist banana bread recipe…


4.3 from 8 reviews
Moist Chocolate Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
UPDATE: Fluffy Chocolate Frosting recipe HERE. To use this recipe for cupcakes, preheat oven to 375 instead, and line two 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Divide batter evenly among cups and bake 20-25 minutes, until tops spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Makes 24 cupcakes.
  • 1¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans (or line with parchment paper circles) and set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.
  3. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  4. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or frosting.


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  • Sia

    I wanted to ask if this recipe could be adapted for a marble cake and how it would be done? Thanks. x

  • Logan Frost

    I made this forssome much needed therapy and it was beautiful! I used chocolat gouanche icing. Best thing i have ever made, and i have baked a lot!!!

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  • mistik

    Hi thanks for the recipe.
    I have a question, you said preheat the oven to 350 (Celsius or Fahrenheit)??

  • LuLu

    This was so runny, but I tried it anyway. Fell flat both times. Not sure what happened, but think too much liquid is the problem. Back to a recipe search.

  • Rachel Page

    This indeed is a great chocolate recipe!

  • Lola

    I saw the linked recipe for the chocolate frosting, but what how did you make the frosting in the picture? My frosting never comes out that dark and delicious looking…

  • Geri W

    This sounds delicious. I have a similar recipe without the coffee. Is it the coffee added that makes the difference in moistness? I plan on using this recipe for a Birthday Cake. Hope it turns out as good as your picture looks. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  • Denise McCarty

    What if you dont have two 9 inc. pans what can I use instead?

  • Jackie

    This was amazing! I have been looking for a super dense and moist cake for months- this is IT!! I did cook it for 30 minutes instead of 35- next time I will cook it a little less to get it a little more moist. I am going to try a vanilla version now- I love it so much!

  • Tiffany McAllister

    I almost never try a recipe twice. But this recipe is SO good, and SO accurate, that I’ve been making it LINE FOR LINE for years now! (I use regular chocolate frosting instead of this special icing… but i’ve made this icing before, and it is a revelation!) However, i don’t substitute ANYTHING. This recipe is best exactly how Ms. Pallian wrote it! (I also make the chocolate cupcakes that follow this recipe.. superb!) I suffer from Breast Cancer and, due to my chemo, it’s hard for me to keep anything and also to do anything. This recipe is SO DELICIOUS that it’s 1) the only thing i eat when going through chemotherapy and 2) the only thing I have the energy to get up and cook, because I’m so looking forward to the results! GREAT, GREAT RECIPE! I’m going to check out more of her recipes, because she’s where its at!

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  • Sonia

    Hi can I use this recipe for a 6 inch diameter pan?

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  • Nadine Phillip

    and it was perfection all the way!! no frosting needed

  • Marrika

    Cake is amazing made it Sunday n now again Tuesday! Cool proof! I did the same with the frosting as the Jennifer mentions below as your recipe didn’t work for me n it was Delish! This is my go to for choc cake now!

    • Marrika


  • Kristin

    I just made this cake the other day .. AND IT WAS THE BEST EVER!!!!

  • jessica

    My oven is only up to 250 degree celcius..can i cook the cake at this temperature?

  • dean

    the recipe use baking powder or not?

  • dean

    my cake become sodden not fluffy.. what did i do wrong??

  • Jessica

    Hi. This seems like a really good recipe! At the end, should the two separate cakes be joined as one? I’m not sure I understood that part!

    • Renarde

      Using two cake pans is an easy way to create a two layer cake without having to cut it. Put one down, frost the top (or put whatever you want in the middle), put the second one on top of it and finish frosting.

  • Rose

    can this be made in a rectangle pan? If so what temp and time? I have a gas stove, but only one round cake pan:(

    • Renarde

      You could just use your one round pan and then cut the cake in half once it cooled if you really want to have a two layer cake :)

  • Mia

    Hi! I used baking powder and lowfat milk with vinegar instead of baking soda and buttermilk, respectively. My cake turned dry and too dense. Do those two ingredients make a difference? I made sure to follow step by step and I was a tad bit disappointed with the taste and texture.

    • Claire

      Mia- Baking powder and baking soda are never interchangeable. That’s probably where you went wrong. I’m sure if you try again with baking soda, it will taste delicious!

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  • justine

    is the temperature in celsius or fahrenheit?

  • renatata

    OMG I WANT IT =q

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  • Tejaswita

    Amazing cake!!! made it and it came out wonderful!!!

  • Carol

    I made this and it is delicious even though I skipped the coffee because my 2 year old doesn’t need any extra energy. You can also mix up a batch, and “bake” a single serving by putting about 1/3 of a cup of batter in a ramekin and microwave it for approximately 45-60 seconds. next time I make this batter, I plan to see how it will freeze, so I can have yummy warm cake during nap or after bedtime (and not have to share it!)

  • celia

    There is no baking powder in the recipe.

  • Kaela

    Can i use unsweetened DARK chocolate? its all i have XD

  • debby with a y

    I made this last week for a family birthday and it was amazing. I loved that the layers didn’t dome up; it made for an easy job of icing as there was no need to trim the layers. I made it exactly as the recipe suggests, and no, there was no coffee taste. I was careful not to over bake it, testing frequently and it was perfect when the sides began to pull away from the pan. I put seedless raspberry jam on the bottom layer, covered it with ganache, placed the top layer and then covered the whole thing with the remaining ganache. It was moist and flavourful. Rave reviews!

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  • Jamaica

    I’m writing this as I have a huge piece of this delicious cake in my left hand. It’s amazing!
    Initially I was a bit skeptical seeing as every time I find a moist chocolate cake recipe it turns out to be a failure. However, this is absolutely fantastic!
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, I had been looking for something like this for ages! Xxx

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  • wolfram von bielefeld

    This looks so good! I’m gonna have to make this!

  • Angel

    Do i need to use stick butter and can i use unsweetened cocoa powder

  • Shaima Rashid

    I made it today, and love it!

  • Jennifer

    If I want to make a 3 layer cake should I just multiply the recipe by 1.5? Or is this recipe enough for 3 layers?

  • Cindy M.

    Made this cake today…It is the best chocolate cake I have ever had.

  • Suzanne G

    What a cake!! Plan on making this to the next church potluck. Love the fact you make it in 1 bowl. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Gail

    We only have either baking powder or bicarbonate soda, which would I use?

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  • Janice Ciravola

    dose the cake taste like coffee cause you put 1 cup of it in

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Not at all.

  • Paul Sanchez

    I added sour cherries that grew in the backyard and the cherry juice about 1/4 cup into this recipe and it was amazing. Don’t forget to dredge the cherries in a some flour or they sink to the bottom. Everyone loved this recipe “thank you” it was terrific!

  • Cora Ethier

    HI, I was wondering if anyone knew how many cups of batter this recipe makes

    • Jennifer Pallian

      The capacity of a 9″x 2″ round cake pan is 8 cups, and it fills two of them about 2/3 of the way full – so it makes about 10 cups total (approximately!).