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Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

I’ve tested a lot of chocolate cake recipes over the years, and this moist chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites. It is incredibly moist, and turns out perfectly every time!

image of a slice of death by chocolate cake made with moist chocolate cake layers, decadent dark chocolate buttercream, and coated with mini chocolate chips on a plate

Simple Recipe from Scratch

I love this recipe for so many different reason. The first one is that this moist chocolate cake recipe doesn’t require a hand mixer, which means less dishes to clean!!

All you really need is a whisk and a couple large bowls. You really just whisk together the wet and dry ingredients, then combine then and you’re ready to bake your cake layers.

It also comes together incredibly quickly. It’s a modified version of Robyn’s chocolate cake recipe on Add A Pinch.

Leveling Optional

Another wonderful aspect of this recipe? It bakes pretty flat!

If I’m just making a cake for family and friends, I’ll usually just use a bit of extra buttercream to even everything out.

However, if you want perfectly level cake layers you can also trim the tops with a serrated knife.

image of a moist chocolate cake layer that's been leveled with a serrated knife to make the cake easier to stack

If you’re still getting comfortable trimming your cake layers, here is a great tutorial on how to level and trim your cake layers.

My Secret Ingredient: Espresso

I love to add espresso to my chocolate cake recipes!! It pairs so well with the cocoa powder, and really elevates the chocolate flavor of the cake layers!

If you’re not a fan of coffee, don’t worry! It isn’t a strong flavor in the cake, it simple enhances the overall flavor of the cake.

image of a death by chocolate cake made with moist chocolate cake layers, decadent dark chocolate buttercream, and coated with mini chocolate chips

Tip: Use Good Quality Baking Cocoa!

To make sure these cake layers taste as delicious as possible, I highly recommend using a good quality cocoa.

The quality of cocoa you use in this recipe is key, since it’s the main flavor of these cake layers!

I love to use Ghirardelli cocoa, because it gives the layers such a wonderful chocolate flavor.

Pair With Your Favorite Frosting

I love frosting this moist chocolate cake recipe with my chocolate frosting or peanut butter buttercream, but the options are really limitless!

Feel free to get creative, and make whatever combination floats your boat. 

image of a slice of death by chocolate cake made with moist chocolate cake layers, decadent dark chocolate buttercream, and coated with mini chocolate chips on a plate

The photo below shows a death by chocolate cake made with this cake base, which is one of my favorite chocolate cakes!

Substitutions & Swaps: Chocolate Cake Layers

While I love this moist chocolate cake just the way it is, I know some of you might not have all of these ingredients on hand.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe:

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with all purpose flour. However, you can swap in a good gluten free flour blend (like this) if needed. Just be sure to stir the batter longer than normal to help give the cake proper structure, and let the batter sit for about 20 minutes before baking it if you opt to make a gluten free version.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Unsweetened Baking Cocoa – I like to use the Ghirardelli brand of dark baking cocoa, but you can use any brand of unsweetened cocoa powder. You can also use dark cocoa powder or black cocoa.
  • Instant Espresso – Instant coffee can be used if you don’t have instant espresso, or you can use 1 cup of strong coffee in place of the water and instant espresso in this recipe.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat).
  • Vegetable Oil – Any flavorless oil can be used in this recipe. Canola, vegetable, or even sunflower oil would all work great. I don’t recommend olive oil though, as it has a strong flavor and will change the taste of the cake.
  • Eggs – This recipe uses 2 large eggs. If you have an egg allergy you can try using a vegan egg replacer.

Substitutions & Swaps: Chocolate Buttercream

Below are some great swaps and substitutions for the chocolate buttercream in this recipe.

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – If you can’t find unsweetened cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use additional powdered sugar in its place.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) can also be used to make the frosting.
  • Chocolate Chips – You can use chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or good-quality chocolate bars to melt and add into the frosting. I like to use dark chocolate, but you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate if you have a strong preference.
image of silky smooth, decadent dark chocolate buttercream

Tips for Making the Best Moist Chocolate Cake

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Be sure to properly measure your cake flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. Make sure each pan has the same amount of batter will make your cake layers bake to the same heigh and bake more evenly.
  • Bang your cake pans on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake and before adding the simple syrup. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!
image of cake pans being weighed to make sure they have the same amount of batter in each pan to help them bake up to the same height

Making this Moist Chocolate Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your chocolate frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
  • This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!
image of a slice of death by chocolate cake made with moist chocolate cake layers, decadent dark chocolate buttercream, and coated with mini chocolate chips on a plate

Let Me Know What You Think

If you try this moist chocolate cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating below and a comment to let me know your thoughts.

image of a slice of death by chocolate cake made with moist chocolate cake layers, decadent dark chocolate buttercream, and coated with mini chocolate chips on a plate

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 20

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

image of a slice of moist chocolate cake made with moist chocolate cake layers, decadent dark chocolate buttercream, and coated with mini chocolate chips on a plate

This chocolate cake recipe comes together so quickly, and is incredibly moist! It's just as delicious as it is easy to make.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 3/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (60g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (8g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9g)
  • 1 tsp salt (6g)
  • 1 cup very hot water (237g)
  • 2 tsp instant espresso of coffee (5g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (240g)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (110g)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (112g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (434g)
  • 1 cup sifted, dark baking cocoa (80g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine table salt (3g)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625g)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature (180g)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled (230g)

Recommended Tools

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C. Line and grease three, eight-inch cake pans, or four, seven-inch pans.
  2. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup baking cocoa, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
  3. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, add 2 tsp instant espresso or coffee into 1 cup of hot water, and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add in 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract into the instant espresso mixture. Give the mixture a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix by hand until fully incorporated. The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, and bake for about 24-27 minutes.
  7. Remove the cake layers from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Gently run an offset spatula around the rim of the cake pans to loosen them, then flip them into wire racks to finish cooling.
  8. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer. If make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  2. Add in the sifted dark cocoa, vanilla extract and salt, and mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Half way through, add in the heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  4. Mix in the cooled, melted dark chocolate on a low speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Moist Chocolate Cake

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Be sure to properly measure your cake flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. Make sure each pan has the same amount of batter will make your cake layers bake to the same heigh and bake more evenly.
  • Bang your cake pans on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake and before adding the simple syrup. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!

Making this Moist Chocolate Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your chocolate frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
  • This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!

Nutrition Information

Yield

20

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 434Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 30mgSodium 354mgCarbohydrates 71gFiber 3gSugar 55gProtein 5g

aisthe

Saturday 4th of September 2021

my oven can fit only one mould.so how should I store the remaining batter before baking it

aisthe

Saturday 4th of September 2021

can you tell what that chocolate syrup that you used in each layer before frosting is? and how to make it.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting - Easy Recipe, Ready in Minutes

Monday 30th of August 2021

[…] used it to frost my chocolate layer cake, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate macarons, and even my buttercream […]

Simone

Sunday 16th of May 2021

Best chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever used! So moist and delicious!! Using a good quality cocoa powder makes all the difference! Thank you for sharing!!!

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Thursday 6th of May 2021

[…] chocolate drip cake recipe uses my favorite moist chocolate cake recipe and is frosted with decadent chocolate buttercream that is pretty much half frosting, half […]

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