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The Chocolate Cake

the chocolate cake | the vanilla bean blog

chocolate cake on clear cake stand

This is it.
This is the chocolate cake I’ve been searching for:
The chocolate cake that my family asks me to make at birthdays.
The chocolate cake that I sneak a piece of at breakfast.
And lunch.
And in the middle of the night.

It is incredible:
A moist, tender crumb, a rich chocolate flavor, a perfect butter cream frosting.
Really. Sometimes it shows up in my dreams.

The Chocolate Cake
Barefoot Contessa

The batter will be very, very liquidity, so don’t let that worry you. Remember that the sugar goes in with the dry ingredients – I have left it out twice now on accident and had to remake the cake. If you are not a coffee fan, you could just use hot water, but I haven’t tried that out, so I can’t guarantee you if the cake will still be as rich and wonderful. [My husband, who hates coffee, eats this cake with the coffee in it and has never complained].

Chocolate Frosting
This cake is very tender, so if you want to spread the frosting on without crumbs all mixed in it, I suggest a crumb coating. There is also just enough frosting for the cake, so frost carefully. You could make more frosting, but I think any more would make it too rich. If you want to add coffee to the frosting, add a teaspoon or two of coldpress or instant coffee powder dissolved in hot tap water. You can also melt the chocolate in a microwave, just watch it carefully. When I make this I always use eggs from a small, local farm, so I feel safe using the yolk in the frosting. If you are nervous about this, you can substitute a tablespoon of corn syrup, or omit it all together (I’ve done both of those options in a pinch, and it’s turned out fine).

the chocolate cake | the vanilla bean blog
the chocolate cake | the vanilla bean blog

chocolate cake with piece cut out

The Chocolate Cake

Servings: 10 servings
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
The very best chocolate cake from Ina Garten, with a moist, tender crumb, rich chocolate flavor, and perfect buttercream frosting.
Sarah Kieffer
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Frosting

  • 6 oz good semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 pound [2 sticks] unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter two 8 inch round cake pans (make sure cake pans are at least 2 inches tall). Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (if you need a visual on this step, here is a You Tube video that is helpful.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely, removing parchment paper.
  • Place one layer, flat side up, on a plate. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

For the frosting:

  • Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the powdered sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.
  • On low speed, add the chocolate to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Tthe chocolate cake | the vanilla bean blog
Ms. [W] takes some photos of her own.

  • Reply
    Saturday, December 23, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Sarah
    I see you are providing metric measurements on your recent posts now. Are you able to edit this post and provide metric measurements as well? Most recent post you mentioned the difference of just 1 cup of flour – it would be so much more accurate if this recipe had metric measurements pls.

  • Reply
    Thursday, July 13, 2023 at 4:32 am

    5 stars
    This is a copy of Ina Garten’s Beatt’s Chocolate Cake. Give the Queen some credit if you’re gonna life her recipe!

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Thursday, July 13, 2023 at 8:49 am

      Hi Jake – This cake is similar to Ina’s, but Ina’s chocolate cake is also the Hershey’s chocolate cake from the back of their cocoa cans that has been around since 1972, and is also sometimes called Black Magic Cake. I write about trying to find the origins this in my first cookbook – no one knows where this recipe originated but it has been around since possibly the 1930’s.There are 1,000s of variations of this recipe, all similar in nature. I do find citing inspiration important when it comes to recipes, and do so as much as possible, but in this particular case the recipe is part of “the Canon” and no one owns it.

  • Reply
    Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    5 stars
    Hi Sarah! Love your recipes and have been following your journey for years 🙂 Thank you for sharing all your beautiful recipes.

    Just wondering if you are able to add metric conversions as I’ve done a few baking courses and it keeps coming up that measuring with cups is very inaccurate. Would love to bake your cakes accurately, if possible.

    Thank you!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 8:29 pm

    I have made this multiple times and it never disappoints. Even people who claim not to like chocolate cake fall in love with it. I have only made the chocolate frosting once using Trader Joe’s chocolate and it was amazing. I also use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa and a dark roast coffee. The other times I’ve paired it with a carmelized white chocolate swiss buttercream and that is to die for. I’ve also made it into cupcakes, the batter makes 24 cupcakes easily. Thank you for this fabulous recipe.

  • Reply
    klayde marie
    Friday, June 3, 2022 at 3:25 am

    looks great! want to give a try but am wondering if you tried as cupcakes or other mini cake molds? thanks!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Nice Article, Thanks for the post. Niranjan

  • Reply
    Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 7:20 am

    Thanks to the author’s very comprehensive description, I was able to completely fix my dilemma after reading this post. I posted my review on the essaytoolbox review, which you may read. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

  • Reply
    Friday, October 1, 2021 at 5:58 am

    Very informative

  • Reply
    Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 2:35 am

    Very informative

  • Reply
    Monday, September 20, 2021 at 4:55 am

    What a wonderful Article! Thanks for this information.

  • Reply
    Arhan Khan
    Friday, September 17, 2021 at 6:20 am

    thanks for information

  • Reply
    Kelly Hubbard
    Thursday, August 26, 2021 at 10:58 am

    I love how you prep food. It is just one of the things I have learned from you. This is going on next week’s menu. I prefer the reds and orange for stuffing, and for some reason I like the horizontal cut. I think it is because of the proportion of filling to pepper. Anyway, thanks again. I really appreciate you.

  • Reply
    Friday, August 20, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Nice post, Thanks for sharing Niranjan

  • Reply
    Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    It’s 9pm and I’ve not had any dinner yet. Looking at this chocolate cake is making me starving!

  • Reply
    Monday, August 2, 2021 at 4:43 am

    Thanks for sharing such a good and informative article posted here. I really appreciate your efforts and Thanks a lot for sharing a piece of wonderful information which I am looking for a longer period of time. balloon bouquet

  • Reply
    Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 2:43 am

    What a Fantastic Post!! Love your work.

  • Reply
    Ashley Jones
    Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Love this recipe! We use it quite often. I double the carrots and celery and add minced onion flakes to it and use Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice. After a couple hours check it to see if it needs a little bit more water added.

  • Reply
    Jonathan Gutierrez
    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 3:51 am

    If you have many video recipes you can create tiktok profile and post all of it there. From this article you will know how to get followers for your profile on tiktok

  • Reply
    Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 7:19 am

    wow looks super delicious can’t wait to try this cake at home and present it to my loved ones

    • Reply
      alok Gupta
      Thursday, July 1, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      Wow! Not only do the cakelook delicious, but the photography is so fantastic as well! (Almost) too beautiful to eat.

  • Reply
    Melissa Weiss
    Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 6:22 am

    The recipe is fire! I cooked the cake and, OMG, it was SO delicious. You need to make a youtube video where you are cooking the cake and use to get additional hundred of subscribers to more people watch the recipe and cook this chocolate piece of heaven.

  • Reply
    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Wonderful piece of Inforamtion
    visit : for Cakes in Mumbai.

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