I need chocolate (cake).
July 12, 2017 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a unicorn of a chocolate cake recipe: I really just want a chocolate cake recipe that's moist, and accessible -- easy enough to make to be my go to, but something that tastes fancy enough to make for a special occasion. It needs to be a fudgy chocolate cake that is worthy of being eaten on its own (but would still go great with frosting).

Ideally, it would scale well--up or down--because I might only need a single layer for Sunday dinner, but might want two or three layers for a party.

Also, it should be a step up from wacky cakes or boxed mix -- those are fine, but to me, they're more vehicles for frosting.

There are thousands of recipes out there, and frankly, I'm getting overwhelmed looking at them all. So, tell me about your go-to recipes that you've made and used before.
posted by PearlRose to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
My fav and go to is the recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa container.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:54 PM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

Smitten Kitchen's recipes are generally very reliable. She has two options for quick everydayish chocolate cakes. #1, #2.
posted by sulaine at 12:55 PM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

Made Beatty's Chocolate Cake a number of times (even substituted stout for coffee, which is also good) to much acclaim. Never made the frosting listed, but it could be good, too.
posted by princeoftheair at 1:03 PM on July 12, 2017

seconding Smitten Kitchen.
posted by john_snow at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2017

Best answer: My best chocolate cake recipe is made with mayonnaise. Seriously. Quick and easy, moist, delicious.
posted by raisingsand at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hershey's Black Magic cake.
posted by coppermoss at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Warning: the frosting on Smitten Kitchen cake #2 above meets the goals of making a very quick easy cake but is not as good as you would want it to be. The frosting is not representative of Smitten Kitchen.
posted by bdc34 at 1:07 PM on July 12, 2017

Just like Sassafras, I've used the one on the back of the Hershey's container for YEARS. It's the one with a cup of boiling water. I made kids' cupcakes, layer cakes, 13x9 cakes, modified cakes with fillings, etc - all from that same recipe. It's a good one.
posted by CathyG at 1:08 PM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I have made this cake recipe many, many times. It's very good and not at all fussy.
posted by phunniemee at 1:13 PM on July 12, 2017

I like this chocolate stout cake recipe.
posted by vunder at 1:34 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thirding the recommendation for the one on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box. It tastes like the Platonic form of chocolate cake.
posted by 8603 at 1:52 PM on July 12, 2017

Ruth Reichl's chocolate cake is unbeatable. Recipe makes 2 9x13 cakes, so freeze one if that's too much. Truly memorable. I didn't make her frosting as I made a boiled caramel icing instead. It won hearts and minds.
posted by lois1950 at 1:56 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Texas sheet cake is the only chocolate cake I like. I'm not sure how it would do with being layered but it could work.
posted by missriss89 at 2:18 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have made this flourless chocolate cake several times to rave reviews. It's meets all of your criteria except that I don't think it would go well with frosting.
posted by seesom at 2:20 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have to agree with the first response. The Hershey's cocoa tin recipe is easy and just what you are looking for. I never bother with the icing.
posted by juggler at 3:11 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Copycat Portillo's Chocolate Cake

posted by RhysPenbras at 3:46 PM on July 12, 2017

Because it's dead simple:

Loaves and Fishes Chocolate Cake
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 can Hershey's Choc Syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour

mix tog/9" sq pan/350 deg/20-30 minutes

(just saw the frosting recipe on the back side. never needed it, ha!)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:16 PM on July 12, 2017

If you have the dearly beloved old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, try the "feathery fudge cake." Preferably with whipped cream. *drool*
posted by Melismata at 4:35 PM on July 12, 2017

My go-to chocolate cake is the one in this blog post. I can't speak to the icing, I'm more of a Swiss/Italian buttercream fan. It has been the base for many celebration cakes since I came across it.

Very quick to whip up, requires no electric mixers (the recipe mentions one but you don't actually need it) or multiple steps or weird/expensive ingredients. Uses very few dishes. Tastes better if it has a chance to sit around for a while before eating, which actually makes it a great cake for special occasions because you can make it the day before and decorate it the next. I tried to make it as an 'I want chocolate cake nooooooow!' cake once, and cut into it when it was still warm, and it wasn't great. The cocoa taste was too prominent and it played weird against the sweetness (like a bad cup of hot cocoa). The next day, however, with no icing or topping to speak of, it was bliss. This is not unusual for cake though, so I don't hold this against it. It's moist for days, though if I know it's going to be eaten over the course of 3-4 days I'll still put a little flavoured simple syrup on the layers. It's very sturdy, great for layering, but doesn't have a heavy mouthfeel.

A couple notes - it is a very thin batter once you add the boiling water, this is normal. It does mean that if you are using a springform tin you may want to line it appropriately to avoid seepage. Also, I make the boiling water a strong cup of coffee which is an old trick to compliment the chocolate. It doesn't really come out in the final flavour but if you are coffee averse, you could possibly still taste it.
posted by BeeJiddy at 5:40 PM on July 12, 2017

Spiced Chocolate Stout Cake from Spoon Fork Bacon.
posted by Drosera at 5:26 AM on July 13, 2017

Peg Bracken's chocolate cake from her I Hate To Cook cookbook is very easy and very good.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:58 AM on July 13, 2017

I use King Arthur's Deliciously Simple Chocolate cake mix. It's much better than regular boxed mixes and is easy to do (I'm not super experienced as a baker). It IS very rich though, I put chocolate cream cheese frosting on mine and it was right on the edge of too much. That's not a recipe, but it might be something to try if you're frustrated with finding something. I have no connection with the company other than buying some of their products from time to time, standard disclaimer.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 12:51 AM on July 14, 2017

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