Classic Chocolate Cake

  • By KJ

Every celebration deserves a slice of Classic Chocolate Cake. (Even if you’re just celebrating an ordinary weekday!)

Rich, moist chocolate cake is layered with a decadent chocolate cream cheese frosting. With each bite, you’ll be transported to a state of pure chocolate bliss.

The best classic chocolate cake deserves more than your typical frosting. It deserves chocolate cream cheese frosting.

This luscious, creamy frosting glues the cake layers together and will have you dipping your fingers in the bowl for more. (Just to “test” it, of course.)

I love that this classic chocolate cake works for any occasion. It can be a fancy dessert or a family-friendly, mess-in-the-kitchen dessert.

Either way, it’s a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

A 3-layered chocolate cake on a white plate with slices taken out of it.

Every celebration deserves a slice of Classic Chocolate Cake. (Even if you’re just celebrating an ordinary weekday!)

Rich, moist chocolate cake is layered with a decadent chocolate cream cheese frosting. With each bite, you’ll be transported to a state of pure chocolate bliss. 

The best classic chocolate cake deserves more than your typical frosting. It deserves chocolate cream cheese frosting.  

This luscious, creamy frosting glues the cake layers together and will have you dipping your fingers in the bowl for more. (Just to “test” it, of course.) 

I love that this classic chocolate cake works for any occasion. It can be a fancy dessert or a family-friendly, mess-in-the-kitchen dessert. 

Either way, it’s a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

A 3-layered chocolate cake on a white plate with slices taken out of it.

Why KJ Loves

Classic Chocolate Cake

Classic Chocolate Cake

How can you go wrong with a classic chocolate cake? You just can’t! I love this easy chocolate cake recipe loaded full of rich, velvety chocolate flavor. Perfect for any occasion!

The Secret to the Best Classic Chocolate Cake

There are two ingredients that take this classic layer cake from good to amazing:

Coffee + Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder 

Using Dutch-processed cocoa powder is like being granted a baking superpower. The cocoa has been alkalized, neutralizing the cocoa bean’s natural acidity. This results in a cocoa powder with a darker, more mellow flavor. 

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is available at most grocery stores. They sell some larger bags at Costco, and you can also try ordering it online.

Coffee is the other pivotal ingredient. If you don’t like coffee, don’t worry. It blends subtly into the cake batter without an overpowering coffee flavor. 

When you combine these two ingredients, you get magic. 

The hot coffee helps the Dutch-processed cocoa powder bloom into its full-bodied, robust flavor potential. The result is a chocolate flavor that’s deep, intense, and unforgettable.

Chocolate cake batter being poured into a cake pan.

How to Make the Best Classic Chocolate Cake

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Brewed hot coffee
  • Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • Heavy cream
  • Vegetable oil
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt

Baking Process Breakdown

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder and set aside. 

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in the coffee and cocoa mixture.

Add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until smooth, and there are no clumps (but be careful not to overmix!). 

Grease three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Evenly pour the chocolate cake batter in between the three prepared cake pans.

Tip: If you want perfectly even cakes, try using a kitchen scale to ensure each pan has the same amount of cake batter. 

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for a while before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Make sure the cakes are cooled completely before frosting!

3 layers of chocolate cake being frosted with chocolate frosting.

How to Make Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese (softened)
  • Salted butter (softened)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Semi-sweet chocolate (melted)

 Process Breakdown

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and mix in one cup of powdered sugar at a time until completely combined.

Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate into the cream cheese frosting and mix until smooth and combined.

A frosted classic chocolate cake.

How To Assemble and Frost the Chocolate Cake

After the cakes are cooled completely, and the frosting is made, assemble the three baked cake layers. 

Tip: If the cakes have any lop-sided tops or bubbles, gently use a sharp knife to make the top of the cakes flat and even.

Place the first cake layer on your serving plate. Frost the top with about 1/2 inch thick layer of frosting (or less if you prefer), top with the next cake layer, and repeat. 

After the third cake layer has been assembled, frost the top and sides of the cake. You can either go with a more “naked” look on the cake as I did in the photos (where the sides of the cake layers are showing through the frosting), or you can fully frost the cake with decorative swoops.

A close-up photo of a frosted cake.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

This classic chocolate cake can be made regularly or gluten-free. I’ve tried it out both ways and honestly can’t tell the difference! The gluten-free version is actually what is pictured here in this post. Mind blowing! I like to use this Krusteaz gluten-free flour.

Classic Chocolate Cake FAQ

What chocolate is best for cake?

The chocolate that produces the best classic chocolate cake is Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It is alkalized, which neutralizes the natural acidity of the cocoa bean, yielding a darker and more mellow flavor. You could use regular cocoa powder, but you won’t get the same results. 

What if I have different size cake pans?

If you have 9-inch cake pans, you’ll have three thinner layers of cake. Alternatively, you could do a 2-layered cake. You may need to adjust the baking time slightly.

How do I get perfectly even cake layers?

For perfectly uniform cake layers, use a kitchen scale to distribute equal amounts of batter into each pan. If the cakes have uneven tops or bubbles after baking, use a sharp knife to gently level them for a flat surface.

Can you make this recipe gluten-free?

This classic chocolate cake can be made gluten-free. I like to use Krusteaz gluten-free flour.

How do you get a moist cake crumb?

Make sure you don’t overmix the cake batter. Overmixing the cake batter can cause air bubbles and overdevelop the gluten, resulting in a dense, rubbery cake. 

A slice of cake being lifted out of the whole cake.

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

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A 3-layered chocolate cake on a white plate with slices taken out of it.

Classic Chocolate Cake


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

Whatever you are celebrating, Classic Chocolate Cake is there to party! Rich, moist chocolate cake is layered together with a decadently creamy chocolate cream cheese frosting. When you run your fork smoothly through the cake and come out with three layers of frosted chocolate cake goodness, you won’t believe your eyes. Your slice of cake will be gone before you know it! Chocolate cake truly is a classic recipe that will put a smile on your face.


Ingredients

Scale

For the cake:

  • 1 cup brewed coffee, hot
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • (2) 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder and set aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in the coffee and cocoa mixture.
  2. Add in the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until smooth and there are no clumps. Grease three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Evenly pour the cake batter in between the three pans.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Make sure the cakes are cooled completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in one cup of powdered sugar at a time until completely combined.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate into the cream cheese frosting and mix until smooth and combined.

To assemble:

  1. After the cakes are cooled completely and the frosting is made, assemble the 3 cake layers. If the cakes have any lop-sided tops or bubbles, gently use a sharp knife to make the top of the cakes flat and even.
  2. Place the first cake layer on the desired serving plate, frost the top with about 1/2 inch thick layer of frosting (you can do less if desired), top with the next cake layer and repeat. After the third cake layer has been assembled, frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. You can either go with a more “naked” look on the cake as I did in the photos (where the sides of the cake layers are showing through the frosting), or you can fully frost the entire cake with decorative swoops. Either way, it will be delicious!

Notes

  • This cake can be made with regular or gluten free flour.
  • The cake layers can be made a day in advance. After they are done cooling, tightly wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Make the frosting the next day and assemble and frost.
  • If you have 9-inch cake pans, you have have 3 thinner layers of cake, or do a 2-layered cake instead.
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 750
  • Sugar: 78.2g
  • Fat: 38g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Protein: 8g
Slices of chocolate cake on white plates.
A slice of cake being eaten.

Did you make this recipe?

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If you made this recipe and love it as much as I do, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, rate the recipe, or share a picture tagging @kjandcompany or using  #kjandcompany so that I can see your fun pictures! Thanks for following and cooking along with me.

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