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ISO Everyday Chocolate Cake

Looking for your idea of a great chocolate cake recipe for just everyday, "I feel like chocolate cake" kind of day. Something sturdy enough to stand up to a good buttercream or ganache.

I want moist, a little dense, chocolatey rich. But want a good enough, whip it together without going to the market kind of cake.

The one I tried tonight was not it, it fell flat in the middle and is a little coarse. So my quest continues.

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  1. When I need a quick cake that can go in the oven in 10 minutes, I use this one (ignore the picture on the site--it doesn't look that good). I made it recently w/ buttercream and chocolate ganache so you see layers of white in the cake, then covered it w/ the ganache,using the buttercream for squiggles across the top like a giant Hostess dingdong.


    1. Our favorite all around chocolate cake is called "Darn Good Chocolate Cake", from the Cake Doctor cookbook. It's based on a regular devils food cake mix, adding 1 cup sour cream, 1 package dry chocolate pudding, 3/4 cup veg oil, 3/4 cup water, 4 eggs, and I always add a package of ghiradelli 60% chocolate chips. About 10 minutes to prepare, about 50 minutes to bake. I've made it as a sheet, layer, bundt, with frosting, with ganache, with powdered sugar... You get the idea. I may have the recipe a little off since I'm doing this from memory...

      1. Martha Stewart's Devils Food Cake is dense and chocolatey and has a reasonably fine texture. Not super-moist, but plenty moist for my taste. If you make the Mrs. Milman's frosting (I think you can find both on her website), you will have one big rich dense chocolate bomb.

        Double Chocolate Cake (to be found on Epicurious) is very moist, but it is a little coarse grained so you may not like it. It has a VERY deep chocolate flavor. It's not my favorite, but guests seem to LOVE it...I think they like the moist, blackness of it. Although you might not think so with the coarse grain, it holds up well to freezing and frosting. It's growing on me.

        2 Replies
        1. re: danna

          From what I remember that double chocolate layer cake is very similar to the black magic cake I posted above. I agree, it's very moist (I think cakes w/ oil tend to be wetter) and coarse (again w/ the oil vs. butter). People I've made it for seem to love it, too, but it's a quick go-to cake for me. I have other chocolate cake recipes I prefer, if I have more time, like the sour cream chocolate cake from Best Recipe. Butter seems to give it a finer grain.

          1. re: chowser

            yes, very similar, except w/ the addition of 3 oz bittersweet choc. I guess that's the "double" part.

        2. This is the next chocolate cake I intend on making:

          Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake from Epicurious


          1. I think I know what you are looking for... Try "Nita's Crazy Cake" at www.cookinglight.com
            I usually make cupcakes with this batter, frost with peanutbutter or coconut-creamcheese frosting, and keep in the freezer for those "gotta have something sweet" cravings.

            1. I just made an amazing chocolate cake from The Cake Bible. I'll post the recipe when I get home. It's very rich and dark and while it can stand up to buttercream or ganache (I covered with ganache), it's just as good without. Very few ingredients as well (cocoa powder, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, pinch of salt).

              1 Reply
              1. re: QueenB

                Ok, here it is

                Chocolate Domingo Cake from "The Cake Bible" - Rose Levy Beranbaum (paraphrased)

                1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp dutch processed cocoa (or 1/2 cup regular cocoa powder)
                2/3 cup sour cream
                2 large eggs
                1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
                1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp sifted cake flour (you can also use AP)
                1 cup sugar
                3/4 tsp baking powder
                1/4 tsp baking soda
                1/2 tsp salt
                14 Tbsp (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened

                Preheat oven to 350.

                Mix together cocoa powder, eggs, sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl until combined.

                In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. Add butter and half of the cocoa mixture and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add 1/2 of the remaining cocoa mixture, beat 20 seconds. Add the last bit of the cocoa mixture and beat for another 20 seconds. Pour into a buttered 9-inch cake pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out just clean. Don't overbake...the sides of the cake should not pull away from the pan in the oven.
                Let cool on rack for ten minutes, then turn out of pan and cool completely. Frost with buttercream or ganache, or eat just plain.

              2. Here's my goto recipe for choc. cake. I grew up with it, as did my mother. It's dense and somewhat like a chocolate pound cake in texture. It's a quick, easy recipe takes less than an hour and can bse eaten plain, as my family prefers, or with frosting of choice. I've often used a simple coffee flavored cream cheese one when I need to get fancy.

                1 stick unsalted butter
                2 1-oz. sq. unsweetened Baker's choc.
                2 eggs + enough milk to equal one cup
                1 c. sugar
                1 c, + 2 tbs. AP flour
                2 tsps. baking powder
                2 tsps.vanilla extract
                dash of salt.
                Melt butter with chocolate squares, cool to room temp.
                With electric mixer on medium speed, combine dry ingredients, add milk/egg mixture, vanilla, salt and choc/butter mixture.
                Pour batter into greased 9X9 pan, or whatever pan it fits into, (I have used a large cast iron skillet in a pinch.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min. Check at 30 min. to see if done. A toothpick should come out clean when stuck into finished cake.

                1. I adore Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf cake (it's in Domestic Goddess). It's not a round cake, so it might be a little different than what you're looking for, but the texture and taste are both great.

                  1. My go to chocolate cake for exactly that situation is Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate cake (on her website). Also amazing as cupcakes.

                    1. Hounds won't like my idea, but for "everyday" ... a mix. Never tasted anything wrong with a cake from a good brand of mix.

                      "For special" is another matter - I'll take a special recipe and knock their socks off - but "a piece of chocolate cake" ... Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker will do just fine.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: wayne keyser

                        But that's why I like the one bowl recipe. It really is just as easy as a mix, I always have the ingredients in my fridge, and it's fast.

                        1. re: Pei

                          I have tried mixes too, but they usually are too light and don't give the satisfaction of biting into something rich and chocolatey. Sometimes I make a cake just to satisfy a sudden craving for buttercream and when I used a mix I found the cake actually falls over on the plate under the weight of the frosting.

                          I usually have basic ingredients on hand, cocoa, bittersweet and baking chocolate so it seems like a good basic recipe is just as easy as a mix anyway.

                          I am interested in the butter vs. oil thing. The last one I made called for shortening and I used butter and also substituted sour cream for part of the milk. Could that be why it was flat? I keep a little shortening on hand but prefer to use butter when possible. I am not very well versed on baking science, so obviously would be best to have a good recipe and stick to it, considering how my experimental cakes have turned out.

                          I have a couple of MS other's for my go to, carrot cake and pizza dough, so will defintitely give that one a try as well as some of the others here!

                          1. re: denverdoni

                            Solid shortening should be relatively interchangeable with butter from a texture, if not flavor, standpoint. Subing sour cream for milk would seem to be more "experiemental."

                            Like you, I always have cocoa and chocolate on hand...shows where my priorities are.

                      2. Cooks Illustrated has a great recipe for chocolate sheet cake (which also makes amazing cupcakes). They pair it with vanilla buttercream which is also outstanding. That's my go-to cake. Delish, but not on the diet. :(

                        1. 1st made it as a child & it's still the one for me:

                          Crazy Chocolate Cake
                          Sift into 9×13" glass pan 3c apf, ½c cocoa, 2c sugar, 1t salt, 2t bs. Into 3 depressions pour 2t vanilla, 2T cider vinegar, ⅔c/10T oil, add 2c cold coffee, stir well. Bake 60-70m at 350°.

                          Equipment: pyrex pan, measuring cup+spoons, fork.

                          For a tasty, presentable Black Forest Cake, trim the edges, halve it both ways to make 4 layers, fill top & bottom layers w sour cherries lightly sweetened & juices thickened, whipped cream middle layer, top & sides, a dusting of cocoa over.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: beach_cook

                            I love this cake, my mom used to make it for me, and I make it for my boys. No frosting ever just loved the fudgey like top it creates while baking. It's a good chocolate cake fix for the times when your out of eggs.

                          2. Easy, wonderful chocolate cake is the Texas Sheet cake. It's made in a baking sheet and is a moist cake that tastes like cake, but can be served like brownies. A chocoholics dream! Google it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: danhole

                              Danhole, ditto the vote for the Texas Sheet Cake. Frost the cake while it is still warm in the pan and voila! Amazing chocolate cake. You can find the recipe in tons of places, but this blogger also includes a photo of rich, chocolatey goodness.


                              1. re: pattisue

                                Oh yeah Pattisue! You HAVE to have the frosting melt into the cake - that is the best part! And that photo is exactly what it should look like!

                            2. My go-to every day need-a-chocolate cake is Gourmet's Everyday Cocoa Cake. Dense, chocolately and very satisfying -- and easy!
                              An older friend said it tastes like her mother used to make. I simply dust top w/ confectioner's sugar, though you could make a glaze w/ juice & confectioner's sugar.