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Dec 30, 2008 07:43 PM

Moist but not dense chocolate cake recipe?

Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions on a recipe for a moist but not heavy chocolate cake.

the one I'm currently using is a vegan one, which I like but I wanted one that was more moist and somewhat lighter in texture. I'm in Toronto, ON and we have this bakery called Dufflets and they make this Black and White cake and the cake is moist and yet not heavy and I was hoping to find something like that.


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  1. Take your normal chocolate cake recipe (i.e., butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, flour vanilla, eggs) and add pureed canned beets and beet juice to the mixture.

    You don't taste the beets, nor do you see them as they get camouflaged in the chocolate, but the beets add an incredible layer of moisture to the cake, without making it dense at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      cool trick, ipse.
      one regular can of beets?

    2. Your best bets are either the Hershey's Black Magic Cake or the cake recipe from the Epicurious Double Chocolate Layer Cake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: middydd

        both these recipes sound yummy..the epicurious one has so many good reviews that I am tempted to start here with my experiments...thanks very much chowhounds.

        1. re: middydd

          The Black Magic cake, which is on the back of every box of Hershey's cocoa, is absurdly easy, reliable, quite flexible in terms of flavor add-ins, and stays moist for days. I've made it non-dairy (with soymilk), orange-chocolate (use OJ instead of milk), cinnamon (add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients), and several other variations, all of which come out well.

        2. Hi Janine,

          I make a vegan chocolate cake too, but it's really moist. Here's a link to a post with the recipe if you want to compare it to the one you've been making (or just click on my name):

          1 Reply
          1. re: TerriL

            Hi TerriL,

            Your recipe is similar but the dry is different proportions. I will have it as one of trials to see how it turns out..thanks

          2. I second the use of coffee--it adds a layer of complexity and it adds moistness. Also, applesauce is a really good addition to baked things to make them moist without fat. I've never tried it, but I've also heard that pureed prunes are great with chocolate (similar to the beets) in the same way you would use applesauce.

            18 Replies
            1. re: LisaPA

              The "Very Good Chocolate Cake" recipe from The Gift Of Southern Cooking (Lewis/Peacock) uses coffee - it's light and moist, with a very fine crumb.
              discussed previously here:

              The beet thing is intriguing . . .

              1. re: pitu

                I made this yesterday and was not pleased with the texture, which was rather dense and gummy. I wonder what went wrong, as I am an experienced baker and followed the recipe closely.

                1. re: buttertart

                  Maybe you over mixed the batter? This has happened to me on more than one occasion. Flour should be gently combined with wet ingredients for as short a time as possible, unless the recipe tells you to do otherwise. Wheat forms gluten when moistened. Too much gluten development can yield a tough, dense, and gummy cake. I'm sure you did everything right, as per the recipe. I have found that many recipes don't include mixing times, so there's a tendency to over mix. If I'm wrong about this, maybe some other hound will give you their impression of what went wrong and their advice. I hope you try again. Sounds like a lovely cake.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Did you replace all the fat in the cake? If you replace all the fat--with applesauce, prunes, pumpkin or whatever--you'll end up with a gummy, rubbery cake (or banana bread, etc.). Fat inhibits gluten formation, so if you want the right texture, you need at least some fat. I'll sub some, even most, of the fat in a recipe, but never all of it.

                    1. re: modthyrth

                      put 25% of butterfat, hydrogenated fat, also Oils, but water amt. may have to be adjusted. I've found that Mayo, creme fraische (or sour cream) & buttermilk --the addition of all or some-- is great to experiment with for soft, moist, yet structured cake. Cooking with Vodka also helps the crumb/texture of cake. experiment with the above using a ratio (by weight) of 1pt flour, 1 pt sugar, 1 pt egg, 1 pt butter (fat/oil).

                    2. re: buttertart

                      If you used the Washington Post recipe posted above, then the author replaced all the oil with applesauce and recommended yogurt over sour cream, from the original version. I think you need oil/butter in cake for the right texture/taste. Also, the original version uses cake flour which would make a much lighter cake; and calls for coffee over hot water which is a nice addition to chocolate. This is the original version:


                      1. re: chowser

                        When I made it, I used peanut oil, and coffee, AP flour since I didn't have cake flour. I'm pretty sure I used Total/Fage Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
                        No other substitutions, light superfine crumb.

                        Totally curious about what went wrong/was subbed in yours. I didn't notice the WaPo messing around with the recipe so much -- I just googled -- so your gummy applesauce cake might be my fault! I have the Gift Of Southern Cooking book, and made it as originally written.

                        chowser posted a much better link!

                        1. re: pitu

                          The Gift of Southern Cooking, original recipe, sounds really good and easy. I'm going to give it a try (and stay away from the WaPo version!). Thanks!

                        2. re: chowser

                          I used the recipe posted here. I did think no butter or oil was odd but went ahead with it thinking some manner of cake magic would transpire. Which it did not. Am continuing my search for a moist and somewhat shaggy-textured plain chocolate cake. My ideal texture would be a cake version of an Aero chocolate bar, with visible bubbles.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Have you tried Hershey's black magic cake? It has a shaggy texture, very moist. I also like the chocolate fudge cake from Cooks Illustrated that Patrincia mentioned below but it's more cakey textured than shaggy. I don't know what an aero bar is like or I'd be able to narrow down cakes that are closer.

                            I found a picture of the black magic cake (though it does have more visible bubles):


                            1. re: buttertart

                              What is a shaggy texture? I've never heard of this. Thanks!

                              1. re: addicted2cake

                                My term for a somewhat loose and airy texture, with visible cell structure. Will try Hershe's cake and report.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Thanks for the explanation. I can always count on my fellow hounds for teaching me new things!

                      2. re: LisaPA

                        Bananas are great, too, mashed into chocolate baked goods, and add moisture, but I think your suggestion of applesauce would make the texture lighter as OP requests.

                        1. re: Steady Habits

                          I second the hersheys cake recipe. The one I use is on the back of the cocoa container. It uses oil, not butter, so if you wanted a vegan recipe, I think this might do (I'm not vegan so I don't know for certain). It is very moist and is my go to chocolate cake.

                          1. re: petitgateau

                            I like the black magic cake, too, and it's my quick go-to chocolate cake. It's not vegan, though, since it has eggs and buttermilk but I don't think that's an issue for the OP. I do find it to be a dense cake.

                            For a light cake, I'd try one where you beat sugar with butter for lightness and then separate the eggs and beat the whites. Something like this godiva cake, which I'm going to have to try because it looks really good.


                            1. re: chowser

                              this does sound very good. thanks as I will be doing some experimenting in the next 2 months. otherwise, I'll never fit into anything if I make all these cakes!

                            2. re: petitgateau

                              I made this cake yesterday. Melts in your mouth!! Delicious!!

                        2. My Grandma's recipe from the 30's- Hershey's Syrup Cake. I posted the recipe on recipezaar last year. Hope it's still there. Try searching "Nana's chocolate syrup cake" Adam

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: adamshoe

                            I sometimes make a chocolate chiffon or chocolate angel cake. Very light, deliious chocolate flavor. A bit more labor intensive than your standard butter type cake, but a lovely change of pace. I get my recipes for these cakes from,, and I like reading the reviews on these sites then choosing the recipe with the least modifications.