HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


I have a chocolate cake recipe challenge for you (aka..please help!)

I will be making my daughter's first bday cake in less than 2 weeks, and I'm struggling to find a chocolate cake recipe that will work. I'm looking for moist, chocolatey, dense...but not too dense (I'm using the cooked flour/milk gravy recipe, which turns out to be pretty light/airy), but I also need it to hold up to stacking (I'm doing a 9" layered, with a 6" layer on top). I tried making this recipe from AllRecipes:
3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 1/3 cups boiling water
It was ok, but just sort of blah...not very chocolately at all...even a day or two later. Here's another variable - I don't want a recipe that requires coffee, since my one year old will be eating it, along with several other little kids.
Anyone have any recipes that will meet all these criteria? I've looked through hundreds of posts, but haven't found anything that will meet all my needs....

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In your circumstances, I'd choose a chocolate mayonnaise cake.

    1. I really like the Cook's Illustrated Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake. It's the last recipe on this page: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedconte...

      5 Replies
      1. re: gmm

        Wow - that looks like the ticket! All the qualities of old-fashioned chocolate layer cake, it contains both chocolate and cocoa, so will be chocolaty enough and that unusual frosting looks like a winner too! Have you tried it?

        1. re: cinnamon girl

          I have not tried that frosting recipe, but I definitely will next time. It sounds great!

          1. re: cinnamon girl

            I like the frosting for that cake, too. It's fudgy chocolate frosting. But, it's more time consuming than the sour cream fudge frosting so I use that one more often.

            1. re: chowser

              What is the sour cream fudge frosting? Sounds like a winning combination.

              1. re: cinnamon girl

                There are so many variations of it, from a melted package of chocolate chips and a container of sour cream and some vanilla to this one which I like the best:


                I use more dark chocolate than milk, though.

        2. Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake is the best chocolate cake I have made. It is moist and has great flavor. It works well as a layer cake. I would think it would be fine with an extra 6" layer on top, but if you really want to be safe you might want to put it on a cake round with dowels underneath.

          http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recip... cake&omnituresearch=true&rectypecat=

          Good luck!

          3 Replies
          1. re: caryrd

            I've made the Hershey chocolate cake and used it to stack a few times. It should do the trick nicely for what the OP is wanting to do. And I agree with the cake round/dowel construction, especially if it is being transported.

            1. re: ttoommyy

              third this. I just made this for VDay with a raspberry glaze in between the layers. Perfect amount of chocolate. Perfect texture.

            2. re: caryrd

              This cake is so easy and good. Perfect every time!

            3. I like both CI's chocolate layer cake and the Hershey cake mentioned above. I think the CI cake is a little more chocolatey and less dense. To make sure it holds, you could put the 6" layer cake on a cardboard round before frosting, as caryrd recommended. Put straws in the 9" cake layer, cut to size, as dowels to hold up the 6" cake. Although it's not necessary with such a small cake, the other advantage is that it will be easy to remove so when you cut the cake, you can just the 6" and 9" cake individually. Without the round, it takes practice to cut it.

              1. This is the best; it tastes amazing, and never fails to please.

                Ultimate Chocolate Cake

                2 c. sugar
                1 3/4 c. flour (whole wheat flour also works well)
                3/4 c. cocoa
                1 1/2 t. baking soda
                1 1/2 t. baking powder
                1 t. salt
                1 c. milk or soymilk
                1/3 c. oil
                2 t. vanilla
                2 eggs
                1 c. boiling water

                Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 13” x 9” pan, 2 8” round or square pans, a Bundt pan, or 24 cupcake liners.

                Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well-blended.

                Add milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.

                Fold in boiling water with a spatula. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 25-50 minutes, depending on the pan being used, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

                2 Replies
                1. re: queenscook

                  Other than 1/3 c oil vs. 1/2 c oil, that's the Hershey chocolate cake recipe! It's a good cake w/ slight variations out there, including Ina Garten's Beatty's chocolate cake:


                  1. re: chowser

                    Thanks so much everyone! I think I'll try out the CI recipe, based on chowser's more chocolatey/less dense description. You've all been a great help!

                2. Congratulations on your first year of being a mom! I love to make my daughter's birthday cakes, and I made the linked cake for her second birthday -- very chocolatey, very moist, and dense enough to withstand stacking, but not too dense. I'd also sink a few drinking straws into the bottom layer, and put a round of cardboard between the tiers -- that will help support the cake.

                  1. excuse me for the slightly off topic question.
                    but this seems to be the latest choc. cake discussion.

                    can any of the tips like : boiling water, mayo, etc
                    be used with a (boxed cake mix) .

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: divya

                      Yep, you can definitely use mayo in a boxed chocolate cake mix. It does make it rather more palatable!


                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        thank you ChristinaMason
                        I will try the mayo.
                        On second thoughts. mayo is egg /oil so it is just adding another egg and most recipes call for oil anyway.no changes to the taste, just texture
                        maybe high fat sour cream would add flavor and the moisture , than the mayo which would just add extra moistness.

                        1. re: divya

                          That sounds good. This recipe runs with that idea, and also adds pudding, which is great for moisture: http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/ild...

                    2. Two great options: the deep, dark chocolate cake on the back of the Hershey's Special Dark cocoa box is awesome (made it for my son's second b-day)

                      another great one is the chocolate date cake on wednesdaychef.com-- just use water instead of coffee to soak the dates. i love this cake-- am making it this w/end, actually. It is super moist but also firm-- probably firmer than the Hershey's