This is the Dark Chocolate Cake of my DREAMS! Tender, moist homemade chocolate cake with the best smooth, rich, dark chocolate frosting.

I love any excuse to make a decadent cake.  This dark chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites but I also LOVE a decadent Carrot Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Coconut Cake with Pineapple Filling and Lemon Cake.

A slice of dark chocolate cake on a white plate and the remaining cake in the background.

I go crazy for all things dark chocolate and there’s nothing more tempting to me than this Dark Chocolate Cake. Between the amazing, flavorful and tender homemade cake and the rich, smooth and fluffy dark chocolate frosting, there is SO much to love about this cake!

How to Make Dark Chocolate Cake:

1. Prep the cake pans: Grease three 9-inch cake pans. I like to cut a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan to make sure it doesn’t stick. Set aside.

2. Make the chocolate cake:

  • Combine dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add wet ingredients: add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix until well combined. Slowly add boiling water to the cake batter and mix for about 1 minute. Pour cake batter evenly between the three cake pans.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool before frosting.

Three process photos for making dark chocolate cake batter.

3. Make the dark chocolate frosting: Stir together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter then gradually add the sugar/cocoa mixture alternating with cream and vanilla, beating after each addition, until you reach your desired frosting consistency.

4. Assemble: Lay one layer of chocolate cake on a cake board or platter.  Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread a layer of dark chocolate frosting over the top of the cake.  Add the second layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.  Optional: use a wilton decorating tip to add a decorative edge and lightly sprinkle chocolate sprinkles.

Two process photos of assembling a chocolate three layer cake with frosting in between the layers.

To adjust the number of cake layers:

You have the option of making this dark chocolate cake a 2 layer, 3 layer, or 4 layer cake. For a two layer cake, divide the frosting between two cake pans, instead of three, to make 2 thicker cake layers. For a 4 layer cake, bake to layers of cake, then torte each cake round in half, to create 4 layers. Be sure to spread a layer of dark chocolate frosting between each later.

A serving platter with a three layer Dark Chocolate Cake on it.

Freezing Instructions:

This cake freezes well and in fact, I recommend freezing the baked cake rounds ahead of time.  After allowing the cake to cool completely, wrap each cake round in plastic wrap and store in a freezer safe bag in the freezer for a couple days or up to three months.  You can freeze the frosting as well.  Remove the cake rounds from the freezer and frost immediately. Store in the refrigerator and remove to the counter about 30 minutes before eating.

You can also freeze the assembled and frosted cake. Cover it as well as you can (without smashing the frosting) with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 week and allow to thaw on the counter for about a 1.5 hours before serving.

Variations to Dark Chocolate Cake:

  • Gluten-free dark chocolate cake: substitute gluten free flour at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Dairy-free dark chocolate cake:  substitute soy or almond milk for the regular milk in the recipe and for the heavy cream in the frosting.  Substitute a dairy free butter in the frosting.
  • Vegan chocolate cake: make dairy- free substitutes and substitute three flax eggs or ¾ cup plain yogurt for the eggs.
Consider trying these popular desserts:

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Recipe

A slice of dark chocolate cake on a white plate and the remaining cake in the background.
Prep 20 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 55 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I love to use the Hershey's Special dark, but regular works)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)
  • 3 large eggs , room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water

Dark Chocolate Frosting:

  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1 /3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions
 

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease three 9-inch cake pans (I also like to cut a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan to make sure the cake doesn't stick). Set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Slowly add boiling water to the cake batter, while stirring. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute. The batter will be very thin.
  • Pour cake batter evenly between the three cake pans.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with few moist crumbs.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.

For the frosting:

  • Stir together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes. 
  • Gradually add the sugar/cocoa mixture alternating with the cream and vanilla, beating after each addition, until you reach your desired frosting consistency.
  •  Beat on high speed for 3 minutes, until fluffy.

Assemble the cake:

  • Lay one layer of chocolate cake on a cake board or platter.  Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread a layer of dark chocolate frosting over the top of the cake.  Add the second layer or cake and frost the top and sides of the cake. 
  • Optional- use a wilton decorating tip to add a decorative edge and add chocolate sprinkles.

Video

Notes

Freezing Instructions: After allowing the cake to cool completely, wrap each cake round in plastic wrap and store in a freezer safe bag in the freezer for a couple days or up to three months. Remove the cake rounds from the freezer and frost immediately. Store in the refrigerator and remove to the counter about 30 minutes before eating.
You can also freeze the assembled, frosted cake. Cover it as well as you can (without smashing the frosting) with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 week and allow to thaw on the counter for about a 1.5 hours before serving.
Variations to Dark Chocolate Cake:
  • Gluten-free dark chocolate cake: substitute gluten free flour at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Dairy-free dark chocolate cake:  substitute soy or almond milk for the regular milk in the recipe and for the heavy cream in the frosting.  Substitute a dairy free butter in the frosting.
  • Vegan chocolate cake: make dairy- free substitutes and substitute three flax eggs or ¾ cup plain yogurt for the eggs.

Nutrition

Calories: 887kcalCarbohydrates: 144gProtein: 10gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 572mgPotassium: 542mgFiber: 8gSugar: 105gVitamin A: 680IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 131mgIron: 4.9mg

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I originally shared this recipe February 2017. Updated September 2020.

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This is the Dark Chocolate Cake of my DREAMS! Tender, moist homemade chocolate cake with the best smooth, rich, dark chocolate frosting. | Tastes Better From Scratch

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    I recently did a head-to-head chocolate cake recipe taste test with four recipes and can say, without a doubt, this is easily the best chocolate cake recipe out there! Tender and moist but not too dense or wet, super chocolatey but not bitter at all, fluffy but holds up to cutting, and transfers seamlessly to a cupcake (makes 27 cupcakes and bake for 21 minutes!)

    Cannot wait to keep coming back to this simply perfect recipe!

  2. How can I turn this cake into a red velvet cake recipe? Is it even possible? Thanks, Jessica

  3. Hi Lauren ,

    I would like to make this a mini cake .
    How much of the recipe should I use to make a mini cake.

    Thanks,
    Mayanka

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cake for my dad’s birthday. It was so simple and easy to make and my dad was raving about it all day. He loves dark chocolate, and he said it tastes similar to the Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses. Not too rich and very moist.

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