Many chocolate cakes simply aren’t all that chocolatey. This chocolate fudge cake absolutely is. It’s rich, super moist, and packed with intense chocolate flavor - a dessert that’ll satisfy your cravings and then some!
In my opinion, every home baker needs a few staple recipes they can make again and again: a solid banana bread, no-fail chocolate chip cookies, and a classic double chocolate cake. If you’re reading this, you can scratch that last one off the list because this, my friends, is the perfect homemade chocolate cake.
What Makes it a Fudge Cake?
Basically, this is a variation of chocolate cake that’s ultra-moist and a little more dense, with a flavor that more closely resembles a bar of chocolate than simple cocoa powder. It’s what I imagine the classic Matilda cake would taste like - a dessert for the truest of chocolate lovers!
While this cake doesn’t actually contain any fudge, it’s very rich, very chocolatey, and extra fudgy (hence the name).But unlike a fudgy brownie, it somehow manages to be fluffy at the same time - just another reason why it’s truly the most amazing chocolate cake.
Why I Call This THE BEST
When it comes to cake - the chocolate variety in particular - my standards are high. It took quite a bit of experimenting to make this one perfect, and here’s why I think it is:
- The cake has a deep chocolate flavor that’s not too sweet - so good you could eat it without frosting.
- It’s extra moist, and stays that way for days!
- You won’t need a mixer for the cake itself - just a bowl, a whisk, and a spatula. The batter comes together in 15 minutes or less.
- The buttercream frosting served with it actually tastes like chocolate - not just sugar with a little chocolate flavor. It’s silky-smooth and so luxurious - hands-down the best traditional chocolate buttercream I’ve ever had.
- It’s hard to mess up!
Ingredients for This Cake
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to make this super moist chocolate fudge cake recipe:
- You can use regular or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- Stick to a good-quality, Dutch process cocoa powder to really get that deep chocolate flavor and rich color in your cake. I like Rodelle's cocoa.
- Coffee is one of the key ingredients that makes this chocolate fudge cake so moist, and it also enhances the flavor! You can use freshly-brewed coffee, hot water combined with instant coffee/espresso, or even hot water alone.
- Oil tends to work better than melted butter for making a cake that's extra soft and tender, and in a rich chocolate cake like this once, it won’t affect the taste. I typically use avocado oil, but sunflower, canola, and vegetable oil are all fine as well.
- Buttermilk also helps make this chocolate cake moist and gives it a fluffy, tender crumb. You can make your own buttermilk if you don’t have any on hand.
- While it might sound strange, a little bit of vinegar is the final piece to keeping this cake soft and moist, while also helping it rise. I used white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar works too.
For the chocolate buttercream frosting, you’ll of course need butter and powdered sugar, but the key to really nailing the flavor is a combo of cocoa powder and melted chocolate.
- Use real butter only. I’m going to go against the grain here and say that I prefer salted butter in frosting, but if you want to use unsalted butter, just add a pinch or two of salt to taste. Your butter should be at room temperature - soft enough to press a finger into, but not anywhere close to melting.
- Sift your powdered sugar and cocoa powder. I know - it’s annoying - but it’ll make your frosting smoother! If you don’t have a true sifter, just use a large fine-mesh strainer.
- Use the best (Dutch process) cocoa powder and chocolate you can find. It will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the flavor of your chocolate frosting. I recommend semisweet baking chocolate with about 65% cacao. I don’t suggest using chocolate chips, which don’t always melt as well and might affect the texture of your frosting.
- Use pure vanilla extract. When you’re only working with a few ingredients, quality really does matter!
How to Make the Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Cake
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, making sure to break up any clumps.
In a second, medium bowl, combine the hot coffee (or water), avocado oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, and white vinegar in order. Whisk them together well.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and fold in with a spatula until everything is evenly incorporated, making sure that you don’t have any pockets or streaks of flour/cocoa left. (But don’t be tempted to overmix either!) The batter will be somewhat thin.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs. Set the pans on a wire rack and let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
Homemade Chocolate Frosting
To make the frosting, start by microwaving the chopped chocolate at 50% power for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until smoothly melted. Set aside to cool briefly.
Meanwhile, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed with the paddle attachment until it’s smooth and creamy.
Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until incorporated. Continue beating, increasing the speed to medium, until smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the melted chocolate. Beat the frosting until smooth, light, and fluffy, using a spatula as needed to make sure everything is fully incorporated.
Assembling the Cake
Carefully transfer one cake layer to a cardboard round or cake plate, removing the parchment paper lining in the process. Spread an even layer of chocolate frosting over the cake, and top with the second cake layer. Finally, frost the outside of the cake and decorate as desired.
Storing and Serving
This chocolate fudge cake can sit at room temperature for a few hours, but is best kept in the refrigerator for longer periods. The easiest way to store it is inside of a cake caddy!
You can also place the cake in the fridge uncovered until the frosting is firm, and then cover the entire thing with a layer of plastic wrap.
Either way, I recommend placing plastic wrap directly over any exposed areas of cake to prevent moisture loss. Stored properly, it should stay fresh for a full week.
For the best taste and texture, let the cake sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before eating.
Make Ahead Instructions
Although you can easily make and assemble the entire cake a day or two before you plan to serve it, you can also bake the individual cake layers a day before assembling.
Once cool, carefully remove them from their pans, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap, and store at room temperature.
More Tips for a Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake
- Weigh your ingredients. Though this recipe is pretty forgiving, it’s always best to measure your ingredients with a kitchen scale for accuracy. A heavy hand with the dry ingredients won’t set you up for a perfectly moist chocolate cake.
- Use a cake turntable and offset spatula for frosting. They’ll make your life so much easier!
- Use a piping bag with a decorative tip (I used a closed star tip) to pipe extra frosting over the top of your cake. Not only will this give it more of a bakery-style appearance, it can be a great way to cover any imperfections!
- Garnish your cake with chocolate sprinkles, chocolate curls, or mini chocolate chips for a little extra flair. If you really want to get elaborate, you can even add a chocolate ganache drip (like the one on this raspberry ice cream cake).
- For a variation on this recipe that's a bit less rich - but equally as fudgy - frost this cake with chocolate whipped cream instead. It's an equally amazing pairing!
Absolutely - in fact, because this is such a fudgy chocolate cake, it freezes really well (and even makes a great ice cream cake)! After the cake has chilled long enough for the frosting to set, cut it into small portions. Wrap each portion in a double layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
More Double Chocolate Desserts
If you like your desserts as chocolatey as possible, you’ll also love these recipes!
Best Chocolate Fudge Cake
When you're looking for a cake that's super moist, rich, and heavy on the chocolate flavor, turn to this chocolate fudge cake! It's a relatively easy to make layer cake that would be perfect for a birthday or other special occasion. With its soft, tender crumb and silky buttercream frosting, it's truly the best chocolate cake recipe!
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cooling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
- Yield: one 2-tier 9" cake 1x
- Category: cakes and cupcakes
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: American
- 2 ¾ cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free)
- 2 ¾ cups (546 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (99 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 ⅛ teaspoons baking soda
- ⅞ teaspoon salt
- 1 ⅝ cups plus 1 tablespoon (383 grams) hot coffee or water
- ½ cup (112 grams) neutral-flavored cooking oil (avocado, vegetable, canola, sunflower, etc.)
- ¾ cup (181 grams) buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 7 ½ ounces (213 grams) semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 ⅞ cups (425 grams) salted butter, softened
- 3 ¾ cups (425 grams) confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 10 tablespoons (62 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter two 9” cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment circles, and dust the sides with cocoa powder.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, making sure to break up any clumps.
- In a second, medium bowl, combine hot coffee/water, avocado oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, and white vinegar in order. Whisk together well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in with a spatula until everything is evenly incorporated, making sure that no pockets or streaks of flour/cocoa remain. The batter will be somewhat thin. Avoid over-mixing.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs. Place on a cooling rack and allow cake to cool completely before removing from pans and frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Using a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chopped chocolate at 50% power for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until smoothly melted. Set aside to cool briefly.
- Meanwhile, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed with the paddle attachment until it’s smooth and creamy.
- Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until incorporated. Continue beating, increasing the speed to medium, until smooth.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the melted chocolate. Beat the frosting until smooth, light, and fluffy, using a spatula as needed to make sure everything is fully incorporated.
- Carefully transfer one cake layer to a cardboard round or cake plate, removing the parchment paper lining in the process. Spread an even layer of chocolate frosting over the cake, and top with the second cake layer. Finally, frost the outside of the cake and decorate as desired.
Storing and Serving:
- Cake can be left at room temperature for a few hours but is best stored in the refrigerator. Store inside of a cake caddy or other airtight container, placing plastic wrap directly over any exposed areas of cake. Alternatively, let cake chill uncovered in refrigerator until frosting has set, and then cover entire cake with plastic wrap.
- For best flavor and texture, serve this cake at room temperature.
- Because this cake is quite rich, I've found that you can easily get about 20 servings out of it. Keep in mind that this will change if you cut thicker slices.
- After letting cake chill long enough for frosting to set, slice into small portions. Wrap each portion in a double layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Cake can be made and frosted 1-2 days before serving. Cake can also be baked a day in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature until frosted.