Dark Chocolate Cake with Hot Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Dark Chocolate Cake with Hot Chocolate Buttercream Icing

I was tempted to leave a description out of this blog post and just let the pictures speak for themselves, but I can’t help but talk about this cake. Its incredible moistness. It’s light, yet sturdy texture. The intense chocolate flavor. And best of all…the hot chocolate buttercream icing. Yes, you read that right. Hot Chocolate Buttcream Icing.  Joy the Baker calls this “the best ever chocolate frosting.” I agree – and I would appreciate it if we didn’t talk about how much I ate.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Hot Chocolate Buttercream Icing

We had a family birthday party last weekend and I was asked to bring the cake. Well…that’s not exactly accurate. I got the email about having a family party and immediately started thinking about cake flavors. I came up with a few different options and printed the recipes before Mike asked me: “Were you even asked to bring a cake?” Minor details! I decided on the dark chocolate cake you see here and emailed my mother-in-law saying “I’d be happy to bring a birthday cake if you’d like.” (In my head I was thinking “Pleeeeease let me bring a cake because now I’m sold on this cake and I have to make it and I should definitely not be left alone with a whole cake at our house!”). 

Dark Chocolate Cake with Hot Chocolate Buttercream Icing

And let me tell you, this cake surpassed my expectations. I used to think that homemade cakes just weren’t as good as the boxed variety, but there’s no way I could think that after tasting this cake. And I don’t even like chocolate cake! If you’re a chocolate fan, this cake is for you. Seriously. Go to the store, get whatever you need to make this cake, and make it. Your family will thank you.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Hot Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Dark Chocolate Cake with Hot Chocolate Buttercream Icing


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup Dark Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

(makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake. If you want extra icing for decorating the cake, I would do 1 1/2 times the recipe.)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered hot chocolate mix (I used nestle hot cocoa mix)


For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 2 x 9″ cake pans with butter and flour or parchment paper. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of electric mixer. Add the remaning ingredients to the bowl. With paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer). The batter will be liquidy. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans in the oven. Bake 15 minutes longer or until a toothpick comes out clean – approximately 35 minutes total. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.

For the icing: Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. The mixture will be very thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar. With the mixer on low, mix in powdered sugar while slowly adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together heavy cream and hot chocolate mix. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of hot chocolate mix and cream.

cake recipe from Sweetapolita and icing adapted from Joy the Baker

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  1. oh man. now i'm going to have chocolate dreams. gorgeous girl!

  2. Wow! Wow! Wow! This is a seriously amazing cake. I need a birthday in my family to come up quick 🙂

  3. I think my pants got tighter just looking at that sinful goodness.

  4. I think this post would have done just fine with chocolate cake pictures only…..But your description made it even more tempting. I have got to try this.

  5. Oh wow, that looks SO good!! Now I just need an excuse to make it 🙂

  6. Ummm – I'm not sure I should thank you for this LOL My husband has been saying he is craving cake so I guess that is my excuse 😉

  7. that frosting sounds insanely yummy!!

  8. that looks so, so good.

  9. This cake looks out of this world!

  10. Dang! That is chocolate cake for sure. You had me at moist…. 😀

  11. You've got me sold on it! YUM!

  12. This sounds absolutely amazing. I know just what you mean, sometimes it just feels like your *duty* to bake something fabulous for an event!

  13. Beautiful cake Megan! Cake makes every event more special, don't you all agree?

  14. Beautiful cake! Chocolate at its best!

  15. OMG…I'm totally drooling over your pictures!!! The cake looks so incredibly delicious, and what I wouldn't do for a piece of it right now!!! I can almost taste it!! I'll have to make this after Lent is over (I've given up processed sugar for Lent)…will save it for a day when we have guests coming over so I don't eat the whole thing myself!! 🙂

    By the way, I just wanted to let you know that I've given you an award…the Versatile Blogger Award.

    Here's the post on my website where I've mentioned your name and most interesting blog:


    If you accept the award, let me know and pass the award onto 15 other newly found bloggers. The rule (which are easy) are listed on my post.


    I've really enjoyed browsing your website! You have a lot of great recipes that I can't wait to try! 🙂

  16. I'm not always in the mood for chocolate but I really want a slice!

  17. I've got to try this one…maybe for Easter!

  18. I want to shove my face into this.

    YUM! 🙂

  19. Mmmm the addition of colored sprinkles really just make “the icing on the cake!” 🙂

  20. This chocolate cake and frosting looks amazing and I'm not even a huge chocolate fan!! Def will have to try this 🙂

  21. intense. but i'd love a slice right now 🙂

  22. Oh my word! I can't even begin to tell you how badly I want to eat this whole entire cake. It looks incredible. 🙂

  23. That's why you should blog hop at night .. i am craving for this now so badly .. can almost taste the yummy goodness !

  24. I've always thought the boxed mix was better than homemade, too, but ALRIGHT. Fine. I'll try this cake. You twisted my arm with the gorgeous photos.

  25. I just started following your blog and I have to say, honestly woman, this is a terrible terrible post! Now instead of focusing on putting the kids to bed I'm left with the dilemma of do I go to the grocery store tonight or not? I don't need to have an occasion to bake this, right?

  26. Delicious post! Want to start baking right now!

  27. Holy deliciousness!!!!

  28. It's 8 am and I wish I had a piece of this cake:)

  29. you can just tell from the pictures that this is DELICIOUS!!!

  30. This is the best chocolate cake I have ever had and/or made. I made it a 3-layered cake with a mousse/ganache layer and praline layer. Thank you for sharing!!

  31. This is the best chocolate cake I have ever had and/or made. I made it a 3-layered cake with a mousse/ganache layer and praline layer. Thank you for sharing!!

  32. I'm always up for a new chocolate cake and icing recipe to try! I'll add these to my “to try” list!

  33. Megan — this looks like a perfect way to celebrate a birthday 🙂

  34. Donna – So glad you liked this! Your layered version sounds incredible!

  35. I was asked by a friend to make a cake for graduation next week and she knew she wanted chocolate, but other than that it's up to me. I am pretty sure this is the one I'll make! Thank you sooo much 🙂

  36. Hmmmm – looks absolutely sinfully delicious Megan!

  37. Dark chocholate yummy :))))))))))))))

  38. I did end up making this and it is fantastic 🙂

  39. can I use nescafe instant coffee for making 1 cup black coffee?

  40. Anonymous – that should work fine. Hope you like it! 🙂

  41. Jackie – so glad you liked it!!

  42. Ok thanks Megan 🙂 I will give it a try. This cake looks really yummy. Can't wait to try it. Can I use nestle cocoa powder? (non-dutch processed)?

  43. Anonymous – actually, that's exactly what I used, the dark version. Good luck!

  44. This frosting is the absolute best chocolate frosting ever, and I’ve tried many!

  45. Im going to make this later this week…if I make a day ahead of time, how should I store it?

    • As long as your kitchen is cool, it will be fine if you store it, covered, at room temperature. If your kitchen is warm, I would store it in the refrigerator to keep the icing from getting too soft. Just let it come to room temperature before serving. I hope you like it! 🙂

  46. I loooove chocolate so this is one I am trying out the next time I get a craving!

  47. Dear all,
    I know it’s a little late since the last comment, but last week I made this cake, and to be honest, the frosting is A-MA-ZING! I followed the exact recipe and the cake itself….I’d rather say it was “a great laxative” :I

    I was a bit confused in the -strong black coffe- part, I assumed that it was reffering to the dry instant coffee, which was ONE WHOLE CUP! I was in doubt, thinking that it might be too much, but I followed the recipe, just in case.( 3/4 of cocoa powder and 1 cup of dark coffee)

    The cake was dark alright, but it did not taste like chocolate cake. Rather it was a boost of caffeine! I swear, yesterday me and my hubby slept at 05:00 in the morning, and the day after; the resting rooms were quite “occupied”
    I’m Dutch, and I’m honest, so I might just as share my experience.

    The consistency of the cake was good, the color, amazing, the frosting, was the best I’ve ever had, but I think there was an error in the amount of the coffee, while writing down the ingredients?

    Next time I will definitely make this cake again, but I will be very cautious when puting the coffe. Or, the creator of this amazing recipe, should revise that part.

    Many thanks and much baking pleasure!

    The perestrelos,
    The Hague, The Netherlands

    • Oh, I’m so sorry! The coffee refers to one cup of *brewed* coffee. I’m so sorry for the confusion – I hope you’ll try it again and let me know if you like it any better. Thanks so much for the comment! 🙂

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  49. Dear Megan,
    No need to say sorry! I made this great cake again, and just added a half cup of brewed coffee just to be on the safe side, and “recover” from our funny last experience. We are still laughing about that!
    Again, after following the exact steps, the cake was DELICIOUS! This cake has become already our favo cake for birthdays.

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  51. Hi Megan – I am wondering, for the frosting: Do you suggest using good ol’ fashioned Hershey’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa, or a Dutch process (or dark) cocoa? I also have Saco Premium Baking Cocoa on hand that I could use. Thanks in advance for any advice – this buttercream frosting looks amazing, and I’m excited to try it!

    • To be honest, I always use Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder. I’ve heard you can taste the difference if you use the good stuff, but Hershey’s has always worked for me. 🙂 For this cake though, I did use their dark cocoa powder. Sometime I want to do a blind taste test with different ingredients to see how noticeable the difference is.

  52. Thanks very much, Megan! I have bookmarked your blog (I’d just found it the other day), and will enjoy sifting through it, I’m sure. Happy Holidays :-).

  53. This cake looks so good! Not a fan of coffee, so could I leave the coffee out?

  54. I love this cake!!! Do you think I can half the recipe to make a double layer 6″ cake?

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  56. I’ve made this cake twice and it turned out great both times! As I’ve moved to a new country I found myself needing to make it again for a birthday but only had one cake pan, so I made cupcakes! Just in case anyone else is heading that way, they bake anywhere from 15-17 minutes 🙂

    • I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for including the baking time for cupcakes – I’m sure that will be a big help to anyone looking to make them. 🙂

  57. Hello there Megan, I kept trying to post this comment but it wouldnt go through. I actually made these as cupcakes for my work potluck a couple months ago. I just wanted to say omg moist and yummy delicousness! I love making anything of yours because although sometimes there may be a lot of steps, it always turns out wonderfully with little stress on my part. I wanted to post a picture of how cute they turned out but it doesnt have an option on the comment section to do that. However, I just wanted to say thank you for your blog, your site has given me multiple “keeper” recipes that I will cherish as my family and friends think I am a baking genius lol. Happy Christmas, much love from Oregon! 🙂

  58. Just to let you know – this awesome cake has become quite popular on the Weight Watchers website – hee – and not in the weight loss section!

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  61. Hey. I am usually not a commenter on any blog, just a reader, but I really felt the need to let you know how great this cake is. I have made it on many occasions, both as a cake and as cupcakes, and it is always devoured and I always get questions about the recipe. it is almost foolproof and so moist, fluffy, and chocolatey. I have made the frosting for other cakes as well. My husband says it is he best frosting he’s ever had. I don’t mean to be hyperbolic, but seriously, this cake is damn good.

  62. Had anyone used this with just regular coc poo a powder? Boyfriend doesn’t like dark chocolate, does it make a difference?

  63. I stumbled onto this cake recipe by someone who posted a link on a site I frequent. I have made it quite a few times, and everyone loves it! I have paired it with buttercream and cream cheese icing. Thanks so much!

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