Chocolate cake

Recipe: Best chocolate cake and cupcakes

We are huge chocolate cake fans in our family. And so far this best chocolate cake recipe from my friend Robyn at Add a Pinch has been my favorite. It’s seriously the best. But, in all honesty, I don’t really consider myself a baker. The precision of cooking gives me anxiety. There’s too much chemistry involved.

The butter adds lots of flavor and the oil keeps the cake moist. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

So when I was recently researching the best way to create a super delicious chocolate cake, I wanted to start with a cake mix. I say. Shoot me. But stay with me for a second…

Now I learned a few years ago that my favorite cakes contain both butter and oil. The butter adds lots of flavor and the oil keeps the cake moist. So I knew he had to include both.

I’m also a huge fan of the very popular White Almond Sour Cream Cake (WASC) that many bakers swear by. It starts with a canned mix. So I wondered if there was a way to take chocolate cake mix and use the same method as WASC cake.

A quick Google brought me to Liz Marek’s blog. Sugar Geek Show has amazing cake and dessert recipes and cake decorating tutorials. Now that sounds simple enough, but her blog is so much more. When I tell you she’s amazing, that’s an understatement. If you have time to kill, you should click on her and check out some of the ridiculously amazing cakes she has created. Wickedly talented is how I would describe Liz.

This recipe makes about 36 cupcakes and the frosting will give you more than enough for high decorative swirls. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

Anyway, she has a recipe for a WASC chocolate cake that meets all my criteria. It started with a canned mix and included both oil and butter. And it was incredibly delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I only made a few tweaks after testing it about six times — you know, science and all. It was so good like that.

I love the flavor of my buttermilk chocolate cake. I was told that the unique flavor, in addition to buttermilk, is created by heating the cocoa powder and letting it “bloom”. With that thought in mind, I decided to test the recipe using hot coffee rather than the cold coffee Liz calls for. It could all be in my head, but I found it made a difference. That said, cold brew coffee will definitely work. And, no, your cake won’t taste like coffee. The coffee just works to intensify the flavor of the chocolate.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Why not do it all from scratch?” Well, I hear you. And here’s the deal: starting with a cake mix gives us several advantages. This gives us a head start by eliminating some steps. This reduces the margin of error when it comes to measuring, which means there’s a much higher chance that your cake will turn out perfect. And I also learned from Liz’s blog that it has emulsifiers that a scratch cake wouldn’t have. These emulsifiers also help ensure that the cake turns out perfectly.

Before serving, allow the cake to come to room temperature. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

This cake gives you the best of both worlds. It has the reliability of a canned mix, but the flavor of homemade with all the added ingredients.

So why do we add extra flour? Well, the extra flour, cocoa, and sugar help stretch the cake mix so we have more batter, which means thicker layers of cake rather than the super thin layers we’d get from mixing alone .

The decadent chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is my own creation and one I’ve been using for years. And now I have the perfect cake to complement my frosting.

The combination of the two makes for a pretty nasty cake, if I do say so myself. And it also easily turns into cupcakes.

The amped up cake mix recipe will give you enough batter for about 36 cupcakes and the frosting will give you more than enough to make mile high swirls.

When it comes to frosting, starting with room temperature butter is a must. And once everything is combined, the length of time you mix it will give you some difference in results. For dense, smooth frosting, you want to mix it until just combined. If you want a lighter, fluffier frosting, mixing it a little longer will give you that. Side note: is anyone else using the terms glaze and glaze interchangeably? I know they are supposed to be different, but I use them both for the same thing. Old habits die hard, I guess.

Another tip from Liz: Cool your cake layers before frosting them. This makes them sturdier and a bit easier to coat. Then let the whole cake come to room temperature before serving.

This moist and moist cupcake is worth every calorie. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: ten


Best chocolate cake:

  • 1 box (15.25 ounces) devil’s cake mix (I like Duncan Hines for this recipe)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 bag (2 pounds) powdered sugar (7 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or more)


Best chocolate cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray two 9-inch light-colored aluminum cake pans with nonstick cooking spray with flour. Put aside.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cake mix, flour, salt, sugar and cocoa powder until well blended.
  3. Add hot coffee and stir to combine.
  4. Add melted butter, oil and sour cream; mix to combine.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix for about 2 minutes.
  7. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then unmold the cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Add the butter to the bowl of a mixer and blend until smooth.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Add salt and cocoa powder and mix well.
  4. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Add heavy cream to thin buttercream until smooth and stir to combine.
  6. Add more cream to make it runnier or more powdered sugar if you get it too runny.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, cut off the domed part of each cake and frost with the chocolate buttercream.


  • To make cupcakes, line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and fill them halfway. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes about 36 cupcakes.
  • The frosting recipe makes enough to generously frost the two-layer cake or frost 36 cupcakes.
  • Cake recipe adapted from Sugar Geek Show Chocolate WASC Cake.

This recipe originally appeared on For more great recipes visit the website or check out ”The Southern Bite Cookbook.”

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