Basic Recipes: Ultimate Chocolate Cake / by Anthony Michael Contrino

As a trained pastry chef, people are often offended when I tell them I'm not a chocolate person.  However, this cake is the exception.  It is moist (why do people hate that word?) and plain-old delicious.  This cake can be made days in advance, and if wrapped well, will stay fresh.  I use freshly brewed coffee to accentuate the chocolate tones, but boiling water will work just as well.  

Other notes: It is important that you use a high quality, dark cocoa powder.  Do not be intimidated by the amount of ingredients.  This cake comes together quickly, and, because most ingredients are combined, there is very little cleanup.


Chocolate Cake

Makes 1 8-inch cake or 24 cupcakes


3/4 cup cocoa powder

1-1/2 cups sugar 

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2-2/3 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole milk

1 cup freshly brewed coffee


Set oven to 350 degrees.  If making a cake, line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease with butter and flour.  If making cupcakes, line 2 standard cupcake pans with foil liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients until well combined. 

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, combine the eggs, oil, vanilla and whole milk.  Whisk to combine and emulsify all ingredients.

With the mixer on medium-low, slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.  Mix to form a paste.  Add the hot coffee in four additions, waiting until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl to ensure a consistent batter,

If making a cake, divide the batter evenly into the cake pans.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

If making cupcakes, fill the liners 2/3 of the way.  Bake until the cupcakes bounce back when gently pressed, about 18-20 minutes.  

Cool before serving or storing.  Wrap cakes/cupcakes in an airtight container or with plastic wrap for up to 5  days.