Recipe Review

I Tried the Internet’s Most Popular Chocolate Cake Recipe (It Has More Than 2,000 Reviews)

published Feb 10, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

For anyone unfamiliar with the world of food blogs, Add a Pinch is a big player. The blog’s recipe collection is filled with simple and comforting recipes, many of which have racked up an impressive number of five-star reviews. Arguably their most well-known recipe is their “best chocolate cake,” which has over 2,000 reviews and a practically perfect rating (4.97 out of five stars). The comment section is filled with readers singing the praises of the cake, noting how moist and decadent it is.

A quick Google search for “chocolate cake” revealed Add a Pinch’s recipe might be the most popular chocolate cake on the Internet, so we knew we had to include it in our chocolate cake recipe showdown. Here’s what happened when I baked it up in my kitchen.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Add a Pinch’s Chocolate Cake

You’ll start by whisking together flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the batter is smooth and thick. Reduce the speed to low and carefully add boiling water to thin out the batter. Distribute the batter into two cake pans greased with nonstick cooking spray and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let them cool in their pans for a few minutes, then remove from their pans and let them cool completely.

As the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. You’ll start by adding a generous amount of unsweetened cocoa powder to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisking it to break up any lumps. Add softened butter, beat until creamy, then add powdered sugar and milk in alternating additions until the sugar is completely dissolved into the frosting. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and the frosting is done! When the cakes are cool, it’s time to frost.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Add a Pinch’s Chocolate Cake

This is a very solid cake recipe. It’s moist and rich but still feels light, and the espresso powder helps elevate the flavors in both the frosting and the cake. It’s like your favorite store-bought chocolate cake, only better. The frosting recipe is easy to work with, but it makes about double the amount of frosting you actually need to frost the cake. It also would have benefitted from a pinch of salt to help balance it out.

Overall, this cake is delicious and totally worth making. It’s a great go-to recipe that’s safe and crowd-pleasing. There’s nothing extraordinary about it, so if you’re looking for something unexpected or showy, this isn’t it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Add a Pinch’s Chocolate Cake, a Few Tips

1. Consider swapping out the boiling water for coffee: To add an extra hit of flavor, I suggest swapping out the boiling water used in the cake batter for hot coffee. It will add an additional layer of flavor and slight bitterness that will highlight the chocolate flavor, but don’t worry — it won’t actually make your cake taste like coffee.

2. Make sure you’re using espresso powder, not instant coffee: Both the cake and frosting recipes call for instant espresso powder. While similar, instant espresso powder is a tad stronger and usually finer than instant coffee, so don’t get them confused.

3. Add a pinch (pun intended) of kosher salt to the frosting: While the frosting was good, it would have benefitted from a touch of salt to help balance the sweetness and bring out the chocolate flavor. Try adding 1/4 teaspoon and adjust from there if needed.

4. Halve the frosting recipe: The recipe made about twice as much frosting as I needed, so feel free to cut it in half.

Rating: 8/10

Have you ever made Add a Pinch’s chocolate cake? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn