Recipe Review

I Tried the Most Popular Chocolate Cake on the Internet and It Lives Up to the Thousands of 5-Star Reviews

published Feb 25, 2024
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Add a Pinch's chocolate cake with a slice out
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Brett Regot

If you search online for “best chocolate cake recipe,” one recipe will certainly rise to the top: Add a Pinch’s The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}. The recipe blows away all rivals, boasting the most five-star reviews of any other recipe (more than 4,500 at the time of this writing!). 

While it’s seemingly the most popular homemade chocolate cake on the internet, I was hesitant. Could it really be that good? The ingredient list seemed pretty standard: all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, a little espresso powder (to enhance the chocolate flavor), milk, oil, and eggs. Oh, and a cup of boiling water … interesting. I was excited to give this recipe a try and see if it lives up to the hype.

Get the recipe: Add a Pinch’s The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

How to Make Add a Pinch’s Chocolate Cake 

While the oven is heating, whisk together all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. You’ll then add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients, mixing until well-combined. Next, with the mixer on low speed, you’ll add boiling water to the batter. (Yes, you only need one bowl for the batter!) 

Divide the batter between prepared 9-inch pans and bake for about 30 minutes. After cooling the layers in their pans for 10 minutes, you’ll remove them from the pans and cool completely.

Once the layers are cooled, you’ll make the buttercream frosting. It starts by creaming together softened butter and cocoa powder. Next, you’ll gradually and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, then finish with vanilla extract and espresso powder. The last step is to slather the frosting between the cake layers and all over the top and sides of the cake. 

My Honest Review of Add a Pinch’s Chocolate Cake

This cake batter was surprisingly easy to make. It doesn’t require creaming of butter and sugar together but instead relies on a simple, straightforward mix-it-together-in-one-bowl approach. And that’s A-OK; the batter ends up homogenous and smooth. There is a note at the end of the recipe alerting you that the batter will be very thin after you incorporate the boiling water, and indeed it is. Don’t worry — this is correct. The cake layers end up tall, wonderfully moist, and perfectly tender. 

There’s a bit of espresso powder in both the cake and the frosting (1 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon, respectively), and that’s just enough to enhance the chocolaty depth without detouring toward a mocha direction. The frosting amount is ample, and the frosting itself has plenty of butter for creaminess, lots of chocolate flavor from a generous amount of cocoa, and the right amount of powdered sugar to balance the flavors. The finished cake is wonderfully chocolate-rich but not so densely chocolaty that you don’t enjoy eating a full slice in one sitting.

5 Tips for Making Add a Pinch’s Best Chocolate Cake 

  1. Line your pans with parchment. To ensure the cake layers release evenly from the pans, go one step further than buttering and flouring (or using baking spray). Line the bottom of the pans with rounds of parchment paper, too. 
  2. Use your scale. Weighing your ingredients gives you much more precision than measuring by volume, and the recipe offers gram weights for everything. Beyond weighing the ingredients themselves, try weighing the batter to ensure you’ve divided it evenly between the pans. The easiest way to do this is to eyeball and distribute the batter between the pans, and then (assuming you’re using two identical pans) weigh them; you can spoon out a little batter from one pan and add it to the other to even them out, if needed. 
  3. Add the boiling water slowly. You’ll have a medium-thick cake batter before you add the boiling water. To avoid potentially dangerous splash-ups, keep the mixer on low speed and slowly add the boiling water to the batter instead of adding it all in one go.
  4. Sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Cocoa powder and powdered sugar often have stubborn lumps that could remain intact in your baked cake layers and frosting. To ensure the smoothest results, sift those ingredients either in an actual sifter or through a fine mesh sieve.
  5. Store smartly. Follow our cake storing guidelines for keeping your baked cake in prime condition. It should be fine at room temperature for a few days, but if you refrigerate it, bring it back to room temp before eating (it’s always going to taste best and have the best texture at room temperature). Most importantly, once you’ve cut into the cake, make sure you press plastic wrap directly onto the cut surfaces to prevent moisture loss.