The Best Chocolate Cake I’ve Ever Had (And a Par-taaay!)

Literally the BEST chocolate cake ever to cross my lips. It is dense and rich and moist and almost brownie-like but still in a cake way. It’s a Magleby’s copycat. You will not regret this!

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

A couple weeks ago, I tried to make myself a gorgeous layer cake as a belated birthday present to myself. But my cakes broke coming out of the pan. So I shoved them into a 9×13 and smeared frosting on top and ate it like an animal.

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I shared my broken cake on Facebook and my friend Jane said, “Sorry about baking your own cake for your birthday. That is just wrong!” And I told her that I didn’t mind, because Eric had made me pancakes on my birthday and I ACTUALLY had to spit them out in the sink. True story.

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

GUESS WHAT. The Food Charlatan turns FOUR this week! My actual anniversary was on Sunday (but I don’t post on Sundays because Sundays are for family and cake.) My first post ever was Pumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies, where I tell the story about the time we brought cookies to our neighbor and he opened the door wearing nothing but a towel. True story.

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

A couple years ago I updated the photos on that post, which I kind of regret. That post is more important to me as a piece of my own history than as a traffic-driver. I still kept one of the old photos up, and the story is the same, but still. I kind of feel like I went back and edited my own journal.

Buuuut that’s one of the things about food blogging. It’s kind of like that part in Princess Bride when Inigo Montoya is all like “Father, guide my sword,” and it’s this epic moment, but then he runs into a tree and thinks he failed. But then, he leans on the tree, and the secret passage opens and he saves the day!

Okay so maybe if you’re not a Princess Bride freak that went over your head. What I’m TRYING to say is that food blogging is AWESOME and WEIRD and FUN and HARD and CONSTANTLY changing. And I freaking love it. It is crazy to think how far we’ve come from the days when it was just Eric and my mom reading my posts. I’m so glad you guys are here! It’s a par-tay!

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

And what’s a party without cake and candles.  This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s a copycat of the cake served at Magleby’s, a restaurant in Utah. When they served it to me (I was at a wedding, one of dozens) I thought to myself, meh, mass-served chocolate cake. Then I tried a bite and was completely blown away.

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

I saw this copycat cake over on Baked in AZ (who has a beautiful blog by the way, definitely check out her work!) and knew I had to try it. It is so dense and rich and moist. It’s like a Texas Sheet Cake, only better. You know how the edges of a cake are usually dry? Eric and I were fighting over the edge pieces because they are so fudgy. SO GOOD!

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had from The Food Charlatan

So good that I made it twice. I won’t tell you how much that had to do with me breaking my first cake. But both times, Eric said to me, “Don’t make any other chocolate cake recipe ever again.” Maybe I will make this again on my 5th anniversary…or maybe I should make it at least 5 times before then.

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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The Best Chocolate Cake I’ve Ever Had (And a Par-taaay!)

Yield: Serves 10-12


    For the cake:
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour, sifted spooned
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Frosting:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 5 and 1/4 cups powder sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch cake pans with butter, then coat with flour. Then trace the bottom of the cake pans onto parchment paper, cut out the circles, and put them in the bottom of the pan.*
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 cup butter over medium heat. Stir in the water and cocoa and whisk until combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for about 30 seconds. Remove pot from heat and let sit aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the white sugar, flour, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together 2 eggs. Slowly sprinkle baking soda and baking powder over the top while you whisk. Beat until there are no lumps. The mixture may foam, and that's ok!
  5. Stir in the vanilla and 1 cup brown sugar.
  6. When the chocolate mixture in the pot has cooled enough to handle, stir it into the flour mixture. Then add the egg mixture. Each time mix only until combined.
  7. Lastly, fold in the sour cream. DON'T over mix!!
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans (I use a scale). Drop the cakes on the counter from a few inches above to get out some of the air bubbles.
  9. Bake for about 34-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven when a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
  10. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully loosen edges with a knife and invert onto a cooling wrack. Let cakes cool completely.
  11. Wrap the cakes securely in plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour or 2. (This is only so that it's easy to frost the cake. If you are in a hurry and presentation isn't an issue, frost as soon as they are cool!)
  12. Make the frosting:
  13. Cream the butter well. Add the cocoa and powdered sugar in increments, adding the cream in between. Beat well after each addition. Add the salt and vanilla.
  14. Smear a bit of frosting on the bottom of a cake plate. Place 1 frozen cake on top, then cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting (I like to use an offset spatula).
  15. Place the other cake on top, then frost the outside and edges. If you don't want your cake plate to get frosting all over it, line it with strips of parchment paper that you can pull out when the cake is completely frosted.
  16. Serve with lots of milk!


*Or you can totally make this in a 9x13 pan--adjust baking times. Update: My best friend Sarah made it a couple weeks ago in a 9x13 and said that it took about 40 minutes and only needed about 2/3 the amount of frosting.

Source: slightly adapted from Baked in AZ and Make It, Love It, Share it.

More chocolate!!

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes:

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes from The Food Charlatan

Strawberry Truffle Cake:

Strawberry Truffle Cake from The Food Charlatan

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Custard:

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Custard from The Food Charlatan


More chocolate from blog friends!

Death By Chocolate Cupcakes from American Heritage Cooking
Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from I am Baker
Crockpot Chocolate Lava Cake from Life in the Lofthouse





  1. Kris says

    hey Karen Chip wants to know if you will make it for him when we come! It is amazing! So glad I got to taste it! BTW your pictures look amazing. 😉

  2. Janice says

    Happy anniversary, sweetie! I still read every word, though now I have lots of company. Both your writing and your photography are fabulous – I hardly even feel like it’s bragging to say so :)
    Btw, we were wondering what to make for Gabe’s birthday- now we know!

  3. says

    Congrats on the Anniversary! Your blog is beautiful as well, thanks so much! This made me laugh because I recently made this cake for my own birthday! :) And if my husband made me pancakes I am pretty sure I’d have to spit them in the sink too, haha! Your frosting looks so good. Next time I make this (prob. next weekend for another birthday in our family!) I am gonna try it! Also, I like that you used dark brown sugar as well. Yum! So glad you posted this and love it as much as we do!
    Adell – Baked in AZ recently posted…Pumpkin Shaped Cheese BallMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Adell! I think as food bloggers we just have to accept that we are going to be making our own cakes, haha! Thanks so much for the recipe, it tastes just like Magleby’s and I was so happy to find it! My mother-in-law was with me when we made it and she is super excited about your whipping cream frosting. We didn’t try it but I want to next time I make this in a 9×13!

  4. says

    Congratulations on 4 years!! Just saw this post and had to say that your frosting must be the most luscious, gorgeous chocolate frosting I have laid eyes on – amazing!! And I often end up making my own birthday cakes too…at least it gives me an excuse to make something truly decadent! :)
    Claudia | The Brick Kitchen recently posted…Gory Bleeding Heart CakesMy Profile

  5. Lisa says

    Girl, this IS THE chocolate cake I am only ever make from now on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Many, many thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Jen says

    Hi! Hopefully you will get to my question in time, I’m making this cake tomorrow but wanted to do it as an 8 inch cake. Have you made it this way before? I already made it as a 9 inch and it was fabulous! I just wanted to double check on baking times. Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Jen! I’ve never tried it in an 8 inch, so I have no real input! I imagine you will just have to keep an eye on it and poke it with toothpicks to know if it’s done. Let me know how it goes!

      • Jen says

        So I made it with the 8 inch pans and it came out great! Mine only took 34 mins. to bake, but I think it is because I used those silver colored baking strips to create an even top and I think it cooked faster. I’m making it again for Mother’s Day and I think I won’t use the strips and it will probably take closer to 40 mins. All of my friends call this cake crack so thank you so much for the recipe!

  7. says

    Excited to try this! I’ve been wanting homemade chocolate cake and happy your post came thru my Pinterest feed!! Happy Anniversary!

  8. Geny says

    Wow, this cake looks so so good and I would love to bake it for my husband,s birthday. However, I would make cupcakes instead of a cake… What should I change?
    Thanks a lot,

  9. Lou says

    My grandson whos’s seven helped me bake. He read the recipe and the instructions. It was well worth it. Amazing!! For the icing I used Godiva milk coco powder and boy it came out great. Might try using Godiva coco powder next time for the cake just to see how it taste😊

  10. Kelsey says

    I made this yesterday! I halved the recipe to make a one layer cake. I also used normal brown sugar and greek yogurt because dark brown sugar and sour cream aren’t easy to find where I am. I thought it came out really good! Very moist and fudgy. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Annie says

    Just made this cake tonight and Had to say THANKS, Karen, for this incredible chocolate cake recipe! Definitely, the Best I’ve eaten or have made! One question though, if I was to make it in advance – would a frosted cake freeze well or would it be better to freeze it unfrosted a week before and frost the night before of the event? (Not sure how the whipping cream in the frosting would react if frozen.)

    • says

      Hooray I’m so glad you love it as much as we do! It’s seriously my favorite! As for freezing, I would definitely freeze the cakes without the frosting. Wrap each layer individually as well as you can, and frost the night before the event. You can frost it while the layers are still frozen, it makes it easier anyway, and then let it thaw on the counter. Hope this helps! Thanks for the review!

  12. Agnes says

    Hi hi! Thanks for this recipe! Looks awesome! Can I just check, when you say mix, is it with a whisk by hand or the electric mixer?

      • Agnes Lin says

        Sorry i wasn’t clear!! ): I meant right from step 2, would it be advisable to use a kitchen aid with the whisk attachment? If yes, at what speed should I go? And with regards to not over mixing, should I fold with a spatula or is it alright to use the whisk attachment still.

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