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!

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.46.04 PM

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!

How to make the best chocolate cake ever

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.

UPDATE: I recently made a Homemade White Cake Recipe that you might also want to try out!!

P.S. Do you have gluten free friends? Try out my friend Sarah’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake! I’ve tried it and it’s legit amazing.

More chocolate!!

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

4.91 from 32 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 34 minutes
Freezing Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 2 hours 19 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
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!


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


  • 1 & 1/2 cups salted butter, 3 sticks, softened
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 5 & 1/4 cups powder sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  • 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.*
  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the white sugar, flour, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  • 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!
  • Stir in the vanilla and 1 cup brown sugar.
  • 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.
  • Lastly, fold in the sour cream. DON'T over mix!!
  • 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.
  • Bake for about 34-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven when a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
  • 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.
  • 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!)

Make the frosting:

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 1030kcal | Carbohydrates: 131g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 36g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 185mg | Sodium: 925mg | Potassium: 279mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 104g | Vitamin A: 1800IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 1030
Keyword: chocolate cake
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!


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  1. I will try this recipe soon–this is just to say that I’m intrigued by the unconventional method of combining the ingredients.

    1. I think you’re going to love it Mary! If you try it, come back and let us know how it turned out for you!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the best chocolate cake recipe. I’ve been using it for the last few years as my base for all things chocolate cake related. This past week, I decided to up my chocolate cake game by buying cacao Barry extra brut cocoa powder. I used this recipe with the new cocoa powder to make a German chocolate cake for my birthday and oh my goodness it was fantastic. I took the rest of the cake left over from my SO and I to the riding stable where my horse is in training to share and people loved it. I got so many positive comments on how amazing it was.

  3. 5 stars
    This cake is AMAZING!! I made it two weeks ago for a family event, and now my son requested it for his birthday on Saturday. Your website has become my go to for treat recipes (apple pie… Omg). My family and I truly appreciate all you’ve shared, and with such detail. You are a gem!

    1. Charla! You just made my day! Thank you so much for leaving me this sweet note, you have no idea how much it means to me. I just made this cake for my birthday last week! It never gets old. So happy you found it. 💕💕 happy baking!!

  4. Hey prolly a silly question , For the cake mixture you said 1/2 cup cocoa . Does that mean Bakers chocolate , the chocolate bars kind ?

    1. Hi Monique! The recipe calls for cocoa powder – not hot chocolate powder, but the baking cocoa that Hershey and other brands sell in the baking aisle. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Denise! We haven’t tested this recipe with Lily White Flour, but if you do, it looks like you need to add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of Lily White Flour for every 1 cup of all purpose flour. If you try it come back and let us know how it turned out!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this cake and frosting for the first time. Looks fabulous, but I have a quick question: since the frosting contains cream, do I have to refrigerate it? This is a celebration cake for my youngest daughter, who just got her dream job, teaching 3rd grade at a small school here in Stockton. So, you know that it is warm here, but I do have the air on. Fridge or not????

    1. Hi Mary Noel! Congrats to your daughter! My cousin is an elementary teacher in Stockton, maybe they will meet! So nice of you to make a cake to celebrate 💕 I never refrigerate this frosting. It’s totally fine sitting on the counter for several days! Stick it in the fridge after maybe 3-4 days I wouild say. enjoy!!!

  6. Question: The 2 cups of flour – do you measure 2 cups and then sift or do you need 2 cups of sifted flour?

    My batter was really thick so I’m afraid I may have too much flour.

    1. Hi Babs! Usually you would measure 2 cups and then sift–but it isn’t an essential step. We do recommend that when you are measuring the flour that you fluff the flour up a little with a spoon, then scoop it into the measuring cup, rather than using the measuring cup to scoop denser, more packed-together flour. I hope your cake turned out well!

      1. 5 stars
        I remade it with the 2 cups measured and then sifted. Perfection! My family said it truly was the BEST chocolate cake ever.

        We usually buy birthday cakes from a local bakery but I decide to save that $50 and take a chance. So glad I did. Thanks for the recipe! I’m sure I’ll be tasked with bringing all of the birthday cakes now. LOL!

        1. That is awesome to hear Babs!! I love this cake too and have made it so many times. Always a hit with my whole family. Good luck with your new full-time job of being the birthday cake baker haha!

    1. Hi Christine! There are basically two things that a person might think of when they hear “cocoa.” The first one is baking cocoa, also known as “cocoa powder” or even just “cocoa.” This is unsweetened and is used in baking (including in this recipe for chocolate cake). It’s incredible in recipes, where you add sugar and fat, but on its own is overpoweringly bitter. The second one is hot cocoa mix, which you can mix with hot milk or water to make “cocoa” or “hot chocolate” (the sweet, chocolatey, milky beverage). Hot cocoa mix doesn’t require you to add any sugar, since it’s already mixed with sweeteners and (often) powdered milk. It’s not intended for use in baking. Hope that makes sense!

  7. Made the cake today for my birthday tomorrow. My dog got up and ate a piece of one of the layers so I’m making it a 3 half layer cake. Because I had to trim a layer we all got to taste the cake and it was yummy. Definitely a keeper!

    I’m not using your frosting this time. I have an abundance of egg yolks and been wanting to make a French Buttercream so I will frost my cake with that this time.

    Thanks again this will be my go to chocolate cake recipe from now on.

    1. Rascal dog!! Haha I think we’ve all had an experience like that, right? I’m glad you were able to salvage most of it. I bet this tasted delicious with French buttercream!! Thanks for the review :)

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve made this cake 2 times now. Absolutely the best Chocolate cake recipe. The next time I will make this cake with Vanilla frosting instead of the chocolate.. 👍👍UP

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