Chocolate Cake

The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

There is nothing better than a friend,
unless it is a friend with chocolate.
— Charles Dickens

Hello everyone! Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week. I was feeling a little ‘lazy’ this week so I thought I would share a classic yet simple dessert, Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. And this is the Best Chocolate Cake that I have ever had.

I love this chocolate cake recipe because it is extremely easy to make and is pretty much fool-proof and it always results in a perfectly moist and tender cake. The ingredients are basic, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder & soda, salt, and espresso powder. The wet ingredients include milk, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and boiling water.

When making this batter, it will seem very runny but don’t worry, that is how it is supposed to be and that’s why it’s so moist. You will have three delicious 8 inch chocolate cake layers that pair beautifully with my perfect chocolate buttercream frosting.

Speaking of the frosting, this is my all time favorite Chocolate Buttercream. It is light, fluffy, and perfectly chocolaty. This recipe is a classic American Buttercream and is surprisingly hard to get perfect. Often times it ends up overly sweet, grainy, or too runny. I have found the perfect balance of ingredients as well as a few techniques to get a perfectly sweet and silky Chocolate Buttercream.

A couple notes on the buttercream recipe:

  1. This is one of the most common mistakes when making buttercream; If the butter in the first step is not whipped enough, the frosting will end up being very dense. When whipping the butter, make sure to whip it on high speed for a full five minutes, stopping every so often to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. This step is crucial and will result in a light fluffy buttercream.

  2. When adding the powdered sugar and milk, it is crucial to mix the buttercream on low just until powdered sugar isn’t flying everywhere and then increasing the speed to medium-high and whipping for about 30 seconds in between each addition. Once all of the powdered sugar and milk is added, you need to whip it on medium-high speed again for a full two minutes. We have all had a grainy buttercream and it’s not pleasant. This happens because the powdered sugar isn’t given enough time to dissolve. Powdered sugar is very fine but it still have mini-granules that your tongue can feel if not whipped long enough. Mix mix mix!

  3. My last tip is in regards to the cocoa powder. I decided to do a fun ‘watercolor’ design with my buttercream. This is simple to do and it just consists of adding varying amounts of cocoa powder to the frosting to create different tones of brown. I made a vert light brown, a medium brown (the base color for the entire cake), and a super dark brown. You will only use a total of 1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder for this frosting and if you don’t care to do the ‘watercolor’ effect, you can simply add all of the cocoa powder and just have a simple chocolate buttercream. You can decorate the cake however you prefer!


This Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream is a favorite in my house. Jake always requests it and I have made it hundreds (slight exaggeration) of times and everyone has absolutely loved it. If you are looking for a simple and easy dessert that everyone will love, you just found it! It’s true that you can’t go wrong with a simple Classic Chocolate Cake.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe and thank you for visiting the blog this week everyone! -B

The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Makes One 8-inch Three-layer Cake


For the Chocolate Cake

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour

  • 3 Cups White Granulated Sugar

  • 1 ¼ Cups Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder *See Note

  • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder

  • 2 ¼ Teaspoons Baking Soda

  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Kosher Salt

  • 2 Teaspoons Espresso Powder *See Note

  • 1 ½ Cups Whole Milk

  • ¾ Cup Coconut Oil (or any other neutral oil)

  • 3 Large Eggs

  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • 1 ½ Cups Boiling Water

For the Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 ½ Cups (5 Sticks) Butter, room temperature

  • 1 Teaspoon Espresso Powder

  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • 7 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

  • ½ Cup Milk

  • 1 ¼ Cups Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, divided


For the Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder and mix on low until evenly combined.

  3. In a large measuring cup (or small bowl), whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until fully combined. With the mixer on low, add in the wet ingredients (not including the boiling water) and mix just until combined— do not over mix! Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly drizzle in the boiling water. Mix just until combined and then turn off the mixer. Immediately divide the batter between the three cake pans.

    Bake the cake layers for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes then remove them and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy— a full five minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the espresso powder, and salt and turn the speed to medium-high and whip for 30 seconds until combined. In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and vanilla extract.

  2. Stop the mixer and add in two cups of the powdered sugar and a couple tablespoons or so of milk and mix on low speed until combined and then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for a full minute. Repeat with the remaining powdered sugar and milk, working in batches, until all of it is gone. The amount of milk you will need will vary based on the temperature of you butter, so just eyeball it, adding more or less as needed.

  3. Once all of the powdered sugar and milk is added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the speed to medium-high and whip for 2-3 minutes or until the butter cream is smooth and no longer grainy from the powdered sugar.

  4. The following step is optional— you simply can add all of the cocoa powder at once and make it a single-color chocolate buttercream. Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder and mix until combined. Remove about ¼ cup of the buttercream and place in a bowl and set aside. Add ¾ cup of the remaining cocoa powder and mix until fully combined— this will be your main (or base) color of frosting. Remove a ¼ cup of frosting and add place it in another bowl. Add the remaining ¼ cup of cocoa powder and two tablespoons of milk and whisk until fully combined and no lumps remain.

  5. To layer and frost the cake: Place one layer of cake on an 8” round cake board that is on a cake decorating turntable and top. Working with the main base color of frosting, add ½ cup of frosting and use an offset spatula to completely level it out. Top with the second layer of cake. Top the second layer with another ½ cup of frosting and level it out evenly with the offset spatula. Now, add the third cake layer, flipping it upside down so you have the flattest side facing up. Using about 1 cup of frosting, lightly frost the entire cake (this is called a crumb coat) with a large straight icing spatula, keeping the spatula straight up so you get nice straight sides. Use a small offset spatula to evenly level out the frosting on the top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 15-20 minutes or until the crumb coat is completely cool.

  6. To frost: Remove the cake from the fridge and place the cake back on to the cake decorating turntable. Using the rest of the base color frosting , apply a thick even layer of frosting to the sides and top of the cake using the large straight icing spatula and level out the top with the offset spatula. Once that layer of frosting is done, place the cake back in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes until completely chilled. You want the frosting to be very hard for the next step.

  7. To do the watercolor frosting: Using a small offset spatula, apply random blobs of your different tones of frosting all around the cake. Now, use a flat bench scraper held parallel to the side of the cake, turn the turntable (not moving the bench scraper at all) to gently even out the blobs of frosting, creating a “watercolor” effect. You can do this multiple times, adding more of the different tones of frosting. I suggest only doing this 3-4 times though because the colors will start to blend together too much and not have very much distinction between the tones. Refrigerate the cake again for 15-20 minutes.

  8. Slice and serve the cake! Enjoy!


  1. Dutch Processes Cocoa Powder: I have mentioned this is many other recipes but it is crucial to use Dutch Processed cocoa powder in this recipe. Dutch Cocoa Powder is darker and more rich than natural cocoa powder and it will give your chocolate desserts more depth of flavor. You should be able to find it at most grocery stores as well as on Amazon or King Arthur Flour.

  2. Espresso Powder: I like adding espresso powder to my chocolate baked goods because it really enhances the flavor of the chocolate. However, if you prefer not to consume it or simply don’t have it on hand, feel free to completely omit it; it won’t make a very big difference but I highly recommend adding it if you can!