Super simple chocolate cake recipe

Chocolate cake is always a crowd pleaser, but top it off with some creamy chocolate cream cheese frosting and surprise your guests with this lighter, yet equally delicious chocolate cake.

I just want chocolate cake.

No fancy ganache, no kick of liquor, no gooey lava centre, just plain, simple, decadent chocolate cake. Because sometimes, simple is good enough. But also, because sometimes, I just don’t have time to go out and buy new ingredients. Everything used in this recipe is pretty much stockpiled in my cupboards so 1) I didn’t need to go out and buy a carton of heavy cream only to use half and forget about the rest and 2) I really didn’t feel like going out grocery shopping.  

In my rush to find a quick recipe that would please just about anyone, I came across this simple, chocolatey tasting delight. It’s actually posted under many, many different names, but I believe Hershey’s might be the original source of this delicious chocolate cake.

Not too rich and heavy, but not so light it crumbles. This is definitely one of my favourite (not to mention one of the easiest) chocolate cakes to make.

I made a few slight adjustments (as usual to make it less sweet) and covered the cake with a delicious alternative to a rich, buttercream frosting: chocolate cream cheese frosting.

The cake I made was actually four layers as I found two just didn’t look as nice, so if you want a taller cake, just double the recipe. I also increased the frosting recipe by about half to leave extra icing for decorating and for the extra layers.  

Baking time: 30 - 40 minutes

Serving: One two-layer 9-inch chocolate cake

Oven: 350 degrees


2 cups sugar (decreased to about 1 ½)
1 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


Grease two 9-inch cake pans (or parchment paper works just as well) and set them aside.

Next, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in one bowl.

Incorporating dry ingredients into wet ingredients

In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, oil and vanilla together. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and beat until well combined.

Lovely, smooth chocolate batter

Once the wet and dry ingredients are nicely combined, carefully stir in the hot water and mix until the water is full incorporated into the batter. This may seem like a strange step, but it helps to keep the cake nice and moist.

Adding the boiling water into the batter resulting in a very thin batter

Lastly, pour the very liquidy batter into the pans equally and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

After the cake has cooled and you find it to be a little dry, simply mix together about a teaspoon of sugar with a bit of hot water to make a simple syrup. Then drizzle the syrup over the cake layers to moisten it before applying the frosting.

My perfectly (un) even layers

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


8 ounces cream cheese, softened (preferably Philadelphia as I find some cream cheeses to be too cheesy tasting for frosting).  
¼ cup butter, softened (unsalted)
½ cup cocoa powder (I used about ¾ just because I like a bit more chocolate flavour)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar (I used about 2 ½, just keep adding until you find the right sweetness).  


Beat the butter until light and add cream cheese, blend together well. Then add icing sugar, incorporating it in fully before adding in the cocoa powder. I suggest sifting the sugar and cocoa powder before adding it into the frosting to avoid lumps in the frosting.

Chocolate cream cheese frosting

I highly suggest applying a crumb coating (an initial thin layer of frosting) around the layers as I find it much easier to frost the cake (almost) flawlessly.

Thin crumb coating to avoid crumbs falling off the cake while I do my outer layer


Final result: A very simple, but tasty chocolate cake.


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