best chocolate cake recipe
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Valentine’s Day is prime time for chocolate of all kinds, but it’s not like it’s ever not a welcome treat. And chocolate cake is almost always number one on everyone’s list of favorite desserts, let alone comfort foods. So try one of these irresistible 23 chocolate cake recipes for any occasion, from the official day of love to that most special of birthdays. Or on a Sunday because it’s miserably cold and you need a little something sweet.

Related Reading: Essential Baking Equipment for Your Kitchen

Don’t forget the milk!

1. Chocolate-Honey Ganache Layer Cake

A whole cup of honey makes this chocolate cake mildly sweet and incredibly moist. Butter, in addition to vegetable oil, also helps keep the crumb soft and spongy. The chocolate-honey ganache is as tasty as it looks; try using a local honey or one with a strong flower flavor that complements the chocolate (like clover, alfalfa, wildflower, or tupelo). Get the Chocolate-Honey Ganache Layer Cake recipe.

2. Desert Island Chocolate Cake

This is a classic, simple cake recipe that’s incredibly consistent. Cocoa powder lends a subtle chocolate flavor and the one and a half cups of milk make for a delicate crumb. You can use a rectangular pan or make it a double layer cake for a more impressive presentation. Get the Desert Island Chocolate Cake recipe.

3. Vegan Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

This is one of the most luscious chocolate cakes ever, vegan or otherwise, and it’s no-bake to boot! With a brownie-like bottom layer (that’s naturally gluten-free), a thick strata of silky, creamy chocolate mousse made from cashews in the middle, and a cap of chocolate peanut butter fudge, how could you resist? Get the Vegan Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe.

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4. Chocolate Cake with Whipped Fudge Filling

Chocolate Cake with Whipped Fudge Filling recipe


Our recipe for chocolate cake with whipped fudge filling and a rich chocolate buttercream is a labor of love. This cake is a process: Don’t try to make it all at once unless you have a serious block of time. You can bake the cake layers up to a day in advance and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to keep them fresh. And don’t skimp on the whipped fudge filling—it’s worth your while to make it yourself. Get our Chocolate Cake with Whipped Fudge Filling recipe.

5. Chocolate Cherry Black Forest Cake

Chocolate Cherry Black Forest Cake recipe


Garnished with chocolate shavings, clouds of whipped cream, and dark cherries, this cake is a masterpiece. The cherry flavor is multidimensional, with canned cherries in syrup, kirsch, and fresh or fancy candied cherries commingling with the rich chocolate flavor. (For something with similar flavors that’s less involved, try this easy Black Forest Poke Cake recipe.) Get the Chocolate Cherry Black Forest Cake recipe.

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6. Chocolate Pound Cake

Rich Chocolate Pound Cake recipe


Our recipe for chocolate pound cake is a classic, perfect for afternoon tea and easy to whip up. The glaze is what makes it really special: The combination of semisweet chocolate, heavy cream, and just a touch of light corn syrup makes for a smooth, shiny glaze that looks beautiful drizzled on top of the cake. Get our Chocolate Pound Cake recipe.

7. Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

This is my favorite tried-and-true recipe for chocolate cake, created by the infamous Ina Garten. This cake is a star: I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t blown away by the rich chocolate flavor, and you can change the flavors of the frosting to suit the occasion. (Ed Note: That was written in 2015, but this cake ended up on our list of Best Dessert Recipes of 2018 for good reason.) Buttermilk and vegetable oil contribute to the moist texture, and a whole cup of freshly brewed coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor. Don’t worry if it looks a little soupy when you’re mixing the dry and wet ingredients together—it’ll turn out just fine. Get the Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe.

8. Chocolate Lava Cake

individual molten chocolate lava cakes recipe


One of the most common (and consistently delicious) restaurant desserts is the chocolate lava cake, which is actually really easy to make at home. Our recipe for molten chocolate cake is made in tiny soufflé ramekins, and is easy to scale up for a party. Be careful to cook the cakes until the tops are no longer wet but still jiggle when you shake them. Get our Chocolate Lava Cake recipe.

9. Mexican Devil’s Food Cake

Mexican Devil's Food Cake recipe


If you’re tired of sweet chocolate cakes, this recipe for Mexican devil’s food cake will come as a delightful change of pace. It looks incredible when the ancho chile-infused layers are piled on top of each other interspersed with whipped cream, strawberries, and toasted almonds, and it tastes amazing—but add a little cayenne for more of a kick. (If you’re into the idea, see our Mexican Chocolate Menu for more sweet and spicy chocolate combinations.) Get our Mexican Devil’s Food Cake recipe.

10. Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake

Every baker needs a flourless chocolate cake recipe that they can whip up at a moment’s notice. This cake has an entire 18 ounces of chocolate packed in, not including the ganache glaze, made from heavy whipping cream and more chocolate. With only a handful of ingredients that you normally have in the pantry (butter, sugar, eggs, heavy cream) you can easily make this recipe last minute for an impressive end to a meal. Get the Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake recipe.

11. Ultimate Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting

This is a dense, deeply chocolaty cake that is absolutely over the top when you add the fudge frosting—a real chocoholic recipe. Sour cream enriches said frosting and a whole cup of buttermilk in the batter makes for a soft, spongy crumb that begs for a glass of milk. Try this recipe with a vanilla, mocha, or coffee frosting to tone down the rich chocolate flavors; but then again, why would you want to do that? Get the Ultimate Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting recipe.

12. Triple Malt Chocolate Cake

Triple Malt Chocolate Cake recipe


If you like malted milk balls, you’ll love our recipe for triple malt chocolate cake. Malted milk powder is easy to find at your local grocery store, normally in the baking aisle. That combined with vanilla malt frosting and a garnish of a whole cup of chopped-up malted milk balls makes this a malt-lover’s dream. Use up any leftover malted milk powder in malted milkshakes to serve alongside a slice of this cake for an old-fashioned soda fountain experience you’ll never forget. Get our Triple Malt Chocolate Cake recipe.

13. Chocolate Sheet Cake with Mocha Buttercream

easy chocolate sheet cake recipe with mocha buttercream frosting


This ultra easy sheet cake gets a deeper chocolate flavor thanks to espresso powder in he batter, and more espresso goes into the fabulously fluffy buttercream for a subtle mocha flavor. Get our Chocolate Sheet Cake with Mocha Buttercream recipe.

14. Mocha Pudding Cake

mocha chocolate pudding cake recipe


For another take on a mocha, try this dump-and-stir cake that magically bakes up into three layers: delightfully crusty on top, moist and cakey in the middle, and ooey-gooey underneath. You don’t need frosting for this one, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be amiss. Get our Mocha Pudding Cake recipe.

15. Vegan Chocolate Cake

vegan chocolate cake recipe


For a classic chocolate layer cake without any eggs or dairy, our vegan chocolate cake is just as rich and delicious as you’d dream. Get our Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe.

16. Nutella Chocolate Cheesecake

Nutella Chocolate Cheesecake recipe


The opposite of vegan, this creamy Nutella cheesecake is dressed up with chocolate in every layer, and topped with toasted hazelnuts for a little crunch. Get our Nutella Chocolate Cheesecake recipe.

17. Chocolate Peanut Butter Bundt Cake

easy chocolate peanut butter Bundt cake


If you prefer peanuts with your chocolate, this sour cream-enriched chocolate cake has a peanut butter swirl inside and toasted nuts on top of its bittersweet chocolate glaze (make ’em salted if you like that salty-sweet flavor contrast; we do). They may be old-fashioned, but Bundt cakes will never go out of style when they taste this good. Get our Chocolate Peanut Butter Bundt Cake recipe.

18. German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake recipe


Our take on a classic German chocolate cake proves it’s hip to be square (or rectangular, even). It’s frosted with vanilla buttercream outside, with a little of the traditional gooey coconut filling smoothed on top as well as between the layers. Get our German Chocolate Cake recipe.

19. Hungarian Chocolate Torte

Hungarian chocolate walnut torte recipe for Passover


A one-layer affair, this fudgy, dense-in-a-good-way flourless chocolate torte is speckled with toasted walnuts and glazed with a shiny slick of semisweet chocolate. Get our Hungarian Chocolate Torte recipe.

20. Chocolate Rum Tres Leches Cake

Chocolate Rum Tres Leches Cake recipe


Tres leches cake traditionally contains evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream; this version does too, but it also adds chocolate, coffee, and dark rum to the mix. The chocolate shavings on top are easy to make with a veggie peeler. Get our Chocolate Rum Tres Leches Cake recipe.

21. Chocolate Whiskey Cake with Fluthered Cream

Chocolate-Whiskey Cake with Fluthered Cream


If you’re a whiskey drinker, this booze- and coffee-infused chocolate cake with a truffle-like texture is for you. The fluthered (i.e. drunken) cream also has a shot of Irish whiskey in it. Get our Chocolate Whiskey Cake recipe.

22. Chocolate Icebox Cake

chocolate ice box cake recipe no-bake summer dessert


No baking skills? (Or maybe no oven?) No problem! Get thee some chocolate wafer cookies and whip up some mascarpone with blackberry liqueur, then assemble a lovely icebox cake. It’s a great make-ahead dessert option, and it’s not just for summer. Get our Chocolate Icebox Cake recipe.

23. Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

chocolate snacking cake recipe peppermint frosting

Jessie Sheehan

Even if you’re not a major mayo fan, you’ll love this cake—the mayonnaise just makes it super moist (and really, eggs and oil aren’t uncommon cake ingredients). It’s an easy snacking cake that tastes great with whatever frosting you like; try a vanilla buttercream (for a pink tint, mix in finely pulverized dehydrated raspberries or strawberries), or salted caramel frosting—or double down on the cocoa with a bittersweet chocolate frosting. Get the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake recipe.

Get more sweet recipes, tips, and tricks at our Valentine’s Day headquarters, including great Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

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This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated with new images, links, and text.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC’s best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.
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