It may seem like a daunting task, but making a homemade chocolate cake is wayyyyyy easier than you think.
Maybe you’re tempted to grab a cake mix and call it a day? Don’t do it! With a tiny bit of effort and the best ingredients, a homemade chocolate cake will be exactly what you're looking for.
Having a good chocolate cake recipe in your back pocket will come in handy for the holidays, bringing to dinner parties, or just because you want a chocolate cake (we feel that!).
However, all chocolate cake recipes are not created equal. If you’re craving the best chocolate cake ever, here are a few tips and tricks to help get you across the finish line.
Use Only High-quality, Unsweetened Cocoa
Naturally the most important element of any chocolate cake – most of the best chocolate cake recipes rely on cocoa powder–so use the highest quality cocoa you can find.
It's all about the color of the cocoa; the darker the cocoa, the better. Also, it's helpful to know that baking cocoa powder is different from regular cocoa powder, which is used to make hot chocolate, so make sure you’re buying the right kind.
Pro bakers sometimes prefer to use melted chocolate and cocoa powder together...
Use High-quality Chocolate, Too
If you only keep one kind of chocolate product on hand for dessert-making emergencies, it should be baking bars. If you use the right chocolate, you'll get a great cake, and isn't that the most important thing? I typically opt for using chocolate that I’d like to eat straight out of the package. And yeah, baking isles can be a little overwhelming. Here’s a helpful article if you’re struggling with which chocolate to choose.
I find chocolate bars to be quite versatile when it comes to making the best chocolate cake. They're great for baking or for eating by the handful (hehe). I like to keep a few Guittard or Callebaut chocolate bars on hand. The better your chocolate, the better your chocolate cake will taste.
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
Although you technically can use ingredients right out of the fridge, the results won't be quite as yummy. For example, what happens when you use butter from the fridge? Your batter will be stiff and hard to beat, and you might end up with random chunks of butter in it. When your baking ingredients are the same temperature, it's much easier for it all to come together.
Cream the Butter and Sugar WELL
The fluffier your chocolate cake the better, right??
Before adding the rest of the ingredients, make sure to cream the butter and sugar together, until the mixture is light and fluffy. While this step might add a few minutes to your prep time, the extra effort will be well worth it. A fluffy, pale sugar + butter base means that you’ve incorporated plenty of air into the batter, which will give you a much fluffier chocolate cake.
Dust Baking Pan with Cocoa Powder Instead of Flour
Many chocolate cake recipes have you dust your baking pan with flour. This helps the cake come out of the baking pan without sticking. However, when I make chocolate cake, I find that cocoa powder works in the same way that flour does, and provides more of a chocolatey finish.
Next time you’re baking a chocolate cake, try dusting your pan with cocoa instead of flour and taste the delicious difference for yourself.