Monday, July 6, 2015

The Perfect Chocolate Cake (Barefoot Contessa / Hershey)

Have you found your perfect chocolate cake?

Me? Sort of.

I'm not 100% certain because I have baked many chocolate cakes at here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here and I really like ALL of them.

Which one is our perfect chocolate cake? It is a tough decision if we have to choose only one recipe. Among the unforgettable chocolate cakes that I have baked, I wouldn't mind baking this moist and homely chocolate cake (also known as Beatty's Chocolate Cake) from the book, Barefoot Contessa at home, Barefoot Contessa or Food Network again and again.

This chocolate cake is not just perfect for me... It is also perfect for everyone. If you do a search for "best chocolate cake recipe" or "perfect chocolate cake recipe" via Google, you will find these recipes:

1) Best Chocolate Cake Ever at Add a Pinch which evolves from Hershey's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
2) Beatty's Chocolate Cake at Food Network
3) Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
4) Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake
5) Perfect Chocolate Cake at I am Baker 
6) Perfect Chocolate Cake at Food 52

and more... Interestingly, when I look at these recipes very closely, I noticed that all except Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake and Hershey's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake are the same! According to Amanda from I am baker, the Beatty's Chocolate Cake is the adapted version of Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake which is an earlier version using milk instead of buttermilk.

My perfect chocolate cake?
I must say that everyone can judge a cake differently. What is perfect to me might not be perfect to you. Hence, there is no right or wrong when you like or dislike anything about a cake. To me, the most perfect cake is always a cake that I baked with the best quality ingredients resulting the texture and taste that I want.

For my chocolate cake, I have baked its original version at Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake using milk but I must emphasise that the use of buttermilk yields a better and moister cake.

For my chocolate cake frosting, I prefer the recipe at Beatty's Chocolate Cake more than the one at Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake as it contains lesser icing sugar plus a good amount of melted chocolate... yielding a not-sugary but real chocolaty taste and also a creamy texture. Being a health conscious, I have frosted my cake with only half of the suggested amount of frosting and I reckon that this balanced way of enjoying this chocolate cake is the best for me.

perfect chocolate cake
The Perfect Chocolate Cake

Due to the addition of boiling water, this chocolate cake recipe will yield a thin and runny cake batter. So it is important not to use any loose bottom or springform cake pans to bake this cake as the thin cake batter will leak through the bottom of these pans. To tackle this problem, you can either use cake pans with NO easy removal bottoms or these Push Pan with easy removal. 

Thanks to DonaldsonThese award winning loose bottom cake pans from UK are available now in Australia. They are 100% leak-proof and watertight and can remove all cakes especially the fragile ones easily.

Push pan from Donaldson
How clever is that!
It has a well-fitted silicon seal at the rim of its bottom that can totally seal the pan.
Very innovative!
100% leak proof? Let's see...
For my curiosity, I did this simple test.
True enough that it is 100% leak proof!
I'm totally convinced now and so I went ahead to grease and line the bottom of the pan with baking paper.
Baking the cake is easy...
First, I combined these ingredients.
Then, I did this... Super easy!
Before baking... I have divided the chocolate cake batter into two baking pans.
As I have only one push pan, I have to bake another cake with my regular cake pan. 
The push pan works!
This is how I removed the cake from the pan... Easy and gentle to the cake!
This is how I removed the cake from my another pan...
Not too bad but I must admit that I have been a little less gentle to this cake! LOL!
Making the frosting
I'm always a big fan of this not-so-sweet, smooth and real chocolaty frosting.
To assemble, trim off the bulging cake tops.
Line the serving plate with 4 strips of baking papers and place the bottom cake on the lined plate.
Spread the frosting on the cake.
Place another cake on top of the frosted cake and spread the rest of the frosting throughout the whole cake.
Now, I'm going to enjoy this perfect slice of chocolate cake.
Now, who wants a second serve?

Here's the recipe to make this perfect chocolate cake.

Perfect Chocolate Cake Base that is mostly adapted from Hershey

350g caster sugar
(this is a reduced amount and the sweetness is just right for us. Original was 400g, 2 cups)
260g (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
75g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder, preferably good quality Dutch processed cocoa powder like Valrhona
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (can be replaced with baking powder if you are using neutralised Dutch processed cocoa powder)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used milk but still prefer the cakes that I have baked with buttermilk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C  Grease and line the bottom two 8-inch (20 cm) round baking pans with baking paper.

Using a hand whisk or an electric mixer with medium, combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a large bowl.

In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift these dry ingredients into the egg mixture and whisk until just combined.

Sir in the boiling water (Note: batter will be thin) and divide batter into prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 mins or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the pan for 10 mins. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Not-so-sweet Chocolate Buttercream that is mostly adapted the book, Barefoot Contessa at home, Barefoot Contessa or Food Network

Note: This amount of frosting listed in this recipe is half of the original amount. Please feel free to use the full amount if you like to enjoy this cake with more chocolate frosting.

3 ounces or 90g good quality semisweet chocolate, mine is Callebaut dark chocolate callets with 70% cocoa

125g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
60g (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp) sifted icing sugar
1 tsp hot water or coffee

Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or a microwave with low power. Set aside to cool slightly to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light yellow and fluffy. Using a spatula, stir in the melted chocolate and hot water into the butter mixture. DO NOT whip mixture! Use frosting immediately.
To assemble:

Using serrated knife, slice the bulging top off from the cakes.

Choose your cake stand or serving plate and cut out four strips of baking paper to form a square outline on it. Place one of the cakes and spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a spatula until the top is covered with the frosting evenly.

Place the other cake on top. With a spatula, spread the top and the sides of the cake with frosting evenly. Serve immediately. Cake is in its best texture when it is at room temperature.

Happy Baking
Please support me and like me at Facebook...


  1. This cake pan sounds perfect for making cheesecakes! I have too many favourite chocolate cakes, I think I'll have to add this into my collection, looks really good!

  2. That's a yummy choco cake with all the chocolatey goodness!

  3. looking at yours, it is like a sign to bake a chocolate cake for my family.

  4. Mhhh it looks so delicious... I love the cake pan.

  5. that' s a good question! I like almost each one I have tried:)
    yours looks so soft!nice!

  6. Is this the recipe on the Hershey box? Yes yes.. It's really good... Ahh, forgotten recipe! Thanks for bringing this back to us ;)

  7. I watch Barefoot Contessa every weekend too.. I like her cooking, but sometimes very complicated, haha.. Yummy chocolate there.. A nice fudge topping / ganache makes it more yummygoodilicious !! Nyum nyum...

  8. Chocolate cake is the best cake! Always!

  9. Hi Zoe, im craving for a piece of choco cake now... yummzz...

  10. I cannot resist a yummy chocolate cake! Your chocolate looks so moist and good.

  11. I have made this really IS great!

  12. Looks super fudgy and dense :)

  13. Hi Zoe,
    I love chocolate. .. especially dark chocolates. This perfect chocolate cake of yours looked so moist and chocolatey.

  14. ohh my dinner is done and the kitchen is closed...but I guess I am gonna have my midnight snack now that u have made me hungry ....the cake looks superb....I just wanna dig into it right away

  15. I have those no easy removal bottom pans. I saw the push bottom pan at sure-la- to have it. The cake looks moist and rich!

  16. I am really not sure if I have found the perfect chocolate cake yet. I mean, I have made some really good ones, but I am always experimenting with new ones, I forget which one is my favorite.
    This looks fantastic!

  17. I know who to look for if I need a chocolate cake recipe! Zoe, you have done wonders in this department. I don't know anyone else who has baked so much. ♥ ^.^

  18. I am just staring at the cake... so moist... like you said, every cake looks the best till we try the next one, so can't really say which is the best... :)

  19. I love chocolate cake. One slice is definitely not enough for me :D

  20. Fun! Chocolate cake is on my list of things to make today!

  21. I just licked the screen.

    How embarrassing....

  22. Hi Zoe! It's really hard to find a perfect chocolate cake because most of them are so so good!

  23. We do a Boca Negra cake that we like a lot. But it's thin -- almost more like a tart -- and when it's refrigerated it kinda sorta resembles fudge. Great, but not everyone's idea of an ideal cake. This, on the other hand, everyone would applaud! Really good stuff -- thanks.

  24. Hi. your recipe calls for :
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    If I only have baking powder, I should put 3 tsp of baking powder? That seems like quite a lot. Thanks.

    1. Hi Woan Pyng,

      Yes you can use 3 tsp baking powder instead of both baking powder and baking soda if you are using Dutch processed (pH neutral) cocoa powder. Otherwise, your cake will have a little sourish aftertaste.


  25. Hi Zoe
    May I ask if the buttercream, will it be suitable for cupcakes too? Thank you

    1. Hi Catherine, this buttercream at room temperature is not as stiff as those fully butter-loaded ones. You can spread them on cupcakes or chill it slightly until stiffen enough if you want to pipe on your cupcake.

  26. Thank you very much for your detailed instructions and sharing. I have learned alot from you. Following your recipes I have been able to bake delicious cakes for my children and husband. Many thanks to you.