Hershey’s Chocolate Cake Redux

This Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe with frosting is an old-fashioned classic American dessert that will never, ever disappoint. Simple and simply the best.

A Hershey chocolate cake with swirled chocolate frosting on a white cake stand

This Hershey’s chocolate cake needs no introduction, as it’s been around for almost a century. If you’ve never made it, you’re in for an old-fashioned treat. And if you’ve never made it with my wee spin on it, you’re in for an even greater treat. All I’ve done is toss in some instant espresso powder to the batter and the frosting. It amps up the flavor. And because I wanted a frosting that was more buttery and less cloyingly sweet, I use a greater proportion of butter to sugar, which makes the frosting soooo light–nothing at all like the cloying, gritty American buttercreams out there. That’s it. I don’t like to mess (too much) with perfection. Originally posted February 8, 2013.David Leite

READ DAVID’S ARTICLE: Forever and Completely, in which he explains that few things in life are truly forever and completely, save for his adoration for this chocolate cake and his partner of umpteen years. We consider your comments about this article, found beneath the recipe below, to be a testament to how intermingled food and love are for all of us.

Hershey's Chocolate Cake Redux

  • Quick Glance
  • (33)
  • 20 M
  • 55 M
  • Serves 10 to 12



Make the Hershey’s chocolate cake

Crank your oven to 350°F (180°C) and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter and flour two 9-inch round baking pans, tapping out any excess flour.

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon (surely you have one of those, yes?), stir together the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center.

Plop the eggs into the well and pour in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Using a handheld electric mixer (c’mon, surely you still have one of those, too?!), beat the ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Stir in the boiling water. The batter will appear alarmingly thin but fear not, that’s the way it should be. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.

Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, turn the cakes right side up, and let them cool completely.

Frost and serve the Hershey’s chocolate cake

Place a single cake layer on a platter or cake stand and spread a goodly amount of frosting on top. Place the second cake layer on the first and frost the sides and top, creating as few or as many lavish swoops and swirls with the frosting as desired.

Cut the chocolate cake into gargantuan wedges—none of those diminutive slivers for us, thank you very much—and serve.

    Tower of Chocolate Cake Variation

    • Tux variation

      For a more elegant take on this cake, make a double batch of frosting, slice each layer in half horizontally, fill, and frost. You’ll end up with a towering cake with four layers. Pull out the linen napkins.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This really is the best chocolate cake! I’ve made lots of cakes, and this chocolate cake is absolutely the best.

    I tend to prefer using butter in baking; however, I make an exception with this cake, which calls for oil. Yes, the batter is thin, but that’s okay. And the frosting comes together beautifully, complements the cake, spreads easily, and isn’t overpowering.

    The first time I made this cake, I brought it to a small dinner gathering. After everyone had their cake, the room went silent, given that everyone was blissfully sated.

    If I’d been wearing pearls, it would’ve been a Donna Reed moment, maybe June Cleaver. Imagine mixing all of the ingredients with a hand mixer before dinner, whipping up some frosting after dinner, and serving up the most delicious chocolate layer cake shortly thereafter...nothing complicated, nothing fancy, just a cake that screams perfection.

    Wooden spoons and hand mixers get perfect use here. Just make sure your bowls are deep enough so that the flour doesn’t go flying; same for the confectioners' sugar in the frosting. Too bad there are only two of us, and one of us watches our weight! No gargantuan pieces here, but small slivers with a cold glass of milk (skim is fine as a beverage but use whole for the cake!). I actually prefer the cake as cold as the milk—I tested that out this morning before my husband took the rest of the cake to work. He will be making new friends today.

    It’s a perfect cake for a celebration or just because you love chocolate. The espresso powder adds a nice undertone and cuts the chocolate just a bit.

    This is a very good chocolate cake and very simple to make. The cake is moist and has a nice, rich chocolate flavor. Certainly the addition of espresso powder enhances and enriches the chocolate flavor. I do this anytime I am making a chocolate dessert, and it never fails to pay off.

    I suggest using cocoa powder instead of flour to dust the baking pans. This will eliminate the white powdery "crust" that will appear on a chocolate cake after it's baked. The frosting is a nice everyday type of frosting with a rich chocolate flavor, also a result of the addition of espresso powder. For a more special occasion, I'd make a nice Swiss meringue buttercream, a whipped ganache, or even a whipped cream frosting. Loved being able to use my electric hand mixer rather than dragging out the big 7-quart mixer!

    "Pure bliss," "perfection," and "supreme" are a few words that come to mind after a bite of this cake. If a food could bring about international peace, then this must be the one. It was supremely easy to put together, the addition of the espresso powder deepened the chocolate flavors, the icing was easy to work with and wasn't overpowering. I would skip all 3 meals and just have cake for a day. With a nice glass of Prosecco, it's sublime.

    Decadent chocolate cake. The ingredients are probably in your pantry and easy to whip up for some chocolate love. The batter is thin when done mixing but cooks up to a nice moist cake. Espresso powder adds a nice depth of flavor in the cake. We felt the frosting was a little overwhelming and would tone it down in the future.


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    1. I made this for my Valentine this afternoon. Did three layers in a convection oven situation. Thanks for the recipe! He is drooling, which is, of course, right where I want him.

    2. I love this cake and have made it for years. Last year or so, I swapped out boiling water for a cup of espresso coffee (we have a machine, so easy to do). Cheers, Peter

    3. I love this recipe. But is the amount of cocoa in frosting correct? I don’t remember using 1 1/3 cup.

    4. One more question. The cakes are wonderful. I have to freeze them. Should I put frosting on before or after freezing? Thank you.

      p.s. I made your cranberry orange pecan bread as muffins. wonderful

      1. We’re so pleased you love the cake, Lee! The cake does freeze well and you can freeze it frosted or unfrosted, tightly wrapped in plastic. Some of our readers even freeze each layer separately and then assemble and frost after removing from the freezer.

    5. David, this is my ALL-TIME go-to chocolate cake (and cupcake) recipe (Hershey’s). I, like you, have only changed it minimally, as well. I increase the cocoa (I use dark cocoa) to one (1) cup and instead of the boiling water, I use very HOT brewed coffee. I agree the coffee (like the espresso) enhances the chocolate flavor. I just made this a few days ago and I freeze the cake and frosting separately. I also make this using a vanilla bean frosting where I beat a stick of butter for 5 min, add softened cream cheese, beat for another 5 min, add a minimal amt of powdered sugar (2 cups), vanilla bean scrapings, and 1 TLB vanilla extract. After mixing another 5 minutes, I “fold” in 1 cup of cool whip, and mix well. My grandkids say it’s their all-time favorite frosting for cupcakes. (I make regular and mini cupcakes) Love your recipes, David, and I can’t wait to make your brined whole chicken roasted in the oven. Yum!

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