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.–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

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

Prep 20 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 55 mins
10 to 12 servings
561 kcal
4.95 / 38 votes


  • Butter for the pans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pans
  • 3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup mild vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 recipe Hershey’s chocolate frosting


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.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 561kcal (28%)Carbohydrates: 91g (30%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 22g (34%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 40mg (13%)Sodium: 509mg (22%)Potassium: 354mg (10%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 68g (76%)Vitamin A: 94IU (2%)Calcium: 77mg (8%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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.

Originally posted February 8, 2013


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. 5 stars
    I made this cake last week and my goodness, I think it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! Love the espresso in the batter and the frosting, the cake is very moreish and moist and the frosting is smooth. I froze some slices and it froze beautifully too. Thank you for the recipe, I will definitely be making this for a long time to come!

  2. 5 stars
    I made the cake for a friend’s birthday But, he had a request that I make a chocolate cake with my peanut butter-buttercream frosting. Just a simple buttercream but substitute half PB for the butter. Needless to say, he was ecstatic. Turns out the cake does pair very well with the peanut butter. I have a standing request for the PB frosted version at holidays and birthdays now.

    And, as an FYI, I prefer the chocolate frosting in the recipe myself. But, I’m not that big a fan of peanut butter.

  3. OK, I will eat cake for breakfast (with frosting) and am all for eggs, butter, sugar, etc. I also love this recipe. But, are 2 cups of sugar in this cake recipe necessary? Could 1.5 work? I would appreciate comments re this.

    1. Rachel, we didn’t try it that way, so I can’t give a definitive issue. But many of our readers have reduced the sugar amount in cakes without any problems. I wouldn’t go lower than 1 1/2 cups, though. Please report back and let us know. It could help others who are looking to lower sugar content.

  4. 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.

      1. I have made this cake so many times – but DID end up cutting back the sugar to 1.5 cups (before I read the comments) a few weeks ago for the first time. Made the cake in a bundt pan and didn’t frost it – I think it came out great. And yes – I ate it for breakfast a few times. #delicious

        1. Laughs. I’m with you on the chocolate cake for breakfast, Rachel. Yours turned out beautiful.

  5. 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

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