Black Magic Chocolate Cake

by Ivy Haisell in

Trade secrets...  that's how a baker maintains that mysterious air. This recipe is one of my biggest secrets. This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe anytime I need to "bring my A game" to impress. It comes out with a reliably tender and moist crumb that cannot be matched. If there's a better chocolate cake, I haven't tasted it. I adjust the recipe with more black cocoa for Black Forest Cakes. I realized I've never posted this recipe so here I share it with you so you can share in the praise and aura of mystery sure to come. 

"Just how do you do it?"

... well know you know.

Black Magic Cake

Makes 36 cupcakes or three 8 inch round pans


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups white sugar
1 1/3 cups of Vahlrona cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee cooled to room temperature. 
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Prepare cupcake pans or brush the sides of three 8 inch pans (I like ones with removable bottoms) with melted butter, and dust with cocoa. Put bottom insert in and place cake parchment circle on the bottom. (Alternatively, you can grease and flour the pans as you see fit. When I baked this cake I forgot to use cocoa and was unhappy with the white film on the cake from the flour.)

In an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. A quick stir on low should be sufficient.

Make a well in the center.  Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed until combined. 

Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans or cupcake pans. Push a little out of the middle so that you don't get a raised peak when baking.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean and cake pulls away from the sides. It will be around 30-40 minutes but it will depend on your weather, altitude and oven. Do not let it over bake, and do not be tempted to open your oven too early. When you see it start to pull away from the sides, then you can open the oven to test.


* The ingredients matter. Your grocery store vanilla isn't going to cut it here. Buy some Maison Cote vanilla, or make your own.
* If you can't afford to do it all Vahlrona cocoa (who does at $14 for 250g? ) then do 1/2 cup Callebaut Cocoa or any good quality cocoa and 2/3 cup Vahlrona cocoa or any superior quality cocoa. It makes sense that your chocolate cocoa will determine if your chocolate cake is a memorable one.
* All liquids must be at room temperature. This includes the eggs. It combines better.
* Do not use stale spices, baking powder, or baking soda.
* Use good coffee. My husband makes me a pour over and I make sure I let it sit until it is cool or at bare minimum, room temperature.
* If you do not have buttermilk, use the fattiest milk you have (whipped cream or homo milk is best but you CAN get away with skim). Pour it into measuring cup and add 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice and let sit until it curdles - about 20 minutes.
* Don't dawdle. Once you get the wet and dry mixed together, you want to get them into the oven together and ASAP. The baking soda and baking powder is reacting and it's not waiting on you.


Icing Options: