Thousands of 5-star reviews agree.
You know what instantly solves every problem, every woe, every bad day at school? Chocolate cake. A good slice of chocolate cake is pretty special, but a great one—that’s life-altering. But they’re also elusive. I worked in a bakery for years, and discovered the perfect chocolate cake recipe was surprisingly hard to come by. It has to be moist, but not so wet or dry that it sticks to the roof of your mouth; rich but not so rich that you have to call it quits (or take a big gulp of milk) after one bite. Of course, it should be chocolaty, but not so sweet that it’s overpowering when combined with frosting or ganache.
I recently had a piece of cake that hit all the marks perfectly. It arrived in a generous-bordering-on-monstrous portion, with six (!) layers—a towering slice that immediately called to mind that famous scene from “Matilda”. It was at a restaurant in my native New York called Claud, which has quickly become known for this cake.
After doing some digging to try and hunt down Claud’s recipe, I stumbled across this video in which recipe developer and content creator Erika Kwee came to the conclusion that it strongly resembles a cake recipe I was more than familiar with. And I bet you are too, because it’s been hiding in your pantry this whole time.
The Hershey’s Back-of-the-Box Chocolate Cake Is the Absolute Best
That’s right, rather than default to a box of cake mix, turn to that box of cocoa powder sitting in your pantry. It’s got what I—and thousands of Allrecipes community members—think is the best chocolate cake recipe out there. For years, I made Ina Garten’s famous Beatty’s Chocolate Cake and never strayed, despite always finding it a little too rich when topped with my preferred frosting. Then I realized—with the help of Erika—that it’s just a variation on the Hershey’s cake. Here’s why it works.
It’s a super simple cake, with ingredients I’d bet you already have on hand. What’s more, it only calls for an electric (not stand) mixer, but you could also whisk it by hand in a pinch. And yet, the cake is texturally perfect: as one reviewer notes, it’s “moist enough to eat plain, sturdy enough to hold up three layers.” It works as a layer cake, in a Bundt pan, as cupcakes, or even crumbled up and turned into cake pops.
Since this chocolate cake relies on cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate, it creates a lighter texture and more open crumb structure (it also technically makes it a Devil’s Food Cake). Two kinds of leavening—baking powder and baking soda—also ensure it’s a fluffy cake, especially once they’ve reacted with the boiling water the recipe calls for. Altogether, the ingredients make for a cake that’s seriously chocolatey without being overwhelming, light, moist, and absolutely irresistible.
Don’t believe me? I literally lost count of the number of reviews that called it the best chocolate cake they’d ever made or had. They speak for themselves:
“I have used this cake for over ten years. It’s my go-to birthday cake that everyone asks for every year. Follow the recipe and it will turn out well every time,” says grassyfields.
Pam Todd raves, “This is an all-time favorite for my family, and church family. I use brewed coffee in place of water. Best recipe ever. I have baked this cake recipe for 15 years. My printout is very worn and stained from use.”
“Super easy to make and fluffy and moist…Will not buy boxed cake mix anymore,” writes jbain.
Tips for the Best Chocolate Cake
There are a few tips I’ve found over my years of baking and gathered from other reviews. The most common suggestion is to substitute hot coffee (like Ina does) for boiling water to create the same chemical reaction but add more depth of flavor. I like to use buttermilk instead of milk for extra tang and richness. You can also swap in another flavor of extract or liqueur for vanilla extract (or in addition to it); Some reviewers recommend Kahlua, orange liqueur or extract, and almond extract.
The second tip is that you can get creative with the fillings and frostings. I’ll be honest—I don’t follow the corresponding recipe for frosting—I prefer a different style of frosting than that typical style of American buttercream. This cake is delicious, albeit extremely chocolatey when paired with ganache, but if you’re not a total chocolate lover, try peanut butter frosting or a simple whipped cream frosting. If you’re the type of person who can’t get enough chocolate, try chocolate pudding between layers of this cake in place of frosting.
Finally—and this is the most important piece of advice I can leave you with—sprinkle a little flaky salt on top. This is a tip from that obscenely good cake at Claud, and it makes all the difference. It’s not noticeable, but the salt is that little je ne sais quoi element that will keep you and your guests coming back for bite after bite after bite. It may just have you all proclaiming this is the best chocolate cake you’ve ever had.
Get the recipe: Back-of-the-Box Hershey’s Chocolate Cake
Read the original article on All Recipes.