Chocolate Cake

These 10 Chocolatey Recipes Take the Cake (No Really, They're All Cake)

From the likes of Amanda Hesser, Yotam Ottolenghi, Alison Roman, and more star bakers.

April  4, 2023
Photo by Julia Gartland

If you grew up watching the 1996 classic Matilda on repeat, then I’d bet money that the Bruce Bogtrotter chocolate cake scene lives rent-free in your head. That impossibly rich, unmistakably chocolate cake plays a role greater than Bogtrotter himself—sure, eating the whole cake probably led to a stomachache, but it was also an undeniable triumph for every student under Miss Trunchbull’s rule. A symbol of defiance as much as it was one of resilience, this cake became the stuff of dreams for many a ‘90s baby, myself included.

While I've yet to find a cake that perfectly replicates what I imagine this fictional sweet would taste like, I've sampled some damn fine cakes along the way, including the 10 listed below. Read on if you, too, have been on a lifelong search for a Bruce Bogtrotter cake lookalike (or if you're just in the mood to bake something fun).

1. World’s Best Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, the cake itself comes together in a single bowl, making clean-up a breeze. Of course, there’s also the “optional” chocolate ganache you could spread between layers and the espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream you could smother on top, which would technically up your dirty dish count...but it’s so worth it.

2. Chocolate Dump-It Cake

This easy-peasy confection comes from our very own Amanda Hesser, and with more than 400 glowing reviews, it’s clear y’all like it as much as she does. The secret to the cake’s velvety texture? Sour cream.

3. Chocolate-Carrot Snacking Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake gets a chocolatey twist in this recipe from Jessie Sheehan. Finely grated carrots make for a super tender crumb, and of course, where there’s carrot cake, there simply must be cream cheese frosting.

4. Crispy Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut & Sour Cream

No-fuss cooking (and baking) queen Alison Roman shares a recipe from her second cookbook, Nothing Fancy, for a cake with a surprisingly crunchy exterior and nutty, dense interior. (Psst: Alison has even more dessert recipes in her newest cookbook, Sweet Enough.)

5. Triple-Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake

Can’t choose your favorite kind of chocolate? Resident Erin McDowell has the cake you need. This no-bake cheesecake features bittersweet, milk, and white chocolate, all layered to form the perfect make-ahead-friendly dessert.

6. Clementine Chocolate Lava Cakes

Eric Kim combines citrus and chocolate in this recipe for melty, single-serve lava cakes. This super speedy dessert (we’re talkin’ 15 minutes, folks) is both dairy- and gluten-free if you forgo the optional ice cream topper.

7. Dark Chocolate Malt Celebration Cake

Samantha Seneviratne's celebration cake gets its signature flavor from malted milk powder, which is blended together with cream before it’s added to the ultra-chocolatey batter. For a festive finish, she recommends adding plenty of sprinkles, and even has a pro tip for how to avoid getting them everywhere.

8. Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream

This clever variation on Amanda’s Dump-It Cake comes from our co-founder Merrill Stubbs. Here, she divides the cake batter between two pans and makes a zippy cranberry buttercream to slather on top.

9. Fudgy, Flourless Instant Pot Chocolate Cake

This recipe from Jessie Sheehan invites us to embrace the Instant Pot for more than just savory cooking— everyone’s favorite countertop appliance can bake, too! This silky one-bowl wonder gets its extra-velvety texture from the “uniquely steamy environment” created in the Instant Pot.

10. Rick's Birthday Cake

No cake list would be complete without a sheet-pan option, like this stunner from Rick Martínez. That said, this is no ordinary sheet cake—Rick takes this chocolatey situation to the next level with homemade chocolate buttercream and crushed malted milk balls sprinkled over top.

What's your favorite chocolate cake recipe? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Madison Trapkin

Written by: Madison Trapkin

Associate Editor, Food52


richard S. April 6, 2023
No argument with your choices. I would just add that Ina Garten’s chocolate cake is in this league, and deserves a mention. Her’s is one of my go-to chocolate cakes.
liz O. April 19, 2023
Ina's choc cake is very good. Isn't it something like Beaties choc cake or something like that?
judy April 5, 2023
I have recently begun baking Depression Cake. A nice chocolate cake that uses no eggs, butter, or baking powder. I am allergic to baking powder. This gets rise from baking soda and vinegar. I had been working on variations of this cake, find that I prefer it with about 25-30% LESS sugar than recipe calls for. There are also all kinds of variations possible. And vanilla version as well as chocolate. Add-ins like dried fruit, nuts word very well. changing it up a bit adding orange zest, or changing up the spices such as using cardamom or chili powder are all so good. Nice moist crumb without use of syrup. I have also tried variations like replacing water with sour cream yogurt, and buttermilk. Even coconut milk. All work well. Just a nice simple two bowl cake Wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and a whisk. don't even need tog et out the mixer!
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