Black Magic Cake


Buttermilk and a hint of espresso are the secrets to this Black Magic cake. A moist, rich, deep, dark chocolate cake perfect for a special occasion or any day at all.

Claire K Creations is my Secret Recipe Club blog this month. Claire and I have been blogging friends for a while now. She lives in the land down under, Brisbane, Australia and we often comment on each other’s posts. I remember commenting a long while back that I wanted to try the Black Magic Cake she posted, so I was excited when I was assigned Claire’s blog this month to finally give it a try.

Black Magic Cake

The Black Magic Cake has been posted about many times on many blogs with rave reviews, so I knew it was a great one. It’s a recipe on the Hershey’s website, and it’s often on the back of their cocoa package as well.

Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor in this cake, but since I’m not a coffee drinker, I opted to use just a bit of King Arthur espresso powder and hot water in place of the coffee. I also adapted the cake for high altitude baking. For the original recipe, visit the Hershey’s website.


I needed a great cake because I was making it for my twin boys 17th birthday. I can’t believe how fast time passes. It really doesn’t seem that long ago I was bringing them home from the hospital. I took some pictures of them blowing out the candles on their cake, but my son was making funny faces in most of them, so instead I’m sharing this picture I snapped of them before they left for Junior prom. They truly have been a double blessing.

Black Magic Cake adapted for High Altitude

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Black Magic Cake adapted for High Altitude


  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa (I used King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk *
  • 1/4 teaspoon King Arthur Flour Espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup Hershey's Cocoa (I used King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, espresso powder, boiling water, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

Place melted butter in large mixer bowl. Add cocoa, stirring until smooth.

Gradually beat in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. If necessary add additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, beating until spreading consistency. About 3 cups frosting.

Thanks Claire for posting this recipe. It was the perfect chocolate cake for my twins birthday. There were so many other recipes I thought about baking, you really should stop by Claire K Creations to check out all her delicious recipes.

Visit the Secret Recipe Club for information on how to join in the fun. And be sure and check out all the great recipes the Secret Recipe Club members created this month.

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Marsha says

    My granddaughter has requested a chocolate koala shaped cake for her birthday so I’ve been testing high altitude recipes, looking for what will be my new “go to” chocolate cake. I think this is it! The first test of this recipe I baked a 9″ square and a 6″ round. They came out fine. I’ve now made another one in a 9 x 13 pan — I think the larger pan is trickier at altitude. On cooling, it has sunk in the middle — not horribly, but still sunken. Is there something I could try to see if this can be fixed? Should I add a couple tablespoons more flour or another egg? I do follow directions well! I live in Denver, CO.

    • says

      Hi Marsha – I love that you’re making a koala cake for your granddaughter for her birthday and that you’re testing recipes to get it just right. So sweet!

      Here’s a link to the guide I like to use to convert recipes. Since it’s sinking just a little and the others came out fine, I might try just raising the oven temperature to 375° or just decreasing the leavening and sugar a little bit more. Share a picture of it on my Facebook page when you’ve finished making it. I’d love to see it.

      • Marsha says

        Thank you so much. I’ll make those notes and try the sugar and leavening adjustments next time. I did bake at 375 — forgot to tell you that part. I’ll also check the website you suggested.

  2. Stacie says

    I know this recipe was posted a while back so hopefully you still get notifications regarding comments on it! :-)

    Thank you (THANK YOU) for posting an altitude adjusted recipe – I don’t see those very often. I notice the recipe calls for both BP & BS, so does that mean it doesn’t matter if the cocoa is natural or dutch processed? I’ve been trying to Google all morning to try & wrap my head round the whole N vs DP, and thought I had it until I saw the recipe using both powder & soda.

    The Hershey’s I have is natural, and I thought the King Arthur Cocoa’s were dutch processed, so I don’t know which one to use LOL. Help! :-)

      • Stacie says

        Thanks so much for the quick reply Barbara, I really appreciate it!!

        I will definitely give that blend a go, would really makes things easier (for me LOL) if I didn’t have to worry so much about which recipe will work with which cocoa. And of course, adjustments for altitude. Who knew there would be so much science behind making a cake ^_^.

  3. says

    I love how some of the best recipes for things come off the back of packages. To this day, my enchilada recipe that I LOVE is from the back of the can of green enchilada sauce. This cake looks fantastic, definitely pinning for a future dessert idea. I loved looking through your blog this month, you have a ton of great recipes!

  4. says

    Time really flies doesn’t it! I remember talking to you on IM when we were first blogging and your twins were just teens! Your cake is absolutely gorgeous and I’m certain it was delicious also!

  5. says

    okay first your boy are so handsome and I love the prom pics! How cute! Seems like just yesterday- can’t wait to have those pics taken with my boys someday. Love this cake too. It looks magical and beautiful and so rich and delicious

  6. Tracey says

    I have a very odd confession…I don’t like coffee or mocha or espresso. “Everyone” always says that I won’t be able to taste the coffee but I always can. Can I make this most awesome of cakes without coffee/espresso??

    Thanks! :)

    Oh and I LOVE your blog!! :)

    • says

      I don’t like coffee or espresso either, but I really couldn’t taste the little bit I used in this cake. Of course you can make this cake without the espresso. Just leave it out. It will still be fantastic. I’ve also added chocolate extract in place of the espresso too if you want to try that. Thanks for the blog love!

  7. says

    OMGoodness this cake looks insanely indulgent and amazing!!! Have a feeling my husband would love having this on his next birthday. Perfect SRC pick

  8. says

    aw, i don’t think i knew you had twin boys, and they look so sweet!

    speaking of sweet, love this cake, it looks like chocolate heaven!

  9. says

    LOVE the sound and look of this chocolate recipe! I am a baker, through and through. What i really love is the picture of your boys and their dates- too cute! My daughter is a junior, and is going to her first prom, in 4 days! Her dress is a dream of red, with lace, some sequins, and tulle, layers of it! It has been so fun to plan and shop. She went out with the boy who asked her, just a couple nights ago. Oh, how time flies! My son is in his second year of college. Glad to have found your blog!

  10. says

    I love that you have adapted it for high altitude! And it certainly looks delicious! I’ve eyed this cake before but haven’t made it yet. Didn’t realize you have twins. Fun times!

  11. says

    Oh! how sweet is this Black magic cake .The butter milk cake and its flavoure will relly create amagical effect on those who Thanks for suggesting such ataste it. Surely i would love to present it as a B’day gift to my friend.nice butter cake.

  12. says

    Twin 17 year olds must eat a lot :)

    Claire lives not far from me and we’ve met on a few occasions. She’s as lovely in person as she is online. That smile of hers goes from ear to ear and everyone just lights up when she arrives. I’m so glad you got her!

    This cake is beautiful!

  13. says

    The fact that you settled on this cake, of all the cakes in the whole world to make for their bday, is a pretty strong statement to how good it must be! I just had a panic attack that my 6 yr old will be 16 and going to prom in the blink of an eye. Thanks for this sweet post, Barbara. Pinning!