This rich, chocolaty Black Magic Cake gets its flavor from buttermilk, high-quality cocoa, and a bit of espresso. Perfect for the chocolate lover in your life!
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This cake is easy to make with kitchen staple ingredients, but the result is always impressive. Dense, moist, rich, and coated in a silky smooth fudge frosting. What’s not to love?
Update: I always make this cake for my twin’s birthday. Now I’ve updated the recipe with new tips and photos to help you perfect it at home, too!
What is 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.
How to Make Black Magic Cake
This cake is fun and easy to make.
To start, if you have parchment paper, line the bottoms of your pans with it. It’s not a must, but it’s always a nice extra bit of insurance to ensure your cakes come out of the pan cleanly.
All of the cake ingredients should be at room temperature for even baking.
You will start making the cake batter by combining all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Then, add the wet ingredients.
You have to be careful here because you are adding boiling water and eggs in the same step. If you’re not careful, the boiling water will cook/curdle your eggs. I recommend the following order of steps to avoid this:
- Whisk your eggs and stir them into your buttermilk, then set them aside for a moment.
- Add the hot water, espresso powder, oil, and vanilla to the dry goods. Combine them with a mixer on low.
- Then with the mixer still on low, stream in the buttermilk and egg mixture. Bring the mixer up to medium speed as the liquid is absorbed into the batter.
- Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and the batter is fully formed.
The batter for this cake is very thin, that’s normal.
Once you pour batter into the prepared pans, give the pans a few taps on the counter to release any air bubbles from the batter.
Here are a few important notes about the ingredients in the Black Magic Cake:
- Use a good quality cocoa powder. Hershey’s is good, we also like the King Arthur cocoa powder. It works for all types of recipes, whether the recipe calls for Dutch-process or regular cocoa. It includes black cocoa for a dark rich color
- Make sure not to use low-fat buttermilk. Alternatively, if you are making your own sour milk, do not use skim milk. Whole or 2% will work just fine.
This frosting is luxurious and soft. It is not a stiff buttercream. In fact, it doesn’t pipe all that well, so go ahead and use a simple butter knife to decorate your cake.
Tip: For the frosting, the melted butter should be warm but NOT hot.
Because it’s made with melted butter, this frosting will be soft. If it’s too soft at first, let it cool a bit so the fats (in the butter) can stiffen. You can do this by leaving it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so. If you are worried that it will crust lay a wet paper towel over the bowl.
Assembling the Cake
If the cakes have small humps on the tops, you can either leave them or cut these off horizontally with a serrated bread knife.
When it comes time to frost your cakes, use a large spatula and spread frosting onto the first cake layer.
Next, add the second layer and frost the top and the sides. This frosting is easy to work with and spreads beautifully.
Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 1-2 days. If you choose to store in the refrigerator bring to room temperature before eating.
More Chocolate Dessert Recipes
- Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake is another dense, chocolate cake for the chocolate-lover in your life.
- Easy Brownie Cake Pops are delightful treats for a kid’s birthday party!
- Chocolate Cake with an Oreo Cheesecake Filling has the best of both worlds: spongey cake and tangy, creamy cheesecake.
Black Magic Cake adapted for High Altitude
- 1-¾ cups sugar
- 1-¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup Hershey’s Cocoa I used King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk or sour milk *
- ¼ teaspoon King Arthur Flour Espresso powder
- 1 cup boiling water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- ¾ cup 1-½ sticks butter or margarine, melted
- 1 cup Hershey’s Cocoa I used King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ 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 (or sour milk), 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, ½ teaspoon at a time, beating until spreading consistency. About 3 cups frosting.
Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles
I love coffee/espresso in my chocolate baked goods. This cake looks awesome. Could I have a piece, pretty please?!
Aw, what handsome boys you have. This cake looks so divine, the photos have my mouth watering right now!
Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen
Oh yum, your cake looks so delicious!
Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings
YUM- I would love a piece of this cake!!
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!
What a great cake! Looks perfect for celebrations!
Camilla @ Culinary Adventures
You had me at the name…then I read the ingredients. Wow, wow, and wow again. I will be making this soon. Maybe for my husband’t birthday later this month. Thanks for the inspiration.
looks like it will magically disappear!
Chocolate cake is one of my favorite cakes and this looks like chocolate heaven.
Erin @ Making Memories
Your cake is wonderful! Happy birthday to your sons. What a great picture! (The funny face ones would have been good too) =o)
I want a big fat piece!
Lovely photos … of the boys AND the cake! Greetings from SRC group D.
You have two handsome boys!!
The cake looks stunning, Barbara, perfect for the celebration.
Wow…yummy! love chocolate cake. I’m a fellow SRC member, group D
Sarvani (baker in disguise)
ooo.. another stunner of a cake.. I love coffee in my cake.. so this should go down well!!
What a beautiful looking cake and family!
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
What a wonderful and delicious way to celebrate your boys’ birthday.
I think the only magic is that I can’t jump through the screen to it.
Lesa @ Edesia's Notebook
Beautiful cake, Barbara. Looks absolutely delicious. Happy Birthday to your sons!