Black Magic Cake

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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!

whole frosted black magic cake with sprinkles

❤️ 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!

pinterest button for black magic cake

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. 

close up ona chocolate cake with sprinkles

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.

collage of mixing batter for black magic cake

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:

  1. Whisk your eggs and stir them into your buttermilk, then set them aside for a moment.
  2. Add the hot water, espresso powder, oil, and vanilla to the dry goods. Combine them with a mixer on low.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

cooked and uncooked black cake in a cake pan

Ingredient Notes

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.
making fudge chocolate frosting

Fudge Frosting 

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. 

whole frosted chocolate cake on a stand with rainbow sprinkles

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.

Storage Suggestions 

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.

slice of black magic cake on a plate with frosting

More Chocolate Dessert Recipes

whole frosted black magic cake with sprinkles
Yield: 10-12 servings.

Black Magic Cake adapted for High Altitude

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Black magic cake is made for the chocolate lover. It’s dense, moist, and decorated with a silky fudge frosting. 



  • 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


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. Place melted butter in large mixer bowl. Add cocoa, stirring until smooth.
  2. 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1547Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 455mgCarbohydrates: 342gFiber: 6gSugar: 239gProtein: 18g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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