This chocolate cake is extraordinarily moist and fudgy (without being under baked), yet light (it’s magic, I swear!). It is also visually stunning, appearing midnight-red in color from the cocoa. It has a deep chocolate flavor that is decadently intense. The only way to describe this cake is, ‘crazy’…period.
I thought I knew chocolate cake.
I thought I had it all figured out…that is, until I met this chocolate cake. This one flipped my entire world and everything I knew about good, chocolate cake.
The first time I ever had this insane chocolate cake was years ago when my husband & I started dating. My mother in law made it one night when I was at their house for dinner and I remember being blown away by the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I told her this cake was so good, it was nuts. She replied, “Yeah, it’s crazy good!” And that’s where the name comes from!
This recipe actually goes back to my husband’s grandmother. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I know we would have been close. She was a gourmet chef, baker, entrepreneur and lover of life. I’m so grateful to at least have a connection to her through her recipes.
This cake is rich, but in the best way possible.
As moist as it is, I promise it is not dense by any means. It’s actually very light and airy. Also, I’m amazed at how much chocolate flavor is packed into this cake using just cocoa. It’s just ridiculously chocolatey. You won’t be able to stop at one piece.
Dutch Cocoa Blend is a must for this recipe
For this recipe, I highly recommend using a cocoa powder that is a blend of natural and Dutch cocoa. Why? Natural cocoa is straight-up unsweetened chocolate that has been removed of all fat and ground into a powder, and because of that, it can be bitter. Dutch-process cocoa is still all cocoa, but it’s been slightly neutralized to lower its acidity. This provides a more nicely rounded out chocolate flavor.
But actually, there’s a lot more to this. Ready for a quick science lesson? I found that cocoa can get pretty complicated and I assumed all cocoa powder was pretty much the same.
Dutch Process Cocoa vs. unsweetened cocoa
In short, the true difference between 100% unsweetened cocoa powder & Dutch-process cocoa is their acidity, and this affects leavening. Regular cocoa powder is very acidic, and Dutch process is less acidic. So, depending on what you’re making, you’ll need to take this into consideration. If your recipe only calls for baking soda as a leavener and no other acids are present (yogurt, buttermilk…etc), then cocoa powder would be a good choice since it’s high in acidity. The chemical process between the two, would leaven your cake and balance flavor.
If your recipe calls for baking powder, and/or a combo of baking powder & baking soda, Dutch cocoa will probably work better in cakes & other baked goods since it’s a little more basic and is not the main source of leavening. A blend of both cocoa powder & Dutch process cocoa would be the right choice in this scenario because it has the best of both worlds. That applies to my Crazy Chocolate Cake recipe here.
If your recipe calls for baking soda (a base) AND something that is acidic you could go with either regular cocoa powder or the Dutch process. I find that pure cocoa powder tends to be bitter, and the coloring can be very bland, while 100% Dutch cocoa isn’t quite enough (flavor-wise). So, we go with the blend.
Buuuut quick sidenote…Cocoa powder is REALLY good for frosting since that acidity offsets the sweetness of the sugar and packs a punch of rich, chocolate flavor.
OK, let’s pull back from the science lesson and wrap up the story with this cake. 🙂
How to make crazy chocolate cake
This cake is very straightforward to make. You start with your wet ingredients, then add the dry and top it all off with boiling water (you could also use hot coffee as I’ve done below).
If you make this cake with care, it will take care of you! Do not take any shortcuts with this one! Be sure to sift the ingredients well and scrape the bowl throughout the mixing process.
In its final stage, the batter will be very liquidy. If making cupcakes, I recommend pouring the batter into a measuring cup with a spout.
*side note* Avoid using parchment cupcake wrappers if making cupcakes (lesson learned while making this post!). This cake is SO moist, that it will actually stick to the parchment. I recommend using foil cupcake liners.
Keep a close eye on it while baking, too. As soon as the cake puffs up, check the center with a toothpick or cake tester. Ideally, it’s good to have a small amount of moist crumb on the cake tester, but you don’t want to see any batter. I say, the toothpick should be 98% clean. That’s how you know it is baked but still completely moist inside! This cake is very easy to over bake!
What to do with crazy chocolate cake
This cake is traditionally served and is best as a snack cake, but I have made round 9″ cakes with this recipe and it’s great. As I mentioned before, it can be a little too moist and delicate for cupcakes, but you could still swing it. It’s just easier to eat with a fork!
My absolute favorite topping is fresh whipped cream and it is divine. I highly recommend doing whipped cream for this one. The pairing is exquisite. If you want to take it over the top though, you could layer this with buttercream or ganache (which might push the envelope of chocolate-extreme, but someone needs to try this 😉 ).
This cake is actually quite wonderful on its own and might even be better served bare with macerated strawberries or raspberries poured over the top.
I’m ready for more!
Crazy Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour sifted
- ¾ cup premium Dutch cocoa blend powder sifted
- 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ stick (or 4tbsp) unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup canola oil (vegetable oil can also be used)
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water (you can also substitute hot coffee)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove; set aside.
- Grease & flour desired cake pans. I use a 13 x 9 inch pan or two- 9 inch standard cake rounds can be used.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand up mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) on low speed, mix the oil, cooled melted butter, vanilla, eggs & milk. Mix until well blended, about 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, carefully add the dry ingredients. Mix until well blended, scraping the sides & bottom of the bowl.
- Lastly, with the mixer on the lowest speed setting, begin to slowly pour in the boiling water in additions, stirring and scraping the sides of the bowl. Once all the water is added, crank up the speed to medium and continue to mix for 15-30 seconds (scrape the sides & bottom of the bowl again). The batter will be very liquidy, you just want to make sure it's well-mixed.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
- The cake will need to bake for about 30 minutes. At the 25 minute mark, keep a close eye on the cake. Test with a toothpick inserted into the center until the toothpick comes out 98% clean. It is OK to have just a little bit of cake (NOT cake batter) stick to the toothpick. It is VERY moist cake but also easy to over bake...
- Allow to fully cool. Top with whipped cream, fruit, frosting or enjoy on its own!