hershey’s perfectly chocolate chocolate cake


It’s my blog’s first birthday. A year ago, I don’t think I knew how much having a food blog would improve my cooking. By reading other blogs, I’m constantly hearing about new methods, ingredients, and ideas. I also find that I’m forced to choose a variety of recipes from a variety of sources to keep my blog balanced. Taking photos of my food has encouraged me to think more about presentation. And being a member of Tuesdays with Dorie and the Daring Bakers has greatly increased my confidence in baking – not only because I’m baking so often, but I’m always making something new. There are far fewer tasks in the kitchen that intimidate me now compared to a year ago.


And I hear about other popular recipes. People often recommend Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake when someone asks for a great chocolate cake recipe. I already have a favorite chocolate cake, and I had my doubts that the Hershey’s one could live up to it, especially because it uses cocoa as the only source of chocolate, plus it calls for oil instead of butter. Of course the only way to really figure out which is best is to eat them side by side.

copy-of-img_9466left – Hershey’s; right – Cooks Illustrated

Hershey’s Cake is certainly easier to make. The dry ingredients are mixed, some wet ingredients are added, the batter is beaten for a couple of minutes, and then boiling water is stirred in. The result was a very liquidy batter. It was weird. The Cooks Illustrated recipe is a little more complicated, but isn’t by any means difficult.


The cakes tasted surprisingly similar. Hershey’s is a little sweeter, but CI’s has a subtly stronger chocolate flavor. The textural differences were more noticeable. The Hershey’s cake had a crust on the top (and I pretty much guarantee that I didn’t overbake it), which I didn’t care for. Cooks Illustrated’s cake had a more even texture, and it was lighter and fluffy. You can see in the picture above that the Hershey’s cake is much denser, especially on the bottom. Both cakes were moist, but I think the Hershey’s cake was more so.

The difference between the two cakes wasn’t as dramatic as I was expecting. Both were good, although I’ll stick to the Cooks Illustrated recipe. Both make for a good blog birthday cake!


I’m adding a “One Year Ago” feature, copied straight from Smitten Kitchen. It seems like a great reminder for old recipes that are too good to be forgotten.

One year ago: Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

For Cooks Illustrated’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake, click here.

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake (from Hershey’s Chocolate)

2 cups sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Hershey’s cocoa
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

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

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.


  1. happy blogoversary!

  2. Happy Bloganniversary!! Your cake is adorable. I so enjoy reading your blog. It is always interesting, with great photos and yummy, yummy, yummy delights. Thanks for sharing with all of us, and I hope to read your blog for many years to come!

  3. ischwab says:

    you should try the chocolate cake recipe on the back of ghirardelli cocoa powder, it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve made!

  4. I loved seeing this recipe! Back when I was a away at grad school, I made this cake, packed it with candles and a can of frosting and mailed it to my boyfriend (now husband). It’s a good one.

  5. I love your comparison posts! I’ve made both of these cakes before, though not close together where I could really compare. I really enjoyed the CI version that I made a few weeks ago and thought it was a great recipe. It’s interesting to think about the different approaches to making chocolate cake and the results that follow 🙂

  6. I’ll have to try the CI version some time. I’ve made the Hershey version, into cupcakes, and was so impressed, I made the same recipe using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa into my birthday cake (Oreo Cake). Both in my blog.

    Happy anniversary! I love your blog & your gorgeous photos!

  7. Oh my gosh! 1) you know I LOVE me some comparison posts and 2) how CUTE IS THAT! You made a cake for your blog!? I LOVE IT! 🙂 🙂

  8. Happy Blogoversary! Love the cake decoration, and thanks for the comparison – it’s nice knowing what recipes give what results. I agree that food blogging has made me scared of fewer things in the kitchen, which is always a good thing 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday to your blog! I love reading it and can’t wait to see what you make in year two!

  10. Congratulations. Your cake and the accompanying experiment are wonderful!

  11. Yay! Happy blogaversary! The Mondrian design is simply inspired 🙂 I didn’t know you were such a Modernist! Hee hee. Hmm… Both cakes look mighty fine to me 🙂

  12. Happy Blogoversary! I enjoy reading your blog very much and I am so pleased I will now get to read double posts each time as I wil be able to read the One Year Ago posts too.

    I Love the cake – so clever! 😀

  13. pinkstripes says:

    Happy Blogoversary! I like the design on your cake.

  14. bunnies4buddha says:

    B. –

    Mad props on the 1 year anniversary – I have enjoyed your blog a lot. As a year-in-review I would love to hear about what your top recipe picks for Year 1 would be.

  15. Beautiful cake. Happy one year anniversary beautiful blog.

  16. Thank you so much for that review! I’m always searching for the perfect chocolate cake recipe (who isn’t!.. hahah) and I’m always wondering if the methods (creaming vs ribboning vs stirring, butter vs oil, cocoa vs chocolate) matter. I was actually tempted to make CI’s sour cream bundt cake using different methods to see if it makes a difference.

  17. Happy blog-o-versary! and I love your riff on Mondrian for your blog! Very creative.

  18. Your blog-a-versary cake is simply adorable! I love it.

  19. Steve says:

    Found your website today via the article in the BCT. Totally awesome site!!!! One thing i do is (which i havent read on the site as yet if its already here i apologize!!) instead of 1 cup of boiling water i use a hot cup of coffee, the most popular flavor i use is chocolate raspberry coffee. Everyone loves the taste of it.

  20. Peter says:


    Great post as usual…

    The above Perfect Hershey cake has been the base for our family goto Black Forest cake for years. The cake is very good as a BF cake as the whipped cream and cherry filling add missing softness to the cake. But on its own (I recently tried this recipe to make cupcakes) I do not like its texture. To me the crumb feels synthetic (not velvety). Also not really dense enough. Anyways I will have to try the Cooks.

    BTW, I tested Martha’s one-bowl cupcake (well respected on the net) against the Hershey recipe and found Martha’s was better (heavier) but still not what I am looking for. The recipe was from her Cupcake book. I will try your favorite (CI) and let you know how it fares against the one-bowl.

    What I am looking for is a cake that has chocolaty / moist / tender taste like a brownie but that has cake density/crumb like a good moist yellow cake (CI’s). This would be to use in cupcakes. If you have any ideas, would appreciate any suggestion you may have.

  21. bridget says:

    Peter – The CI recipe might not be what you’re looking for, as it isn’t very dense. I’m not sure how well this recipe on epicurious would work in cupcakes, but it’s certainly popular as a layer cake, and it seems really dense and rich. Sadly, I haven’t had an opportunity to make it yet.

  22. Peter says:


    I tried the CI cake last night as cupcakes with the Easy CI frosting and it was excellent. I like it better than Martha’s one bowl. I think it could use a bit more chocolate though or less sugar.

    Having said that, its still not the experience I am looking for. I think the problem is that I like the taste of the vanilla-vanilla cupcakes so much chocolate cupcakes don’t do it for me. I love Magnolia’s buttercream on CI’s yellow cupcake (New Best recipes), I also love the yellow layer cake recipe from the same book. It’s lighter and would be my favorite except it’s a bit more work to make.

    I’m off topic here, but if you want a treat, try the Cooks Illustrated yellow layer cake recipe (New best recipes) made in as “mini” cupcakes and do not use cupcake liners to enhance caramelization (about 10 minute cook time) and use your favorite buttercream. I bet you won’t like chocolate cupcakes after that 🙂

    I need to test Magnolia’s frosting against CI easy buttercream on the yellow cupcake.

    Btw, do white cakes taste like yellow cakes? Can these be tested in the same class?

    Have a great day!