The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Pudding Frosting

{The Best} Chocolate Cake with Pudding Frosting from
It’s my birthday today and I made myself a chocolate cake…a cake I call the best chocolate cake ever.

After having a facebook conversation, we all agreed it’s not sad at all when you make your own birthday cake. It started after my husband told how sad it was when I told him my plan. I didn’t think it was at all…I get what I want! Don’t you agree?

What makes this cake so amazing and the best ever? I really think it’s the coffee and the buttermilk. Coffee in chocolate cakes just brings the chocolate flavor to a new level and it doesn’t taste like coffee AT ALL. The buttermilk lends to the moistness of this cake. The frosting is the perfect ending to this cake. It’s fluffy and tastes amazing. Remember though because there’s cream cheese and milk in the frosting, the frosting and the cake (after it’s frosted) has to be refrigerated.

I have posted this chocolate cake recipe before…it was the first ever post on The Little Kitchen. If you go looking at that post, please don’t make fun of those pictures! I already know how bad they are!

In that post, I talked about a whipped frosting (made with pudding) that I would share and I realized I never did so when I told myself I’m baking my own birthday cake…I thought I would share that recipe along with some of my tips for baking cakes.

I learned this from my Wilton cake decorating instructor. I cut out pieces of wax paper that measure the same size as the bottom of the cake pans. Using a silicon brush, I spread Wilton Cake Release on the sides and inside bottom of the pan. Place the wax paper inside the pan and you have a non-stick surface. This cake batter is very wet and if you don’t do this, you’re likely to have the cake stick on the inside of your pan.

Once the cakes are done, allow them to cool inside the pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before flipping them onto the cooling rack. Once you remove them from the pan, be sure to peel off the wax paper and allow the cakes to cool completely before adding the frosting.

I usually don’t have buttermilk on hand but I always have buttermilk powder in my fridge. The brand I use, it’s 4 Tbsp of buttermilk powder to 1 cup of water. A tip to keep the oil from sticking too much in your measuring cup, I measure the water first then add the oil.

I actually measure all of my wet ingredients first and have them set aside before I start sifting the flour.

I always sift the flour and cocoa powder. Something else I usually do when I make this cake is measure enough out for several more cakes…in separate bowls and then place my newly made “cake mix” into plastic zippered bags with labels for what it is and date it. Homemade cake mix makes it way convenient later for making cupcakes or a tasty cake in the future…all you have to do is add the wet ingredients and bake!

Doesn’t that cake look super moist?

I love this frosting. First mix the instant vanilla pudding mix with milk. In a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese and then add the cool whip and mix thoroughly. Then add the pudding and mix thoroughly.

Torting (cutting the cake length-wise to create multiple layers) this cake is necessary so you get more frosting per square inch of cake. :) I usually use a cake leveler but I haven’t been able to find it since we have our office torn upside down during a remodel. Using a knife and just being very careful, slice the cake lengthwise to create two layers. When I finished, I had a four layer cake.

Here are some frosting shots…it looks like buttercream, doesn’t it? Nothing like it…it’s very fluffy and creamy. Don’t get me wrong, I love buttercream but I love a good whipped frosting too.

Almost there.

Nice, huh?

Almost done…

This is seriously the best chocolate cake ever. My co-worker calls me a cake snob…I’m sorry I guess I am.

I have some other news to share too. I got a new job! This is really bittersweet for me. I really love some of my co-workers, I’m going to miss them. I have worked for this company for almost 8 years and it feels like a family. But I have this awesome opportunity in this new company, I’ll have a lot of flexibility and will get to learn a whole lot. I love learning new things and I’m really excited about the work. I’m really excited that I’m going to get to travel a little bit too…I just can’t wait to start next month! But today, I’m sharing this cake with my co-workers whom I’m going to miss.

If you make any of recipes and decide to share them on instagram or twitter be sure to tag me @thelittlekitchn and use the hashtag #thelittlekitchenrecipes! I love seeing your posts and photos!

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Pudding Frosting

Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 45 min

Cook Time: 25 min

Total Time: 1 hr 10 min

...the best, that's all I have to say.


Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup baking cocoa

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup black strong coffee (1 Tbsp coffee with 8 oz boiling water)

1 cup buttermilk OR combine 1 Tbsp vinegar with 1 cup milk OR 1 cup equivalent of buttermilk powder & water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pudding Frosting

1 cup milk

(1) 3.4 ounce box instant vanilla pudding

8 ounce cream cheese (room temperature, leave out for at least an hour or two)

12 ounce tub of Cool Whip (put out on the counter 10-15 minutes before making the frosting)


Chocolate Cake

Grease a 13 x 9 inch cake pan (or two 9 inch round pans for round cake or makes about 36 cupcakes) and line the bottom of the pans with wax paper cut to size.

In a mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. Then take a rubber spatula and thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together.

Mix in all of the wet ingredients and do a quick mix with your rubber spatula and then mix with an electric mixer until well blended but don't overmix.

Pour evenly between pans and bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes or until after inserting a toothpick into the center of a cake, it reveals just crumbs.

Pudding Frosting

Mix vanilla pudding mix with milk in one bowl, using an electric mixer, until pudding sets. In another bowl whip up cream cheese using an electric mixer. Add cool whip to the cream cheese and mix together well.

Add vanilla pudding to the cream cheese-cool whip mixer and mix together well.

Store in the refrigerator until the cake cools. After frosting the cake, the cake will need to be stored in the refrigerator.

For best results, after frosting the cake, refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.


The first thing I do when making this recipe, is to brew the coffee. That way it's mostly cooled by the time I mix it in and it doesn't start cooking the eggs.

A great time saver tip (that I learned from a forum and use ALL of the time) is to mix all of your dry ingredients ahead of time and put in a plastic zip bag or a plastic container, this way when you're ready to bake, you just pour into your mixing bowl and add wet ingredients. It's kind of like making your own cake mix. Be sure it's sealed tight and you date the container so you know when you mixed it.

Cake recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home. Frosting recipe from my friends, Joe & Tricia.

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One more thing, I wanted to say happy birthday to my friend, Julie. We have the same name and birthday!

And huge thanks to our friends, Joe & Tricia, who introduced me to this recipe. I actually never really liked chocolate cake until I had Tricia’s cake!

For more awesome chocolate cake recipes:

Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links.

102 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Pudding Frosting”

  1. 1
    Lori @ RecipeGirl — January 31, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    Congrats on the new job, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Hope you have a wonderful day :)


  2. 2
    Cassie — January 31, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    The frosting sounds perfect. I love the addition of coffee too. YUM. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope it’s wonderful!


  3. 3
    Mal @ The Chic Geek — January 31, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    This looks like the most perfect cake!


  4. 4
    Ken G. — January 31, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Happy birthday!


  5. 5
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — January 31, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    Happy birthday Julie!! This is a delicious way to celebrate. Boy does it look moist! :)


  6. 6
    Bev Weidner — January 31, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    A) Um, YUM.

    B) Happy BIRTHDAY!

    C) New Job – Wa-hoooo!

    D) I miss you!


  7. 7
    Diane (Created by Diane) — January 31, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    Happy birthday Julie!!! That is an awesome looking cake, so wish I was enjoying a piece right now. Hope you made a wish :) and they all come true!


  8. 8
    christina @ ovenadventures — January 31, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

    this cake looks fantastic. i’ve never thought about pudding mix in frosting.

    Happy Birthday and congrats on the new job!


  9. 9
    Glory/ Glorious Treats — January 31, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

    Happy birthday Julie! This cake looks so delicious!


  10. 10
    the wicked noodle — January 31, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    1. Chocolate cake with PUDDING FROSTING is never, ever sad.
    2. Sorry…I forgot what I was going to say for number 2. I was still dreaming about PUDDING FROSTING.
    3. Congrats on your new job! And good for you for leaving somewhere that’s comfortable for something that will stretch you and help you grow.




  11. 11
    Julie @ Table for Two — January 31, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    congrats on the new job (haha we both gave our 2 weeks the same week too) and happy happy birthday! can’t wait to see you in March :)


  12. 12
    Eliana — January 31, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    Happy Happy Happy Birthday! What a great way to celebrate. This cake looks heavenly.


  13. 13
    Kimmy @ Lighter and Local — January 31, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    Oh I love the idea of adding the pudding mix to the frosting! It reminds me of the icing on nanaimo bars!


  14. 14
    Jessica — January 31, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

    Happy Birthday pretty lady! I am so proud of everything you do and I am so lucky to call you a friend! :-)


  15. 15
    Rhonda — January 31, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

    wow, happy birthday and congrats on the new job!!


  16. 16
    Amy's Cooking Adventures — January 31, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

    This looks wonderful! Love the contrast!


  17. 17
    Melissa // thefauxmartha — January 31, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    Happy Birthday and congrats on the new job! Double whammy!


  18. 18
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — January 31, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    I hope you are having a wonderful birthday! This cake looks amazing on so many levels and I can’t wait to try the pudding frosting!


  19. 19
    tami — January 31, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    so much good news. congrats on the new gig. hope you are having a wonderful birthday :) xox


  20. 20
    Kathryn — January 31, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    This really does look like the best cake ever! Happy birthday and big congratulations on the new job.


  21. 21
    Elizabeth @ Chronic Venture — January 31, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

    first off: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
    and this does look like the best chocolate cake ever. Enjoy your day!


  22. 22
    Krissy's Creations — January 31, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

    Happy Birthday! And congratulations on the new job! If you say this is the best chocolate cake then I definitely gotta try it! And the pudding frosting? YUM!!


  23. 23
    jaclyn — January 31, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

    congratulations on the new job, Julie! will you be doing the same type of work you currently do, or are you branching out into a new field?

    oh, and HAPPY EFFING BIRTHDAY! i always make my own birthday cakes, too! that way i get exactly what i want because i am the pickiest girl in all of the land ๐Ÿ˜‰

    love you lady! i cannot wait to see your face soon!


  24. 24
    sweetsugarbelle — January 31, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

    Happy birthday!!! I hope its amazing!!!


  25. 25
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — January 31, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

    where to even begin…
    congrats on your new job

    buttermilk powder – new to me, that’s a hot tip for me b/c I usually need like 1/4 c of it and then i have a whole jug!

    you have a cake decorating instructor from wilton? – that’s awesome!

    the precision of your layers is…amazing!


  26. 26
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — January 31, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

    I have two questions (and I pinned this b/c it looks so amazing)
    1. do you think brand of flour matters, i.e king arthur, gold medal, generic, etc. I am posting about this tomorrow.
    2. dumb question perhaps but in making the frosting, when you make the pudding packet + milk and beat, are you saying beat until it turns into pudding, wait and has set up before adding the other ingredients, or just mix it somewhat. Then add the pudding/milk + the cream cheese and cool whip..

    This is a frosting I could use SO often, so just want to be clear about whether I need set-up pudding, or not essential…


    • JulieD replied: January 31st, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

      Hey, Averie! I have used Gold Medal & King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour.

      Yes, beat the pudding until it thickens into pudding. I need to add that! Let me know if you have any other questions.


  27. 27
    naomi — January 31, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    Happy Birthday, Julie! Love the cake. I hope youre having a good one!!


  28. 28
    Paula — January 31, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

    I hope you had a wonderful birthday. Your cake looks amazing and I agree, there is nothing wrong with baking your own birthday cake. Some may think it is wrong however it you eat it all yourself. LOL


  29. 29
    Bunkycooks — February 1, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    This does look like one of the best chocolate cakes ever and even if you had to make it, I am sure it was worth it! :-) I know you had a happy birthday, so yay for you! I can’t wait to hear about the new job once you get started AND I can’t wait to see you in March!!


  30. 30
    katie — February 1, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    Julie–this looks amazing and perfect just like you! I’m so glad to hear you got the job!!! :) P.s. I also need some of this wilton cake release stat! lol. My cakes always stick to the pan! Thank you once again for an amazing recipe & tips!


  31. 31
    Kristen — February 2, 2012 @ 3:04 am

    That is our favorite chocolate cake as well – by far! This frosting looks amazing.
    I hope you had a most wonderful birthday, Julie!


  32. 32
    Kelly Senyei — February 2, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    HOLY MOLE! This looks insanely delicious! There’s something about a four-layer cake that just makes me weak in the knees. I’d have five slices ๐Ÿ˜‰ COUNT DOWN TO ORLANDO IS ON!


  33. 33
    Mandy — February 5, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    I just made this in cupcake form and in half a cupcake with no frosting I completely agree that it lives up to its name as the best chocolate cake recipe ever!!! This is a keeper and I will be taking your advice to have the dry ingredients mixed up and ready to go at any time.


    • JulieD replied: February 12th, 2012 @ 12:01 am

      Hi Mandy, so glad you enjoyed it! That frosting is amazing, isn’t it?? ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed it!!!


  34. 34
    Memoria — February 11, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

    That cake recipe is very similar to my go-to recipe on the back of the Hershey’s box (I, too, use buttermilk and coffee instead of milk and boiling water, respectively). Anyway, I never ever use parchment or wax paper at the bottom of my cake pan even with the liquid-heavy batter; the cake release or Baker’s Joy spray is all I use. You use less paper and less time. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I may have to try out that frosting. I have never heard of frosting with pudding. Have you tried using homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip? It is so quick and easy to make (just heavy cream, sugar, and optional vanilla extract).


    • JulieD replied: February 11th, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

      This cake is actually from Ina Garten, maybe Hershey’s got it from her? The wax paper works just fine for me, just plain Baker’s Joy doesn’t work for me. I don’t use non-stick baking pans, maybe that’s the difference? I use either Wilton or Magic Line straight-sided pans and they aren’t non-stick.

      Nope, I haven’t tried it with homemade whipped cream although I know how to make it. :)


  35. 35
    Csilla — February 12, 2012 @ 4:11 am

    Happy Birthday!! :) It is definitely not sad that you make your own cake! I always do mine! And everyone else’s as well ๐Ÿ˜› This cake looks so delicious that I’m saving the recipe for the next occasion I’m in need of a cake! :)


  36. 36
    Kylie — February 12, 2012 @ 5:48 am

    Can this frosting be put into a frosting bag and used to decorate a cake? i would love to use this frosting recipe but am wanting to do frosting roses all over the cake like at


    • JulieD replied: February 12th, 2012 @ 11:26 am

      Hi Kylie,

      I love that cake from Amanda’s site! Unfortunately, this frosting is not as stable as a buttercream icing and the designs you pipe won’t stay. If you want, give it a try on a plate before trying it on an entire plate but I don’t think it will hold. :( On the other hand, the frosting tastes amazing which I think more than makes up for the fact that we can’t decorate with it. Good luck with your cake!


  37. 37
    Valerie — February 12, 2012 @ 9:28 am

    This cake looks fabulous! I love chocolate cake with a non-chocolate frosting, and your vanilla pudding, cream cheese, Cool Whip recipe sounds amazing! :)


  38. 38
    joy — February 16, 2012 @ 11:19 am

    Interesting recipe for frosting. I will have to give it a try!


  39. 39
    diane — February 21, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    Oh my goodness. Made this yesterday for my mother’s birthday lunch. It was delicious and we all gobbled it up. I made it with a simple cream cheese frosting. I sent the leftovers home with the family, as I can not be trusted with it! Thanks for sharing and it is truly the best chocolate cake and very easy to make!


  40. 40
    Marie — February 25, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    Did The cake last night and it was sooo good! It wasm’t dry and my family loved it! Thank u for the recipe!
    Just the Icing wasn’t perfect, i think we don’t have the same ingridients here in Vienna.


    • JulieD replied: March 30th, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

      So glad you liked the cake! So sorry the icing didn’t come out though. I really appreciate you coming back & letting me know you tried it! :)


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