Black Magic Cake #Variations on a theme

This is, without exception, my favorite chocolate cake. I was first introduced to this luscious, intensely chocolate bundt-type cake in 1995 when I picked up a copy of New Kosher Cuisine for All Seasons by Feuerstadt and Strauss.  It was a non-dairy version titled Shabbat Chocolate Cake, and it was the first time I was introduced to the idea of adding coffee to a chocolate cake to make it taste richer. Most people know about pairing certain fruits, such as raisins, with chocolate to make the chocolate taste sweeter without any additional white sugar. More recently people have taken to pairing wine with chocolate, for much the same reason.
The recipe states in the introduction that it is based off a Black Magic Cake recipe, and for that, I had to search with my Google-Fu. It wasn’t a long search – Hershey’s Cocoa made that recipe famous by putting it on the back of the can sometime in the 1970’s. It’s all over the web, and it’s pretty basic. I like the version I have – it’s very rich, and one cake pan can make easily 16 servings of this cake, possibly more if you slice it thinner. No one will complain, it’s just moist and rich, and if you dollop some salted caramel sauce on it, this becomes downright decadent.

What are the variations?

Well, I found this in a book on Kosher cooking, and it was made non-dairy by using margarine and soy milk. One can certainly use buttermilk and butter if one is ok with using dairy (the original recipe calls for both), or regular milk if there is no buttermilk on hand. It works out well. But what if you don’t want dairy AND you don’t want to use margarine? I would make an educated guess and substitute applesauce for the melted butter – it may not affect the texture too much. I would more probably substitute coconut oil, as it is solid at room temperature. You could also use coconut milk as well (not the canned stuff, the coconut milk that is in the dairy case along with the almond, cashew, hazelnut and soy milk) These additions might change the flavor a little, adding a coconut flavor to the cake, but its chocolate and coconut goes well with it so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

One could make this cake vegan – it takes two eggs, but if you substitute a 1/4 cup of mashed banana for one egg, and use the flax seed egg replacement for the other egg, combined with the coconut oil and nut milk, it could work. This might require experimentation on my part – it’s purely conjecture.

One could make this cake sugarless – I would probably choose to use an Erithrytol-Stevia blend to replace the 2-1/4 cups sugar. Again, I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t say. I’d probably be more likely to try using turbinado sugar in it instead of making it completely sugar-free or at least using a combination of the two to have it contain less sugar.

One could make this cake gluten-free by using the 1 for 1 flour substitute from Bob’s Red Mill, or the King Arthur Flour Gluten Free flour blend. I have found that both work well when I’ve used them for other cakes. I’m tempted to try using almond flour. Coconut flour tends to absorb a lot of liquid I have been told, and that might not work well for this cake.

Could you do a gluten-free vegan version of this cake? Possibly, as long as no one has a nut allergy.

I could tweak this a million different ways, given time enough and cocoa enough, but for now I’m just going to stick with the simple version.

A couple of notes on this cake:

  1. It is a WET batter. This has 2 cups of liquid BEFORE you add eggs or melted butter/margarine/coconut oil. If you are using applesauce to substitute for eggs, only sub for ONE egg.
  2. It will fit in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, just add 5 or 10 minutes to the baking time.
  3. Make sure you grease and flour your pan well. Especially the bundt style pans.
  4. Use the BIG bundt pan. I would suggest a Nordicware traditional Bundt pan. And definitely put a sheet pan on the rack under the cake pan – this batter sometimes likes to climb the inner hole.

Yields 12 servings

Black Magic Cake

25 minPrep Time

45 minCook Time

1 hr, 10 Total Time

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Recipe Image


  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or just use 1-3/4 cup white flour)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa (I prefer to use Penzey's High Fat Cocoa. Droste is also good)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (or non-dairy margarine)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup espresso (2 teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 cup hot water)
  • 1 cup milk (or buttermilk or plain soy milk or almond milk)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-15 cup bundt pan (anything smaller and your batter will crawl out through the center hole)
  2. Combine flours, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and soda in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat for about 2 minutes. Batter will be THIN.
  3. Pour into bundt pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean. If baking in a 9 by 13 pan, bake for 50 minutes.



3295 cal


159 g


527 g


44 g
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