Hershey's "perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake - What Am I Doing Wrong?! :(

Baking By Pingpong Updated 24 Jun 2016 , 5:51am by ChianChiew

Pingpong Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 7:11pm
post #1 of 42

I'm from the UK and discovered this recipe on Youtube, and I must say it looked amazing, so I gave it a go but all 4 of my attempts failed.

reading reviews online and specifically this site, everyone seems to have great success with the cake

The link: https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/en-us/recipes/Cakes-Cupcakes/184/hersheys-perfectly-chocolate-chocolate-cake

The cake has consistently failed to cook properly and has a dense texture akin to brownies and not like that of a moist cake.

Since I'm from the UK I've had to convert measurements to metric for each dry ingredient separately (since they have varying masses):

the original measurements:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

  • My converted measurements:
  • 220g plain flour
  • 400g sugar 
  • 85g cocoa
  • 1.5 tsp of both baking powder and soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 236ml milk
  • 236ml water
  • 118ml oil
  • 2 eggs

  • 350 farenheight converted to gas mark 4, for 35 minutes in a 23 cm tin.
  • What am I doing wrong?! Is it the conversions? The bake time? 
  • Can't be the oven since all other recipes I've tried have cooked perfectly in it.


41 replies
littlejewel Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 8:14pm
post #2 of 42

I'm sure you are an experienced baker. Although I have never baked this cake before,  I do have lots of baking experience. I have had a problem when I asked my husband's family for recipe,  Their British measurements did not translate well for me (Pie and cookies).  I tend to think the conversion messed it up for you. My understanding is that American measuring spoons are different than European and Asian measures.  Do you have a conversion chart, and if so which one did you use to compare the differences?

MKC Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 8:27pm
post #3 of 42

I've converted my recipes too and changed a few things from the original Hershey recipe:

 

240 gr flour

400 gr sugar

185 ml of water (there was too much water in the original recipe)

250 gr of sour cream (many have made this change)

 30 gr of semi sweet chocolate

125 ml oil (vegetable)

70 gr cocoa (mine is a very dark red and I need less than the original recipe) 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

 

I mix the sugar, water, semi sweet chocolate and cocoa together. Put it in the microwave for 2 minutes and mix until the sugar has dissolve. Let cool for 10 min.  Then I add the other ingredients. I remove it from the oven (350) when it's ready (using the toothpick method).

 

Good luck! 

Nancylou Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 9:28pm
post #4 of 42

Silly question, but you are using two, 23 cm pans right?  Also, I agree with MKC about the changes - using sour cream instead of milk and lowering the baking soda and powder to 1 tsp. each.  There is a great conversation about this cake here:


http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/742949/need-modiified-hershey-perfectly-chocolate-cake-recipe


Please don't give up on this cake ... it really is worth it.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 10:29pm
post #5 of 42

You are using regular non-alkalized cocoa and not Dutch -processed cocoa, right? Also, in the days of this old recipe, they baked with full fat milk.  And the pans were only

SquirrellyCakes Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 10:35pm
post #6 of 42

Sorry, don't know why that posted before I was done. So in the days when that recipe came out the pans were only 1.5 inches deep or 3.81 cm not the 2 inch deep or 5.08 cm.  So if you are expecting a 2 inch high or 5.08 cm high cake, you won't get it. So make sure you are using natural non-alkalized cocoa and full fat milk.

Pingpong Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 11:31pm
post #7 of 42


Quote by @Nancylou on 1 hour ago

Silly question, but you are using two, 23 cm pans right?  Also, I agree with MKC about the changes - using sour cream instead of milk and lowering the baking soda and powder to 1 tsp. each.  There is a great conversation about this cake here:


http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/742949/need-modiified-hershey-perfectly-chocolate-cake-recipe


Please don't give up on this cake ... it really is worth it.

Yes, I'm using two 23 cm tins, and no I don't want to give up, I've tried 4 times already, a few more attempts won't hurt, though I hate wasting ingredients

Pingpong Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 11:32pm
post #8 of 42


Quote by @SquirrellyCakes on 56 minutes ago

Sorry, don't know why that posted before I was done. So in the days when that recipe came out the pans were only 1.5 inches deep or 3.81 cm not the 2 inch deep or 5.08 cm.  So if you are expecting a 2 inch high or 5.08 cm high cake, you won't get it. So make sure you are using natural non-alkalized cocoa and full fat milk.

I'm using Cadbury's Bourneville unsweetened cocoa powder, and yes I used full fat milk

Pingpong Posted 19 Jun 2015 , 11:34pm
post #9 of 42


Quote by @MKC on 3 hours ago

I've converted my recipes too and changed a few things from the original Hershey recipe:

 

240 gr flour

400 gr sugar

185 ml of water (there was too much water in the original recipe)

250 gr of sour cream (many have made this change)

 30 gr of semi sweet chocolate

125 ml oil (vegetable)

70 gr cocoa (mine is a very dark red and I need less than the original recipe) 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

 

I mix the sugar, water, semi sweet chocolate and cocoa together. Put it in the microwave for 2 minutes and mix until the sugar has dissolve. Let cool for 10 min.  Then I add the other ingredients. I remove it from the oven (350) when it's ready (using the toothpick method).

 

Good luck! 

So the general idea is to reduce the amount of liquid? It did look like a very runny batter, but then again so did the youtuber's and her cake turned out perfect 

SquirrellyCakes Posted 20 Jun 2015 , 12:01am
post #10 of 42

I haven't made this cake in many years but I will try it again next week as I don't have time to experiment until then.

I will use my scale with your conversions Pingpong. The teaspoon you are using are 5 ml teaspoons, right? 

I will get back to you next week with the results.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 20 Jun 2015 , 1:33am
post #11 of 42

I have never had any consistent results with that cake.  If it doesn't have undercooked spots it sticks to the pan!  I abandoned that recipe a long time ago and tweaked my own until I got it right. 

MKC Posted 20 Jun 2015 , 4:18am
post #12 of 42

Yes, there's too much water and liquids. Now I have consistent results and it's just moist enough. I added the chocolate because it gives it more depth and richness.

Nancylou Posted 20 Jun 2015 , 6:11am
post #13 of 42

Your measurements are good according to my scale ... everything looks good, it really doesn't make sense why it's not working. 

roxylee123 Posted 21 Jun 2015 , 10:54am
post #14 of 42

I'm in the UK to and have made the recipe a few times and never had any problems with it. I bought cup measures for around £2 in asda and use the amounts stated and usually use semi skimmed milk because that's usually what I have in. I use cadburys bournville cocoa or asda cocoa. I split the mixture and bake in two 8" tins and they come out lovely every time

I've never had problems with it sticking to the tin either I grease them with homemade cake release and line the bases with parchment paper and the pop out fine.

sykescakes Posted 22 Jun 2015 , 2:27pm
post #15 of 42

I am surprised to hear that people have trouble with this recipe. It has been never fail chocolate cake for years. The only tweak that I do is use buttermilk instead of regular milk. Comes out moist and delish every time. One time I even forgot to add the sugar till I poured it in the pan and had a taste test off the rubber spatula. I poured it back into the mixing bowl added the sugar, then put it back into the pan and it still came out great. After that I thought this recipe really is never fail. Maybe there are some ingredient differences between the countries?

sykescakes Posted 22 Jun 2015 , 2:44pm
post #16 of 42

Oh also instead of using boiling water I use coffee! It helps bring out the chocolate flavor.

jmt1714 Posted 11 Jul 2015 , 4:27pm
post #17 of 42

The American recipe is by volume. Are you measuring by weight possibly?

jmt1714 Posted 11 Jul 2015 , 4:29pm
post #18 of 42

Oh. And you can use either type of cocoa. I do that sometimes and alternate layers to get a striped effect. 

The batter is incredibly runny.   liquid, in fact.  This is my go to chocolate cake. 

SquirrellyCakes Posted 11 Jul 2015 , 4:49pm
post #19 of 42

Oh deaf, I forgot all about this thread. I said I would test out the recipe again. I will do it this week. My apologies Pingpong.

NFerello Posted 11 Jul 2015 , 4:50pm
post #20 of 42

I am American and have converted this recipe. And my conversions are different than yours. I always make it as such:

400 g sugar

228 g flour

66 grams Unsweetened Hershey's Cocoa

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water OR fresh cup of coffee 

SquirrellyCakes Posted 11 Jul 2015 , 4:51pm
post #21 of 42

That should read, "Oh dear".

indydebi Posted 13 Jul 2015 , 5:03am
post #22 of 42

This is also my "go-to" chocolate cake. Can the OP share how her cakes turned out? (did they fall? not rise well? end up gooey? overflow the pan?) Maybe that would help pin point the differences.  I did learn the hard way the water really does have to be "boiling".  Just out of the faucet won't work!  Agree the a previous post that this is very very liquid and runny .... not "batter" consistency like we are used to.  But bakes up great.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 6:50pm
post #23 of 42

I have baked these and am awaiting cooling and icing them.

I agree with N. Ferrello, your cocoa measurement is off. I get 60 grams of cocoa when I weigh the 3/4 cup of cocoa.  N. Ferrello  gets  66.

Sometimes measuring cups are not accurate. I purchased dollar store measuring cups made in China and they were nowhere near accurate when I compared them with my Tupperware cups. The measuring spoons were even worse. Also bear in mind that tablespoons made in Australia or New Zealand are 20 ml not 15 as they are in Canada, the U. S. and Britain.

N. Ferrello gets 400 g of sugar as do you and so do I.  N.Ferrello gets 228g flour, you get 220g and both MKC and I get 240g. Nancylou gets all the same amounts as you do. I think you made an error calculating the cocoa.

This all goes to show us that people who say scales are more accurate than measuring cups are not 100% correct. Even the same brand of scale can have different results.

I have measured out the batter to be just under 6 cups and am baking it as three layers in 8 inch pans  - buttered, floured and lined with parchment. I poured just under 2 cups of batter into  two older Wilton Decorator -preferred two inch deep 8 inch round pans and also into an old 1 1/2 inch deep Supreme Aluminum pan from the 1970's. Proved what I said in the past about how if you put the same amount of batter you would use for a two inch cake into a three inch deep pan you will get a higher cake than if you baked it in a two inch deep pan. Well the cakes in the 2 inch deep pans when cooled are 1 1/4" high. They flattened while cooling so no need to level. This happens sometimes with some recipes. The 1 1/2 inch deep pan produces a cake that is flat but only 3/4 " high.  

I have made the icing and once the cakes are cooled and iced and cut and sampled, I will post results. 

Nancylou Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 8:54pm
post #24 of 42

I agree Squirrelly Cakes, it's scary how much measuring cups can vary.   By the way, I should point out that my measurements weren't exactly the same as PingPongs, but close enough that her cake should still have turned out.  Mine are as follows:  Sugar:  406 g, A/P Flour:  218 g, Cocoa:  75 g.


Going back to the original post, PingPong said her cake was dense like brownies, maybe her baking powder had expired, which would explain the density.




SquirrellyCakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 9:03pm
post #25 of 42

Could well be Nancylou. Also, I think the variance in the cocoa is a big deal since even a tablespoon makes a difference. Also the type of milk used- if it is whole or skim or 1 or 2%. Older recipes generally used whole fat milk while newer ones use 2%. But if you use skim instead you miss out on the fat.  I will be cutting and sampling my results in the next hour or so.

indydebi Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 9:49pm
post #26 of 42

Quote: Also the type of milk used- if it is whole or skim or 1 or 2%. Older recipes generally used whole fat milk while newer ones use 2%. But if you use skim instead you miss out on the fat. 

--------------------------------------

I buy whatever milk is on sale. I've bought whole milk. It's common for me to use skim, 1%, 2% all in the same month.  Cake turns out fine no matter what milk is used.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 11:36pm
post #27 of 42

The amount of fat in the milk that you use in a recipe can affect the cake results. If you make cake mixes, experiment by using skim instead of water. Then try whole milk instead. In my experience there is quite a difference and in my baking experience in general I do find a big difference. Not so much when 2% is used instead of whole in some recipes. But it is much the same as when we use fat free or reduced fat sour cream in a recipe calling for regular sour cream or when we use fat free yogurt in place of full fat yogurt. Will a recipe work? In most cases yes. Will the results be the same? In most cases no. I can make a cheesecake from fat-free creamcheese, reduced fat creamcheese and full fat creamcheese. They all turn out but they all have different textures and a different feel in the mouth.

If for example, she used skim milk and a greater amount of cocoa than called for, that would affect results.

If you use whole milk in a recipe designed for skim milk, it can affect the way the cake rises - sometimes causing cracking on top etc.

Everyone has their own experiences and their own opinions. These are just mine based on the 51 years I have been baking mainly from scratch and from cookbooks ranging from the early 1900's to today's. That is why I compare types of milks and ingredients and methods and pans used.

Back to the experiment - for some reason I cannot attach more than two pictures to my pin about the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake on my Pinterest account. But you can find them on my experiments account under SquirrellyCakes.

I followed the original recipe exactly.

I managed to drop the thinner layer( that I described in my above post about the results of the three layers) - on the counter. So you may notice the cake looks a bit messy.

We found it has a nice moist crumb and tastes very good. For my tastebuds, it is a bit too chocolatey. The icing recipe makes a nice smooth, non-crusting icing that spreads very well. I doubled it to fill and frost the three layer cake. It reminds me of the Sara Bernhardt Ganache that was on the sites about 10 years ago. For my taste again a bit too chocolatey. But if you like chocolate that is 70% cocoa or more - then I think this cake and icing will be a hit with you.

This icing would work well for the buttercream rosette style and the rustic and palette knife looks.

I think that likely the miscalculation of the amount of cocoa was the issue for Pingpong. Perhaps baking it just until that toothpick no longer has wet batter on it might be the answer.

Personally, I prefer the Elisa Strauss Chocolate Cake recipe from Confetti Cakes ( when the correction to the baking time is applied). It just tastes a bit less chocolatey although it is still pretty strong flavoured.

Pingpong, if you are reading this, my apologies. I completely forgot about testing this recipe. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you.

bubs1stbirthday Posted 16 Jul 2015 , 12:32am
post #28 of 42

I use that recipe too - however I did make one major adjustment to the amount of flour and one minor one to the cocoa as I find that the recipe made as it is stated is far too soft to work with and easily falls apart and the extra cocoa makes it chocolatey enough for us. I make fine as follows (mine is a half recipe as I only bake for us at home and mainly use 6 inch tins)

200gm Caster Sugar

165gm P.Flour (so that is 50%more than the recipe calls for)

40gm Cocoa Powder (whatever I have on hand and more than the recipe calls for)

3gm Baking Powder   :   3gm Baking Soda    :  3gm Salt

1 Egg (from 700gm carton)   :   120gm Milk   :    45gm Oil (60ml)   :   5ml Vanilla Extract  

 120gm Boiling water.


Always bakes up soft and fluffy (yet somewhat deliciously dense at the same time). Mine makes two 3-4 cm high cakes when baked in 6 inch round tins.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 16 Jul 2015 , 1:03am
post #29 of 42

bubs1stbirthday, maybe Pingpong will have better luck with your adjusted version of the recipe.  Interesting that your experience prior to adjusting the recipe was that it broke apart too easily and Pingpong found it too dense. You used quite a bit more flour to a bit more cocoa to get better results. Thank you for your input.

I am in Canada and the majority of the ingredients we use are similar to the ones the Americans use although the protein counts in our flours are a bit different. I wonder if the variances in egg sizes and possible differences in the leavenings is at issue here. I know that the sugar used sometimes is of a different size of grain. I tried to use a more fine granulated sugar which matched the weight Pingpong used. I have noted a difference in my own baking results recently since switching to a finer sugar.

This experiment has been very interesting with everyone's input and experience and observations.



Nancylou Posted 16 Jul 2015 , 1:52am
post #30 of 42

To continue with the puzzlement of this recipe, I just weighed out a Tablespoon of cocoa and it is 7 grams on my scale.  That means there is a difference of nearly 3 Tablespoons between your cocoa amount (SquirrellyCakes) at 60 grams and PingPongs at 80 grams, that is huge!  

I agree, this has been interesting, and for me, such a learning experience -  I am still in the first decade of my baking journey.

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