Chocolate Cake Recipe

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This Chocolate Cake Recipe truly is the BEST EVER! You HAVE TO try it! It’s a 3-layer, super moist chocolate cake with a rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s covered with a chocolate ganache drip. It’s chocolate overload and you won’t regret it. 

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A mouthwatering photos of a big slice of chocolate cake with layered of chocolate frosting and finished with a chocolate ganache. The slice is laying sideways on a white rimmed plate.

When I first made my Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe, I didn’t think it could get any better. Between the chocolate cream cheese frosting and the light and fluffy chocolate cake, I was already in heaven.

When it came time to make this recipe into a chocolate layer cake, I had to be very thoughtful about what frosting I would choose.

This Chocolate Cake Recipe truly is the BEST EVER! And I don’t use that term lightly. It’s a 3-layer moist chocolate cake with a rich melt-in-your-mouth chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s covered with a chocolate ganache drip.

An overhead view of the top of a chocolate cake that is swirled with chocolate ganache, chocolate sprinkled and covered with chocolate frosting rosettes.

This chocolate cake recipe, I’m not sure I can be topped. It is AMMMMAZZZZing

You see, my husband hardly ever eats any of my desserts. He is the most particular person when it comes to chocolate cake.

I actually made this Chocolate Cake Recipe a couple times. The cake itself was fantastic but he didn’t like my frosting the first time. He said it wasn’t chocolaty enough and a little sweet. Challenge accepted.

When I remade the cake for the second time, I increased the cocoa powder and tweaked the heavy cream a little bit.  This time I had a real winner. The frosting was perfection.

A peek inside a 3 layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The cake is covered with ganache and a rosette of frosting.

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that the two of us actually ate the entire cake over 4-5 days. Let’s chalk it up to pre-honeymoon stress and forgot the fact that we ate this whole cake by ourselves.

But if this is any indicator for you, the both of us have a pretty high tolerance to resist desserts, yet we just couldn’t help ourselves!!

I don’t want you to be intimidated by the layer cake. YOU can do it! And you’ll be the hero of the party because this cake will most definitely impress.

A tall slice of chocolate cake on a white plate drizzled with chocolate. The plate is surrounded by sliced strawberries.

Let’s break down the elements of this chocolate Cake Recipe.

How to make a homemade chocolate cake recipe:

  • Start by combing the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract and beat them together until fluffy. Then add sour cream and beat until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combined the dry ingredients, which I recommend sifting together so they better incorporate into the batter. If you don’t have a sifter, you can also use a fine sieve.
  • For the cocoa powder, I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder for the cake. You can definitely use regular cocoa powder as well, but I am a dark chocolate person.
  • Sometimes I also like to add espresso powder to chocolate cakes, I think it helps intensify the chocolate flavor. The espresso powder is optional, or can be substituted for a fine ground coffee.
  • Then, add half the dry ingredients to the batter followed by half of the liquid ingredients and beat until combined.
  • The liquid ingredient in this cake is brewed coffee. You can use hot or cold coffee. The coffee is what helps give this cake the extra dark color. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • To bake the cake, I used my 8-inch round baking pans. The bottom and sides of the pans should be well greased and lightly floured. I like to add a little cocoa powder to the flour as well. I fill each pan with about 1 2/3 cups of batter.

I also line the bottom of my pans with pavement paper or a Silpat silicone baking mat. This helps the cake easily release from the pan.

Lastly, I also recommend using bake even stripes to help make these cake flatter on top, which means less of a dome and less wasted cake!

An side view of the top of a chocolate cake that is swirled with chocolate ganache, chocolate sprinkled and covered with chocolate frosting rosettes. Sliced strawberries surround the cake.

What can I substitute for the coffee?

If you’d like to substitute the coffee for another liquid ingredient, I recommend trying hot water or milk, or a combination of the two. The coffee does help highlight the chocolate flavor in combination with the espresso powder.

What can I substitute for the sour cream?

A get a lot of questions about substitutions for sour cream. I use light sour cream, it’s a little less dense than a full-fat sour cream. If you don’t have sour cream, I recommend using a nonfat Greek Yogurt.

Can I substitute buttermilk for sour cream?

I’ve never actually done this but because there is already quite a bit of liquid in this cake, I do not recommend substituting sour cream with buttermilk.

An overhead shot of a 3 layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, with a couple of bites taken out of it laying on a white rimmed plate.

Can I use a Dutch processed cocoa powder for this recipe?

Yes, you can! I have tested this recipe with my favorite Dutch processed cocoa powder from Rodelle . In order to make this chocolate cake with a dutch processed cocoa, adjust the baking powder to 2 teaspoons and then ADD 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (so 1 teaspoon total). The amount of cocoa powder is 1 to 1 with a regular unsweetened cocoa powder.

Can I bake this in 9-inch 0r 6-inch  pans? 

For two 9-inch cakes, they baked from 28-32 minutes. Baking times will vary due to how full the pans are, type of pans and true oven temperature. Please note these did “crust” a little more on the outside edge due to extended baking times and they rose quite a bite in the middle, so you’ll lose more of the “dome” of the cake.

For two 8-inch cakes, this should be baked for approximately 25-30 minutes, and about 2 1/4 cups of batter per pan and a batch of my BEST chocolate frosting recipe.

For 6-inch pans: a full recipe will make four 6-inch layers, filling each one with about 1 1/3 cup of batter and baking for approximately 22-28 minutes. 

For 10 inch pans: I’ve never tested this with 10 inch pans, but I would recommend a 2 layer cake so you still have nice, thick layers. Trying baking for 18-20 minutes and assessing additional time needed from there

How to make an easy chocolate frosting

 I have been talking about buttercream a lot lately and you’ll most definitely benefit from reading my tutorial about how to make buttercream frosting.

You’ll find several chocolate frosting recipes on my website ranging from chocolate cream cheese frosting to chocolate fudge frosting.

For this chocolate cake recipe, I made a traditional chocolate frosting based off one of my above recipes, but I chose to use Rodelle Baking Cocoa for the frosting.  It’s a Dutch processed cocoa powder with one of the highest concentrations of cocoa butter on the market.

That’s not to say that you can’t make this buttercream with another type of cocoa powder, but it’s a high-quality ingredient and it comes through in the taste.

A large chocolate cake on white cake plate. The cake is drizzled with chocolate ganache and covered with frosting rosettes.

This chocolate frosting recipe starts with cold butter. I believe that starting with cold butter allows you to better control the consistency of your frosting.

  • Cut the butter into pieces, one tablespoon in size. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter is very soft and increased in volume.
  • Next, beat the cocoa powder into the butter until well mixed, again, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
  • Next, add the powdered sugar. Alternate adding 2-3 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients to prevent the frosting from getting too thick. Add a pinch of salt as needed to cut the sweetness. After each addition of the cocoa power, make sure to beat it for a couple of minutes before adding more powdered sugar.
  • Once all ingredients have been added, whip for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is light and airy.

A giant slice of chocolate cake on a white rimmed plate with a lot of bites taken out of it.


Can I substitute milk for heavy cream in the frosting?

Yes, you definitely can, but I think the heavy cream not only makes the frosting a bit creamier, it helps increase the overall volume into the frosting.

What type of mixer should I use to make this frosting?

If you have a standard 5-quart mixer, you might consider making this frosting in 2 batches due to the sheer volume of frosting you need to make. This will allow you to whip the frosting to the proper consistency.

If you have a 6-quart mixer or bigger, you should be fine to make this in a single batch.

Can I make this chocolate frosting with a hand-held mixer?

You can, but if that’s the case I would recommend softening the butter for 10 seconds in the microwave, and you probably need to do it in 3 batches because the amount of ingredients needed. You’ll also spend more time beating at each stage to ensure its properly mixed.

A large chocolate cake on white cake plate. The cake is drizzled with chocolate ganache and covered with frosting rosettes. The cake is surrounded with sliced strawberries.

How to make an easy chocolate ganache

  • The best recommendation I have for chocolate ganache is to use a 3:1 ratio of heavy cream to chocolate. Microwave the chocolate together with the heavy cream in 30 second increments, stirring as needed.
  • Once it’s completely melted stir it until the cream in completely dissolved in the chocolate and it’s nice and smooth.
  • Allow the chocolate to cool. I like to drizzle the ganache on the side of a glass to see how far it will fall down the glass, if it’s too fast, the ganache is probably too hot still.
  • Be sure that your cake is completely cold before drizzling the ganache. Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.

I also recommend allowing the ganache on the top of the cake to set before adding the swirls of chocolate frosting on top. Use a small squirt bottle, holding it directly over the edge of your cake. Squeeze out more ganache for a longer or thicker drizzle.

A gorgeous slice of a 3 layer chocolate cake laying on a white plate with a rose gold fork. The larger cake is blurred out in the background.

This Chocolate Cake Recipe is the only one you’ll ever need! It’s a moist, fluffy chocolate cake with the best ever chocolate frosting recipe. For more chocolate cake recipes, be sure to visit my recipe index!

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A large chocolate cake on white cake plate. The cake is drizzled with chocolate ganache and covered with frosting rosettes.

Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 90 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices

Description

This Chocolate Cake Recipe truly is the BEST EVER! You HAVE TO try it! It’s a 3-layer, super moist chocolate cake with a rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s covered with a chocolate ganache drip. It’s chocolate overload and you won’t regret it. 

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (285g)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (118 ml)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (15 ml)
  • ½ cup light sour cream (118 ml)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (280g)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (55 g)
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder (5g) (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder (9 g)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda (2 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (5 g)
  • 1 ¼ cup coffee (355 ml)

For the frosting:

  • 3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter (689g)
  • 1 ½ cups cocoa powder (167g)
  • 910 cups powdered sugar (1171 g)
  • 34 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (44-58ml)
  • 1 tablespoons Rodelle pure vanilla extract (15ml)
  • Pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (56g)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (88ml)

Instructions

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare 3 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Alternate half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking.
  6. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. For the frosting: Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter looks light in color. Next, beat the cocoa powder into the butter until well mixed.
  8. Alternate adding 2-3 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients: vanilla extract & heavy cream. Add pinch of salt as needed. Ensure all the powdered sugar is well combined and beat for 2-3 minutes before adding additional powdered sugar.
  9. Once all ingredients have been added, whip for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is light and airy. If the frosting is too thick, add additional heavy whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time.
  10. For the chocolate ganache: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments and stir until completely combined. Allow to cool.
  11. To assemble this cake: level off your cakes by removing any domes. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake over that.
  12. Pipe the first layer of frosting, pipe in circles working outside edge to the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Add the second layer of cake and add the remaining frosting. Place the third layer of cake on top.
  13. Use you offset spatula to press any excess frosting onto the edges of the cake. To finish, pipe the frosting along the outside edge of the cake using a large open round tip or a cake icer tip. Then use an offset spatula or icing smoother to create a smooth edge.
  14. Use a spoon or piping bag to drizzle the ganache along the edges of the cake. To pipe the rosettes on top, use a large piping bag, fill the piping bag with the remaining frosting and pipe the boarder of the cake.

Notes

  • I prefer to use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder for the cake and regular or dutch processed cocoa powder for the frosting.
  • If you don’t have light sour cream, substitute nonfat Greek yogurt. If you don’t have light sour cream, regular will work but you can’t will be denser.
  • If you don’t want to use coffee, you can use hot water or milk
  • For two 9-inch cakes, they baked from 28-32 minutes. Baking times will vary due to how full the pans are, type of pans and true oven temperature. Please note these did “crust” a little more on the outside edge due to extended baking times and they rose quite a bite in the middle, so you’ll lose more of the “dome” of the cake.For two 8-inch cakes, this should be baked for approximately 25-30 minutes, and about 2 1/4 cups of batter per pan and 1 batch of my best chocolate frosting.

    For 6-inch pans: a full recipe will make four 6-inch layers, filling each one with about 1 1/3 cup of batter and baking for approximately 22-28 minutes.

    For 10 inch pans: I’ve never tested this with 10 inch pans, but I would recommend a 2 layer cake so you still have nice, thick layers. Trying baking for 18-20 minutes and assessing additional time needed from there

Nutrition Information:
1 Slice
1178
123.2g
391.9mg
65.7g
42.1g
151g
5.2g
7.9g
186.3mg
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Cake Recipe, Chocolate Layer Cake, Easy Chocolate Cake

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91 Responses
  1. Jessica

    Definitely going to try this, it looks amazing! Just to clarify… it’s over 1,000 calories for one slice of cake?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      This is estimated based on preparing the recipe using the entire ingredients lists and also dependent on how many slices you cut. But I think you’ll find that any slice of a cake in a bakery is equal to or more than- or most cake recipes on the internet 🙂

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