The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details

This easy Chocolate Cake recipe is one of my all time favorites! It’s a 3-layers of homemade chocolate cake with a rich chocolate buttercream frosting. The whole thing is topped off with a simple ganache that adds even more chocolate flavor!

A big slice of chocolate cake with layered of chocolate frosting and finished with a chocolate ganache.

Easy Homemade Chocolate Cake

You guys, this chocolate cake is everything you could ever want in a cake.  Fluffy and moist chocolate cake, whipped chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache. It doesn’t get much better than this. 

They say the proof is in the pudding, but in this case, the proof is in the cake. My husband hardly ever eats any of my desserts. He is the most particular person when it comes to chocolate cake.

With our wedding come up both of us are trying to control our dessert cravings. But I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that the two of us actually ate this entire cake over 4-5 days. Let’s chalk it up to pre-honeymoon stress and forget the fact that the two of us ate a whole cake by ourselves.

This chocolate cake is perfect for celebrating birthdays, Valentines Day or just baking up the best chocolate cake you could dream of. You deserve it!

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

What You’ll Need

Even though this chocolate cake looks all kinds of fancy, the truth is that you only need a few simple ingredients to make it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Vegetable oil: Oil tends to make cakes more moist than a recipe with butter. It also makes the crumb and texture a bit more tender and tighter.
  • Eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract: Be sure you get a high-quality REAL vanilla extract.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream helps keep this cake moist.
  • Dry Ingredients: All-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt. 
  • Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Espresso powder (optional): Sometimes I also like to add espresso powder to chocolate cakes, it helps intensify the chocolate flavor. The espresso powder is optional, or can be substituted for a fine ground coffee or omitted. 
  • Brewed Coffee: Coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavor, but don’t worry, the cake don’t taste like coffee at all. Hot coffee is preferred.

Ingredient Substitutions

I don’t recommend ingredient substitutions whenever possible, but know that sometimes they are necessary. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sour cream: This is essential for keeping the cakes moist. If you don’t have sour cream. I recommend substituting with non-fat Greek yogurt. The recipe calls for light sour cream, but you can also use full-fat sour cream.
  • Brewed Coffee: I recommend using milk instead, but only if needed. 
an overhead shot of the ingredients for chocolate cupcakes

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.

How to Make Chocolate Cake

Ok are you ready to make the best chocolate cake ever? Here’s how to do it:

  • Prep:  Preheat your oven to 350F. Prep your cake pans.
  • Mix wet ingredients: Start by combing the granulated sugar with the, eggs, oil and vanilla extract and beat them together until fluffy. Then add sour cream and beat until well combined.
  • Combine dry ingredients
  • Alternate adding half the wet and dry ingredients at a time and beat until incorporated. 
  • Pour into prepared pans dividing the batter evenly.
  • Bake: These cakes bake at 350F for 20-24 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking to allow for even baking.
  • Cool to room temperature before frosting.

Preparing Your Cake Pans for Baking

Believe it or not, how you prepare your cake pans can have a huge impact on the finished product. Why? Because a properly prepped cake pan allows your cake to bake throughout and also makes it easier for you to remove the cake from the pan after it’s cooled. Here is how I prep my pans for this chocolate cake recipe:

  • Line the pans: I recommend lining the bottom of my pans with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone baking mat. This helps the cake easily release from the pan.
  • Grease the sides of the pan with Crisco vegetable spread
  • Add flour: Coat the grease with a mixture of flour and cocoa powder. Lightly dust and then empty any remaining flour out of the pans
  • For flat cake tops: I recommend using bake even stripes to help make these cake flatter on top, which means less of a dome and less wasted cake!

The Best Frosting for Chocolate Cake

For this cake, I made my traditional chocolate frosting, 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. It’s gives this frosting an extra rich and deep chocolate flavor. 

You can make this buttercream with any type of cocoa powder, but Rodelle a high-quality ingredient and it really comes through in the taste.

My secret for making my frosting recipe is that I start with cold butter, not room temperature butter. I spend several minutes beating the frosting in the beginning. Essentially, the mixer is softening the butter for you, but this base give you perfect whipped and fluffy frosting. 

A spatula filled chocolate chocolate frosting sitting overtop of a glass mixing bowl

How to make the frosting

  • Whip the cold butter. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter is very soft and whipped. 
  • Add cocoa powder and beat until combine.
  • Add powdered sugar, whipping cream and vanilla extract. Alternate adding 2-3 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients. Add a pinch of salt if needed. With each addition of powdered sugar, be sure to beat the frosting really well.
  • Beat until fluffy 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 1/2 tablespoon at a time.

How to Make the Chocolate Ganache

  • The chocolate ganache should be a 3:1 ratio of heavy cream to chocolate. Microwave the chocolate together with the heavy cream in 30 second increments, stirring as needed.
  • 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 15- 20 minutes.
  • Use a small squirt bottle, holding it directly over the edge of your cake. Squeeze out more ganache for a longer or thicker drizzle.
  • I also recommend allowing the ganache on the top of the cake to set before adding the swirls of chocolate frosting on top. Otherwise the frosting may cause the ganache to shift.

Assembling the Cake

If you’re new to making layer cakes, I have a full cake tutorial from start to finish. I’ve also included a video of this recipe which might help.

  • Level your cakes: Remove any domes with a serrated knife. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake over that.
  • Add frosting between layers: Pipe the first layer of frosting, pipe in circles working outside edge to the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Repeat for second and third layers.
  • Add remaining frosting. Use your offset spatula to press any excess frosting onto the edges of the cake to create a crumb coating. 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. Refrigerate the cake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Drizzle ganache. Use a spoon or piping bag to drizzle the ganache along the edges of the cake. Allow the ganache to set.
  • Decorate: To pipe the rosettes on top, use a large piping bag fitted with a large open star, fill the piping bag with the remaining frosting and pipe the boarder of the cake.
A wide angle shot of a baked chocolate cake layer in a metal pan

Need to Use Different pan Sizes?

I am frequently asked how to make recipes in pan sizes other than what is in the recipe. Here is how to make this chocolate cake in some of the most common alternate pan sizes:

  • For two 9-inch cakes: bake for 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.
  • 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. Try baking for 18-20 minutes and assessing additional time needed from there
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.

How to Store a Frosted Cake

This cake is best stored at room temperature in an airtight container such as a cake carrier. If you live in a hot or humid environment, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature.

How to make Cake Ahead of Time

Prepare the cake layers up to 2 days in advance. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap with a piece of parchment paper on the top and bottom of the cake layer. Or these can also be stored in an airtight container. Cake layers can also be frozen, double wrap in plastic wrap.

The frosting can also be prepared 1-2 days in advance, and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. You’ll need to remix it prior to using it.

More chocolate Cake Recipes you’ll love

Follow Beyond Frosting:

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram 

If you love no-bake recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, No-Bake Treats!

 

Print
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. And to top it all off, this cake is covered with a chocolate ganache drip. It’s chocolate overload and you won’t regret it.

Ingredients

For the cake:

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

For the frosting:

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

For the ganache:

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

Instructions

For the cake: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare 3 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare the 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 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. 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.
  4. 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.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.

For the frosting: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 1/2 tablespoon at a time.

For the chocolate ganache: 

  1. 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.

To assemble this cake: 

  1. Level the cake layer by removing any domes. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake over that.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Refrigerate the cake for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Use a spoon or piping bag to drizzle the ganache along the edges of the cake. All the ganache to set completely. 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

Ingredient substitutions:

  • Sour cream  I recommend substituting with non-fat Greek yogurt. The recipe calls for light sour cream, but you can also use full-fat sour cream.
  • Brewed Coffee: I recommend using milk instead, but only if needed.
  • Cocoa powder: I prefer to use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder for the cake and regular or dutch processed cocoa powder for the frosting.

Storing a finished cake: This cake is best stored at room temperature in an airtight container such as a cake carrier. If you live in a hot or humid environment, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. This cake can be made up to 2 days in advance if stored properly.

Preparing in advance:  Prepare the cake layers up to 2 days in advance. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap with a piece of parchment paper on the top and bottom of the cake layer. Or these can also be stored in an airtight container. Cake layers can also be frozen, double wrap in plastic wrap. The frosting can also be prepared 1-2 days in advance, and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. You’ll need to remix it prior to using it.

Cake Pan Sizes:

  • 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: best chocolate cake recipe, easy chocolate cake, homemade chocolate cake

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

I accept the Privacy Policy

132 Responses
  1. Nat

    I put the espresso and coffee as the recipe said and my cake tastes exactly like it:( should I have used one or the other? Instead of both?

5 BAKE FROM SCRATCH SECRETS!
Subscribe to my newsletter and get my fav tips to take your cakes & cupcakes to the next level.