Chocolate Cake Recipe

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This is my favorite chocolate cake, it’s truly the best.  It’s a 3-layers of homemade chocolate cake with a rich chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s covered with a chocolate ganache drip. 

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.

homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe

You guys, this chocolate cake is everything you could ever want in a cake.  A 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.

Normally the two of us are pretty resistant to desserts these days. But 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 forget the fact that we ate this whole cake by ourselves.

This has become our go-to cake for birthdays, or in our case, Valentine’s day. 

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

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 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.
  • Whole eggs 
  • Pure vanilla extract: Be sure you get a high-quality REAL vanilla extract.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream helps keeps these cupcakes very 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, these 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 is essential for keeping the cupcakes 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:

  • 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.

Tips to prepare your cake pans for baking:

  • 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
  • Coat the grease with a mixture of flour and cocoa powder. Lightly dust and then empty any remaining flour out of the pans
  • 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 this 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 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.

How to assemble this 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

How to make this cake with other 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

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!

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 this cake ahead of time

Prepare the cake layer 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.

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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 (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: chocolate cake recipe, best chocolate cake, easy chocolate cake, homemade chocolate cake, moist chocolate cake

124 Responses
  1. Monica

    Could I use sunflower oil in place of Vegetable oil? I live in Spain and its hard to find anything except sunflower or olive oil. Thanks!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Monica- I’ve never used sunflower oil, but if it’s similar to vegetable oil that it would probably work.

  2. Manali

    Your recipe is so easy and simple to understand… You have boosted my confidence to bake and decorate the cake for my daughter’s birthday. Will share the pics soon…

  3. Dilshad Fahad

    Can I use melted margarine instead of oil? Will it change the consistency in any way? Need to make for a birthday. Please let me know..

    1. Beyond Frosting

      I have not made this recipe with melted margarine myself but melted butter would be a suitable substitute. Any variation of the original recipe will not produce the same results, but the melted butter in place of oil will still bake fine and taste good!

  4. soph

    I’m excited to try this one out, however I only have 9 inch pans. I saw that you adjust the baking time, but was curious to whether I could still do three layers (even if they wouldn’t be as thick). Would there be a baking time adjustment or would you just recommend sticking with two 9 inch layers?

  5. Ann

    This cake looks amazing and plan on making it these days. I was wondering if I could half the sugar as 10 cups is a ridiculous amount of sugar.My kids never had store bought desert, and everything I make,I usually half the amount of sugar,or in some recipes I use maple syrup. I am scared I will send my family into a diabetic coma 😁.
    Thank you.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Ann- For frosting, a standard ratio is 2 cups of powdered sugar for every 1/2 cup of butter. You are welcome to reduce the powdered sugar, and you’ll get less yield for the frosting. If you halve the sugar, you’ll probably want to reduce the butter. You might consider just using less frosting on the cake, and making a half recipe or something. I hope you enjoy this cake.

    1. Claire Wynne

      Sorry also if I’m would it be ok to make the day before and then frost on the day to give to someone … and how long does it keep with having cream … can’t wait to try it , it looks lovely x

    2. Beyond Frosting

      Depends how thick you want the layers. This recipe will make 2 thick layers of 8 inch cake. With 4 layers the cake would be really quite tall. You can 1×5 times the recipe and that would be more than sufficient.

  6. JoAnne F

    My family loved this cake! I need to work on applying the ganache HAHA..I think I was so anxious to work with the overlay of the ganache drip that i poured a little too much on some of parts the but it was still pretty and tasted fabulous! Definitely will make it again.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Awesome! Thank you JoAnne, I love this! If you aren’t using a piping bag, try using a spoon to pour the ganache over the cake.

  7. Nish Nush

    This recipe didnt work for me. My cake came out chewy in texture. Didnt rise well (maybe that’s on me) but the texture i would blame adding in all the liquid ingredients together at the same time. Oh well …

  8. 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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