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Sink your teeth into this divinely decadent French Silk Chocolate Cake. This is a gorgeous layer cake recipe made from moist chocolate cake dressed in rich chocolate buttercream frosting, filled with crunchy chocolate layers of crispy rice cereal. It’s seriously the dreamiest dessert!
Dreamy French Silk Chocolate Layer Cake
Today’s chocolate cake recipe was inspired by Naomi Robinson’s French Silk Cake from her Baker’s Royale cookbook. I’d been itching to get my hands on the book as her desserts are always creative and her photography is stunning. Boy, did it deliver!
My adaptation of this French Silk chocolate cake is out-of-this-world moist, with a rich chocolate flavor and layers of mouthwatering chocolate crunch inspired by a classic French Silk pie. The texture is perfectly light with soft, airy pockets throughout the crumb. As a layer cake, it’s also the best to handle, with a sturdy structure that’s perfect for stacking and filling.
I finish off this cake with a gorgeous drizzle of chocolate ganache. I absolutely love how the ganache looks as it drips luxuriously down the edges of this cake. It’s a real stunner, and making this gorgeous chocolate layer cake is way easier than you think!
What Is a French Silk Pie?
So, what’s the deal with the pie that inspired this cake, and why is it called French silk?
French silk pie isn’t actually a French pie at all, but an American one! It originated in the 1950s as a no-bake dessert, made from velvety chocolate pie filling set inside a pie crust, and topped with whipped cream. Silk pie’s smooth-as-silk texture inspired the name.
You’ll need your basic baking ingredients like flour, sugar, and leavening, plus a few key ingredients to make this elegant French silk chocolate cake from scratch. Below is an overview of what you’ll need when making the cake and toppings, with the full details available in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
For the Cake
- Cocoa Powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder is best for this chocolate cake recipe. You can use any brand you prefer, but I recommend using high-quality cocoa for the best flavor.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk is the secret to an ultra-rich, ultra-moist chocolate cake. Trust me, you want it in there! If you don’t have buttermilk, see below for an easy substitute.
- Oil – I use vegetable oil in place of butter in this cake, for a tender crumb. Another neutral-flavored oil will also work, like canola.
- Eggs – This chocolate cake calls for 6 whole eggs, that’s not a mistake!
- Chocolate and Rice Krispie Cereal – You’ll combine semi-sweet chocolate with crispy rice cereal to make the chocolate crunch cake filling.
For the Frosting
- Chocolate – I use a combination of unsweetened chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate to make the chocolate buttercream frosting for this French silk cake. This way the flavor comes out fudgy, but not overly sweet.
- Unsalted Butter – Take your butter out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you start so that it softens a bit. Softened butter is easier to whip and combine.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – For the creamiest frosting, use full-fat heavy cream. Whole milk or 2% milk will also work, though the texture just won’t be as rich.
For the Ganache
- Chocolate Chips – I recommend using semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips as these are best for melting. You’ll melt the chocolate with heavy whipping cream to form the base of the chocolate ganache.
- Corn Syrup – Corn syrup gives the ganache a wonderful, glossy finish.
What If I Don’t Have Buttermilk?
Easy, make your own! It’s not as difficult as you might think. In fact, all you need is regular milk and something acidic, like lemon juice or white vinegar, to make your own buttermilk at home. I go into more detail in my post on How to Make Homemade Buttermilk, but here’s a quick overview if you need to substitute buttermilk in this cake:
- Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a measuring cup, then add milk until you reach one cup.
- Give the mixture a stir, then leave it to sit for a few minutes.
- Once the milk has curdled, give it another stir, and you’ll have your own homemade buttermilk that’s ready to use!
How to Make French Silk Chocolate Cake
You can make this cake recipe as a 6” or an 8” layer cake. Since 6-inch pans are a less standard size, I decided to go with an 8-inch cake. As you can see, it produces lovely thick layers of chocolate cake.
Step 1: Make the Cake
Let’s start with making the moist chocolate cake layers:
- Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with vanilla, and then add in buttermilk and oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then mix to combine.
- Fill the pans. Next, divide the chocolate cake batter between 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.
- Bake. Pop the cake pans into a 350ºF oven for about a half-hour, until the cakes are set in the centers. After, leave the cakes to cool in the pans for a while before gently removing them to cool completely.
Step 2: Prepare the Chocolate Crunch
While those cakes are baking and cooling, we’ll get started with the other components for this French silk cake. It’s quick and easy! First, prepare the chocolate crunch filling. Making this ahead allows enough time for the chocolate to set prior to assembling your cake:
- Melt the chocolate. First, warm the chocolate in the microwave in increments, stirring in between until fully melted.
- Combine. Pour the melted chocolate over a bowl of Rice Krispie cereal, and stir to coat.
- Chill. Finally, spread the chocolate crunch evenly over a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place it in the fridge to chill and set. You can also store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.
Step 3: Make the Frosting
Finally, you’ll prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting. This recipe makes just enough frosting to cover and fill the cake with a nice thick layer of buttercream. However, it does not leave a lot of leftovers for decorating. For my cake, that’s where that gorgeous chocolate drizzle comes in! But feel free to double the frosting recipe if you’d prefer to have additional frosting for piping and decorating.
- Melt the chocolate. Follow the same process as you did when melting the chocolate for the crunch filling, microwaving the chocolate in intervals. Once melted, leave the chocolate to cool while you prepare the buttercream base.
- Combine the frosting ingredients. Prior to adding the melted chocolate to your frosting, you’ll want to be sure the structure of your frosting is nice and whipped, and all the powdered sugar has been added. Beat the butter and add the powdered sugar gradually, then add the vanilla and heavy cream, and whip the frosting until it’s airy and fluffy.
- Add the chocolate. Gently fold your melted chocolate into the buttercream. Avoid excess whipping once you add the chocolate to the frosting, as I find this thickens up the frosting.
Step 4: Assembling the Cake and Adding Ganache
With all your cake components prepped and ready, it’s time to assemble your French silk chocolate cake!
- Prepare the cake layers. Use a cake leveler or a bread knife to trim the domes from the tops of the cakes so that they’ll stack evenly. Next, smear a dollop of frosting on the plate or board where you’ll be assembling your cake, and place the first, bottom cake layer over the frosting. This helps to keep the cake from slipping.
- Fill the cake. Use a piping bag to pipe frosting over the first cake layer. Break up the chocolate filling, and sprinkle on about a third of the pieces. Top this with more frosting, followed by the second cake layer, and then repeat.
- Frost the cake. Place the third and final cake layer onto the cake upside down. This creates a smooth, even top, that you’ll spread with frosting before coating the sides of the cake as well.
- Make the chocolate ganache. Gradually melt chocolate chips together with heavy whipping cream, stirring along the way. Once smooth, stir in the corn syrup.
- Add the ganache. Pour the chocolate ganache around the top edges of the cake to make a drizzle, then fill the middle with additional ganache.
- Decorate. I use leftover chocolate crunch to decorate the top and bottom edges of my cake. This is totally optional, and you can decorate your French silk cake however you’d like! See the section below for more easy decorating ideas.
Recipe Tips and Notes
Below are some last-minute pointers for making this silky chocolate cake. You can also check out my in-depth tutorial if you’re after even more tips for making perfect homemade layer cakes.
- Grease and line the cake pans. I grease and flour my cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper, making cake removal as seamless as possible. Why wrestle cakes from pans when you don’t have to, am I right?
- I recommend using bake-even strips when making a layer cake. These are great for this cake, and really any layer cake for that matter! These strips prevent the edges of a cake from baking too quickly, and as a result, the individual cakes don’t dome as high. Less doming = less trimming. No one wants to waste cake, after all.
- Make sure the cakes are level for stacking. With or without baking strips, you will still need to trim the cakes with a knife or cake leveler for even stacking. Flattening out the layers is important to avoid any Leaning Tower of Pisa vibes in your layer cakes.
- Remember to rotate the pans about halfway through the baking time. When baking all 3 cakes at the same time, this is important for the cakes to bake evenly, especially if your oven has hot spots like mine.
More Ways to Decorate
When it comes to decorating your frosted chocolate cake, the sky’s the limit. You can customize this cake recipe by adding chocolate curls or shavings, sprinkles, crushed cookies, frosting swirls, or fancy piping. Or, leave it plain and it will still taste amazing!
How to Store Chocolate Cake
This French Silk chocolate cake can be kept airtight on the counter for a day or two after it’s frosted. For longer storage, keep it covered in the fridge, and take it out ahead of serving to let the cake come to room temperature.
Can I Freeze French Silk Chocolate Cake?
While I don’t recommend freezing the assembled and frosted cake, the individual cake layers can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months. Let the cakes cool to room temperature, then double-wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil for freezing.Print
This decadent French Silk Chocolate Cake is a dreamy layer cake recipe made from moist chocolate cake dressed in rich chocolate buttercream frosting, and filled with crunchy chocolate layers.
For the cake:
- 2 2/3 cups (540g) granulated sugar
- 2 ½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (140g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons (8.5g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
- 2 cups (480 ml) buttermilk
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
For the chocolate crunch:
- 9 ounces (255g) semisweet chocolate
- 2 cups Rice Krispie cereal
For the frosting:
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1 ½ cups (339g) unsalted butter, softened
- 6 (780g) cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the ganache:
- 2 ounces semisweet (or dark) chocolate chips
- ½ cup (118ml) heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) corn syrup
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch baking pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper circles.
- In your stand mixer, whisk together the dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs together with the vanilla extract. Then add the buttermilk and vegetable oil, whisking all the wet ingredients together.
- Next, pour the wet ingredients slowly into the dry ingredients while the mixer is beating at a low speed. Once all the wet ingredients have been added, increase the mixing speed to medium and mix until all the ingredients are combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the 3 baking pans. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool for one hour. Gently run a knife on the inside edge of the pan to release the edges of the cake from the pan. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely.
For the chocolate crunch:
- Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium-high power in 15-second increments, stirring between each interval until the chocolate is fully melted.
- Place the Rice Krispie cereal in a medium-sized bowl and pour the melted chocolate over the cereal. Stir with a spatula until the cereal is well-coated.
- Spread the cereal evenly on the baking pan and transfer to the refrigerator until the chocolate is set.
For the frosting:
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave on medium-high in 15-second increments, stirring between each interval until the chocolate is fully melted. Set aside and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- In your stand mixer, beat the butter until completely smooth 2-3 minutes. Next, add the powdered sugar 2 cups at a time, beating until the powdered sugar is well mixed into the butter. As the frosting thickens, add the liquid ingredients (vanilla and heavy cream) 1 tablespoon at a time as needed. Beat the frosting until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the melted chocolate, mixing it into the buttercream until it’s well incorporated.
To assemble the cake:
- Use a cake leveler to cut the domes off the top of the cake. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake on top of that.
- Pipe a layer of frosting. I use a piping bag fitted with an open round tip, or simply cut off the end of the piping bag. Fill the first layer of frosting by using your piping bag and pipe from the outside edge into the center. Gently spread the frosting with an offset spatula to fill in the gaps.
- Break apart the chocolate crunch into smaller pieces and press about 1/3 of the chocolate crunch into the layer of frosting, and spread a thin layer of frosting over top of the chocolate crunch.
- Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat the above instructions to fill the layer of frosting and chocolate crunch. For the top layer of cake, place it inverted, so the bottom of the cake is actually the top, creating a nice and smooth top edge. Use the remaining frosting to coat the edges and the top of the cake.
For the ganache:
- In a 1-cup capacity measuring cup, combine the chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Microwave at 50 percent powder for 30 seconds at a time, and stir after every 30 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate is melted and smooth then stir in the corn syrup. The chocolate ganache should run smoothly off your spoon. Pour the chocolate around the top edge of the cake and allow it to drizzle down the sides of the cake. Pour in a circular pattern on top of the cake.
- Garnish the cake with any leftover chocolate crunch on the top and bottom edges of the cake.
- This recipe is printed with permission from Baker’s Royale
- Storing: This cake can be kept airtight on the counter for a day or two after it’s frosted in an airtight container. For longer storage, keep it covered in the fridge, and take it out ahead of serving to let the cake come to room temperature.
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: chocolate cake recipe, chocolate layer cake, homemade chocolate cake