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Small Chocolate Cake

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Indulge a little with this small chocolate cake! It’s a decadent mini chocolate cake made from moist 6-inch cake layers filled with fudgy chocolate frosting. There’s plenty of cocoa goodness in every bite!

Small Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting

How cute is this wee chocolate cake?! Decadent chocolate cake layers and creamy chocolate frosting come together in a 6” version of my popular chocolate drip cake. It has all the luxury of moist chocolate cake, downsized to fit on one plate.

This small chocolate cake is the perfect size if you’re catering to 2-4 chocolate lovers. Every bite is filled with rich cocoa flavor, enhanced with a few secret ingredients for the fudgiest chocolate cake. Find out all the indulgent details below!

Why You’ll Love This Mini Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Smaller portions. If you’re trying to eat smaller portions, this small chocolate cake doesn’t sacrifice any of the decadence. One slice is enough to satisfy even the most chocolate-crazy folks.
  • Small groups. A mini cake is the perfect dessert for a smaller crowd. Think intimate gatherings, date night (I see you, Valentine’s Day!), and dinner parties for just a few people.
  • Less leftovers. If you’re not in the mood for a bunch of leftovers, why go all out with a party-sized cake? This recipe makes just enough that you can have your fudgy chocolate cake, and eat ALL of it, too. 
A slice of small chocolate cake topped with a swirl of chocolate buttercream on a gold cake server.

Ingredient Notes

There are plenty of good reasons to make a mini chocolate cake rather than a full-sized one, including the simple ingredients. I’ve included the important ones below. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full list, amounts, and recipe details.

  • Oil – Vegetable oil replaces the butter in this cake, for an ultra-moist crumb.
  • Sour Cream – You can also use Greek yogurt or plain yogurt instead.
  • Cocoa Powder – I use Hershey’s Special Dark, but any unsweetened natural cocoa powder will work in this recipe. See my guide on the different types of cocoa powder.
  • Brewed Coffee – You won’t taste the coffee, but hot brewed espresso helps to intensify the chocolate flavor in chocolate cakes and baked goods. Use freshly brewed instant espresso and not the granules. If you’re avoiding caffeine, use milk instead.
  • Frosting – For this mini cake, I include the recipe for my favorite chocolate buttercream frosting. But you can frost this cake using just about any frosting you’d like. 

How to Make a Small Chocolate Cake

You’ll love the simplicity of this recipe. It’s smooth sailing from the cake batter to the assembly! Let’s start with a short step-by-step on how to make the mini cake layers:

  • Combine the wet ingredients. First, you’ll cream together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla, followed by the sour cream.
  • Add the dry ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl, and then gradually mix them into the wet ingredients, alternating with the brewed coffee until combined.
  • Bake. Next, pour the batter into two greased and floured 6” cake pans (mix cocoa powder into the flour for a darker color). Bake the cakes at 350ºF for 20-24 minutes.

Make the Chocolate Frosting

After your cake is out of the oven, you’ll need to let it cool completely. Meanwhile, whip up a fresh batch of chocolate buttercream: 

  • Beat the butter. Starting with cold cubed butter, give it a good whip with your mixer for 3-5 minutes, until it easily spreadable.
  • Add cocoa powder and vanilla. Next, sift in the cocoa powder, add the vanilla extract, and beat until combined.
  • Add sugar and heavy cream. Lastly, add powdered sugar and a spoonful of heavy cream. Starting slowly, beat the ingredients together, and then whip the frosting again to get it soft and airy.

Assemble and Frost the Cake

Now, your small chocolate cake is ready for assembling and frosting. I’ll get you started with a quick overview. Refer to the recipe card, and also check out my tutorials on how to use a piping bag and how to use piping tips for detailed instructions.

  • Trim the domes. Level the cakes by trimming off any high domes using a serrated knife or a cake leveler.
  • Frost the first layer. Starting the with bottom cake layer, use a piping bag to pipe a layer of chocolate frosting over the cake, working from the outside edge inward. 
  • Add the next layer. Smooth out the frosting with an offset spatula or a knife, and carefully place the second cake layer over top.
  • Frost the cake. Finally, pipe frosting over the top and sides of the cake, and smooth it out with a spatula or icing smoother. 
  • Decorate. Get creative with the remaining frosting! I used a large closed-star tip to make cute little swirls and added a skirt of chocolate sprinkles as pictured. See the section below for more decorating ideas.

Recipe Tips

Making a mini chocolate cake from scratch isn’t as challenging as you might think! Even if you’re a beginner baker, this recipe comes together relatively easily. Take note of these extra tips:

  • Grease the pans well. Line the bottom of your baking pans with parchment paper or grease and flour the edges. This prevents the cake from sticking to the pans.
  • Don’t overfill the pans. This recipe makes enough batter to fill two 6” cake pans about halfway (1 ¼ cups per pan). Make sure to leave enough space for the cakes to rise, so they don’t overflow as they bake.
  • Check the cake for doneness. Stick a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean without any streaks of batter, the cake is done.
  • Level the cake layers. Once your cakes have cooled, use a cake leveler or serrated knife to remove the domes on top. This makes flat, even layers for easy assembly and prevents a lopsided cake!
  • Need extra guidance? See my easy tutorial on how to make a layer cake for detailed step-by-step instructions for making and frosting a perfect layer cake.

A slice of small chocolate cake topped with a swirl of chocolate buttercream laying on its side on a white plate, with the rest of the cake on a pink cake stand in the background.

More Ways to Decorate

You can be as fancy or as simple as you like when it comes to decorating. Try these easy ideas and variations: 

Can I Make This Cake In Another Pan? 

If you don’t feel like stacking cake layers, no worries! There are other options. Here’s how to make this small chocolate cake recipe in different pans:

  • Single-Layer Cake – Use an 8” pan (either square or round). Refer to the recipe card notes on adapting the amount of frosting for a single-layer cake.
  • Cupcakes – Pour the batter into lightly greased cupcake liners rather than a cake pan. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

Can I Prepare This Small Cake in Advance?

Yes! Prepare and bake the cake layers, wrap the cooled cake layers in a double layer of plastic wrap, and place them into the freezer. When you’re ready to assemble, defrost the cake layers in the fridge and whip up a batch of frosting. Serve the cake at room temperature for best results. See the section below for more storage details.

How to Store a Mini Chocolate Cake

  • To Store. The frosted cake can be stored airtight on the counter for up to 2 days, or you can keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze. This small chocolate cake is freezer-friendly for up to 2 months. Keep the cake in an airtight, freezer-safe container and defrost the frozen cake overnight in the fridge. Take the cake out to serve at room temperature for best results.

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

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A slice of small chocolate cake topped with a swirl of chocolate buttercream laying on its side on a white plate.

Small Chocolate Cake

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Description

Indulge in this small chocolate cake recipe that’s big on fudgy cocoa flavor! This is an easy dessert made from moist 6-inch chocolate cake layers filled with decadent chocolate frosting.

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 3/4 cup (143g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) sour cream (substitute with Greek or plain yogurt)
  • 1 1/4 cups (150g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup (20g) cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark is my favorite)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (4.6g) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (157ml) hot brewed coffee (or milk)

For the Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cold or slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup (50g) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy whipping cream or milk

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 6-inch pans with parchment paper or grease and flour the edges.
  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 adding half of the dry ingredients and half of the coffee at a time. Mix until well combined, then use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter to ensure it’s well mixed.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, about 1 1/4 cups batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool completely prior to frosting.

For the Frosting

  1. Cut the butter into pieces, 1 tablespoon each. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter is whipped, fluffy and easily spreadable. 
  2. Sift the cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, then add the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer to slow speed and beat until the cocoa power and extract are mixed into the butter.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and mix on medium-low speed until fully incorporated. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting. If the frosting still seems thick, add an additional 1/2-1 tablespoon heavy cream.

For the Assembly

  1. Use a cake leveler or serrated knife 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.
  2. Fill a large piping bag with the frosting and cut off the end of the piping bag about 1/2 inch up. Pipe a layer of frosting on top of the first layer, starting at the outside edge and working your way into the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Place the next layer on top.
  3. Use the piping bag to fill in the sides of the cake with frosting. Use an offset spatula or icing smoother to wipe away the excess frosting. Decorate with the remaining frosting using a large closed star tip (Ateco 846) or garnish with sprinkles or fruit.

Notes

  • Ingredient substitutions:
    • Sour cream: sub with yogurt, either plain or Greek
    • Brewed coffee: sub with milk
    • Gluten-free flour: all-purpose flour can be substituted with a measure for measure replacement all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • Butter for the frosting: Butter for the frosting can be cold or softened, about 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Single layer 8-inch square or round cake: This can also be made as a single layer 8-inch cake. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Reduce the frosting: ¾ cups butter, 1/3 cup (37g) cocoa powder. 1 ½ cups (325g) powdered sugar, 1 teaspoons (5ml) pure vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon (15ml ) heavy whipping cream
  • This recipe can also be made into 12 cupcakes. Bake for about 15 minutes. 
  • Storing this cake: You can store frosted cake on the counter for a couple of days if you keep it in an airtight container. If you live somewhere hot and humid, go ahead and keep your cake in the fridge instead. Refrigerated cake will last for 3-4 days. Serve at room temperature. 
Nutrition Information:
1 slice
781
70g
287mg
45g
94g
3.8g
7g
149mg
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: small chocolate cake recipe, small chocolate cake, mini chocolate cake

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