Triple Chocolate Layer Cake.

My favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe. And it’s the fudgiest! 

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

This is not a Monday post. I wish I could say sorry for sharing this chocolate monstrosity with you today, but I’m not. I mean, look at it.  Ain’t she a beaut?

Chocolate to the max.

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

The cake hidden under that fabulous milk chocolate frosting is a mock-devil’s food cake.  You know the Devil’s Food chocolate cake you get in a box?  I made a homemade version that’s infinitely better.  And I know this because I made THREE chocolate cakes this weekend and finally came out with a winner.

I only give you the best of the best.

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

So you have a dark devil’s food chocolate double layer cake with a rich, decadent milk chocolate frosting.  It’s a similar milk chocolate frosting that  I used for my first Homemade Funfetti Cupcake recipe. I decorated the chocolate layer cake with chocolate in its cutest form – chocolate chips.  I chose to use dark chocolate chips as the cake’s decor, but you may decorate the cake however you like.

The chocolate chips kind of looks like little spikes, don’t they?  This chocolate cake certainly generated a buzz this morning when I brought it into work. Cake for Monday breakfast? Why not.

Let’s discuss how this cake came to life.

Attempting a chocolate cake three times this weekend, I finally perfected the recipe.  Chocolate cake is not something you mess around with.  It should be extra moist, rich, decadent, with an honest chocolate taste and a smooth velvety crumb.  Today’s recipe embodies all that – and then some.

You’ll need 1 cup (8 oz) of freshly brewed strong black coffee.  The cake will NOT taste like coffee.  Rather, the coffee will accentuate the chocolate flavor, sort of like how Guinness deepens the chocolate in my Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes (posted on Bed Bath & Beyond’s blog last month).  You’ll also need 1 cup (8 oz) of buttermilk.  Buttermilk is one of the culprits for how moist the cake’s crumb is.  Trust me, you can’t leave it out!  Sadly, I know from experience.   It’s required for this recipe – the lactic acid present is what will allow the baking soda to react and leaven the cake.

Don’t have buttermilk?  You can make your own.  Measure 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1 cup.  Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes.  The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

Notice the reddish tint to the cake?  That’s where the name Devil’s Food comes from. The baking soda in this recipe reacts with the unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT dutch processed), which results in the red hue.  Do not use dutch processed cocoa for this recipe.

The fat in this cake? Oil. I’ve mentioned it a lot recently, but I prefer to use oil in certain cake recipes because it makes cakes more moist than butter.  I used oil in my Super Moist Carrot Cake recipe (rave reviews from all of you on that).  The reason I used oil today and not butter is because I didn’t need a buttery taste in this recipe. This cake’s taste is pure chocolate and the cocoa powder would overtake the butter flavor if I used butter instead of oil anyway.    Another moistening agent (besides the buttermilk and oil) are the two eggs.  Make sure your eggs are at room temperature.  Room temperature eggs whisk to a higher volume and ensure your cake will rise properly. The warmer temperature of the eggs will also allow them to be dispensed evenly when mixed with the other wet ingredients.

*Using cold eggs will ruin your cake.

How to bring your eggs to room temperature quickly? I always use this trick: Place eggs in a bowl of warm/hot water for 5-10 minutes as you get your other ingredients ready. Easy!

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

I played around a lot with the flour and sugar ratios in this recipe as well.  I settled on equal amounts of both (1 and 3/4 cup), which resulted in the winning recipe.  Yes, I had a lot of cake lying around the apartment this weekend.

The frosting? Easy peasy.  2.5 sticks of softened butter – not cold and not melted in the slightest, 4 cups of powdered sugar, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, heavy cream (or half-and-half), and salt.  Start by creaming the butter for a good 3-4 minutes with your hand mixer or stand mixer.  Luckily, I’m giving a stand mixer away right now!  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and 3/4 cup of cocoa.  Add 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add more powdered sugar if the mixture is too thin.  Add more heavy cream is the mixture is too thick. Add more cocoa powder if the mixture is too buttery tasting. Add salt if the mixture is too sweet.

The frosting recipe is very forgiving; add more/less of each ingredient to obtain the consistency and taste you desire. 

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

The decor? Use whatever you wish!  I have a plethora of dark chocolate chips on hand, so I used 1.5 bags to line the cake.  Use sprinkles, candy bars, M&Ms, Oreo crumbs or leave the cake plain.

I am in LOVE with this chocolate cake.  By far the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten before. And you are getting that from a gal who baked three chocolate cakes this weekend, two chocolate cupcakes last month, and whose favorite dessert was chocolate cake when she was little.  If chocolate cake was on the menu (and I was well behaved), I got it for dessert.   :)

Trust me on this: you have to try this recipe.  Soft, moist, tender, intensified with chocolate flavor, creamy frosting, velvety smooth texture – everything is working in its favor. This cake is a chocoholics dream! 

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever!

*If you are making this cake, I strongly urge you to read the text above about why certain ingredients are used and how certain ingredients may not be replaced.


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Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

A double layer homemade devil's food chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting and chocolate chips on top. Why do I call it triple chocolate layer cake but only has two layers? Well, chocolate is used three times: chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, chocolate decoration.

Yield: serves 12


Devil's Food Chocolate Layer Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (350 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil (or canola oil, or melted coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) freshly brewed strong hot coffee

Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • 1.25 cups (2.5 sticks or 290 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480 grams) powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3-5 Tablespoons (45-75 ml) heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 15 oz (1.5 bags) chocolate chips, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter & flour two 9 inch round cake pans, or use non-stick spray. See note about 9x13 pan option.
  2. For the cake: Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer on high speed, mix the buttermilk, oil, room temperature eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low. Add the coffee. The batter will be VERY thin. This is ok.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared baking pans and bake for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cakes took exactly 24 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.
  5. For the frosting: Cream the butter with a hand mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. This will create a nice creamy base for the frosting. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and 3/4 cup of cocoa powder. Mix on low. Add 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. If your frosting is too thin, add up to 1 more cup of powdered sugar. If your frosting is too thick, add up to 2 more Tablespoons of heavy cream. Add at least 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Taste the frosting and add more salt if the frosting is too sweet. Add more cocoa powder if the frosting is not chocolate-y enough. _Frosting recipe is forgiving. Add more/less of each ingredient to obtain the consistency and taste you desire._
  6. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a plate or cake stand. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with chocolate chips or as desired.
  7. Cake stays fresh, moist, and soft at room temperature (covered) for up to 4 days. Cake may be refrigerated (covered) for up to 7 days.

*Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You may make your own buttermilk at home by measuring 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring glass. Add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) in the same measuring glass to reach 1 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.

*Cake will not set up properly if using cold eggs. Please see note in the text of the post for a shortcut to bring eggs to room temperature.

*A 9×13 pan will work since that takes the same amount of cups of batter as 2 round cake pans. However, I am unsure of the baking time.


Cake adapted from Ina Garten, frosting by

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.


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445 Responses to “Triple Chocolate Layer Cake.”

  1. #
    Hayleyposted June 7, 2014 at 12:15 am


    JAW DROPPING! Chocolate cake is my dad’s FAVOURITE and I HAVE to make it for his birthday every year. Usually, a birthday cake is the ONE exception where I use a mix but this year, I’m going to try it from scratch, thanks!!!


  2. #
    Stephanie Mitchellposted June 8, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Hey Sally! I also have baked your vanilla cupcakes this weekend and they were a hit! So yummy! Felt like I was eating Haagen Daaz ice cream in cake form! I made about 90 mini cupcakes for an event by doubling the recipe, which was way more than I expected but they didn’t go to waste :)
    Now I want to try this recipe, but I have one question. I have an 8×3 in round pan and I was wondering if I could bake the whole thing in there and then later cut the cake in half for the filling? Or should I stick to baking if in two seperate 8×3 in pans (which is all I have)?

    Thank you in advance for your help ☺️☺️☺️☺️


    • Sallyreplied on June 9th, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Stephanie! Love those vanilla cupcakes. For this cake, you must do two separate layers in your 8×3 pan. There is a lot of batter!


  3. #
    Joyposted June 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I am thinking of doing this for Father’s Day on Sunday. However, I just wanna ask if you could suggest what I can do with the freshly brewed coffee. We don’t usually brew our own coffee here – or at least, not that I know of. We just use the instant powdered coffee to make our every morning coffee. Is that possible to be used as substitute? Do you suggest specific amount if ever? Thank you!


    • Sallyreplied on June 11th, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Hi Joy, you may use an equal amount of liquid coffee made with instant coffee. Enjoy!


      • Joyreplied on June 12th, 2014 at 5:08 am

        Does it have to be purely instant coffee and hot water, or do I add sugar in it? I just wanna be sure that I’m on the right track :)

  4. #
    Hannahposted June 14, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Hi Sally, quick question….. I’m making this for my dad’s birthday and I was wondering if I could use this recipe to make a three layer cake? Would I make the recipe and a half? Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on June 14th, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Definitely! Don’t double or 1.5x the recipe – just pour into three cake pans and bake them for less time. The layers will be thinner.


  5. #
    Kimposted June 17, 2014 at 12:10 am

    I just got the text: “cake is amazing!” :) I made this cake today for a friend who just brought a new miniature human into the world. (I promised her, months ago, that if a fabulous chocolate cake is what she wanted upon birthing her son, then by gosh a chocolate cake is what she would have!)

    The recipe is awesome. It’s straight forward, easy to follow and doesn’t include ingredients I have to source from several shops. ALWAYS great. …now I really need to make it again so that I can try it, too! But it looked outstanding. :)


  6. #
    Akriti Sharanposted June 17, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Hi Sally

    Made this chocolate cake last night for my husband’s birthday and decorated it with M&Ms! It was a hit, I will be recommending this recipe to everyone! He liked it so much, he said he wants one every year for his birthday.
    Great recipe! I only used one and a half cups powdered sugar in the frosting, and the M&Ms gave the added sweetness. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the T and it turned out moist, delicious and decadent. Five stars!


  7. #
    Wadadposted June 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I’ve made this cake twice so far, and it’s turned out delicious both times! The first time I made it, I made it the way you did, with the milk chocolate frosting. The second time, I made a german chocolate frosting, and it was a huge hit! Thanks for another great recipe!


  8. #
    Sierraposted June 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Can you make this recipe without the coffee? My mom doesn’t like coffee and I’m trying to make this for my parents’ anniversary.


    • Sallyreplied on June 18th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Sierra – you truly cannot taste the coffee at all. Hot water would work, but the chocolate flavor won’t be as rich.


  9. #
    EMIposted June 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Hello Sally !
    Thanks for sharing all these amazing recipes, I really like all the ones that I have tried.
    Can you please tell me how can I use Dutch-process cocoa in this recipe ? I know the recipe is developed for natural cocoa, but I live outside the USA and I can not get where I live the natural one.
    Should I add some baking powder ? Or do you have any other recipe that I can try ?
    Thanks in advance for your help!


  10. #
    Kaylaposted June 24, 2014 at 8:40 am

    If I wanted to use (2) 9x9x2 square cake pans instead of (2) 9inch cake pans, how would I go about substituting it? Thanks.


    • Sallyreplied on June 24th, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      It would be the same bake time.


  11. #
    Ellenposted June 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Sally!
    Firstly I want to say that I LOVE your site, I stumbled across it about a year ago when I was looking for the perfect choc chip cookie recipe – and oh boy did I find it! Since then I have been slowly making my way through your recipes (and your cookbook) and I have rediscovered my love of baking – and it is certainly making me popular in the office ;)

    Just a quick question about this recipe – the sugar says 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar is 350g but I work it out to be 175g, are you able to let me know which is correct? I’m making this for my Pop’s birthday this weekend :)



    • Sallyreplied on June 27th, 2014 at 9:26 am

      Hi Ellen – 1/4 cup of sugar is 50 grams. So 1 3/4 cups is 350 grams. Happy birthday to your pop!


      • Ellenreplied on June 27th, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Ahh yes of course, that’s what I get for trying to work it out at 5am before caffeine! Thank you!

  12. #
    Shannon Dalkaposted June 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I made this cake and ABSOLUTELY loved it! I made it again yesterday but when i flipped it on to the rack for cooling the cake split in the center like a triangle. It didn’t split to break the cake apart but it caused a big crack. I was wondering what causes this? Thanks for the awesome recipe!


    • Sallyreplied on June 29th, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Hi Shannon – try keeping it in the pan to cool for a little longer next time. Leveling off the cake also helps prevent cracking.


  13. #
    Jackyposted July 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Sally! First wanted to thank you for sharing your recipes. I’ve tried a few and they are all AMAZING!!! For this recipe should the buttermilk be at room temperture?


    • Sallyreplied on July 10th, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      For this recipe, I find room temperature milk is not necessary. Thanks Jacky, enjoy!


  14. #
    Toniposted July 14, 2014 at 3:06 am

    Hi Sally! I don’t have heavy cream or whipping cream here, can I sub whole milk or all-purpose cream for the frosting? Which of the two would be better?


    • Sallyreplied on July 14th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Whole milk would be best. Enjoy!


  15. #
    Elinaposted July 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Hi! Urgent question – how many people would this recipe feed?


  16. #
    Sarahposted July 19, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Hi Sally! would this cake go well with salted caramel cream cheese frosting? :)


    • Sallyreplied on July 20th, 2014 at 4:57 pm



  17. #
    Jen Looneyposted July 20, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Sally- This cake was a big hit at my family’s Mother’s Day BBQ! If I make cupcakes with this recipe what would the baking temp and time be? Thanks for the yummy recipes. This is the fourth of yours that I have made:)


  18. #
    stacieposted July 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Is it possible to freeze the cake without the frosting?


    • Sallyreplied on July 23rd, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Yep – up to 2-3 months.


  19. #
    Helenposted July 23, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Hi Sally,

    Thanks for your fabulous recipes, I always know I can trust them!

    I have (foolishly) agreed to make a friend’s wedding cake and the bottom layer will be chocolate. I was wondering if I double the quanities for this recipe would that be enough for a 12″ cake pan? If you could advise on cooking time also that would be great.

    Thank you :)


    • Sallyreplied on July 24th, 2014 at 5:27 am

      Hi Helen, you shouldn’t have to double the recipe for a 12 inch cake pan. In fact, you may even have too much. Fill it halfway and then use any extra batter to make a few cupcakes. I’m unsure of these bake times.


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