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! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

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! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. Just watch:

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. You’ll also need 1 cup (8 oz) of buttermilk. Buttermilk helps achieve that moist crumb. Trust me, you can’t leave it out! Additionally, the lactic acid present is what will allow the baking soda to react and leaven the cake. It’s quite important!

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 natural unsweetened cocoa powder, which results in the red hue. Do not use dutch process cocoa for this recipe.

The fat in this cake? Oil. 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. Also, make sure your eggs are at room temperature. Room temperature eggs whisk to a higher volume and ensure the cake batter is emulsified properly and that the cake will rise properly.

How to bring your eggs to room temperature quickly? Place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes as you get your other ingredients ready. Easy!

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The frosting? Easy peasy. Softened butter – not cold and not melted in the slightest, 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, heavy cream (or half-and-half), and salt. 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.

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. The fudgiest homemade chocolate cake ever! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (350g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk1
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil (or canola oil, or melted coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature2
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) freshly brewed strong hot coffee3

Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • 1.25 cups (2.5 sticks or 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3-5 Tablespoons (45-75ml) heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • optional for decoration: 15 oz (1.5 bags) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter & flour two 9 inch round cake pans4, or use non-stick spray. See note about 9x13 pan option.
  2. Make 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. Make the frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 2 full minutes. This creates a creamy base for the frosting. Turn speed to LOW and slowly add 3.5 cups of confectioners' sugar and the cocoa powder. Beat until sugar/cocoa are absorbed into the butter, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to medium speed and add the vanilla and cream. Once added, turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add up to 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar if you'd like to increase the frosting's thickness. Taste, and add salt to taste.
  6. Assemble the cake: 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.

Make ahead tip: Cake stays fresh, moist, and soft at room temperature (covered) for up to 4 days. Cake can be refrigerated (covered) for up to 7 days. Cake can be frozen up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk 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 soured milk will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.
  2. 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.
  3. Instead of hot coffee, try hot water or hot chai tea. You can't taste the coffee; it simply brings out more deep chocolate flavor.
  4. A 9×13 pan will work since it takes approximately same amount of cups of batter as 2 round cake pans. Same oven temperature and about 40 minutes bake time.

Devil's food chocolate cake adapted from Ina Garten

Did you make a recipe?

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© 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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There’s plenty more where this came from! See all of my chocolate recipes.

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

637 comments

  1. hey sally, i just made this cake today for a birthday . . . and as always ur recipe was super tasty!! I love everything u share, and every one of ur recipes i have made have always been delicious.
    Thanks so much

  2. Hey sally is it OK if I replace the sugar with brown sugar? Will it make a difference?

  3. Each one of your recipes is mindblowing. You’re such a genius! I absolutely love your blog Xoxoxo

  4. Absolutely divine! best cake I have ever made and eaten! you are a genius!

  5. I don’t usually leave comments on recipes but I was compelled to this time. This chocolate cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten in my life. Thanks for posting this! Will never use another recipe again!

  6. Hi Sally. Loved ur brownie recipe. So I decided to try this one. However I do not have baking soda. Is there any substitute for it ?
    thanks!

  7. hi sally! how much batter do you think i need for a 3 layer chocolate cake of urs? and baking time? 

  8. This is by far the BEST FROM SCRATCH chocolate cake I’ve ever bake!!! Sooo moist and sooo chocolaty Im in love with this recipe!!!

  9. made this for my daughter that is a big chocolate lover and it was the best thing ever..defiantly the only chocolate cake recipe that ill use from now on.

  10. My daughter and I made this cake. It was good and chocolaty but not very sweet. The chocolate frosting could be a bit sweeter. 

  11. Best chocolate cake ever. I made 2 9 by 13 inch cakes (added 10 min to bake time) because I needed more servings. Everyone loved it. It was moist and chocolatey. I added Coffee to the frosting too. Saving the recipe for sure.

  12. OMG!!!  This cake is amazing.  I made it for my Mom’s Bday.  Huge Hit.  I should have made two cakes.  Thank You!!

  13. Hey Sally! Happy happy birthday! I just wanted to say that I check your blog every single day, and you have definitely inspired me and made me a better baker, so thank you so much! Anyway, if i were to use 8 inch pans instead of 9 inch pans and just made a 3 layer cake, would the baking time differ? Thanks!

  14. Hi Sally!

    I just made this for a friend’s birthday and it was a huge hit! This is the fourth or fifth recipe of yours I’ve tried and each comes out better than the last. Thank you for such a clear, easy to follow recipe and the beautiful pictures! I made my own buttermilk and used hot water because I had no coffee in the house and it came out beautifully! I found that about a half teaspoon of salt was perfect in the frosting. Thank you so much!

  15. Hi Sally! Do you think this cake would hold up when covered with fondant?

  16. Hey Sally!  This is my go to recipe when making my kids birthday cakes.  Love it!  I will be using the chocolate frosting  but I also need to have a white buttercream icing that I can add a natural green powder to so I can pipe grass around the cake.  My son wants a Minecraft cake!  Do you have a good buttercream icing recipe foe piping?  I only have a handheld mixer. 

  17. Hello:) I was wondering if I could make this cake in a large cupcake pan! I’m trying to make my daughters birthday cake but would like something more fun! Thank you 🙂 

    • If the cupcake pan holds the same amount of batter as two 9-inch cake pans or a 9×13 cake pan, it should be just fine!

  18. Hi Sally,

    I only have one deep 9″ pan, so would half the batter be okay to sit on the side whilst the other half cooks? Or would I be able to just put it all in the pan and cook at a lower temperature for longer?

    • I would just bake one layer at a time and let the other half of the batter sit at room temperature.

  19. thanks for this recipe. I saw it on Pinterest and just made it tonight. Soooo delicious! I subscribed to your email list and can’t wait to read, bake, and taste more yummy creations. 

  20. This chocolate cake was soo perfectly moist and delicious! I made it for my 21st birthday yesterday but filled it with chocolate chip cookie dough. Everyone loved it! Thanks so much for the recipe! 

    https://tryhardkitchen.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/21st-birthday-cookie-dough-stuffed-chocolate-cake-with-rose-buttercream/

  21. Hi Sally!!! I am making my grandma’s 80th birthday cake which will have six layers. I am using 6×2″, 8×2″, and 10×2″ pans. How do you suggest I make this recipe for the 10×2″ so that it is still 2″ thick like the others? Thank you for all that you do! I can honestly say I get on your website AT LEAST once a day! Hope to meet you on your book tour!! 🙂

    • Hey Kristin! Here’s something I do when I’m nervous I won’t have enough cake batter for certain pans: I make two batches of the batter. So, make this cake batter and then make it again (or you can double the recipe). Then, fill your cake pans evenly. If you have extra batter, make some cupcakes (about 20 minutes bake time for cupcakes). Enjoy!

  22. This is my new go-to everything cake!  It’s absolutely amazing!

  23. Hi Sally, I love your recipes! I’m looking for a cake recipe for my son’s birthday and I want to make a chocolate- berries type of cake. But I love this recipe! Do you think I could add some berries to the frosting in between the layers and also for decoration? Thanks! Zuzana

  24. Hi Sally! I recently just found your website and have been using it nonstop; however, this is my first comment. I made this cake and instead of the frosting I made a nutella ‘sauce’ with just evaporated milk and nutella. Now, my dad usually loves my baking, but he always has something to say..”too much sugar”,”too cakey”, “too chewy”,”its okay..” This is the first dessert where he has nothing to say but “I want this as my birthday cake until the day I die!”

    Thank you for your recipes and tips!! Trust me, it is greatly appreciated in this family!!

  25. Hi Sally, quick question – once baked, can the cake layers be kept in the fridge overnight and then assembled the following morning?     Love the site and all its deliciousness

    • Absolutely! I usually keep them covered tightly at room temperature instead of in the fridge.

  26. I bake once a year, for my fiance’s birthday, that’s it. This cake is what I bake, and this recipe is so wonderful even I don’t mess it up.

  27. Do you think this would work out if I used gluten free flour?

    • I went ahead and made it with the gluten free four. Right now the cakes are over flowing and after 25 minutes are still very under cooked, even thought I measured out the ingredients correctly. 🙁

  28. Perfect recipe but I’m bit confused with the amount. All purpose flour and sugar are given same amount as 1 and 3/4 cups but gm are different  220 and 350.  Also assuming 1 cup as 200 gm, the cocoa powder amount is 3/4 cup ie 150 gm but it’s given as 65 gm. Am I getting it completely wrong??

  29. This is my first time making a chocolate cake from scratch and it turned out to be my favorite! Took it to a birthday party and everyone loved it! 

  30. Hey Sally, every singleast recipe that I’ve made of yours have been nothing but a success. I was reading step 3, and noticed it’s just a 2 step process. Mix the wet ingredients then mix the dry into the wet. Could I just use a big mixing bowl and a wisk?

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