Chocolate Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

This chocolate cream cheese Bundt cake starts with chocolate but ends with salted caramel. Hiding inside the super moist chocolate crumb is a swirl of cheesecake. What a combination!

One reader, Catherine, says: This recipe is fabulous. I cannot say enough. The cake is incredibly moist… It does not even need the caramel or ganache topping. It’s the perfect cake.”

slice of chocolate cream cheese bundt cake on a black plate with a fork

overhead image of chocolate cream cheese bundt cake with salted caramel drizzle on top

Tell Me About This Chocolate Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

  • Flavor: If you’ve tried our chocolate cake before, you’ll be happy to know this chocolate Bundt cake is equally (if not more!) moist and rich. Just like in our flourless chocolate cake recipe, the chocolate flavor is enhanced with a little espresso powder. But that addition is completely optional if you prefer to leave it out.
  • Texture: You’ll enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth cake with a creamy, velvety cream cheese filling. The texture is very moist all around!
  • Ease: I always like to say that even though this cake looks fancy, she’s anything but a diva. The prep process is relatively simple using 3 mixing bowls: 1 bowl for the cake batter’s wet ingredients, 1 for the cake batter’s dry ingredients, and 1 for the cream cheese swirl. After you mix up the chocolate batter, simply layer it all into the Bundt pan.
  • Time: The cake must cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator before you slice and serve it. The taste and texture are ideal after the cheesecake filling has chilled a bit.

chocolate cake batter in a white bowl with a hand mixer

Recipe Testing: What Works and What Doesn’t

We tested, retested, and made massive improvements to this chocolate cheesecake Bundt cake. We know you’ll love the recipe below!

  1. Thicker Batter: The chocolate batter is a lot like our favorite chocolate cake. When we first tested this recipe, the batter was too thin to hold up a cream cheese center. It was an absolute mess. So we removed some of the liquid and replaced it with sour cream. This change thickened the batter and kept the crumb moist.
  2. Hot Liquid: Instead of using hot coffee, as we do in the layer cake, we opted for hot water in this chocolate Bundt cake. We made this switch because we get a lot of questions about subbing out the coffee. (Of course, you can use either!) Why do you need hot liquid in the first place, you ask? It helps the cocoa powder, where all the chocolate flavor comes from, “bloom” (that’s the technical term) and brings out the chocolate flavor. Speaking of cocoa, make sure you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa and not Dutch-process cocoa.
  3. Use a Mixer: The cheesecake filling comes together with 4 ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla. These are most of the ingredients in a cheesecake recipe. You need a mixer for beating the cream cheese mixture, but this tool is not required for the cake batter. However, since you already have it out, we suggest using it to mix the cake batter too– it always helps ensure there are no dry clumps.
  4. Salted caramel: The salted caramel sauce is optional, but you can make that ahead of time, then just warm it up and drizzle over the cake when you serve it. Or try a silky chocolate ganache instead of salted caramel. 

cream cheese layer on top of chocolate cake batter in a bundt pan

overhead image of chocolate cake batter in a bundt pan

drizzling salted caramel onto chocolate bundt cake

Choosing the Right Equipment: Before You Bundt

Call us predictable, but we always use the same Bundt cake pan over and over again because we love it! (This is an affiliate link, but I’m glad to share it with you.) This super quality, heavy-duty pan has awesome rubber grips and never warps. I’ve been using it for years and it’s as durable today as it was on day 1. And I’ve made a lot of Bundts! 

Tip: Even though it’s nonstick, we always generously grease it just to be safe. The Bundt cake releases so easily and the shape is lovely.

slice of chocolate cream cheese bundt cake on a black plate with a fork

One quick thing! We’ve received lots of questions about the large sprinkle plate, but we don’t have a link as it was handmade by a family member – sorry!

More Bundt Cakes to Love

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slice of chocolate cream cheese bundt cake on a black plate with a fork

Chocolate Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 65 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This chocolate cream cheese Bundt cake is completely over the top and is finished off with salted caramel.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • optional: 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) boiling hot water*

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 12 ounces (336g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional Toppings


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 10-inch Bundt pan that holds 12 cups of batter.
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or you can use a whisk) mix the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water, and whisk or beat it all until the batter is completely combined. Set aside as you prepare the cream cheese filling.
  3. Make the cream cheese filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until no lumps remain. Beat in the remaining ingredients on medium-high speed until combined.
  4. Pour about 2/3 of the chocolate batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan. (Just eyeball it.) Spread all of the cream cheese filling evenly on top. The cream cheese batter is thick, so you’ll have to spoon it on top and do your best to spread it around– avoid it touching the sides of the pan. See photo above for a visual. Pour the remaining chocolate batter evenly on top.
  5. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with just a couple lightly moist crumbs. This is a large, heavy cake so don’t be alarmed if it takes a little longer in your oven.
  6. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours inside the pan. Then, invert the slightly cooled Bundt cake onto a wire rack or serving dish. Allow cake to cool completely, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Garnish with optional toppings, then slice and serve.
  7. Leftovers keep well stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Baked cake can be frozen up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. Instead of sour cream, try using plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitute.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  4. Hot Water: Instead of boiling water, try using hot and strong black coffee. The cake won’t taste like coffee, but the chocolate flavor will definitely be accentuated. I reduced the amount down from 1/2 cup (120ml) to 1/3 cup (80ml) to yield a thicker cake batter which helps support the cream cheese layer.
  5. Adapted from chocolate cake and pumpkin cream cheese Bundt cake.

Keywords: chocolate bundt cake, bundt cake

side view of chocolate cream cheese bundt cake showing the cream cheese filling

More bundt cakes to love:

114 Comments

  1. My cream cheese filling turned into a very small line of cream cheese at the top of the pan. It seemed to be absorbed into the cake. Yours shows a thick layer of it. Any ideas what’s went wrong?  Thank you!

    1. Did you alter the recipe at all? Any slight change? Use “light” cream cheese? Evenly layer it in? Room temperature ingredients? Trying to figure out how that could happen. I’ve now made the cake 4x and always have a thick ribbon of filling!

  2. Made this last night and it is so delicious. One question though: my cream cheese center is more cheesecake-like in texture – is that the correct texture? The picture looks more cake-like to me.

  3. I tried this yesterday for my husband’s birthday… what a disaster… Followed the recipe precisely, did not change any ingredient! The cake overflowed in the oven, scooped everything away hoping I could still save it. Took way longer to bake (which you did mention in the recipe) and the result was horrible: a sponge cake with white sponge cake-ish filling that completely fell apart and even the taste was just pure sugar. I seriously have no idea what happened, I suppose the baking powder was too strong, I added exactly the amount you wrote down though. Glad we had an extra cake!

    P.S.: This is not meant to mean your recipe sucks, it just didn’t work for us and I think bloggers should hear it too when their readers have a bad experience with their content. I still follow your blog and will try other recipes! Thank you for making these! I’ll go clean my oven now hahaha

  4. Made this today with a Crown Cake pan so it was less ‘bundt’ shaped. Topped with chocolate ganache and decorated with whipped Ganache. O…M…G!!!! It was amazing!!  

  5.  This bundt cake was the hit of the gourmet dessert table at a game night for about 125 women.  I gave everyone who asked for the recipe your web site information so I think you’re going to have some new readers.  Thank you for this wonderful recipe.  I followed the directions exactly as printed and the cake was perfect.

  6. Made this as a birthday cake with the salted caramel. Everyone LOVED it

  7. What size bundt pan or, how many cups of batter total? The pan size does make a difference. The problems some people are having may have to do with the wrong pan size.

    1. Hi Tonia! I recommend a 10-inch Bundt cake pan that holds 12 cups of batter.

  8. Catherine Gilmore says:

    Sally,
    Thank you!! I tend to up having successful and beloved bakes from your recipes. I am actually baking this cake right now for my daughter’s Fall Festival tomorrow. The school promised all cakes with be in a fridge for safe keeping. My bundt pan is 10″ across but using water I measured to the tippy top at 10 cups. Do you think this will work?
    I thought about restricting both the batter and cheesecake to have enough room for expansion but there is a bit more than an inch of pan above the batter so I took the plunge instead throwing out excess batter or baking one small muffin shaped cake. I have all my toes and fingers crossed it doesn’t overflow. If I need to adjust a cake recipe because my pan isn’t exact, is the main idea to leave room for the rise?
    I’d like to bake it again for my husband’s RN class now that its all exams and projects. I will let you know how it turns out, but if you have any advice on how to replicate this for my size bundt pan I am listening.
    I am proud to pass along this recipe, so thank you as well for creating a printable recipe I can include for whomever “wins” this cake.

    1. Hi Catherine! So happy to read this and I’m glad to help in any way I can. It sounds like you’re on the right track. Less is more because I’d rather have a short cake than an overflowing cake, you know? Fill the Bundt pan only about 2/3 – 3/4 full and make a few cupcakes on the side.

      1. Catherine Gilmore says:

        It worked BEAUTIFULLY!! Flat bottom, rose to the edge of the pan, and because of your baking tips I read before I started, it came right out of the pan, no crumb left behind. I glazed it with a salted chocolate ganache and decorated with some sparkling sugar. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I will be baking it again soon. The world is a sweeter place with you in it!

  9. RedHairedLady (Laura) says:

    I baked this today for Christmas. It was very easy to make. I appreciate that I didn’t have to use a mixer for the chocolate batter.

    Unfortunately the cream cheese layer showed through the top of the cake in spots. Not sure if it the batter was too thin or if it was the pan I used. I used the Nordic Ware anniversary swirled bundt pan.

    The cake was delicious though! I made a chocolate ganache instead of caramel.

  10. Hi Sally,
    Can I make this without the cream cheese layer?

    1. Absolutely!

  11. I made this for my husband’s birthday yesterday and it turned out absolutely fantastic. The cream cheese swirl added a lovely twist, though it wasn’t like a thick ribbon as seen in your picture, but a thinner ribbon swirl.
    Overall, great taste and so moist! Thank you for this lovely recipe!

  12. Hi Sally, can the cream cheese filling be left out of the recipe and can chocolate chips be added? would the bake time be the same? Thanks!

    1. Yes, you can leave out the cream cheese and add chocolate chips. Keep the bake time the same and enjoy!

  13. Sally, I’m loving all of your recipes. This cake is delicious, and the cream cheese filling makes bundt cake more fun! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Hi Sally, I wanted to try this cake because it looks so delicious but I have one question, do the cream cheese melt during the baking process and is the cake left with a creamy cream cheese filling? Also can you use this cream cheese filling in other cake recipes other then chocolate cakes? I wanted to try to use it in a yellow batter cake and see how that would turn out, please let me know, THANKS.

    1. The cream cheese layer is like a cheesecake texture so it doesn’t melt into the cake. See the photos in the post of the beautiful white swirl inside the cake! I use the same method in other cakes like carrot and pumpkin cakes. The batter needs to be thick/sturdy enough to hold up the layer while baking so it doesn’t sink.

  15. Catherine Therese says:

    I made this cake yesterday as a thank you for my sister and brother-in-law. I dropped it off today and we each had a slice. It is so pretty and rich, and so moist that it doesn’t even need a topping. We loved it. I can’t wait to make this again. Absolutely perfect. Thank you Sally!

  16. Hi. I love your recipes, they are so yummy and easy to follow. I made this chocolate bundt cake, followed the directions, and baked it for more than the time allotted but it came out soupy. Thinking I didn’t bake it for enough time I put it bake in the oven and it still stayed the same way. I looked at the directions again and processed what I could have done but I couldn’t figure it out. The flavor was still yummy but wondering what I did wrong. I hope you can help me for next time. Thanks!

    1. If it was just that the batter was still not baked it was likely just under-done. Bundt cakes are huge heavy cakes so depending on your oven temperature and the pan you are using it’s possible for them to take a lot longer!

  17. Good grief. This recipe is fabulous. I cannot say enough. The cake is incredibly moist. I was a little scared when the cheesecake part started to float to the top after I poured in the second half of the batter but I closed my eyes and just baked it. The batter just enveloped the cheesecake. I am making it again for a friends birthday this week and I’m bringing it to my daughters at Thanksgiving. I want to spread this recipe around. It does not even need the caramel or ganache topping. It’s the perfect cake.

  18. Sally, all of these recipes look so fabulous! I was wondering if the cheesecake center of the Bundt cakes would do ok being frozen. I’d love to make some of these ahead of Thanksgiving, if possible. Thanks

    1. Hi Wendy! Yes, you can bake, cool, and freeze this Bundt cake. Thaw and bring to room temperature before serving.

  19. Hi, so do you think I can make chocolate layer cake and cream cheese icing with this recipe?

    1. Hi Robyn! Sure can. This recipe is basically my Tuxedo Cake batter– use those baking instructions for a layer cake and use the same amount of cream cheese frosting that I use for my carrot cake.

  20. I’ve just baked this cake and it looks fab!
    When cooling in the Bundt pan it sunk quite a bit (the cake was fully cooked – knife came out clean!)
    Can’t wait to eat it tomorrow!

  21. Hi Sally! Could I use melted coconut oil instead of vegetable or canola oil?

    1. Yes, that should work! Enjoy 🙂

  22. I made this for a dinner party last night and everyone loved it! Delicious! Thank you.

  23. Rachel Galaviz says:

    I wanted to make this for a work
    Christmas party and considered adding some peppermint extract to the cream cheese filling but wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. What do you think? How much should I add if so?

    1. Sounds delicious! I would recommend starting small – perhaps a 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon depending on how strong you would like the flavor. A little bit of peppermint extract can go a long way. Let me know how it turns out!

  24. This was excellent and turned out perfectly! Moist and tender with distinct cocoa and cream cheese flavors, but not overly sweet, and very pretty on the plate. I made the recipe as written but skipped the caramel drizzle. It didn’t need it! We served the cake on NYE with a homemade chocolate chip ice cream. Everyone loved it! The only thing I’ll do differently next time (and there will be many next times!) is to increase the cream cheese filling to 1.5, or maybe even double it.

  25. Hi Sally; If you can please reply today.
    Can I substitute APPLESAUCE for OIL??
    Thank you

    1. Hi Linda, I don’t recommend it. The cake will taste rubbery and dry without the fat from the oil.

  26. I’m planning on making this but for the life of me I don’t understand the boiling water! Do I add the espresso powder to it and then add it to the batter? What am I missing?? Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Marla! The hot liquid is added–as is– to the batter. It helps dissolve and bloom the cocoa powder, bringing out its flavor. You don’t mix it with espresso powder. The espresso powder is optional, the hot liquid is not.

  27. Angela Butera says:

    This was wonderful! Everyone loved it! I made it as described, but using 75% of the espresso powder, in the pan you recommended, and it was ready at 55 minutes for me. The texture and flavor are wonderful! Just like another reviewer, I became concerned when some of the cream cheese filling began to float towards the top of the batter, but it the batter enveloped it just fine! I will make this again.

    By the way, your pie crust recipe (adding the vodka as the link recommends) is now my go to, it never fails and tastes great! Thank you for your help and hard work! I want to make so many things of yours; I think I may do the coconut cake next!

  28. I made this cake yesterday and it tastes great. However, like someone else said, it sunk quite a bit in the bundt pan. What did I do wrong?

  29. Sally, this recipe is PERFECT. I too tried the Hershey recipe and ended up with a mess. Thank you so much!!! One question. All my cheesecake filling rose to the top during baking. Any reason for it? Thanks again!

  30. This was really good, we did end up making extra cream cheese icing though! For the second batch of the icing, we used cream cheese and sugar. For the second batch of the icing, we just used cream cheese and sugar. We topped it with Hersheys Chocolate shell syrup (the kind that hardens if you stick it in the fridge).

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