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Deep, dark chocolate gingerbread Bundt cake full of warming spices. This chocolate gingerbread Bundt cake with cream cheese frosting is a show stopper dessert around the holidays!

slice of chocolate gingerbread bundt cake topped with cream cheese frosting and a fork

What may look like your run-of-the-mill chocolate Bundt cake, one bite of today’s cake will surely take you for a surprise. Deep in the chocolate crumbs you will taste a medley of warming winter spices, pungent and dark molasses, and a bold ginger taste ready to scare off your gingerbread cookie. And ordinary chocolate Bundt cake? Ha! This is none of the sort.

3 images of chocolate gingerbread bundt cake

Originally intending to make a pumpkin chocolate Bundt cake of sorts last weekend, I found myself eager to try something a little new. While I love pumpkin dearly, I am beginning to embrace the flavors of the upcoming holidays. There are no flavors I associate more with holidays than gingerbread or molasses, so into my chocolate Bundt cake went… Christmas.

Into the cake batter goes cocoa powder, whole milk, molasses, eggs, and brown sugar. I used oil as my fat in the recipe because I’ve learned that oil produces a much softer, moist slice of cake as opposed to butter. While I love butter in my cookie recipes, when I’m not looking for an item to spread and to remain moist over time – I find oil does the trick. Especially a cake with so much flavor from the ginger, molasses, and spices – you will not miss the butter in this recipe at all. Box cake mixes (which have the texture I was looking for) are baked using oil, not butter.

For the festive spices – if you’re anything like me, you’re going to lend a heavy hand pouring your cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves into the mix. The two teaspoons of ginger are necessary (you’re making gingerbread after all). I typically get sprinkle happy when it comes to spices in my baked goods, but the spice amounts below were even spot-on to my taste tasters. Just the right amounts, they said.

Spice is always nice.

slice of chocolate gingerbread bundt cake with cream cheese frosting

The cake is left ultra moist from the oil, molasses, and dark brown sugar. More often than not, I favor using dark brown sugar in my baked goods because it adds a larger scale of flavor depth.

1/2 cup of dark molasses gives the cake a huge flavor punch – a little bit of molasses can go a long way, but in a dense chocolate Bundt cake – a whopping 1/2 cup is not overpowering at all. I prefer dark molasses because it has a more robust flavor than light molasses (comparable to the taste difference between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar). I prefer dark molasses over blackstrap molasses as well – blackstrap is the darkest variety. Blackstrap molasses is too bitter for me and light molasses is too mild. Regular dark molasses fits the bill every time.

*Tip: spraying your measuring cup with non-stick spray before measuring the molasses will save you a lot of sticky trouble!

The cake’s texture is soft, yet dense – exactly how you can imagine the taste of gingerbread and chocolate cake if the two combined forces. You’ve got your pungent, slightly spicy, and thick slice of gingerbread with a delicate and moist piece of chocolate cake all in one bite. Texture perfection, if you ask me. Each crumb is ultra moist, chocolatey rich, and tender. There are so many complex flavors happening in this cake that it is practically impossible to stop eating it.

I can think of worse problems.

2 images of slices of chocolate gingerbread bundt cake topped with cream cheese frosting

The frosting was an afterthought and while this cake is simply glorious on it’s own, I felt a tangy and creamy layer overtop was the perfect addition. The cream cheese frosting is a Sally special… the perfect ratio of cream cheese to butter, confectioners’ sugar to vanilla, and a splash of milk to get things moving in the mixer. The white frosting is quite thick and smooths beautifully over the dark chocolate Bundt – I love the color contrast of the two!

I topped the the frosting with a light drizzle of chocolate sauce. From the spices in the batter, the frosting piled on top, to the chocolate drizzle – apparently “more is better” is my motto today. Now THIS is how I like my holiday gingerbread. 😉

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slice of chocolate gingerbread bundt cake topped with cream cheese frosting and a fork

Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10-12 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Deep, dark chocolate gingerbread Bundt cake full of warming spices. This chocolate gingerbread Bundt cake with cream cheese frosting is a show stopper dessert around the holidays!


Ingredients

Scale

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (156g) dark molasses
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 oz (112g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 23 cups (240-360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional: chocolate sauce, for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Spray a 9-inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray. Dust with cocoa powder and tap out excess. Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Over medium-low heat, melt together the oil, molasses, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan until all of the brown sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs and milk into the molasses mixture after it has cooled (to avoid heating and scrambling the eggs). Set aside.
    Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Gently fold the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined. There will be lumps remaining. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes until cake is pulling away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  3. As the cake cools, make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla and the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached the desired thickness. Add a little more sugar or milk if necessary to achieve a spreadable frosting.
  4. Invert cake onto a cake stand or a large serving platter. Frost cake immediately before serving and drizzle with chocolate sauce (optional).
  5. Cake remains fresh for up to 4 days stored in the refrigerator.

Notes

  1. Cake adapted from Martha Stewart.

Keywords: chocolate gingerbread bundt cake

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Just made this cake for Super Bowl Sunday. Wow! It was delicious! The spices and the chocolate flavors blended so well together. The icing/chocolate syrup were the perfect toppings and complemented the cake itself very well. A very moist cake too! Thanks, Sally!

  2. Will this turn out well if you use a 10-inch bundt pan? That’s all I have and I’d like to make this for an office holiday party this week.

    I was thinking of making either a chocolate or gingerbread bundt cake before I saw this recipe, so this solves my dilemma by combining both chocolate and gingerbread together…so win, win!

      1. Hi Sally. I’m excited to try this, but I too only have a 10in bundt pan. I’d like it to be a nice large cake (it’s for a party). Could I just make a batch and a half (1.5) of this recipe in the 10in bundt pan? Or would that mess something up? Would I need more baking soda since it will be thicker?

      2. Hey Tiffany! The cake will still be quite large as is in the 10 inch pan, I promise. No changes necessary.

  3. Sally, can I make this recipe in a regular 9×13 pan?  Or do I absolutely need a bundt pan?

  4. Hi Sally,

    Could I bake this into two 8 inch round cakes? Wondering if it’s too soft to hold up to being made into a tier cake…

    Thanks,
    (also) Sally

    1. Hi Sally! There may be too much batter for two 8 inch cake pans, but I’m not certain without testing it myself. The chocolate gingerbread cake will be great as a layer cake and hold up nicely.

  5. This is one of my very favorite cakes I’ve made! It’s so moist and light for a Bundt, and the recipe worked perfectly when I halved it for my mini pan!

  6. Can I substitute an extra half cup of flour and skip the cocoa? I really want to make just a classic gingerbread Bundt cake; I can’t find one on your website, Sally, and I don’t trust anybody else’s

    1. Hi Beth! You can definitely try substituting the cocoa powder for an extra 1/2 cup of flour. Let me know how it turns out! The Bundt cake is on the smaller side.

  7. Fabulous!! Made this tonight for our family Christmas party. It was so delectably moist and chocolatey with a good amount of spice. I added chocolate chips to the batter not remembering that my batter was warm which resulted in even more chocolate decadence! I also topped with chocolate ganache instead of cream cheese which put it over the top! Thanks sally for a keeper!!

  8. Hi Sally! Do you have any recommendations for turning this into a layer cake? I’m unsure whether it would be enough batter for a two or three layered 8 or 9 inch cake (or even 6 inch). Thank you in advance!

  9. Hi Sally,

    Longtime reader (and baker) of your recipes, first-time poster. In the blog text, you mention using heavy cream instead of milk, but in the recipe, the milk alternative is buttermilk. That seems odd to me. Is one of them a goof? If we used buttermilk, that would make the batter more acidic, so we’d have to use more baking soda, right?

    1. Hi Dayna– let me fix that. Heavy cream would be a fine substitute in the cake recipe itself but regular whole milk truly is best. Buttermilk isn’t ideal but it’s only 1/4 cup (60ml) and wouldn’t really require a change to the baking soda/leavening.

  10. Multiple people have told me this is the best cake they’ve ever had. “I’m floored” and “I can’t believe this is even human food” are two of my favorite responses. I’ve also made it in Nordic Bakeware’s stained glass bundt pan and preserved the pretty design by making a simple powdered sugar/water glaze instead of the thicker frosting and that went well!

    1. Hi Elaine, you can, just divide the batter evenly among two loaf pans. We’re unsure of the exact bake time. Enjoy!

  11. I’ve made many things from your site and have recommended it to many friends, but this is the first recipe that I felt underwhelmed by. Luckily it’s not a particularly time consuming one- just got that urge to bake something on a random weeknight and happened to have purchased molasses recently on a whim.

    Honestly, the texture was just fine, no sticking issues, etc. But man, it literally just tastes like molasses and the spices are totally lost. I mean can’t taste them even a little.

    I triple checked that everything was correct in terms of amounts, never change a thing the first time I try a recipe, and even freshly ground my own cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, which I’ve used in other recipes recently with the flavors you’d expect of freshly ground spices. So I wonder if the molasses I bought is just a particularly strong one? Everyone else commenting seems to be enjoying their spice level…So bummed!

    So it’s not a bad cake by any means, and my husband enjoyed his slice quite a bit just now, but I was really hoping for that hit of gingerbread and just didn’t get it. Just an unmet expectations thing. At least I used up most of the molasses!

    On to the next recipe!

    1. Hi Heather, Thank you for trying this recipe. What type of molasses did you use? You should definitely taste it but it shouldn’t be overwhelming. We prefer dark molasses over blackstrap molasses, which is very strong. Dark molasses is usually sold as unsulphered.

  12. I made this is a silicone Bundt pan (dark in colour), and it required an additional 22 minutes

  13. Haven’t tried this yet but it’s next on my list. Just wondering if I should go with dark cocoa powder instead of regular (if I can find it)? Dark seems to be the theme of this recipe!

    1. Hi David, it’s important to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder here — many dark chocolate cocoa’s are dutch processed. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the difference between natural and dutch processed cocoas here. Hope you enjoy this cake!

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