Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

This is my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe. With a super moist crumb and fudgy, yet light texture, this chocolate cake recipe will be your favorite too. Top with chocolate buttercream and chocolate chips for 3x the chocolate flavor. You can also prepare this chocolate layer cake as a sheet cake too. See recipe note.

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.

MORE chocolate cakes to love:

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Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe. With a super moist crumb and fudgy, yet light texture, this chocolate cake recipe will be your favorite too. Top with chocolate buttercream and chocolate chips for 3x the chocolate flavor. You can also prepare this chocolate layer cake as a sheet cake too. See recipe note.


Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
  • 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) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil (or canola oil, or melted coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) freshly brewed strong hot coffee*

Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • 1.25 cups (2.5 sticks or 290g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 34 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)*
  • 35 Tablespoons (45-75ml) heavy cream (or half-and-half or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/23/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • optional for decoration: semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter & flour two 9 inch round cake pans, or use non-stick spray. See note about 9×13 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.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Cocoa Powder: Use unsweetened natural cocoa powder in the cake, not dutch process. Here’s the important difference between natural and dutch process cocoa powder. Since there is no leavening in the frosting, you can use either natural or dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder.
  3. Buttermilk: 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.
  4. Room Temperature Ingredients: All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  5. Coffee Alternatives: 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.
  6. 9×13 Inch Pan: You can bake this cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan. Same oven temperature, about 35-40 minutes bake time.
  7. Chocolate Cupcakes: Here is my favorite chocolate cupcakes recipe. Same unbelievable texture as this cake!

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Keywords: cake, chocolate cake

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

935 Comments

  1. Sally, I love all of your recipes! This cake is so good. I am going to be making it for my friend’s wedding as their cutting cake! Is there anyway I can make this recipe into cupcakes? I live at around 5,500 ft elevation and for whatever reason, the chocolate cupcake recipe just won’t turn out, but this cake is dynamite.

      1. Love this recipe! My boyfriend loves chocolate cake and I never found a recipe that I particularly liked(they were always a little dry) with the added coffee this makes the cake super moist and delicious! Have already made this cake a few times. Definitely added this to my recipe box.

    1. Sally, this is my favorite chocolate cake recipe and i make it all the time. But a friend became vegan and she wants a chocolate cake for her birthday. How i can replace the eggs?
      Thank you very much, you’re very inspiring

  2. The BEST chocolate cake recipe I think I have ever had. So moist and delicious! I used hot water instead of the coffee and it still Came out AMAZING! I paired it with A peanut butter frosting and OMG. It’s a must try. Just like a Reece’s cup!!

  3. Super moist nice texture. My mom doesn’t really like chocolate cake. Too dry she says. Not this one. She told me only make this one from now on. I frosted with your vanilla buttercream. Turned out really striking visually and tasted fantastic. I didn’t have enough vanilla extract so added some almond. Yum. Thank you your recepies are the best and great step by step instructions and notes.

    1. Cake flour is too light for this cake since we’re already including super light cocoa powder. Great question!

  4. Hi Sally,
    This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made or eaten! I want to make a tiered chocolate cake with 2 or 3 tiers. Do you think it would work with this cake or do you have a recipe that would be better?
    Thank you,
    Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie! So glad you enjoy this chocolate cake recipe! This cake should work just fine as a tiered cake, but if you’re nervous– you can always add extra support with cake dowels.

  5. My co-workers were my taste testers when I started taking baking seriously. We went through several chocolate recipes before I found the perfect one. This one is it!!!!
    Everyone Loves it.
    Thanks Soo Much!

  6. Hi Sally! Big fan here!
    I am making this cake for our daughter’s first birthday party (layered cake banana cake and chocolate cake).
    Could I use decaff coffee? The amount of sugar is already substantial… I’m afraid that might just send her to the moon!
    Thanks!
    Amy

  7. Hey Sally! Such a good cake! Im a baker and i was wondering if i can add more flour to make it a little thicker its really watery and very fragile to handle once baked! Im worried it wont hold up under fondant or tiers! Let me know thanks

  8. Sally, can you please advise the height of the pans you use? I used 2 x 9 inch pans as specified, and followed the recipe carefully. The result was certainly moist and fudgy but the cakes did not rise as high as I’d expected and the taste was disappointing: chocolately but not sweet at all. I used very strong coffee so that may have been part of it, but there was an unpleasant bicarbonate tang despite measuring carefully.
    I’m a big fan of your chocolate cupcake recipe but somehow this just didn’t work for me. My oven isn’t the most even so that possibly didn’t help.

    1. Hi Dee! Did you use natural cocoa powder or dutched cocoa? Natural cocoa is essential in this recipe. Without it (and the buttermilk), the baking soda won’t have enough acid for reacting. Not enough acid means there will be leftover baking soda in the recipe, which creates a metallic, soapy taste in your baked goods.

      1. Thanks for replying, Sally. I’d read your instructions about using only natural cocoa so I’d carefully looked for “cocoa” at the supermarket and avoided the packet labelled “dutch cocoa”. However your reply got me curious so I examined the tin carefully and sure enough, in tiny white writing under ingredients, it stated “dutch processed cocoa”. Not. Happy. I have been back to the supermarket this afternoon and can confirm that of the 3 brands for sale – Cadbury, Plaistowe and Nestle cocoa – all are dutch processed. So, any Australian readers out there want to tell me where I can find natural cocoa powder?
        I really want to try this recipe with the correct ingredients now!

    2. Hi Dee I used Coles brand cocoa – nothing on the packaging says Dutch process so I figured it was the best chance I had! Loved this cake 🙂

      1. I just baked this cake. 9.5inch pan and it came out perfect! I used the Coles brand cocoa. It worked a treat!

  9. Hi Sally ,
    This is my favorite chocolate cake ever!! I am making a cake this weekend and using 6 inch pans — will this recipe work for that size?

  10. Hi Sally!!!!!
    Super love the cake texture! It is moist! Chococlety!
    Everything a chocolate cake should have!
    This is the Ultimate One!!!
    Thanks.
    Jacqui

  11. Hi Sally,
    Just loved this cake. I want to make it in A4 size for my sons 7th Birthday in decorate it as a football pitch. I was just wonder do I need to increase the amount for the ingredients and what’s size tin would be best to use?.

    Many thanks
    Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa, I would love to help. Is the A4 size you are referring to about 8×11 inches? If so, one batch of batter is plenty.

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