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

870 Comments

  1. This is the best recipe. I tried it awhile back several times and its always delicious. My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes
    There isnt alot of good diabetic friendly recipes for deserts. Do you if substituting truvia for the sugar effects the recipe alot? My husband loves cakes and i havent found a good recipe they just dont taste as good

    1. Hi Nina! The batter should be baked right away. You can prepare the cakes 1-2 days ahead of time. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature until ready to frost. Or freeze the layers, then thaw and frost.

    2. This cake I unbelievably moist! I like to use chai instead of coffee, and I live how it enhances the chocolate flavor. I make all the birthday cakes for family members and this is always a winner for the chocolate lovers in the family.

  2. This cake is amazing!! I made it for Easter dinner and now we’re all laying on the couch and wishing we were dead. Best day ever!

  3. He there! Will this be able to make a sphere cake? I want to make a deathstar cake using this chocolate cake recipe. Would it be sturdy enough? I will be using buttercream to frost the cake. Also can butter be substituted/used in this recipe?

    1. That sounds so fun! I haven’t personally tested this recipe in a sphere shaped pan but let me know if you try it! I recommend sticking with oil here and not butter – you can use vegetable or melted coconut oil.

  4. I live at around 6,000 ft elevation. Does anybody know the proper adjustments that could make this cake work at elevation? The cake sounds amazing, and I want to make it!

  5. Wow! What a brilliant recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this. The cake is super moist, super soft and incredibly chocolaty! I’ve tried many chocolate cake recipes thus far, and have finally found the perfect one…it’s great even without any toppings!

  6. My sugar never gets properly incorporated into my buttercream. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

  7. I made this cake yesterday, and it was delicious last night. But this morning (yes, chocolate cake is a breakfast food sometimes!) it is even better. Even my husband, the self appointed food critic, said it was very good.

    I waffled between 4 and 5 stars only because the layers are very fragile. I turned them out too soon on the cooling racks and the tops crumbled and stuck. They were fully done, but the cake is so moist that it will stick to the racks. I will cool them in the pans next time. I ended up deciding on 5 stars because the recipe is that good, but I suggest adding that they should be cooled in the pans for a while before turning out, and then cool with the top side up and the paper still on the bottom so they don’t stick to the racks.

    This was my very first attempt at a home-made chocolate cake and I thank you, Sally, for the recipe.

    The other observation that I have is that you add the salt to the icing at the end. In my case, my salt was slightly larger crystals that the standard Morton’s and it didn’t dissolve entirely in the icing. This leaves tiny crunchy bursts of salt flavor. I don’t find it objectionable, and in fact, it kinda breaks the sweetness of the icing in a pleasant way, but if the salt were added earlier it would probably result in a smoother, more conventional butter cream.

    That being said, the entire recipe is a hit. I will be making it again. Other than the chocolate chip garnish I did follow the recipe (unusual for me!) as I’ve not made many cakes before and wanted to make it successfully before playing with things.

    The end result is moist, full of fudge flavor, and yet not too sweet. Next time I may make a dark chocolate ganache swirl on top or something to that effect, or maybe some raspberry filling between the layers.

  8. Hi sally! Can i use hot milk as an alternative to the hot coffee , water or tea! For a richer taste!

  9. What kind of coffee do you recommend?
    Like would espresso coffee work or more of a classic roast?

  10. I made this for my friend’s birthday last weekend and was told it was “god tier”. Men are so silly. 🙂 But I will say even I was amazed by it, even though I’ve made it before and I don’t like to toot my own horn! Somehow it was even better this time than the last time I made it. I’m making it again with peanut butter frosting for my mom this weekend and I’m excited to see her reaction.

    1. Hi! I made this in a 9×13 for my sons construction themed birthday cake. Do you think I could cut it in half lengthwise and make 2 layers out of it or would it be better to make an additional cake layer? Thank you!

  11. Tried this recipe and it was Amaziiinnng!!!! I’m planning to do this again, just a question… Can the recipe be doubled for 2- 9×13 pan? Thank you much for all the yummy recipes ❤️

    1. Hi Lalaine! Sure can! But I recommend making the batter twice instead of doubling. Extra volume in the bowl risks over or under-mixing.

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