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tuxedo cake on a white plate

What are you serving for Christmas dessert? The grand finale to your epic holiday feast? I plan to bring out a big platter of cookies for our families, but there has to be something else with a major WOW factor to celebrate the day. Cranberry orange cake is awesome, Christmas cupcakes are cute, but let’s get serious. We need a dramatic and fancy showstopper to fill these big shoes.

And I know exactly what should be on the menu.

slice of tuxedo cake on a black plate with a fork

This is a tuxedo cake. Striking black and white contrast is the idea behind this sultry beauty. “Tuxedo cake” is really for your own interpretation, as long as white and black coincide together. ♥ To me that means 3 layers of homemade chocolate cake dressed up with creamy white chocolate ganache filling and a layer of dark chocolate silk frosting so thick, it makes a fat marshmallow look like a string bean.

Remember when I told you I baked a chocolate cake and forgot to add the sugar? That really happened. And this is that cake. Not the actual cake you see in these pictures, but the cake that came right before it. It was, as you can imagine, completely revolting. If you’re ever wondering what chocolate cake tastes like without sugar, the answer is bitter salty cardboard.

However. When you add all the ingredients like you’re supposed to, this chocolate cake is a DREAM. A dark crumb with pronounced chocolate flavor. Each forkful is soft, velvety, and majorly moist. Nothing about this cake is for the faint of heart.

chocolate cake batter in a white bowl with a hand mixer

3 Parts to Tuxedo Cake

  • chocolate cake
  • white chocolate ganache
  • dark chocolate silk frosting

First, the cake.

The chocolate cake is like my chocolate cream cheese Bundt cake (same picture of the batter ↑), which is adapted from my favorite chocolate cake. The difference between those two is the sour cream. I sub out some liquid and sub in sour cream. Why? Sour cream yields a slightly denser cake and an even moister crumb. A crumb so moist, it sticks to the fork and melts on your tongue. I highly recommend enhancing the cake’s chocolate flavor with espresso powder. The cake will not taste like coffee at all; rather, the espresso powder adds depth to the cake’s chocolate flavor.

In addition to buttermilk (this acid is a must!), you’ll need hot liquid in the cake batter. Why? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve instead of just sitting there. For the hot liquid, I highly recommend hot coffee. Again, the cake will not taste like coffee! 🙂 Or you can use hot water.

Natural cocoa or dutch-process? Use natural cocoa. Remember why?

slice of tuxedo cake on a black plate

And now the white chocolate ganache.

Just like regular chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache requires just two ingredients: real white chocolate and heavy cream. With only 2 ingredients, make sure you’re using the right ones. And the best possible ones, too! Use quality chocolate to ensure a smooth and delicious (!!) white chocolate ganache. And reach for heavy cream to produce a stable ganache.

pouring heavy cream on top of white chocolate chunks in a glass bowl

white chocolate ganache in a glass bowl

Warm the heavy cream, pour over chocolate, stir to combine, then let it completely cool into thick and smooth ganache. This stuff is dangerously creamy!!! We’ll spread it between the cake layers.

white chocolate ganache in a glass bowl

spreading white chocolate ganache on top of chocolate cake layer

Finally, the dark chocolate silk frosting.

It starts as a basic buttercream, then transforms into a frosting so rich, it should be illegal. A smidge of corn syrup creates a silky texture and shine. Don’t have corn syrup? Use honey instead. Since there’s no leavening occurring, you can use either natural or dutch-process cocoa powder. Since you need it for the cake batter, natural cocoa powder is probably most convenient. I had a container of Hershey’s special dark cocoa, so I used some of that. Whichever cocoa powder you choose, the frosting will still be silky and shimmery.

chocolate silk frosting in a glass bowl

slice of tuxedo cake on a black plate with a fork

Serve with fresh raspberries, sprigs of mint, and any leftover white chocolate ganache that you didn’t use (or eat). Christmas dinner deserves a black tie ending!

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slice of tuxedo cake on a black plate with a fork

Tuxedo Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: serves 1012 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Tuxedo cake is the most special and celebratory dessert! It’s moist chocolate cake with a thick white ganache filling and dark chocolate fudge frosting.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 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
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or coffee*

White Chocolate Ganache

  • three 4 ounce (340gwhite chocolate bars, finely chopped*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream

Chocolate Silk Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 and 1/2 cups (540g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup or honey*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional for garnish: fresh raspberries and mint

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease three round 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: 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 or coffee, and whisk or beat it all until the batter is completely combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 21-25 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
  5. As the cake cools, prepare the white chocolate ganache so it can cool and be ready at the same time. Place chopped white chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over white chocolate and stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Cover and refrigerate until it’s thick and a spreadable consistency, about 1-2 hours. You don’t want it runny.
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, the cocoa powder, milk/cream, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes until combined and smooth. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar. (I add it.)
  7. Assemble and frost: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with 1/2 of the white chocolate ganache. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with remaining ganache (if there is too much ganache, serve a dollop/spoonful with each slice!). Top with the third cake layer. Spread the frosting into a thick layer all over the top and sides. Garnish with raspberries and mint, if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare cake through step 4. Wrap the individual baked cake layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the ganache and frosting, assemble/frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | 2-cup Glass Measuring Cup9-inch Round Cake Pan | Frosting SpatulaBlack Plate
  3. Why Room Temperature? 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 substitution.
  4. 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.
  5. Espresso Powder: Espresso powder and coffee will not make the chocolate taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use boiling hot water instead of the hot coffee.
  6. White Chocolate: White chocolate bars are typically sold in 4 ounce bars. I suggest Ghirardelli, Baker’s brand, or Lindt. They are found next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle. Finely chop the white chocolate so it melts easier and quicker.
  7. Cocoa Powder: Use natural cocoa in the cake, not dutch-process. There is no leavening occurring in the frosting, so you can use 3/4 cup of either. In the pictured frosting, I used some natural unsweetened cocoa (1/4 cup) and some Hershey’s special dark cocoa (1/2 cup). Yum!
  8. Corn Syrup: Corn syrup or honey is what gives the frosting its silky texture and pretty shine.

Keywords: tuxedo cake

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Wow! (Tear) This cake was amazing! This was my first time making it. I only had two 9in pans and whole wheat flour. I sifted the flour as this makes a huge difference while baking cakes. Made some minor adjustments as I wanted to make some roadtrip ready. With one pan, I created cake balls dipped in either my espresso chocolate sauce (melted chocolate, butter, desired amt of espresso), white chocolate (per the recipes instructions), my homemade caramel sauce or all the. I gave the cake balls to chocolate lovers in the family. It was a hit! With the other 9in pan, I drizzled my espresso chocolate sauce, white chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce on the cake. Then I added some crushed pecans on top of that. (I’m still in a happy place after eating this cake.) What’s really great about this cake is that it’s also good as is. Compliments to the Baker – THANK YOU SALLY

  2. Wow! Dangerously delicious and desirable. That being said, I made this cake two years ago following the recipe for my boys birthday cake. It was a hit with the family and my son’s teacher too! So here I am again being begged to make it for their birthday cake. It must of made an impression. I think this said it all! Off to enjoy dreaming of my next bite. Thank you, Sally.

  3. Yum yum yum.
    I made this for Easter with strawberries in the white chocolate ganache and on top. Yum yim

  4. Hi Sally
    Love your recipes. I like making small 6” cakes. I’ve read your pan size article which is extremely helpful. My question: this recipe call for 3 9” pans. I only have 5 6” pans. Can I use less pans and then slice the
    Layers. Your instructions don’t call for that

    1. Hi Mery, We don’t recommend over-filling your pans for thick layers. Adding too much batter to each pan means your layers won’t bake evenly and may be too heavy to rise properly. You can fill your pans about half way and bake in batches if needed. And if you only want to bake three 6 inch layers, this chocolate cupcake batter fits perfectly (you can read all about 6 inch cakes here).

  5. One of the faster cake recipes I’ve made and incredibly tasty. Big hit for our anniversary. Thank you!

  6. Hi,
    I only have two 9 inch pans. Will the cake still bake properly in two pans instead of three?

    1. Hi Selena, Baking the cake in 2 layers instead of 3 will lead to overfilled pans that may not bake correctly. If you only have two pans you can bake two and let the last third of the batter sit at room temperature until one of the pans is ready to use.

  7. Do you have any recommendations on how to adjust the recipe when baking at a higher altitude? Now that I’ve moved to colorado this cake always come out on the dry side…It’s my husbands favorite recipe & I want to make it perfect again for his birthday next week!

    1. Hi Marisa, I wish we could help, but have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  8. Would this recipe still work okay if you swapped out the white ganache filling with the whipped cream filling in your fresh berry cream cake? I was thinking of making this into a fudgey chocolatey strawberry shortcake type thing but wasn’t sure if the layers would be light enough for a whipped cream filling to hold up.

  9. I just made and it’s genuinely the best cake I’ve ever made! The cake is light and velvety, the butter cream is smooth and delicate and the ganache really brought it together. This was super surprising as the Cakes I usually make tend to be dry and dense, no matter what I do,I will definitely be referring to this recipe again for a classic chocolate cake. The recipe is clear and the instructions are clear. I really love this recipe. Thank you for sharing it xx

  10. Hi! This looks delicious – I’m thinking of converting it to cupcakes. I’m going to use your chocolate cupcake recipe with this chocolate frosting and white chocolate ganache filling, but I want to make just the right amount.
    How many cups of frosting and filling does this recipe make?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Those sound like perfect cupcakes. Unfortunately, we don’t have that information in our notes from testing– so sorry we can’t help!

  11. Did anyone else have the experience that this made only 1” layers when spread between 3 9” pans? Was this how it is supposed to be?

    1. Hi Alicia! These aren’t super thick layers, but an inch does seem a bit thin. How was the texture? Did the cakes seem dense? Make sure to just mix cake batter until combined and use proper room temperature ingredients. Here’s more cake baking tips as well!

    1. Hi Shubhda, we haven’t tested this cake with any egg substitutes but let us know if you try anything. If you are interested here are all of our egg free recipes.

    1. Hi Sharon, we don’t have an adaptation of this exact silk frosting, but you could use the white chocolate frosting from these cupcakes. Simply leave out the peppermint extract. You may want to 1.5x or 2x the recipe depending on how heavily you’d like to frost the cake. Let us know what you try!

  12. I made this cake super amazing with ganache now I am planning to use this frosting as well. Does it get hard in the fridge and can I use with Fondant for my daughter birthday??

    1. Hi Kashish! Yes, it can be covered with fondant, and the buttercream won’t get hard in the fridge. But, from what I understand about fondant, it shouldn’t be stored in the fridge once on a cake because it will wilt from the moisture. Let us know what you try!

  13. i haven’t made this recipe yet but i’m going to make it tomorrow for my mom’s b-day i looked at the photos and usually there are two kinds of frosting in the cake why is there only one here ?

    1. Hi Ashley! This cake recipe uses a white chocolate ganache for filling and a chocolate silk frosting on the outside – we would love to hear how it goes for you!

    1. Hi Pam! Cake flour will be too delicate in this chocolate cake. Best to stick with all-purpose!

  14. This cake was amazing. I normally make Sally’s Triple Chocolate Cake for birthdays but decided to try this one. I loved the white chocolate ganache. I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips and found I needed to add more heavy cream to get to the right consistency. Using only 1/2 cup it was pretty solid when I took it out of the fridge so I just used a double boiler method ( metal bowl with on top of a pot of boiling water) and whisked in a bit more heavy cream into the mixture and let it re- set in the fridge for a bit. Its very close but this may be our new favorite.

  15. Thank you Peggy. I wish I’d read your comment before I baked the cake. My ganache and the frosting became too solid, and it was hard to put over the cake. I always follow all the instructions and the
    recommended portions on Sally’s recepies, and they are all great, but this time was different.. next time will add more cream.

  16. I baked the cakes last night and plan on icing today. Unfortunately, the cakes stuck to the pans. I greased the pans well. Any thoughts on why this happened? The cakes tastes delicious and I was able to scrape out what stuck, pat onto the whole layers, and wrap in plastic wrap. I’m hoping they’ll hold together when I take them out of the refrigerator. I think I will line the pans with parchment paper and dust them with flour next time, but any suggestions would be welcome.

    1. Hi Bob, Did you allow the cake to cool completely in the pan? You can definitely line the pans with parchment paper next time – spray with a nonstick spray before and after putting the parchment paper in. Hope this helps!

  17. Cake was great. I only had Hershey’s special dark cocoa so bought the regular then in notes see that you use it too, but it’s Dutch process so now I’m confused. You say not to use Dutch process but then you added mostly that. What gives?

    1. Hi J, glad you enjoyed this cake recipe! As we stated in the recipe notes, you can use either kind of cocoa powder in the frosting (because there is no leavening occurring in the frosting), but natural cocoa powder is essential for the cake portion of this recipe. Hope this helps!

  18. I am a fan of all recipes you have to offer. You are referred to as “my bakers website” when speaking about your recipes. This cake was very easy to follow and was delicious! I have a question however pertaining to using shiny metal pans. It has happened a few times now where if I oil and flour or just oil the cake pan (round), the cake will stick and then becomes a crumbly mess when it finally comes out. Any tips on how to prevent this? It especially becomes a hassle to frost over a crumbling top.

    1. Hi Janny, We are so happy you enjoy this cake recipe! We always use parchment paper rounds when making layer cakes and never have a problem with them sticking. For detailed instructions you can visit our post on 10 Baking Tips for Perfect Cakes. Hope this helps!

  19. Hi Sally & team, can I use whole Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in this recipe? Thank you in advance. Love your recipes

    1. Hi Emma, Instead of sour cream you can use plain Greek yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitute.

  20. I was disappointed in this recipe. It seemed overly sweet and denser than other tuxedo cakes. For the most part I stuck to the recipe except for the icing. The chocolate cake was very good, but not what I expected. The white chocolate ganache was must too sweet. I stuck to the recipe and was not able to get the creamy texture I hoped for. Because of that I modified the icing recipe. I ended up putting close to double the milk/cream (I used 1/2 cream and 1/2 2% milk) in order to get a creamy icing. It tasted very good and not overly sweet, however I ended up with 1.5 times the icing I needed and I put it on very thick. I will use the remaining icing on some cookies that I will make. Overall the cake was just okay which isn’t acceptable for the effort and cost of ingredients.

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