Tuxedo Cake

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!

More Christmas Dessert Recipes

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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 10-12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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.


  • 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


  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.


  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 Spatula | Custom ForkBlack 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.


  1. Amazing cake! My husband requested a chocolate cake today. I showed him the various Sally recipes and he picked this tuxedo cake. I helped him construct this cake and we followed the directions exactly as written. We even had to go out to the grocery store for Hershey’s cocoa. No regrets!!! As usual, Sally never disappoints! Beautiful rich chocolate, perfect moist texture, white ganache added a cute contrast and paired perfectly with fresh raspberries. I will be sending some to the neighbors tomorrow to indulge in this creation.

  2. AJ Schlesinger says:

    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

  3. I am trying to convert this recipe to 3 8 inch pans instead of 9 inches. Could you give me any tips?

    1. This recipe won’t work for three 8in tins, there will be too much batter in each tin and the cake won’t cook properly (by the time the middle is cooked, the outsides are overcooked and dry, trust me!) Using the magic that is maths and surface areas, this batter will fit in four 8 in tins (which I know works) however as two tins with only fit on each oven rail, the tins on the top will always brown and cook slightly better and therfore look more appetising. For me, I only needed two 8in layers for family gatherings so used the top rail, and I kept back the other 2 layers for home (we’re not as fussy lol). You could also try moving the top rail of cakes to the bottom layer and vice versa like when moving cupcakes halfway around for even baking, but that was too much faff for me. Anyway I hope my advice helps 🙂

  4. cake master 9000 says:

    looks great

  5. Wendy lambert says:

    I’m planning to use this recipe for a couples shower and am making mini cupcakes – have you tried
    This recipe for that? I’m guessing baking time about 10 minutes but easy to over cook due to the dark color. Any pointers?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wendy, yes, you can definitely make these as mini cupcakes. We’re unsure of the exact bake time, but use a toothpick to test for doneness. Perhaps check around the 8-9 minute mark to see where they’re at, so they don’t over bake as you mention. Exact time will vary by oven. Hope they’re a hit at your shower!

  6. Lisa Huffine says:

    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.

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

  8. Mery Savoni says:

    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. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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).

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

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

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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.

  11. 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. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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

  12. Hi sally. Can I half the recipe

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Simona, you should be fine halving this recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. 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.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Catherine, yes, whipped cream should hold up just fine between these layers like in our fresh berry cream cake. Enjoy!

  14. 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

  15. 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?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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!

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