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

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

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (65g) 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 (65g) 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 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.

283 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness! I wish both sides’ families aren’t so adamant on having their Yulelogs. Then I could make this. Maybe New Years’?

    1. I certainly wouldn’t complain about ringing in the new year with this cake 🙂

  2. Yummy. This one of my list for Christmas dessert . Thank you  Sally for again. You’re the best! Happy Holidays.

  3. Gorgeous! Do you have a cake-frosting tutorial, Sally? I have seen various ones online, but I was wondering if it’s necessary to bother with the crumb coat and a spinning base, or do you just slather it on and spread?

    1. Hi Miriam! When it comes to decorating cakes, I am NOT a pro. I keep things super simple. I never really apply a crumb coat. And I don’t even own a rotating cake stand. Though I do want one, just to make things easier.

  4. I can attest the the cake will NOT taste like coffee! I do NOT like coffee but use it in many chocolate cake recipes. It makes the cakes taste so yummy! Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

    1. Thank you for sharing that! I don’t like coffee, either. When I see someone say it won’t taste like coffee I don’t trust them because they like coffee! 🙂 So I appreciate a truly non-biased review. 🙂 🙂

  5. This cake looks simply amazing!!! WOW!

    1. Thanks Natalie!

  6. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Oh wow this cake looks incredible!  I think I could just eat and make that chocolate frosting and be one happy girl 🙂

    1. This chocolate frosting is, hands down, my favorite!

  7. Heather LaLonde says:

    This cake looks absolutely delicious. My birthday is coming up and I make my own cake every year, looks like this just shot to the top. I was curious if you could recommend a coffee for the espresso granules and hot coffee portion? I am not a coffee drinker so get a little overwhelmed while trying to choose from the many options. Please and thank you. 

    1. I totally understand! For the espresso powder used solely for baking purposes– the brand honestly doesn’t matter. The kinds on grocery shelves are all pretty decent if you’re using them for baking. For the coffee– if you are purchasing ground coffee– I really like Peet’s Coffee or Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (dark roast). A brewed dark roast coffee is great for chocolate cakes like this.

      1. Thanks for the quick response Sally. I will definitely be making this for my birthday. Merry Christmas to you and your family and have fun with your first time as a Mommy during the holiday ❤️

  8. We are having a very casual Christmas dinner and I am making your cranberry orange bundt cake. I think it will fit the dinner menu perfectly. I will plan on making this for New Years!! Your pictures are stunning!! 

    1. Thanks Wendy!!

  9. Jennifer Colvin says:

    Love this recipe! I am wondering if you’ve ever used white chocolate chips in place of bars. My daughter has a nut allergy so can be hard to find bars that aren’t nut-free. I know that Guittard chips are so thought I would ask. Thanks as always for your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Guittard chips work! They are very high quality chips, so they’ll be wonderful in ganache.

      1. Jennifer Colvin says:

        Thanks so much for your quick reply! I will be making this for Christmas day- Can’t wait! Have a wonderful holiday with your new little one!

  10. This cake looks absolutely divine!! My daughter asked me to make a dessert for her as she
    was
    responsible for taking dessert to her in-laws’ Christmas dinner. She chose Italian Cream Cake but this recipe really takes the cake (Ha! No pun intended!!).

    1. Italian cream cake DOES sound good though…!!

  11. Looks reallly yummmy
    Thx gor ur lovely recipe
    With what can i replace sour cream plz

    1. Plain yogurt would be great!

  12. My mom already made a birthday cake for me yesterday, but who says a girl can’t have TWO cakes? 😉 This looks fabulous, Sally!

    1. If you can’t enjoy two cakes on your bday, when can you?!!?

  13. HAHAHA yes, looking back on our kitchen disasters is fun. In the moment? A nightmare!!!

  14. This cake looks absolutely decadent and perfect for Christmas! I wasn’t planning on making cake for Christmas dessert, but cupcakes. What do you think about making this cake into cupcakes, hollowing them out a bit and filling them with the white chocolate and then frosting them with that silky rich dark chocolate frosting? 😉

    1. I don’t see how you can go wrong doing that! Enjoy and let me know how they go!!

  15. Sally, these pictures are stunning! The ones with the white chocolate ganache are especially drool-worthy, the creaminess really shines through! I think I’m going to try this for Christmas!

    1. Thank you so much Stephanie!

  16. This chocolate cake looks delicious and very tasty especially when I look at these amazing pictures. Happy Christmas time.

    1. Thanks, Cam! 🙂

  17. Wonderful cake, perfetct for the Holidays! You’r the best!

  18. I am making this!  Gorgeous!

  19. Is it possible to pipe with this chocolate frosting? Is it too thick that?

    1. You can, yes!

  20. Oh I am drooling! I cant wait to give this one a go. It looks amazing. I have an old lazy susan or turn table that i put under my cake carrier that I have used for years and it makes it much easier to put icing on cakes. I have to put a none sliding hot pad on it and then on top of it so the carrier doesnt slide around. You must get one of those. They dont cost too much. We cant stand coffee and if I get a hold of too strong of chocolate i can not sleep at night. So i have to leave it out. Some times you just have to eat cake for lunch instead. haha. Thanks again for a lucious looking cake.

  21. Leanne Spiteri says:

    Hi Sally,

    Well done for this gorgeous cake it is truly a masterpiece. 1 question, what pan size do you suggest I bake the cakes in? TIA

    Leanne

    1. Hi Leanne! Thanks! Three 9-inch round cake pans.

  22. Now this is what I call getting chocolate wasted!! Can’t wait to try this one out, but I’m thinking I’ll make it a Valentine’s Day dessert!

  23. Hi Sally! Can this cake be baked in a 9×13 pan? What would the cook time be? 

    1. Yep! Same oven temperature and about 35-40 minutes bake time.

  24. OMG!! I just gained 20 lbs looking at those photos!!!! My mouth is watering thinking of how rich and wonderful this cake must be!!!! Another cake to add to my list! Thanks Sally!!!!

  25. Red Haired Lady says:

    This looks amazing! I don’t like coffee or anything coffee flavored, so I’m always reluctant to try coffee in chocolate cake. I may have to trust you on this one though! Lol.

    And I love that you left out the sugar originally! It makes me feel not so dumb for baking muffins and forgetting the egg, haha!

  26. Hi Sally! How far in advance can I frost the cake and store it in the refrigerator?

    1. A day or 2 would be fine. See my make-ahead tip for more ways to make it ahead!

  27. This is the best looking cake I’ve ever seen!!!!!!! None of my family likes chocolate but I have a JanuRy birthday. I think I’ll be baking myself a birthday cake and freezing the leftovers! 

  28. Can raw cacao butter be used instead of the three 4 ounce (340g) white chocolate bars, finely chopped*?

  29. Melissa Griffiths says:

    Oh Sally, you’ve really outdone yourself this time! This is gorgeous and mouth-watering and all the yummy-looking adjectives I can think of. I wish I was in charge of dessert for Christmas dinner – this would be on my list!

  30. Wowowow. Girl, this is a showstopper right here. Perfect for a big event like NYE! Love!

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