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!

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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 (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 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.

119 Comments

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

    1. You can, yes!

  2. 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.

  3. Leanne Spiteri says:

    I made this cake yeaterday for a xmas eve gathering. It was really amazing and everyone loved it! Thanks Sally for sharing this wonderful recipe! Happy holidays

  4. I made this cake for Christmas Day! It turned out just as described! This was the first time I ever made my own cake batter from scratch. It was moist and the whole thing was rich but not too sweet. Just like I like my chocolate. Thanks Sally. P.S. your chocolate chip cookie recipe is perfect. It’s the only cookie recipe I use since discovering your website a few years ago. You rock! 

  5. My niece made this for our Christmas dessert. It was fantastic!. She says she did sub almond milk for whole milk, and used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, but otherwise followed exactly. This was sensational. Exactly the kind of dense, and very moist cake that I love!

  6. Will anything change (apart from cooking time) if I make this in 2 layers instead of 3? Will the white chocolate ganache hold up? Hoping to make this for a final holiday gathering this weekend! 🙂

    1. Nothing except for the bake time 🙂 Enjoy!

  7. I made this cake yesterday for company and it was a huge hit. I don’t think I’ve ever made a cake as moist as this one. The white chocolate ganache was a great feature of the cake.

  8. This cake looks so delicious! I want to try to make it this weekend but I don’t know if I have the right pans. Can I use 1.5” deep 9” round pans or do I need to use 2” deep pans? Thanks!!

    1. The cakes rise up pretty tall, but I think your 1.5 inch pans should be just fine.

  9. I made this for Christmas Eve and it got rave reviews! I found I only needed to bake the cakes for 18 minutes in my oven. The white chocolate ganache was such an elegant touch. I will definitely make this again! Thanks for the great recipe.

  10. Natalie Bruno says:

    Baked this cake for my mom’s birthday – and it was DELICIOUS! The cake itself, the ganache, and the icing were all knockouts. Garnished raspberries along the edge per your suggestion for the perfect touch. Will definitely be a do-over!

  11. Can I make the ganache and/or frosting a day before? I already make the cakes and froze them. I have two littles and work full time I have to bake in stages haha!

    1. Absolutely. Both will be pretty solid, so set out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before assembling/decorating the cake.

  12. Hi Sally, I made this cake and it was delicious! Can this cake be covered with fondant as well? Thank you.

    1. Absolutely!

  13. Can cacao powder be used in place of the cocoa powder?

    1. It can, yes.

  14. I only have a 9×13 pan, how would that work?

    1. Hi Dibs! You can pour this batter into a 9×13 pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time. You can slice the baked and cooled cake in half to create 2 layers and fill with ganache, then frost the cake.

  15. Hi Sally,

    Can I use low fat sour cream instead of full fat sour cream in this recipe?

    Thank you!

    1. I recommend using full fat for the best taste and texture!

  16. Hi Sally,

    Do you think it would be possible to add raspberries to the white choc ganache (you see, I am trying to make something that is chocolatey, decadent, and has some fruit it)?And if yes, fresh or frozen?

    Thank you!

    1. That sounds DELICIOUS! I would use fresh raspberries or thawed frozen raspberries 🙂 Let me know how it turns out. I love chocolate and raspberry together.

  17. Just finished making this cake, so it is chilling and I haven’t tried it yet. I did try the frosting and oh my gosh, it is delicious. I am not really a fan of frosting in general but I could eat this by itself as my dessert.

  18. Hi Sally,

    Can I bake 2 cakes (9 inch pans) instead of 3 with the same batter? or would you recommend reducing the batter by 1/3rd?

    Please advise. Thank you

    1. Hi Isha! This cake fits nicely in 2 cake pans as well as 3 cake pans. No need to change anything about the recipe, simply divide between two greased cake pans. The bake time will be a little longer.

  19. LOVING this recipe! My nephew has requested a mint chocolate cake and I’m wondering if it would be okay to add peppermint extract and a few drops of green food coloring to the white chocolate ganache? Any tips?

    1. Yes – totally! Just remember that a little peppermint extract goes a long way so start with just a little bit and taste before adding more. Enjoy!

  20. Made this cake today for a birthday. It looked beautiful with the dark and white layers. The cake itself was moist and rich, paired with the white chocolate ganache it was delicious. I realise how important it is to refrigerate after frosting this cake, as the whole structure became firm and even. Thanks for a great recipe!

  21. Hi If i am to make this in 8inch pans what are the ingredients that should be reduced?

    1. Hi Malsha, this chocolate cake batter, as is, can be divided between 3 8-inch cake pans. The bake time will be a little longer. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  22. I am making a small two tier cake, would you suggest this chocolate cake recipe or the Triple Chocolate Layer Cake?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Brittany! This batter fits in 2 9-inch cake pans. Just bake an extra couple minutes like I do with the Triple Chocolate Layer Cake (essentially the same chocolate batter recipe!).

  23. Made this cake for my mom’s birthday and it was a HUGE hit!!! My dad is requesting it for his birthday! It is decadent! Thank you Sally

  24. Hi Sally. Can I use cake flour for this recipe? If so how much should be the measurement?

    1. Hi Leah! Cocoa powder, taking the place of some flour in this recipe, is already so light. Cake flour would simply be too light paired with the cocoa powder. I recommend sticking to all-purpose.

  25. Hi is this cake more fudgy or your triple chocolate cake?

    1. Not more fudgy, but it has a slightly denser texture. Not as light and crumby!

  26. Hi Sally,
    Could I make the ganache and frosting the day before I plan to assemble? If so, would refrigerating in an airtight container suffice?
    Wondering if the frostings/ganache would harden too much.
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Absolutely. Cover and refrigerate overnight, then bring to room temperature before using. You may need to mix the frosting 1 more time in the mixer to bring it to a creamy consistency again. 🙂

      1. Hi Sally,
        I made this for Easter and it came out fantastic! My husband loved it! So moist, so decadent!
        This definitely would be my go-to chocolate cake in future. Thank you for a wonderful recipe! 🙂

  27. Hi Sally, Can I use this recipe in a bundt pan? I love your blog! Thank you for all your wonderful recipes.

    1. Absolutely! I recommend a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. Bake time varies. It should be around 1 hour, but keep your eye on it.

  28. Hi Sally,

    I’m wondering why my chocolate buttercream looks different than yours in the photos.

    Mine is pale brown- in the photos it looks deep dark brown, fudgey..

    Not sure if the taste is different, but definitely looks different in color and texture. Wish I could show you a picture.

    Maybe it’s the type of cocoa I used?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hey Natalie! The longer you whip chocolate frosting, the lighter in both texture and color it will be. It could also be the variety and brand of cocoa powder, too. If you want to darken the frosting you have already made, 2-4 ounces of melted and slightly cooled semi-sweet chocolate always does the trick!

  29. hi sally , can i substitute the (sour cream) with (plain yogurt) ??

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

  30. Dr. Halupczok says:

    I do not particularly like chocolate, but this cake was so perfect and delicious that I could not stop eating. Easy to bake even for beginners. I 100% recommend to try it.

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