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. Hi Sally, I attempted this chocolate cake tonight. It’s the first layer cake I think I’ve ever made! The cake turned out great, mine were done at 20 minutes, though. I’ve had issues with chocolate cake easily over-baking in my oven before, even though it’s fairly new. Anyways, my 3 cakes SLIGHTLY dip in the middle and are higher around the perimeter, unlike the photo you have in your post when you start spreading the ganache on. Did you flip yours upside down and that’s why they look so flat? Or did I slightly underbake mine? Also, my cakes seem suuuuper fragile though a knife came out clean before I removed all 3 cakes from my oven; I also didn’t read ahead very clearly on waiting for the cake to completely cool in the pan and I ruined one layer when I went to dump it on a plate and then tried to center it. It adhered to the plate like brownie batter lol.. ugh, guess I’m learning. I’m an avid baker but cakes have always scared me and something about being 6 months pregnant with #2… this is something I want to achieve haha! Is it a pretty moist, fragile cake? My husband still thinks the “ruined” one tastes great and this is his Father’s Day dessert, so I guess that’s good! Thank you!!

    1. Hi Holly! Great job on your first layer cake! This chocolate cake has a very soft crumb– not dense at all. I’d say it’s definitely on the more fragile side, so you didn’t do anything wrong there. If the cakes sank, they are likely under-baked or the batter was over-mixed.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me! The end result did turn out well but I still had issues with the cake sticking to the plate when I served it. It was definitely done, maybe I did over-mix it. Do you have a general rule of thumb for knowing when the cake batter is mixed thoroughly enough? Also, I was wondering why all-purpose flour and not cake flour? Could I try this recipe with cake flour? Thank you so much! 🙂 I think I’m going to try this again this week and make my husband the Black Forest cake he really wanted lol, although I really want to try the strawberry cake myself. It’s our 6th wedding anniversary this weekend so more reason to celebrate!

  2. I made this cake for my birthday and it was absolutely delicious! I decorated the top with some raspberries and the chocolate / berry combo was unreal. It kept really good in the fridge for 5 days, just be sure to let it come to room temp before serving. While still great just out of the fridge, the wait is worth it. I messed up the white chocolate ganache, it was really thick so didn’t spread nice, but it was probably due to the quality of chocolate – bakers beware!
    I will be looking for an occasion to make this cake again!

  3. Hello
    is this recipe suitable to be used for the bottom layer of a 3-tiered wedding cake?
    Or is it too moist and not stable enough for that?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Sandra! I fear this cake’s crumb is too light for the bottom layer of a tiered cake. I wouldn’t want the cake to topple or cave.

  4. Hi Sally,
    I’m looking for a chocolate recipe that has a similar texture to your white layer cake. Will this recipe produce that? Why did you use AP flour instead of cake flour? Could I use cake flour to help achieve the texture that I’m looking for? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristina! So what many don’t realize is that cocoa powder acts as flour in some chocolate cake recipes, including this one. Cocoa powder is extremely light, so if we used cake flour– the entire cake would fall apart. It’s too light when paired with the already light cocoa powder. All-purpose flour is the best choice here. It’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe– I know you’ll love it.

  5. This cake is EXCELLENT!! All the parts assembled so easily and was the best looking cake I’ve ever made! Cake, ganache and frosting all tasted amazing. Thanks for such a reliable recipe Sally!

  6. Ashley Mjoen says:

    I love this recipe! I use the chocolate frosting all the time now!! I do have a question though, I love the texture of the frosting, how do you think I could alter this to make a vanilla frosting with the same texture?

    1. Hi Ashley, The silky texture comes from the corn syrup – you can certainly try to add it to vanilla buttercream although I have never tried!

  7. Great cake Sally! I made this for a friend’s birthday and everyone loved it. One thing I didn’t get quite right though- the ganache got quite hard once in the cake. We cut the cake and it was kind of in hardened chocolate form. I did put the ganache over a double boiler after adding the cream, because it didn’t quite melt. I then put it in the fridge to cool. Do you know what I did wrong to get a ganache that hardened so much after assembly?

  8. I made this for Thanksgiving- I know, kind of an atypical dessert for the occasion. It was amazing! Just wondering – has anyone tried making this into cupcakes? Perhaps with a white chocolate ganache filling?

  9. Hi,

    I made this for Thanksgiving as a bundt cake it was perfect. It is a delicious dreamy cake. I used ganache (recipe from this site) as the drizzle and it was beautiful. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly.
    Thanks Sally!

  10. Hi Sally, I want to make your Tuxedo Cake …what brand of cocoa powder do you recommend? I have the Guittard but its Dutch processed… I need a brand that is found in a “typical” food store. Thank you.

    1. Hi Kathy! I always use and recommend Hershey’s natural cocoa powder.

  11. Hi Sally I made this cake yesterday with my 11yr old son. It was his first baking project and he picked this recipe. It turned out delicious. I think the cake taste even better today than it did yesterday.

  12. This cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It’s soft and fluffy but still firm enough to be layered. It’s chocolatey but not overpowering so. I made it with the espresso powder but used hot water only. I tasted the espresso in the batter but not a bit of it once it had baked. All of this and it’s ridiculously easy to make. I made it in the stand mixer but you could absolutely make it by hand or using a hand mixer. Sally – this might be your best recipe yet! Thank you for making such a great chocolate cake!

  13. Can I halve the recipe and fit into two 6-inch round pans?

    1. Hi Rupini, For 6 inch cakes I recommend using my chocolate cupcake batter, although this will make three 6-inch layers. For other

  14. Shoneth Leadbetter says:

    After two failed attempts at your Zebra Cake (I still don’t know what I did wrong), I hit a home run with this one! Winner winner! This might be a new go to! My husband says I need to make this icing every time I make cake 🙂

  15. Pooja Bachani says:

    I made this today for my husband’s birthday and it was delicious! My only struggle was with the ganache which did not have a thick creamy consistency but was more the consistence of a glaze, maybe the cream wasn’t warm enough? Either way it didn’t matter because my husband LOVED it!

  16. I’m planning to make this cake as part of a 3 tier wedding cake. The other two are red velvet and tiramisu cake. Is this cake sturdy enough to hold the other two cakes on top? And i’ll will be covering it with fondant. Thanks.

    1. Hi Rizvi, Unfortunately I don’t recommend this cake for a bottom tier. At this time, I don’t have a sturdy enough chocolate version to use as the bottom tier.

  17. I made this cake on the 7th of April last, for my birthday the following day. The cake came out perfectly, tasted great and was the perfect lockdown treat. I placed a large chunk of leftover the cake in the freezer and yesterday morning I removed it, having decided that it would be perfect for our Saturday night cheat meal. This cake freezes perfectly, I was amazed at how good it still tasted, the subtle differences between the chocolate layering is still there and the delicate cake crumb survived the freezing process. Thank you Sally, I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it is to be able to take comfort in a piece of cake during these uncertain times. Take care everyone and happy baking.

  18. I made this for a New Year’s Eve dessert – this was quite fabulous and very elegant. It’s also quite decadent. I’m not sure about the white chocolate layer – but several people liked it. The chocolate cake is super moist. I did experience a slight collapse in the middle – but I’m also baking at 5000 feet altitude.

  19. Hi Sally,
    Do you know how I can convert this recipe to make a 3 layer 6 inch tuxedo cake? I’ve also compared this recipe to your chocolate cupcakes recipe, but that one doesn’t include sour cream, hot liquid and espresso powder and I’d really like to try that out

    1. Hi Chantal, the best amount would be my chocolate cupcake batter but if you’d like to try this recipe, you can try halving it OR using my cake pan sizes and conversions page to help calculate a more accurate amount.

  20. Hi Sally – Can I sub instant coffee for the espresso powder in the cake mix?

    1. Yes, same amount.

  21. Hi Sally! I want to try this recipe and also include the espresso powder, but I’m having a hard time finding it. Does instant coffee work the same, and if so, should I use the same amount or do I need to adjust it at all? I noticed in your double chocolate zucchini bread, you recommended using double the amount of instant coffee instead of espresso powder, so I just wanted to double-check whether I should double it here as well. Thank you!

    1. Hi Veronica! You can use instant coffee instead– same amount or add a little extra for a stronger flavor since it’s not as potent as espresso powder.

  22. I made this cake for a friends birthday and it was delicious! The raspberries on top made added a beautiful touch.

    One recommendation would be to grease the cake pans and then dust them with cocoa powder OR don’t let the cakes completely cool before turning them out. Mine all stuck to the bottom and I lost some cake in the process. Fortunately there was plenty of frosting to even out the the top of the cake.

  23. Hi Sally! I made this cake today but when I was trying to frost the cake, it kept tearing at the top as I tried to frost down the sides. The cakes were definitely cooled to room temperature. Do you have any idea as to why this happened or any tips to prevent this from happening? Maybe I just needed to apply a thicker layer of frosting so my spatula didn’t hit the cake edges so much? Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Veronica, I’m so sorry you’re having trouble frosting this cake! You’re exactly right- next time, apply a thicker layer of frosting and try to avoid touching the actual cake with your spatula as much as you can 🙂

  24. Ashleigh Doede says:

    Hi Sally! I just love your site and have baked your snickerdoodle cookies many times! I’m moving into your cake arena now! I want to make this chocolate cake for my boyfriend’s birthday coming up, but also somehow incorporate mint into it. He loves mint chip! It’s his favorite. Also finding a super moist and delicious rich chocolate cake is hard out there but this looks perfect! Would you recommend me adding a hint of peppermint extract or mint leaves or jr.mints or mint m&ms or something to the filling? Or maybe do the cake as is and just get mint chip ice cream on the side?? :P. Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! – Ashleigh

    1. Hi Asheigh! I’m so glad that you enjoy my snickerdoodle cookies recipe. Thank you so much for trying them! I think a little peppermint extract to the white chocolate ganache filling would be incredible. After you pour the warm cream over the white chocolate, add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract. Stir together then taste. Then add a little more peppermint extract for a stronger flavor, if desired. The mint flavor will come through more in the filling than if you added it to the cake batter. A side of mint chocolate chip ice cream would be delicious, too!

      1. Ashleigh Doede says:

        Thank you for your reply Sally!!! I am excited to try this recipe and with the peppermint!!! Thank you for your instruction – I so appreciate it! I will write up a review after I try it out too!

  25. Jojo Mendoza says:

    Hi Sally, i loved all of your recipe, im becomming a baking addict. Last july was my eldest daughters birthday so i baked her your red velvet cake, it was my first time baking a cake but it was very successful, she liked it so much, said it was the best tasting red velvet cake ever. This month I made your strawberry cake for my youngest daughter and it was another success, I think Im getting better and better at baking each time I try your recipe. Next month is my wifes birthday and Im planning to make this cake. She knows Im going to bake her a cake so she requested if I could make her cake keto friendly. Could I substitute the cake flour with almond flour? And perhaps lower the amount of sugar to make it keto friendly recipe.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jojo, Unfortunately almond flour has very different properties and we do not suggest substituting it in a cake recipe. You might be interested in a Flourless Chocolate Cake or even a Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart.
      Also, keep in mind that sugar in baking is used for moisture and texture. So reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe will result in a different textured baked good. Let us know what you try!

  26. Hi there! This cake is looking and tasting amazing so far and love all your recipes 🙂

    Quick question, was wondering if it would be overkill to put expresso powder in the frosting if you wanted to have more of the chocolate coffee flavors? Or would it be overpowering and take away from the cake itself?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kylie, You can definitely add a bit of espresso powder to the frosting for more of a mocha flavor. Enjoy!

  27. Hi Sally. I always come here whenever I am baking, and your recipes never disappoint. How can I incorporate orange to make it an orange chocolate cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Esther, We have not tried adding orange to this cake but you can certainly try adding some orange extract or orange zest to the batter without making any other changes. Let us know what you try!

  28. Thank you Sally! I did try the recipe with the addition of orange extract as well as orange zest rubbed into the sugar. It was oh so delicious!! Totally surpassed my expectations. Thank you for the work you do…. I have always used your recipes and they never disappoint. Love from Kenya!

  29. Hey Sally!!
    I want to make this for my boyfriend for Christmas but he doesn’t prefer White Chocolate
    Could I use bakers semi sweet instead of white chocolate?
    Also are 3 eight inch round pans okay to use instead of 3 nine inch?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sam, Yes! You can use semi sweet chocolate for a chocolate ganache! 8 inch pans are ok for a slightly taller cake.

  30. 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.

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