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


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 (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


  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. I only have 2 9 inch pans can I bake for longer one pan and then cut in half

    1. I would suggest baking two layers first and then when the pan cools back down bake the third layer.

  2. Cntry84grl says:

    Do you know how many cups of filling this makes?

    1. I’m unsure exactly how much, sorry!

  3. 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.

  4. Jennifer Jordan says:

    Hi Sally!
    Would you happen to know how many cups of batter this makes ?

    P.s I cant wait for your new mini series.

    Thank you

    1. I don’t have that in my notes– so sorry!

      1. When I made the recipe, I measured approximately 80 grams of batter per layer (slightly less than 80 grams for each).

  5. Amelia Sadler says:

    Hi Sally,

    I’m looking to make a naked chocolate cake for my sister’s wedding. Would you recommend this cake as a base? I am wondering if you’d consider it too crumbly to hold up to the construction and crumb coating of a naked cake or if it’s dense and durable enough for the job. If not, do you have a chocolate cake you would recommend for the construction of a wedding cake?

    Thanks so much!


    1. Hi Amelia! I fear this cake would be too fragile to be the base of a tiered wedding cake. If you’re interested, I love this marble/zebra cake. It contains chocolate and is pretty sturdy.

  6. Nahina Nizam says:

    Hi Sally! Do you bake the three cakes in batches or all 3 at once?
    And I have another question. What type of bakeware do you use for baking cakes, brownies, bars, jelly rolls etc? Aluminum or non-stick? Please help me out. I have no clue what to buy.

    1. I recommend baking all 3 at the same time. I love using USA Pan cake pans or Fat Daddio aluminum cake pans.

      1. Nahina Nizam says:

        Thanks! ☺
        Love from Bangladesh. ❤

  7. 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!

      1. Thank you!

  8. The Dark Chocolate Silk Frosting is so delicious that it literally needs to be put in the frosting category by itself. It has become my go to chocolate frosting. Can this recipe be placed in the frosting category? This would help to quickly locate it.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Destiny! I’m working on bulking up the frosting section of the site!

  9. Sally. Such a yummy cake!!

    I baked this for my Dad fir Father’s Day

    Whole family lived it

    Thanks so much for all your great recipes and blog


  10. Making this a second time for a friend’s birthday. We happen to be in a cottage this year and I was wondering if I can make the chocolate silk frosting the night before? Since I don’t want to bring my stand mixer to the cottage haha..

    1. Hi Sally! Yes, you could make it the night before. Let it sit at room temperature for about an hour so it slightly softens up and is easier to spread.

  11. Does this have to be refrigerated?? I do lots of fondant covered cakes and i cant wait to try this….. but i dont refrigerate my fondant cakes… thoughts???

    1. Hi Tina, If you have not decorated it with fruit or anything perishable then you do not have to refrigerate it before serving!

  12. I live in the Netherlands, so I’m pretty much stuck with dutch-process cocoa powder. I don’t think I can buy natural cocoa powder in the supermarket here. Can I use dutch-process cocoa powder for the cake and replace (some of the) baking soda with baking powder? If yes, how much?

    1. I love King Arthur Flour for all kinds of great recipes and advice. Here’s their blog post about the cocoa powders. Maybe this will help you out. https://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2014/01/10/the-a-b-cs-of-cocoa/

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Hi Sally just wondering if this recipe can be used as a vanilla cake recipe by omitting the cocoa powder (add extra flour) and omitting the espresso? I have such a hard time with recipes that need creaming of sugar and butter. I tried your yellow cake but it seems a little dense , I’m so used to box cakes where you don’t need to cream butter and sugar. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Vera, Unfortunately it’s not that easy to make that switch – do you have a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter?

      1. I have a stand mixer

  16. Hi, can I use golden syrup to replace corn syrup.
    Also is dark corn syrup the same as light corn syrup.. am a little confused , as to wether one can replace other, in recipes. Thanks

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

      1. Zeelomi Wadiwalla says:

        Yay, thank you! Should I start with 3/4 of a tsp?

  19. Hi Sally
    This cake looks amazing!
    Would it ruin it to use salted butter?
    Would it taste salty or why is unsalted butter recommended?1
    Best regards

    1. I always recommend unsalted butter in all of my recipes. When you buy salted butter you don’t actually know how much salt is used so you have less control (each brand is different). You can use salted butter if that is what you have on hand and reduce the salt in the recipe 🙂

  20. Hi Sally,

    I love all your recipes and they all turn out with great success. I did have a problem with the ganache in this recipe. It was too runny and stayed that way even after a night in the fridge. What do you think I may done incorrectly that prevented the ganache from thickening?

    1. Hi Regina! It’s certainly nothing you did wrong. Because of its sugar content, white chocolate makes a much thinner ganache than regular chocolate. If you decide to try it again, reduce the heavy cream to only 1/3 cup.

  21. 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!

  22. This was so delicious when I made it the other day, thanks so much for sharing all the tips to make this cake xx

    1. You are welcome, Carol! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  23. 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.

  24. Hi! I absolutely want to try this but i only have 6 inch pans. How do i reduce the ingredients? Thank you.

    1. Hi Mace! I’m unsure without testing the recipe myself, but 1 batch of chocolate cupcakes fits perfectly into 3 6-inch cake pans. You can use this chocolate cupcake recipe.

  25. 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!).

  26. Lizzy Nightingale says:

    Hi Sally! Thank you so much for your recipes! I’ve been following for awhile now, and whenever I bake, my friends and family go crazy (they love it! Especially your cookies)

    I’m wondering, could I swap the white and dark chocolate? Use the dark chocolate and cream for the filling and white chocolate ganache frosting for the top?
    Ive been asked to make this as a semi-naked cake. Is there something better I could do?
    Thanks for everything, Sally!

    1. Yes, you absolutely can do that! It would look very dramatic with the white chocolate on the outside for a semi-naked cake! Be sure to tag me in a photo when it’s finished! 🙂

  27. sofia valencia says:

    Hello Mrs Sally. I would like to know if this cake will be good if i use the same frosting for filling instead of the ganache?

    1. Yes yes! You can skip the ganache and use this frosting to fill the cake.

  28. I was concerned with removing the cakes from the pans with simply greasing, and justifiably so. I think this would have been much more successful had I not only greased the pans, but floured them and added parchment paper. Unfortunately, after my first attempt, I have a delicious pile of cake and icing. I love the recipes on this site and I’ve been baking for years. I should trust my instincts and want to provide validation for those of you with similar instincts.

  29. Hi, I’m going to make this cake for a retirement party this weekend, and I’m wondering if just greasing, and not flooring, the pans will suffice? Thank you

    1. Yep! For that, I recommend nonstick spray such as Pam.

  30. Hi Sally. Sorry that this is a bit late, but can I fit just the cake part into a 9×13 pan? Thankyou

    1. Sure can! This batter fits nicely into a 9×13 pan.

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