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 (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. 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

  2. Sally… thanks for the recipe. THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER!!! Now this chocolate cake becomes favorite in my family (espessialy my youngest son, 4 yo, he loves this cake sooo much).
    Thank you Sally & keep inspiring!! xoxo

  3. Hi Sally, I’m making this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday this weekend, but only have 2, 8 inch cake pans, is it possible to use those? I saw on a previous comment its possible to use 3, but was wondering how much less of the recipe I should make for 2 pans. Or is it better to just buy a 3rd?

    He got me a kitchenaid stand mixer for Christmas, and the first thing I tried to make were your Chai Latte Cupcakes, a new favorite of mine! So naturally I have to try your recipe for his favorite dessert, chocolate cake, next! Idk if you have considered it, but would love if you taught a baking class (we are in the DMVbut he’s from Maryland too)!

    1. Hey Jessica! I recommend getting that 3rd cake pan. I can’t say for sure how to reduce this recipe down so it’s the perfect amount for 2 8-inch cake pans. Let me know if you try it and what you think. It makes a super special birthday cake!

      1. I’ve made this cake twice, both times I made it in 2 9″ round pans, works great, just need to bake for 3-6 minutes more (I just keep my eye on it after 25 minutes).

  4. Hi! I wondered if you could double this cake batter, or if you’d recommend making two separate, single batches. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Sandy, I recommend making two separate batches. If you work with too much batter at once it’s very easy to either over or under mix it!

      1. Hi, Sally! Thanks for the response, I did end up making two 9×13 cakes with separate batters. They were perfect. So, I carved the cake into a 2D chess piece this morning (first ever attempt at a carved cake) and wondered, if I wanted more definition of the shape, if I could pipe the chocolate silk frosting, or if you would not recommend that.

      2. Jayati Bali says:

        Thank you so much! I made this cake today.
        Just put 3/4 cup sugar instead of 1 cup and 3/4th cup cause we prefer our cake a little bitter and substituted the chocolate buttercream for dark chocolate ganache. It was so so good.
        We almost finished all of it in one sitting and we were just 5 people.

  5. Hi Sally

    I need to make some rich chocolate cupcakes. With so many chocolate cake and cupcake recipes on your blog I’m a little confused. Can you please advice which recipe would be best for rich moist Chocolate cupcakes.

    Thank you very much for all your recipes. I’ve tried several and they are quite amazing.

    1. For cupcakes I highly recommend this recipe: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/super-moist-chocolate-cupcakes/

  6. Sally! Help! My cakes are all stuck in the pans. I greased them all with a stick of butter, I promise. What can I do??

    1. Parchment paper rounds! They are cake life savers 🙂 Cut 9-inch circles from parchment paper, grease your pan, add the parchment, then grease the parchment too. Seamless cake removal, I promise.

  7. 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.

  8. Sally,
    instead of the chocolate frosting I wanted to make a raspberry buttercream frosting. Would leaving out chocolate powder and adding raspberry puree work for this recipe?

    1. I don’t suggest that. Instead, use my raspberry frosting recipe.

      1. Sally,
        if using the raspberry frosting, would covering with chocolate ganache (like the black forest cake) work?
        Thank you

      2. Yes, it would be delicious! Enjoy 🙂

  9. Does this tip on your tips page apply to all your recipes including this, “If you use a convection oven, always reduce the oven temperature by 25°F. Best to reduce the baking time as well– for cookies, it’s around 1 minute less. For cakes, cupcakes, bread, brownies, bars, etc (items with longer bake times), it’s usually reduced around 5 or so minutes.”

    1. Yes, definitely. That’s a general rule for baking with convection ovens.

  10. 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!

  11. 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! 🙂

  12. 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.

  13. Hi Sally!

    Just pulled my ganache from the fridge and it seems very hard and I am not able to spread it. What should I do? Thank you

    1. Hi Jessica! Warm it up for a few seconds so it’s spreadable again. 🙂

      1. I was never able to get it to a easily spreadable consistency and then it got gummy. Any suggestions? Thank you.

      2. Mirna ayoubi says:

        Please i would like to ask if i can use the same ingredients to decorate the cake as a semi naked cake please.
        I also would like to ask if instead of dividing the batter into 3 pans, can we do it in 2? Thank you, cant wait to try this for my daughter’s birthday☺️

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. See recipe note #3! 🙂

  17. Lisa Campbell says:

    Hi there!
    I am going to bake this tomorrow in a number 4 and a number 0 tin. Should i do 2 mixtures or split the mixture between 2 tins? They are 10″ x 8″ and 4″ deep.
    Thank you! X

  18. 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.

  19. I am going to try to adapt this to a cupcake recipe! I have made your chocolate cupcakes that you reference above & they are delicious, too!

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. Hey there!
    I will be making a cake for a friends engagement party, but she really wants the look of your naked vanilla cake…but she loves chocolate! Would this one be a good recipe for that? We’re looking to have 3 tiers for it. Any help would be great!

    1. Hi Shay! Do you mean tiers or layers? You can definitely make this chocolate cake for a naked style cake. Just create the naked style frosting all around the sides. You can use chocolate buttercream as the filling if desired.

  26. 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!

  27. 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?

  28. Hi Sally,

    Can I use this recipe in a bundt pan?

    Thanks for your help

    1. Absolutely! I actually used this batter for a bundt cake in my chocolate cream cheese bundt cake recipe. The bake time is about 55 minutes, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  29. Hi, I didn’t realize I was out of canola oil before getting all the other ingredients. will it be fine if I use olive oil instead? Thanks

  30. 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?

    1. Yup did it.
      The ganache was a little too sweet and not as dense as I would enjoy. The next time I added some cream cheese to the left over ganache and it was JUST RIGHT!

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