The Best Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe (video)

a dark chocolate cake garnished with frosting and chocolate squares, on a cake stand

If you love chocolate, this cake is for you! The ultimate, the best dark chocolate cake recipe with dark chocolate cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache. This cake is a dream! Extra moist chocolate cake layers with melted chocolate and dark cocoa powder for extra rich chocolate flavor. Each cake layer is covered with chocolate ganache, then the cake is garnished with chocolate sprinkles, more chocolate ganache, and dollops of frosting. This cake is perfect for special occasions!

Watch Dark Chocolate Cake Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube chocolate cake video tutorial for step-by-step instructions and watch me make this cake! Plus, I share lots of important tips you wont want to miss! Want to stay up to date on the latest recipes? Make sure to subscribe to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications.

Ingredients for the Best Chocolate Cake

Let’s talk about the ingredients first! This cake is made with simple pantry staples you’re sure to have. You can find the full ingredient list down in the recipe card below.

  • Buttermilk: this soured milk reacts with the baking soda to make the cake fluffier and more moist.
  • Eggs: have the eggs are room temperature for best results. Cold eggs can make your batter too cold, causing the cake layers to bake unevenly.
  • Instant Coffee: you wont taste the coffee in the cake but it does help intensify the chocolate flavor.
  • Dark Chocolate Chips: you’ll need these for the cake layers, the frosting and the ganache. Super dark chocolate will make the cake extra chocolatey.
  • Dark Cocoa Powder: I use Hershey’s extra dark cocoa powder.
  • All-Purpose Flour: this basic flour is the best choice for this recipe.
  • Cream Cheese & Unsalted Butter: for making the chocolate frosting. Remove the cheese and butter from the fridge about 30 to 45 minutes before you plan to make the frosting.
  • Sprinkles: an optional but fun addition to the cake!

Supplies & Tools

Need some supplies or tools to make this cake? Here are some of the items I used in my video tutorial that you can purchase online (Amazon Affiliate Links).

a close up of a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, on a plate

Making the Dark Chocolate Cake Batter

This incredible dark chocolate cake starts with the cake layers. These rich, moist and chocolatey cake layers will be your favorite! The combination of buttermilk and melted chocolate make the layers extra moist. Here’s how to make them.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two, 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. You can also use two, 9-inch cake pans but your cake layers will be slightly shorter.
  2. Into a large mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, cooking oil (I use canola oil), sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate, small ramekin, combine the instant coffee and hot water. Stir to dissolve the coffee, then add it into the mixture. Using a mixer, beat everything together for a few minutes, until the eggs are well beaten.
  3. Next, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave until it’s smooth. Wait a few minutes for the chocolate to cool slightly, then pour it into the batter and mix for about a minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the batter first, then beat on low-medium speed for about 2 minutes, until a smooth cake batter forms.

Baking the Cake Layers

Once you have the dark chocolate cake batter ready, it needs to be baked as soon as possible. Don’t wait to bake the batter.

  1. I like to use a kitchen scale to split the cake batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Use an off-set spatula to smooth the batter, creating even cake layers.
  2. Bake the cake layers at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  3. Remove the layers from the oven and wait about 5 minutes before removing the cake layers from the pans. Allow the cake layers to cool completely on a wire rack. You can place the layers on the wire rack into the refrigerator to cool faster.
a plate with dollops of chocolate frosting, on a table

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

While the chocolate cake is baking and cooling, it’s the perfect time to make a batch of my ‘Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting’. This is a new episode from my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series. This frosting is so rich, creamy and delicious! It’s the perfect complement to the dark chocolate cake layers!

  • You can make this frosting ahead of time, too. Place it into the refrigerator to chill overnight; it will keep in the fridge for 1 week. Just make sure to keep it well covered.
  • When you’re ready to use it, simply remove the frosting from the refrigerator about 45 minutes prior and let it soften. Remix if necessary and use.
  • If the frosting gets too soft, simply place it into the refrigerator to chill for 20 to 30 minutes, then remix.

Chocolate Ganache Filling & Topping

For adding even more chocolate flavor to the best dark chocolate cake, I use chocolate ganache on the cake layers and as a garnish. The ganache will soak into the cake layers, making them more moist and even richer tasting!

  1. To make the ganache, simply combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream together in a large measuring cup. Heat the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
  2. The ganache will be hot and thin/runnier at first. Allow it to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools and thickens. Don’t use hot ganache on the cake; this will melt the frosting!
a dark chocolate cake covered with sprinkles, on a cake stand

How to Make Dark Chocolate Cake

Once you have the cake, the frosting and the ganache ready, it’s time to assemble this incredible dark chocolate cake. Here’s how I put it together.

  1. Make sure the cake layers are completely cooled, otherwise the frosting will melt! Using a sharp, serrated knife, level off the top of each cake layer, then split each layer in half, resulting in 4 layers total.
  2. Start by pouring a few tablespoons of the chocolate ganache onto each cake layer. Use an off-set spatula to help the chocolate sink into the cake layer. Top each layer with a generous about of chocolate frosting and level the frosting before adding the next layer.
  3. For the top layer, spread the ganache onto the open side of the cake first, then invert it onto the top. Next, cover the cake with a crumb coat of frosting. This thin layer of frosting will seal in all the crumbs. Refrigerate the cake after frosting for about 20 minutes.
  4. Apply a final, thicker layer of chocolate frosting last, smoothing it with cake spatulas.

Garnishing the Cake

Feel free to garnish the cake any way you like! This is the time to be fun and creative!

  1. I start by garnishing the sides of the cake with chocolate sprinkles. Place the cake, on a cake stand/turn table, onto a large baking sheet. The sheet will catch all the sprinkles. Gently press the sprinkles into the sides of the cake.
  2. Pour the remaining cooled chocolate ganache over the sides of the cake first, then fill in the top. I recommend refrigerating the cake for about 15 minutes after adding the ganache and before garnishing the top.
  3. Transfer the remaining chocolate frosting (usually about 1 ½ cups) into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip. I used Ateco #847. Pipe dollops of frosting on top of the cake. If desired, add chocolate squares on top.
several slices of chocolate cake on a table, with espresso cups

Storing & Serving Chocolate Cake

This dark chocolate cake is best served when it’s at room temperature. A cold cake will be more dry and more crumbly. If you need to refrigerate the cake overnight, take it out a few hours prior to serving to allow it to soften and warm back up.

Store the cake in the refrigerator overnight for best results. If you have a few slices left over, you can place them into an airtight container and into the freezer.

More Recipes!

Enjoyed this rich and decadent chocolate cake? Make sure to check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!

  • Chocolate Coffee Cake – a rich, chocolate cake filled with coffee flavored pastry cream and frosted with chocolate French buttercream frosting!
  • Chocolate Zucchini Cake – You won’t taste the zucchini but it does make the cake extra moist and really rich! Frost it with any chocolate frosting.
  • German Chocolate Cake – a true classic! Chocolate cake layers filled with a sweet coconut and pecan filling, garnished with chocolate ganache and more coconut flakes!
  • Chocolate Raspberry Cake – a fruity and rich cake with chocolate raspberry cake layers, frosted with raspberry buttercream.
  • 12-Layer Chocolate Cake – the tallest cake I’ve ever made! Twelve layers of white and dark chocolate cake frosted with French buttercream.

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a dark chocolate cake garnished with frosting and chocolate squares, on a cake stand
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The Best Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe

1 hr 45 mins prep + 35 mins cook
16 servings
The best dark chocolate cake recipe with rich, moist and chocolatey cake layers, dark chocolate cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache!

Ingredients 

For Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cooking oil, I use canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, or baker's chocolate
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

For Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar

For Garnishing the Cake:

  • 1 cup chocolate sprinkles
  • 1 chocolate bar

Instructions

Making the Cake Batter:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F/177C. Line two, 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans with parchment paper. You can also use two, 9-inch (23-cm) cake pans but your cake layers will be slightly shorter.
  • Into a large mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, cooking oil (I use canola oil), sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate, small ramekin, combine the instant coffee and hot water. Stir to dissolve the coffee, then add it into the mixture. Using a mixer, beat everything together for a few minutes, until the eggs are well beaten.
  • Next, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave until it’s smooth. Wait a few minutes for the chocolate to cool slightly, then pour it into the batter and mix for about a minute.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the batter first, then beat on low-medium speed for about 2 minutes, until a smooth cake batter forms.

Baking the Cake:

  •  I like to use a kitchen scale to split the cake batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Use an off-set spatula to smooth the batter, creating even cake layers.
  • Bake the cake layers at 350F/177C for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the layers from the oven and wait about 5 minutes before removing the cake layers from the pans. Allow the cake layers to cool completely on a wire rack. You can place the layers on the wire rack into the refrigerator to cool faster.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • While the chocolate cake is baking and cooling, it’s the perfect time to make a batch of my ‘Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting’. Find those instructions below.

Making Chocolate Ganache:

  • To make the ganache, simply combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream together in a large measuring cup. Heat the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
  • The ganache will be hot and thin/runnier at first. Allow it to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools and thickens. Don’t use hot ganache on the cake; this will melt the frosting!

Assembling the Cake:

  • Make sure the cake layers are completely cooled, otherwise the frosting will melt! Using a sharp, serrated knife, level off the top of each cake layer, then split each layer in half, resulting in 4 layers total.
  • Start by pouring a few tablespoons of the chocolate ganache onto each cake layer. Use an off-set spatula to help the chocolate sink into the cake layer. Top each layer with a generous about of chocolate frosting and level the frosting before adding the next layer.
  • For the top layer, spread the ganache onto the openside of the cake first, then invert it onto the top. Next, cover the cake with a crumb coat of frosting. This thin layer of frosting will seal in all the crumbs. Refrigerate the cake after frosting for about 20 minutes.
  • Apply a final, thicker layer of chocolate frosting last, smoothing it with cake spatulas.
  • I start by garnishing the sides of the cake with chocolate sprinkles. Place the cake, on a cake stand/turn table, onto a large baking sheet. The sheet will catch all the sprinkles. Gently press the sprinkles into the sides of the cake.
  • Pour the remaining cooled chocolate ganache over the sides of the cake first, then fill in the top. I recommend refrigerating the cake for about 15 minutes after adding the ganache and before garnishing the top.
  • Transfer the remaining chocolate frosting (usually about 1 ½ cups) into a pastry bag tipped with a star tip. I used Ateco #847. Pipe dollops of frosting on top of the cake. If desired, add chocolate squares on top.

Storing & Serving:

  • This dark chocolate cake is best served when it’s at room temperature. A cold cake will be more dry and more crumbly. If you needt o refrigerate the cake overnight, take it out a few hours prior to serving to allow it to soften and warm back up.
  • Store the cake in the refrigerator overnight for best results. If you have a few slices left over, you can place them into an airtight container and into the freezer.

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • The most important step for making this chocolate frosting happens before you start the recipe! Softening the butter and cream cheese properly is very crucial for optimal results. If the butter or cheese is too soft, the frosting will stay flat and greasy. Remove the butter and cream cheese from the refrigerator approximately 45 minutes before beginning the recipe. Set them onto your kitchen counter to soften. The butter and cream cheese should be just slightly softened but still have a firm core. Do not use melted butter!
  • Next, prepare the melted chocolate. Place the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat the chocolate on a medium power setting to avoid burning the chocolate. Stir it every 45 seconds until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. Allow the chocolate to cool slowly at room temperature, stirring it occasionally. Do not add hot melted chocolate into the frosting! This will melt the butter, making the frosting too soft.
  • To prepare the instant coffee flavoring, place the instant coffee into a small ramekin and pour over the boiling water. Stir until the coffee is completely dissolved. Allow this concentrated coffee to cool completely; you can place it into the refrigerator to cool faster. Do not add hot coffee into the frosting!
  • Place the softened butter into a stand mixer bowl with the flat beater attached. A hand mixer will also work well but will require extra mixing time. Beat the butter on medium then high speed for about 4 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl midway.
  • Next, add the cream cheese. Continue mixing on medium-high speed for another 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth. Add in the cooled coffee, vanilla extract, and heavy cream next and mix for about 30 seconds; briefly, just until the extract is incorporated. Next, add in the cocoa powder, cooled melted chocolate, and salt. Mix again for about 30 seconds.
  • Finally, add in the confectioner’s sugar. Start the mixer out on a slow speed to keep the sugar from flying everywhere, then increase the speed to ‘high’ and beat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the frosting is extra fluffy. It will start to become lighter in color, too as it mixes.
  • If your cream cheese frosting is too soft and not pipeable, simply place the mixing bowl into the refrigerator and allow the frosting to chill for about an hour. Give it a mix for about a minute on low speed once its chilled, then use.

Notes:

  • Nutritional facts are calculated with chocolate sprinkles and chocolate squares used for garnish.

Nutrition

Calories: 990kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 157mg | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 493mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 66g | Vitamin A: 1361IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 215mg | Iron: 3mg