The BEST Triple Chocolate Cake — This is the chocolate layer cake to beat out all others. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in a triple chocolate cake!
Layered Triple Chocolate Cake Recipe
This is the chocolate layer cake to beat all. The best. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in a chocolate cake. I want another piece right now.
The cake is tender, very moist, and springy thanks to the tenderizing effects of buttermilk and using oil rather than butter. The chocolate flavor is deep, intense, and comes from both cocoa powder and coffee. Rest assured, the cake doesn’t taste like coffee. The coffee simply intensifies and rounds out the chocolate flavor.
The chocolate cream cheese frosting is very thick, decadent, and perfectly tangy from the cream cheese. When you’re mixing the frosting, it will be very thick but that is what you want. Thin it with only as much cream as you need for a spreadable consistency.
I topped my homemade chocolate cake with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and melted chocolate. As long as I was going overboard with chocolate cake and chocolate frosting, I figured why not? The mini chips add a perfect amount of texture to this otherwise velvety smooth cake and frosting.
Another nice thing they do? Cover up any frosting spreading imperfections. You’re welcome.
What’s in Triple Chocolate Cake?
For the homemade chocolate cake, you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Baking soda and baking powder
- Kosher salt
- Canola oil
- Vanilla extract
- Freshly brewed coffee
And for the decadent chocolate frosting, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- Cream cheese
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Vanilla extract
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Melted chocolate
How to Make Triple Chocolate Cake
To make this chocolate layer cake, you’ll first need to prep the chocolate cake batter. Sift the dry ingredients into one bowl and mix together the wet in another. Combine the two, being careful not to over work the batter (note that it will be very thin).
Pour the batter into two 9-inch round cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The homemade chocolate cake will need to cool for roughly 30 minutes in the pans before being inverted to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once the chocolate cake layers have cooled, make the chocolate frosting. To do so, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy (this will take a few minutes). Add in the rest of the ingredients, but add only just enough cream to get the frosting to a spreadable consistency.
To frost the chocolate layer cake, place one of the cake layers flat side-up on a plate or cake stand and spread the top with frosting. Place the second cake layer on top and finishing frosting the top and sides of the cake.
Sprinkle the cake with chocolate chips and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Drizzle with melted chocolate just before serving to really wow your guests.
Can I Use a Buttermilk Substitute in This Chocolate Layer Cake?
You can’t substitute the buttermilk for something else because not only does it keep the cake tender and moist, but it also helps the cake rise.
Can I Omit the Coffee?
If you’re absolutely opposed to using coffee, you could use water, noting that the cake will lack the chocolate oomph you want in a chocolate layer cake. Use coffee and trust me on this one!
Tips for Making the BEST Chocolate Cake
I adapted the recipe from Ina Garten (and it’s almost a straight double recipe of my Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache, which has been a reader and personal favorite over the years). Ina calls for using 8-inch cake pans. I used 9-inch pans and the batter was just barely contained when the cakes rose in the oven. I highly recommend using 9-inch rather than 8-inch pans. Just the thought of overflowing cakes onto the bottom of the oven gives me massive anxiety.
I baked my cakes for 38 minutes. Her baking estimates are for 35 to 40 minutes in 8-inch pans. In theory I thought using 9-inch pans would reduce the baking time but in reality, I still needed 38 minutes. As always, bake until done whatever that means in your oven, with your climate, ingredients, and pans.
When frosting the cake, I highly recommend using an offset spatula. A knife will do the job, but an offset spatula makes frosting the sides of the cake a million times easier and speeds up the whole process.
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- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, warm but not too hot so you don’t scramble the egg*
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 6 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened (I used lite)
- 1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
- about 4 to 5 tablespoons cream (half-and-half may be substituted), or as needed for consistency
- about 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, for sprinkling
- about 1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional for drizzling
Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F and spray two 9-inch x 2-inch cake pans very well with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pans; set aside.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl or the bowl; set aside.
- To a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla, and beat with a handheld electric mixer on high power or with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on high power, about 90 seconds.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the coffee and mix to just to combine; the batter will be very thin.
- Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter. Start checking cakes at 25 minutes because all ovens vary.
- Cool cakes in the pans for about 30 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting
- To a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer on high power or with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on high power until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and beat until combined.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time. The frosting will be incredibly thick, almost too thick to mix; this is ok.
- Add the cream as necessary to create a spreadable consistency (I used about 4 1/2 tablespoons). The frosting should be quite thick and it also will thicken more after the cake has been refrigerated.
Frost the Cake
- To frost the cake, place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.
- Place the second layer on top, flat side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
- Evenly sprinkle the top of the cake with mini chocolate chips.
- Refrigerate the cake for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
- Optionally, before serving, drizzle with melted chocolate chips. Cake will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
*The coffee doesn’t make the cake taste like coffee; rather it enhances the flavor of the chocolate. However, if you are very opposed to using coffee, water may be substituted noting the cake will lack chocolate intensity of flavor.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 843Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 547mgCarbohydrates: 116gFiber: 4gSugar: 92gProtein: 9g
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