The Best Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
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. 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.
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.
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 cake. Use coffee and trust me on this one as many readers have with my 2012 Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Ganache recipe that also calls for coffee.
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 which is what you want. Thin it with only as much cream as you need for a spreadable consistency.
I topped the cake with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and melted chocolate. As long as I was going overboard with chocolate cake and chocolate frosting, 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.
A few notes about the 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.
The Best Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
This is the chocolate layer cake to beat all and the best. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in a chocolate cake. It’s tender, 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 chocolate cream cheese frosting is thick, decadent, and perfectly tangy from the cream cheese. When you’re mixing the frosting, it will be very thick which is what you want. Mini chocolate chips add perfect texture to this otherwise velvety smooth cake and frosting.
- 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
- 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. Note – 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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