The ultimate chocolate layer cake recipe – rich, moist, intensely chocolatey cake smothered with smooth chocolate ganache, the ultimate treat!
Everyone needs a go-to chocolate cake recipe, one that is guaranteed to work every time and is an absolute crowd pleaser, this one is mine. Of course what constitutes the ideal chocolate cake is fairly subjective as tastes do vary, but in my opinion it should have a very moist crumb, deep chocolate flavor and be smothered in rich chocolate ganache; this cake fulfils all those requirements magnificently.
The intense chocolate flavor is achieved by using a combination of cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate in the cake batter; the addition of coffee helps to further enhance the flavor but don’t worry if you don’t like coffee – you can’t taste it, it just deepens the chocolate taste. If you are really worried about being able to taste it you can just use hot water instead.
Using buttermilk and soft brown sugar ensures that the cake is wonderfully soft and moist, it almost melts in your mouth! I layered it up with a delectable chocolate ganache made with a mixture of milk and dark chocolates and heavy cream; using part milk chocolate rather than all dark makes sure that the ganache isn’t overly rich and can be enjoyed by all ages rather than just adults.
I purposely left my cake unadorned, this recipe is about the cake itself rather than any fancy décor; but if you want to dress it up a bit then it would look (and taste!) fabulous topped with a generous pile of fresh berries. You could also top it with chocolate curls, truffles or chopped candy bars for an absolutely over-the-top chocolate experience!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3.8oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup hot coffee (or water)
- 5 Tbsp cocoa powder (Dutch processed)
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine table salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 + 3/4 cups light brown soft sugar, firmly packed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 3.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 10.5 oz milk chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
1.Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease three 7-8 inch round cake pans and line the bases with baking parchment.
2.Melt the dark chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water or in short bursts in the microwave, set aside to cool slightly.
3.Whisk together the cocoa powder and hot coffee until smooth then whisk in the buttermilk, set aside.
4.Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.
5.Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until smooth and light.
6.Whisk in the eggs one at a time, whisking really well after each addition, then whisk in the melted chocolate.
7.Fold in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mix. Fold in another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk, then the rest of the flour.
8.Divide the batter evenly between the tins (I use a digital scale to get them exactly even) and level the surface.
9.Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
10.Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool completely.
11.To make the ganache, place the dark and milk chocolates into a large bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until it is just boiling.
12.Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for a couple of minutes then stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
13.Set aside until the ganache has cooled and become thick and spreadable, stirring it every now and again. This can take a while so don’t leave it till the last minute! You can pop the bowl in the fridge to speed it up if you like but make sure that you keep a close eye on it and stir it regularly.
14.To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate and spread over one third of the ganache. Top with another cake layer and another third of ganache then repeat for the final layer and serve!