Best Chocolate layer Cake

It’s cake Friday!  This week we’re celebrating 16 years of life with my beautiful daughter, Skylar. Birthdays are always special but a sweet sixteen is just that much more special. To celebrate, she chose The Ultimate Chocolate Cake. It’s most definitely swoon worthy and befitting of the occasion.

About the cake. There are a few steps involved in making this cake, but completely worth the effort. The texture of the crumb is similar to a rich devil’s food cake. Each layered with whipped vanilla cream and chocolate frosting. The addition of cream cheese lightens the frosting and is less rich than a traditional buttercream. I’ve decorated the top with French macarons making it celebratory in every possible way.

I haven’t included the recipe for the macarons. I’m sure after you’ve completed all the other stages, you would either have run out of clean kitchen equipment and counter space. Order them online or at your favourite patisserie. In summer, I keep the chocolate cake in the fridge. Remember to always bring up to room temperature before serving. The cold masks the flavour. It will keep well for several days.

Best Chocolate layer Cake


The Ultimate Chocolate Cake 

Serves 12

1 cup (250ml) filter coffee
40g cocoa powder
140g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups castor sugar
2 cups all purpose cake flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate cream cheese frosting

125g butter, at room temperature
125g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
400g confectioner’s sugar, sifted,
80ml (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Glossy ganache

100g Lindt 70% dark chocolate
60ml single cream
1 tablespoon glucose

Vanilla cream

250ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

For finishing

8 chocolate macaroons

Preheat the oven to 160º C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm deep sided cake tins with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, heat the coffee, cocoa powder and butter. Once the butter is melted and the cocoa powder has dissolved, remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract. In a separate jug, whisk the sour cream and eggs until just combined. Add the castor sugar to the coffee mixture and whisk in with a balloon whisk. Stir the sour cream mixture into the coffee and mix well. The mixture will tend to split slightly but will be corrected once the flour is added.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the cocoa mixture and fold in until well combined. Divide the batter into the baking tins and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Give the tins a good tap to get rid of any air pockets. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow the cakes to rest for at least 10 minutes in the pan before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Once the cakes are completely cool, wrap in cling film and refrigerate either overnight or for an hour to firm up. With a serrated knife, gently cut the ‘domed’ part of the cakes off to even out. Slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have four layers.

For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until well combined and smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and beat again. Scrape down the sides and give the frosting a final whisk.

To make the glaze, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk until the chocolate is smooth and glossy.

For the vanilla cream, whisk the double cream, vanilla paste and confectioner’s sugar together gently. It’s best to do it by hand to avoid over-beating the cream as it will turn buttery and split.

Place the first cake layer on a cake stand and spread with half the vanilla cream. Place a second layer on top and spread with a generous amount of chocolate frosting. Top with another cake layer and spread with the remaining vanilla cream. Place the last cake layer on top and press down gently.

Starting from the bottom and working upwards, cover the sides and then the top of the cake with a thin layer of chocolate frosting. This is your crumb coat, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30-40 minutes. Repeat with a second, slightly thicker layer of frosting. Using a palette knife, smooth the sides and top of the cake. Chill for 30 minutes.

Pour the glossy ganache over the top of the chocolate cake and ease the chocolate over the sides to create a downward drip. Chill once again to set the ganache. Spoon the remaining chocolate frosting into a piping bag and finish off around the base with a piping style of your choice. Pipe 8 large rosettes on top of the cake and gently press a macaroon into each. Chill until you are ready to serve.


If you’re a chocolate lover, like me, here are a bunch of chocolate recipes that popular on the Bibby’s Kitchen blog:


No-bake caramel walnut chocolate tart

Bibby’s Chocolate and Pear Malva pudding

Chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel and frosted berries





36 Comments. Leave new

  • Happy birthday big girl can we come over for tea as this look so yummy.

  • What a special tribute to your Skylar, Di! She’s beautiful inside and out. Hope she had a happy, happy day. Hugs of celebration and congratulation all round… x

  • Thank you Gill. It was a really special day of celebration.

  • Many thanks, Teresa. Unfortunately the cake didn’t last long enough to share! Happy cooking and baking this holiday.

  • This chocolate cake is beautiful – and the macarons make it even more so. Just divine!

  • Wow what a pretty cake! Love the addition of macarons, makes it so fancy 🙂

  • Thank you Thalia. Is was a special sweet sixteen birthday cake and the macaroons just made it really celebratory.

  • Thanks June. It was delicious, especially with the crispy, chewy bite from the macarons.

  • I have made this recipe so many times and it is perfect every time. It has become my “go to” recipe for chocolate cake. And it bakes so perfectly flat – no cutting off the top. Thank you Di. Delish. Definitely the way to get in hubby’s good graces or anyone else’s 🙂

  • Dianne Bibby
    4 August 2015 2:14 pm

    So glad to hear Les. This cake is truly so reliable and delicious. You always know what you’re going to get, no disappointing surprises!

  • What a beautiful cake!
    I have 3 questions:
    Is the ‘all purpose cake flour’ an all purpose flour or cake flour?
    Does it have to be filler coffee that is used?
    And, is the recipe made in the order its listed?
    Many thanks 🙂

  • Dianne Bibby
    5 August 2015 7:01 am

    Hello Linda. Yes, the flour is a regular all-purpose flour and is what we use (in SA) for most of our cakes. It’s always best to use a good filter coffee over instant, but if you only have instant to hand, then use a good quality with a robust flavour. The cake is listed in order to make, so always start with baking the cake to ensure it has plenty of time to cool. You could also bake the cake the day before and refrigerate it overnight, wrapped in cling, which will make it easier to ice the following day. Good luck.

  • Marie-Anne Duarte
    13 August 2015 10:33 am

    Hello Di
    Do you have any recipes for a chocolate brownie cake? My friend is turning 40 and she is craving one of those decadent delights…..

  • Hi Marie. You could use the brownie recipe with caramel toffee sauce.(Recipe on the blog) This recipe is not too sweet as it’s made with a very dark chocolate. I would just double the ingredients and bake in a round cake tin. It also depends if it’s a layered cake or just a single?

  • Marie-Anne Duarte
    15 August 2015 11:27 am

    Thank you Di
    It would be a layered cake. She would like a really tall cake 🙂

  • Marie-Anne duarte
    31 August 2015 1:07 pm

    OMG Di
    I made this cake for last week. It was so delicious. I just have one question is the castor sugar 1 cup plus 3/4 cup? I did follow the recipe but it sank in the middle slightly. It wasn’t a problem though because of the delicious Cream chees frosting, but I just wondered if I had maybe put in too much sugar?

    It is better to bake the cake the day before, as you suggested.
    Thank you for this recipe.

  • Dianne Bibby
    31 August 2015 5:38 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. It’s one of those cakes that do require some effort to bake, but absolutely no effort to eat! I’ve made this cake so many times and it bakes flat and even each time. Two things to check – Bake on a conventional heat not convection. Also, check that the coffee/cocoa mixture isn’t too hot when adding to the flour. It could affect the performance of the raising agents. Other than that, you can reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups. Regards D

  • Marie-Anne duarte
    1 September 2015 2:53 pm

    Many thanks Di will try your tips.

  • Di is there a recipe for the Macrons?

  • Not at the moment Les. Haven’t formally written it up yet.

  • Hi Di!

    I’m about the to bake the cake this evening for my husbands birthday (two days from now)! I’m super excited 🙂 this is my first attempt at baking! Fingers crossed 🙂

    I have two questions:
    1. Single cream : couldn’t find anything by this name at the store, is it the same as half and half?
    2. Double cream: again, is this the same as heavy whipping cream(38%)

    Thanks much!

  • Hi Neha. For the single cream you can use a whipping cream which is usually around 35% fat and the double cream is 48% fat. Cream goes by different names, but the fat content should be helpful. Wishing you loads of luck. Hope your big baking day is going to be a great success!

  • Thanks for the quick response, Di!

    Was doing some research and I just figured one cup in the U.S. Is 236ml. I see in this recipe 1 cup = 250ml. What system of measurement do you use? I’m wondering if I need to do any weight conversions as well – ml to oz and such..

  • And one last question I promise 🙂 I managed to find only 8 inch pans (~20 cm)that have a height of 2 inches. I’m not sure if this depth would suffice . How tall does each cake get on completion? I was wondering if I can use 2 tins that are 10 inches wide (~25 cm) and 2 inches tall.

  • No problem Neha. The 20cm x 2cm might be too shallow. If you use the 25cm tins the cake won’t have the same height and might be very awkward to cut in half to get the 4 layers. You could then do two layers if you wish. Also, you’d need to reduce the baking time of the cake by about 8-10 minutes to prevent it drying out. Test with a skewer before removing from the oven to ensure it’s cooked through. Hope that helps.

  • it was a big success, Di! Thanks so much 🙂 it was delicious!!!

  • Fabulous Neha. So glad it went down well. Nothing like a great cake to celebrate! Take care. D

  • Hi! Can the coffee be replaced with anything else? As I find the coffee taste sometimes overpowering the chocolate.


  • Hi Navya. Sure, you can leave the coffee out. I would just replace it with low fat milk. It will give the cake a much milder flavour. If you like a chocolate malt flavour, 250ml of made up Horlicks also works well. Good luck.

  • This cake sounds delicious. How would you adjust the recipe for the cake batter to fill 2x25cm round cake pans? Thank you so much x

  • Dianne Bibby
    22 July 2018 9:36 am

    Hi Candice. I would multiple the measurement by 1.5 That should be ample to fill the 25cm tins. You might need to increase the baking time slightly, maybe start with 5-8 minutes, but test with a skewer to ensure it’s cooked through. Enjoy. It’s a fabulous cake!

  • Natalie Williams
    5 September 2018 3:16 am

    Hi Di. Can the sour cream be substituted with buttermilk or double cream yoghurt?

  • Hi Natalie. Sure, you can. I would use thick buttermilk rather than yoghurt. Because it’s a runnier consistency than sour cream, adding 5 minutes to the cooking time is probably a good idea. Whenever I make even the slightest changes to a recipe, I test for doneness by inserting a skewer while the cake is still in the oven.

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