Chocolate Cake

Last week I posted a recipe for Orange Whipped Cream Cake. The cake was very moist, tasty and was full of spring flavors…it even made the Foodbuzz Top 9 on Friday. The cake was adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes and the post included a giveaway for Rose’s cookbook. In order to enter the giveaway, I asked my readers to describe the best cake they had ever tasted.

I was excited to read every single comment; all of the cakes sounded divine and I will likely make many of them in the coming months! But one of the cakes would not leave my thoughts, it had me thinking about chocolate and espresso for days. One of my readers, Jessie posted a link to a Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream from Oprah’s website. I was smitten with this cake at first glance and knew I had to make it immediately! Okay, not immediately because Jessie posted it at almost 10 pm, but I did make it a couple of days later! Before I get to the recipe for this fabulous cake, I first want to mention and link you to some (although I would love to list them all) of the other wonderful cakes my readers posted…

Peanut Butter Cake is Allie’s fave
Coconut Cake mentioned by Catey
Apple Pound Cake was Pam’s favorite
LaRae loves her Peppermint Ho-Ho-Ho Cake
Niki adores her Carrot Cake
Maria and her hubby are smitten with her Plum Nectarine Cake

Now I can move on to this stunningly gorgeous and absolutely delicious Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream. This recipe originally appeared in the July 2004 edition of O Magazine and it may seriously be the absolute best cake I have ever made. The cake has a rich, deep, chocolate flavor and the buttercream has an amazing satin-like texture that pairs beautifully with the cake. The ganache, oh the ganache just puts it over the top and into the realm of pure bliss!  If you are looking for a show-stopper, definitely give this cake a try! It takes a little time and effort, but it is very much worth every minute! Make this for Valentine’s Day and you will definitely impress your sweetie!

Oh and Congratulations to Sheena of the blog, The Hungry Panda. Sheena is the lucky winner of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.

Chocolate Cake & Espresso Buttercream


For the Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup very hot water

For the Buttercream

4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter , softened
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon very hot water
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped (I used semisweet)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and diced
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar


For the Cake

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; spray paper with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at medium speed until blended. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture, about 5 minutes. Shift mixer to low speed; add hot water until blended. Pour batter into pan. Bake until toothpick comes out of the center clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake completely.

3. Invert cake onto a large wire rack; peel off parchment paper. Invert cake again onto a large cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut cake into equal thirds.

4. Set a large wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper. Arrange one cake layer on rack; spread half of buttercream evenly over top. Add another cake layer; spread top with remaining buttercream. Place remaining cake layer on top.

5. Pour ganache over top of cake, spreading with a spatula so it coats the sides. If ganache does not cover sides completely, pour any excess that has collected on the waxed paper back into bowl and spread again. Refrigerate cake until ganache sets, about 1 hour. Use two large spatulas to transfer cake onto a serving plate

For the Buttercream

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg yolks at medium speed until they become lemon colored and ribbon like when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves and syrup just comes to a boil. Increase heat to high; boil syrup until it registers 238°F on a candy thermometer. With the mixer on medium speed, immediately add syrup to beaten egg yolks in a thin, steady stream. Beat mixture until it cools to room temperature and is light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated. In a cup, dissolve espresso powder in hot water; beat into buttercream.

2. In a large bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around edge of pan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; stir until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is completely smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened but not pasty, about 15 minutes.


- I used semisweet chocolate for the ganache.
- I used a hot knive to cut the slices.

This recipe is from


103 Responses to “Chocolate Cake”

  1. Megan — August 20, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I have a 10×15 Jelly Roll pan. Do you think all the batter will still fit? Or do I need to spring for the slightly larger pan.


  2. ami — January 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    this looks great, will definitely try.


  3. Caitlyn — January 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    This is definitely a recipe to try! I am always nervous cooking with eggs like that for the butter cream. Does adding the hot simple syrup cook the eggs? How do you avoid ending up with scrambled eggs?


  4. lazette — February 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I have a few questions, and I hope someone can answer. Will the ganache melt if left outside of the refrigerator? I’m planning to make one for a friend (actually, it’s done, yummy, YUMMY cake), but since he’ll be lagging it around until school’s over (which isn’t until 8pm, I’m giving it to him around 9am), I’m worried the ggnache might melt… Will it melt? I hope someone can reply, thanks!


    • Jamie — February 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm


      The ganache shouldn’t “melt” when left at room temperature for such a short period of time. Hope it was delish!


  5. Ellie — March 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Hi, this cake looks absolutely delicious. I was wondering how much butter is used in making the frosting, and how much butter is used in making the ganache?


  6. Cindy — March 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    I must admit I was a bit intimidated by this recipe but my son wanted a chocolate cake for his birthday, I have made numerous recipes from your site and I knew this cake would be out of this world! oh boy was it!! Everyone raved about it and could not believe I made it. It was moist, delicious, so flavorful- truly sinful!!! it will go in my “keep” file and will be making it again- on special occasions. My hips can’t take my making them too often… I made two recipes and the 5 sticks of butter made me a bit nervous….I used 1/2 of one of the recipes and made cupcakes with it, I cut a hole in the middle of the cupcakes for the buttercream, put the chocolate ganache on top, they were awesome as well!!!! the cupcakes disappeared in a heartbeat, i didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of it!! my 5 year old was over the moon asking me to make this for her birthday!!! thank you for sharing it, i am too becoming addicted to baking. You are such an inspiration!


  7. Chelsea — April 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Never really worked with ganache. Can it be piped??


  8. Coralie — May 25, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Oh my gosh, thank you for giving me this recipe! I absolutely loved it! The cake turned our SO well for me, I made it for my daughter’s birthday party, and her, and her friends loved it! (the parents did too!) It was great, this is the first recipe I have tried from you, and it was such a success, I will have to start using more! I found about this blog through a mom friend of mine, and I can’t wait to get more into it! Thanks!


  9. Beth — June 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    This cake was *so* perfect – gorgeous and delicious! Thanks for sharing!!


  10. Jana — August 3, 2011 at 8:00 am

    This looks and sounds soooo delicious! I hope I take the time one day to make it…
    Awesome pictures, btw :)


  11. Ana — August 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I just finished the last piece of this cake and I’m already missing it! Made it monday when my mom was visiting (for my birthday) and she’s not really a baker but successfully baked it up for me. I’m more of a peanut butter girl so we used a peanut butter buttercream ( – increase the powdered sugar in this recipe to 1 cup) in place of the espresso. This cake was beautiful to look at and the best I’ve had. And I am a maniac for chocolate cake. Can’t wait to make it again and again experimenting with different buttercreams. Thanks so much for the recipe!


  12. Cat — December 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I used this recipe with one change! Instead of 2/3 cup cocoa powder, I used 1 standard size box of instant chocolate pudding mix, which is a little over 1/3 cup, and I used a little under 1/3 cup of cocoa powder. This was to make the cake richer and more moist – and it definitely worked! Try it :)


  13. KC — December 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I made this last weekend and it was THE best! The cake was moist and the espresso buttercream was perfect. The ganache really did put it over the top. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this would be perfect even without the ganache! I might even try making extra espresso buttercream for the outside as an alternative. I know I’ll be making this again and again.


  14. Julie @White Lights on Wednesday — January 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I found your cake through Pinterest. I love coffee with chocolate. I can’t to try this cake some day soon. I’m featuring your recipe on my Chocolate Cake Day post today. :)


  15. PEARSE — February 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Looks amazing. couple of questions though. how many servings does this recipe yield and how early can we make it? I am planning to make it for my son’s graduation. is it a good idea to do this for a large crowd-labor intensive? any steps be made in advance. thanks. also can expresso powder be omitted or substituted?


  16. KC — March 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I just made this again, but without the ganache because we were having a heavy enough meal. It was really good without it, but I found the cake layers slid around while I was trying to cut it, so that delicious ganache serves a REAL purpose! ;)


  17. Anabel — April 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    How many cupcakes will this recipe make? I’m going to make some chocolate cupcakes filled with nutella (your recipe too) and I wanted to make sure this makes 24 cupcakes. Thanks!


  18. Valentina — April 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I am so nervous about making this cake!!! I’m baking it tonight for my dad’s birthday and I really want to impress him! He loves chocolate so this sounds perfect! I am really against Canola oil though, do you think I could substitute it with something else instead?
    Thank you so much for this recipe!
    I’ll let you know how it turned out!!!


  19. Aya B. — August 25, 2012 at 4:18 am

    just wondering isn’t 1 1/2 cup of sugar is too much, I mean wouldn’t it be too sweet!!!
    amazing posts though


    • Jamie — August 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      You could always reduce the amount if you think it will be too sweet. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. dionne — December 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    This looks yummy and I’m baking it tomorrow. One question. Do you add the hot water to the cake! Its listed under the frosting so that’s why I’m asking.


    • MBA — December 7, 2012 at 7:22 am

      In this particular recipe, the hot water is added to the frosting! Good luck and I hope this helps – have a great day!

  21. Lauryn — December 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I have never commented on a recipe before, but I absolutely had to for this recipe. I made it last year for my mom’s birthday, and she told me it was the best cake she has ever tasted. I have made a lot of cakes for various birthdays and events this year, and I asked my mom what cake she wanted for her birthday this year. She had many many options, but she insisted that she wanted this one again! I am happy to make it again, and I have a feeling it will become a tradition year after year.

    One side note for those curious, this cake froze very well!

    Thanks again Jamie!


    • MBA — January 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

      I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback – have a great day!

  22. Susmita — December 29, 2012 at 4:33 am

    At 18, I’m just starting to get into the whole baking world, and I’ve been looking for a steady guide. I’m so glad I found you! Your site is incredibly well organized and full of appetizing recipes!
    I’m attempting to make my first cake tomorrow, and I hope this isn’t going overboard for my first go. Is this cake was going to be very heavy/rich? I want to keep it fairly light, fluffy, and inoffensive since I know my family would not eat something too chocolaty.
    Thanks so much!


    • MBA — January 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

      This cake is very delicious and definitely a great place to start on your baking adventures! Although rich with flavor, it is very light and fluffy, so it should be a big hit! Good luck and have a great day!

  23. fatima — February 22, 2013 at 6:35 am

    iam seriously addicted to your site.
    N this chocolate cake looks yum.m going to try it asap.i needed to know that when u say one stick or two sticks of butter,how much it means in weight dat is gm or ounces or tablespoons.
    Ur help is needed .
    Plz do


  24. Renate — November 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Hi… I love the look of this cake. If I wanted to do cupcakes instead, what temperature do I bake at and how long do I leave it in?



  25. Brenda — December 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Where can I find instant espresso powder? Have been looking for it for months. None of the stores I’ve been to carry it, and when I ask, they look at me like I’ve lost my mind. They have never heard of it. I live in the Columbus Ohio area. HELP!


    • Jamie — January 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Brenda, Williams Sonoma always carries Espresso Powder, and I’ve found it in the baking aisles of all my local grocery stores. I’m in Ohio too, so I’d expect you’d be able to find it. There’s always Amazon too. In a pinch though, you can also use freeze dried coffee, like Sanka or Nescafe.
      – Jamie

  26. tracy — December 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

    i just realized that the hot water is listed under the buttercream part of the recipe, but it was supposed to go in the cake. no wonder the icing was so runny! you might want to change the typo. thanks!


    • Jamie — January 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Tracy, thank you so much for letting me know. Looks like a bit of an HTML snafu there. I’m so sorry about that! It’s been fixed now.
      – Jamie

  27. sarah — October 20, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I don’t see the ingredients listed for the ganache. I think it’s the second half of the ingredient list for the buttercream?

    12 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped (I used semisweet)
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and diced
    1 cup heavy or whipping cream
    1 tablespoon sugar

    Please advise. Also, I’ve made ganache before using evaporated milk instead of cream, thoughts?


    • Jamie — October 22, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Those are the ingredients for the ganache. I have not tried making ganache with evaporated milk before. I hope this is helpful.


  28. Bonnie — February 7, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    We made this cake tonight and it was OUT-standing! My cake was pretty uneven on the sides so the ganache did not stick at all to it. I probably should have taken more time spreading the frosting & making sure it was nice and even. Definitely a keeper, thank you.


    • Jamie — February 8, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake. Thanks for stopping by.


  29. huma — June 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Can i use unsweetened chocolate instead of bittersweet?


    • Jamie — June 27, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Unsweetened chocolate will make the cake less sweet. I haven’t tried this substitution, but let me know if you give it a try. Thanks!

  30. Maya — March 20, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    How much exactly is a “stick” of butter? We measure by weight, not shape lol but the cake looks so delicious, I want to try it, would just like exact recipe so I don’t mess something up.


    • Jamie — March 21, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Hi, Maya! A stick of butter weighs 1/4 pound/4 ounces/110 grams. I hope you enjoy the cake!

  31. Cheryl S. — April 22, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    The cake and buttercream layers are absolutely perfect! Kudos!


    • Jamie — April 23, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Thank you, Cheryl!

  32. Venus — September 21, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Can this frosting be used for icing cakes before covering it with fondant? 


    • Jamie — September 21, 2016 at 8:56 am

      I have never tried this frosting with fondant, so I am not sure how it will perform. Thanks for stopping by!

  33. Pam Kozlow — January 21, 2017 at 4:41 am

    I have found when making chocolate cakes that when using only unsweetened cocoa powder it tends to have a lighter chocolate flavor versus when adding melted chocolate in the batter. My question is that perhaps because the buttercream and ganache are rich and flavorful that it doesn’t require a more intense chocolate flavored cake. This cake looks delicious and has my favorite flavors. Just wondering about the intensity of the chocolate flavor in the cake.

    Thanks for any feedback.


    • Jamie — January 23, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Hi, Pam! I think this cake has a deep, rich, chocolate flavor yet not overpowering. I hope this helps!


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