Triple layer moist intense chocolate cake with real chocolate, homemade chocolate fudge and a delicious chocolate buttercream! A must try for true chocolate fans!
Is regular chocolate cake too boring for you? I got you! This death by chocolate cake is truly indulgent: Three soft and moist super chocolaty cake layers, the best chocolate frosting and a homemade dark chocolate caramel fudge sauce!
How to get soft chocolate cake layers
This recipe uses sour cream to keep the cake layers soft and wet after baking. It is possible to substitute sour cream with buttermilk if you do not have sour cream on hand. Buttermilk has similar moisture keeping properties as sour cream. I prefer to use sour cream in this recipe since it is already very liquid as it uses milk and hot water.
Another important tip for getting soft cake layers is to keep an eye on the baking time. Every oven works differently so your cake layers might be fully baked already 3 to 5 minutes before the approximate baking time in the recipe. To check if the cake layers are fully baked insert a wooden skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is done baking. If the skewer comes out covered with raw cake batter the cake need another 8 to 10 minutes baking. Check again after that time. If the wooden skewer comes out with a few soft cake crumbles let it bake for another 2 minutes as it was slightly underbred at the checking time.
Besides moisture and baking time it is important to not over mix the batter after adding the flour as it can result in dense and chewy cake layers. When mixing the batter after adding the flour for too long the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands which makes the cake dense.
Death by Chocolate Cake
Ingredients for 3 8 inch cake layers
For the chocolate cake layers:
2 1/2 cups (312.5 g) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (175 g) cocoa powder, sifted
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (200g) white sugar
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (80 g) sour cream
3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) hot water or coffee
1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1 tbsp flour to cover
For the chocolate fudge sauce:
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 oz (100 g) dark chocolate chips or chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
For the chocolate buttercream:
5 sticks (565 g) butter, unsalted
3 1/2 cups (440 g) powdered sugar
3/4 cup (75 g) cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp chocolate fudge sauce
2 tbsp heavy cream, if needed
2 cups (320 g) mini chocolate chips
Prepare 3 8 inch baking pans and preheat the oven to 350 °F. In a big mixing bowl combine eggs, oil and both sugars. Mix with a hand mixer until foamy and lighter in color. Add milk and sour cream and mix in. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Mix on low until almost combined, then add the hot water. Mix until smooth but do not over mix. The batter will be very runny.
Divide between three greased and lined 8 inch baking pans. Cover the chocolate chips in flour and sprinkle them evenly on the cake batter before baking. Bake at 350 °F for about 28 - 33 minutes. Insert a skewer to test if the cake is done baking. Let the layers cool on a cooling grid. After 4 minutes take them out of the baking pan and let them cool on a parchment paper on a cooling grid.
While the cake is baking make the hot chocolate fudge. It can also be made up to 3 days before and stored in the fridge. Be aware that fudge hardens in the fridge. For easier handling I recommend to let it come to room temperature before using it. To make the chocolate fudge combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a high heavy bottom pot. Let it come to a simmer at medium heat and do not stir it. Watch it closely. When it starts to get an amber color tilt the pot from side to side to evenly distribute the heat. Turn off the heat as the caramel is very hot and keeps cooking by itself. When it reaches a golden brown color add the heavy cream and chocolate chips. Stir until it comes together in a smooth fudge sauce!
To make the American buttercream use a big mixing bowl or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add butter and mix it until fluffy and lighter in color. Add powdered sugar and mix it in on low speed. If using a stand mixer I recommend to cover the mixer with a kitchen towel to prevent the powdered sugar from coming out. When the sugar is incorporated add the sifted cocoa powder. Mix it on low until smooth. As a last step add fudge sauce and vanilla. Mix it until smooth. If the buttercream is too stiff feel free to add some whipped cream.
To decorate the cake, place the bottom layer on a plate and spread a thin layer of chocolate buttercream on top and pipe a boarder of buttercream around the layer. Add 1/2 cup chocolate fudge filling and spread it with a spoon or spatula. Top it with the second layer and repeat the step. Then apply the last layer and cover the cake with chocolate buttercream on the top and its sides. It does not have to look perfect since it is not going to be shown in the end. Cover the sides of the cake with mini chocolate chips. Also add some chocolate chips on top of the cake. The cake is ready to serve but very soft due to the chocolate fudge sauce in the middle. When refrigerated the fudge is going to harden which gives the cake more stability.
Cover the chocolate chips in flour to prevent them from sinking in the dough.
How to get flat cake layers? Shortly after taking the cake out of the oven press it down a little bit with a clean oven mitt or a folded clean kitchen towel. After letting the cake layer cool for about 4 minutes in the baking pan take it out of the pan with flipping the pan on to a cooling rack covered with parchment paper. Let it cool upside down until fully cooled.
Powdered sugar explosion while making buttercream? When adding the powdered sugar to the buttercream I recommend to cover the mixer with a kitchen towel to prevent the powdered sugar from coming out.
Buttercream is too stiff? Add some whipped cream or microwave 1/3 of the buttercream for 8 seconds and mix it to the rest of the buttercream. This makes it easier to work with.
It is easier if you pipe a ring of buttercream on the cake layers before filling them with the chocolate fudge sauce. This way the buttercream works like a boarder to keep the filling inside the cake.
After filling the cake let it rest it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden the chocolate fudge sauce. That step makes the cake more stable, which makes it easier to apply the buttercream.
Another tip for an easier cake decorating you can put a cake dowel in the center of the cake to make sure the cake layers stay in place.