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Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings

At least once a year, I can count on Quinn taking over the baking in the BoB kitchen. That occasion is my birthday. This year, there was much deliberation on what would be my birthday cake. The final decision was pieced together from a few different recipes and Quinn’s insistence that there be frosting involved.

As I didn’t assist in the baking process, I will keep this brief. Quinn says that it was a relatively simple endeavor, although the two different frostings were a bit daunting for him. He chose to make three square cake layers, using 9-inch square baking pans. For that reason, the original recipe from Buttercup Bakes at Home was adjusted to accommodate, thus explaining the odd amounts of some of the ingredients.

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings is sure to impress, in both flavor and appearance. This tall, beautiful cake is rich, moist, and delicious!

Now, about this cake. Honestly, this was perhaps the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It is dense and moist and just plain wonderful. I am on record as saying that I don’t like plain chocolate cake much. This is anything but plain. I think it is definitely my new go-to chocolate cake.

On top of (and in between) the cake, there are not one but two frostings. The layers have cream cheese frosting with a touch of Frangelico. We agreed that the flavor of the liqueur didn’t come through very strongly, but it was still delicious. The top and sides are covered with a chocolate cream cheese frosting that I could have eaten all by itself.

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings is sure to impress, in both flavor and appearance. This tall, beautiful cake is rich, moist, and delicious!

This is definitely a special occasion cake. No one could eat this frequently and survive it. It did, however, make a perfect, decadent treat for my day. Thanks, Quinn!

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Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings

Yield 9 servings
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is sure to impress in both flavor and appearance. This tall chocolate cake is rich, moist, and delicious!

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings


For the cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 & 1/8 cups buttermilk
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/8 cup sour cream

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 & 3/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico

For the chocolate cream cheese frosting:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For garnish (optional)

  • chocolate shavings or curls


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch square baking pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add the chocolate, and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in the sour cream.
  5. Divide the batter equally and pour into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Mix the butter and cream cheese with a wooden spoon until blended. Add 2 cups of sugar, half of the heavy cream, and salt. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, cream, vanilla, and Frangelico. Mix until smooth, but do not overmix. If the frosting is too thick, add a few drops of heavy cream.
  3. Spread the frosting between the cooled cake layers. If necessary, place the frosting in the refrigerator before spreading onto the cake layers.

To make the chocolate cream cheese frosting:

  1. Mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder. Add the sugar in three portions, alternating with the sour cream. Beat until smooth and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of cake. If necessary, place the frosting in the refrigerator before spreading on the cake.
  3. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator to allow it to set.


Cake recipe adapted from Buttercup Bakes at Home. Frosting recipes adapted from Great Cakes.

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    91 Comments on “Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings”

  1. That looks SO good. My bday’s tomorrow- you think I can get my husband to make me a cake? 😉 Happy Birthday to you!

  2. This looks wonderful. I must try it! Happy birthday, hope it was as spectacular as the cake! – H

  3. Decadent, indulgent, amazing! This one is sooooooo going in my “must bake post haste” file! 😉

  4. It takes a lot for chocolate cake to impress me, I generally find it unappealing especially when compared to a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. I am a chocolate fanatic though, I’ll need to try baking it and the best one you’ve ever had? Certainly can’t be bad.

  5. The frosting looks so oozy and yummy! And the rest of cake looks just as scrumptious! Beautiful photos!

  6. That cake looks wonderful. He did a great job! I’m going to bake that cake during the holidays. Happy Birthday!!

  7. That first picture took my breath away. This looks knee-bucklingly good.

  8. That frosting looks the perfect consistency – smooth and slightly sticky. Good job!

  9. Wow! What Jessica said…

  10. Speak for yourself. I could eat this cake as often as you would like!

    This is, hands down…THE BEST chocolate cake I have ever had! I don’t know what was better…the actual cake or the frosting(s).

    The best part was helping Q cut the cake when it was time to serve. I think we both consumed about a pound of the frosting just from scraping it off the cake plate! Yum!

  11. YUM. That looks awesome! Happy Birthday!! That cake is making me wish that my birthday was soon, I’d gladly take on an extra year for that! 🙂

  12. Happy birthday, beautiful!
    An amazing cake for an amazing baker. Kudos to Quinn!


  13. Two frostings?! That is seriously decadent. Wish I could think of an excuse to bake it soon.

  14. Wow or rather Whoa! What a masterpiece.

  15. That looks AMAZINGLY delicious! Great job, Quinn and lucky you!

  16. I disagree. I could eat this frequently (easily!)

    Happy bday!

  17. OH MY GOODNESS! Yum Yum Yum! You are so lucky! HAPPY B DAY!

  18. So glad you had a scrumptious birthday. Mine is week after next and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to making the cake that mom always made for me. It was just Devils Food Cake with Seven Minute Frosting but I just haven’t been able to get up the emotional stamina to pull it together. Brandt’s planning an assigned dish dinner party and asked what kind of cake I wanted him to order from Mis Muff’n. I told him to give me another week to see if I can muster the strength. Looking at Quinn’s great photos I think I have to have chocolate and if it’s going to be chocolate I might as well go for it. Maybe a few tears will act as the pinch of salt. Thanks for virtually sharing your bday with us.

  19. Oh My Goodness!!! That cake looks amazing! Quinn did a great job! It does’nt look homemade it looks store bought! Got to come up with a reason to bake it BEFORE the holidays. Happy Birthday and God bless!!

  20. Oh my!!! This looks so deadly delicious! Great photos!

  21. looks absolutely decadent!

  22. Happy Birthday! That cake looks divine! I love the chocolate shavings on top of the chocolate frosting . . . on top of the chocolate cake! My kind of cake 🙂 I don’t have square pans, but I think I’ll try it in my round 9″ pans — yum!

  23. Oh your pictures say it all!! The cake looks amazing, I can’t even imagine how good it tasted! What a lucky girl – hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  24. Wow that’s one awesome cake!

    Happy Birthday!

  25. Will you PLEASE stop making recipes that get me off my diet. hehe…Looks SO GOOD!

  26. Woo! I want Annie to make this for me!

  27. That is truly the most gorgeous cake I’ve ever seen. Glad it was lovely for your birthday!

  28. Wow! Thanks to everyone of you for making my birthday even better! 🙂

    Michelle, if you’re using 9-inch round pans, you probably can use the original recipe. Send me an email if you want it.

  29. Happy Birthday – that cake looks wonderful. My two favorite ingredients- chocolate and cream cheese 🙂

  30. I would really like to make this but I only have 9″ round pans. How would I adjust the recipe?

  31. Quinn is so sweet! The cake looks sinfully decadent, and what is not to love about chocolate + cream cheese? Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  32. You can so see the work that went into making it. It does mean so much more than a gift card from Best Buy.

  33. Gorgeous. This may be my next birthday cake!

  34. OMG…this blog is the sweetest torture…

    Happy Birthday!

  35. awesome cream cheese filling and the top decoration is so gorgeous! like how simple the whole cake is and yet how wonderful it all looks..mmm. happy birthday! 🙂 x

  36. Happy Birthday Jennifer! Wishing you much happiness in the year ahead….Mine was last week and I failed to make my favorite- a 7 layer Coconut Cake; now I wish I did. Though I am not a Chocolate Cake fan this looks like the best I have ever seen. Simply wonderful!

  37. I love your blog! I can’t wait to explore it more. I am a Mississippi girl, too.

  38. Will he come and make me this cake for my birthday in a week and a half? Delicious!!

    Hope your birthday was great!

  39. OMG!!!!!!! My mouth is watering!

  40. WOW!! That is an amazing looking cake. Happy birthday to you and well done to Quinn for this fantastic cake 🙂 I always have to bake my own xx

  41. Oh my goodness! Your photos are amazing! I want to reach in and grab that slice of cake! It looks so good!

  42. What a gorgeous cake….and it looks so delicious!

  43. All I can say is WOW! I must’ve stared at the cover photo for a good 10 seconds. It’s mesmerizing. Happy Birthday! I enjoy reading this blog for the recipes.

  44. the frosting oozing out of the cake layers looks absolutely amazing! I would definitely be the one sticking my finger in the frosting 😉

  45. Oooohhhhh!
    I can’t get much more out.

  46. Thanks again! I think Quinn really did an outstanding job. Maybe I should encourage him to take over? 😉

  47. Happy birthday! Now THAT’s a birthday cake – gorgeous!

  48. Wow this DOES look amazing! I wish I could get my significant other to make something this delicious. 🙂 Both the frostings look delicious, I love that there are 2! And I’ve never been a huge fan of plain chocolate cake either, so I’ll really have to try this recipe!

    Happy Birthday!

  49. Ohmygod this looks amazing! 2 frosting? You’re quite the overachiever 🙂

  50. Happy birthday! This cake has me craving a slice. YUM!

  51. Oh my, that looks like the holy grail of chocolate cake.

  52. wow. that looks amazing! I’m thinking adding some sort of coffee something would make it even better! I love chocolate, creamcheese and coffee together!

  53. I have been looking for a great chocolate cake recipe for ages and this had me hooked from the first photo. I made it for my son’s 11th birthday on Saturday (I left out the Frangelico), and the whole family LOVED it, there’s no doubt I’ll be making this again. Thanks so much for posting this.

  54. Oh my Lord…this is decadent!!!!

    Since you seem like a true foodie, I want to share the following with you…I’m promoting a new website that’s about to launch in a month–it’s called
    It’s going to provide tips and tricks about anything and everything in the culinary world. Please check it out! Tell your friends.


  55. Thanks, y’all!

    Ros, I’m glad you enjoyed the cake. Isn’t it just fantastic?!?

  56. Did you say… chocolate… cream cheese… frosting?

  57. I love chocolate cakes and desserts, so i must tell you just one thing.

  58. This sounds so great! My wedding cake was a dark chocolate cake with a thick cream cheese frosting – best cake I’ve ever had (the day didn’t hurt :). I’ll have to try this recipe on my own now to try to re-create it. Thanks!

  59. Happy Birthday to a very, very lucky girl. This looks divine and you are so fortunate to have someone make this for you (and do it so well!)

  60. Indigo, that is exactly right. Almost too good to be true!

    Thanks, Monica & Lisa!

    Catherine, I wish sometimes that I had deviated from the norm for our wedding cake, but I went traditional all the way. Sounds like yours was delicious!

  61. Jennifer —

    I am pretty sure I can’t get my hands on Dutch -process cocoa powder. Do you think an “average” cocoa powder would work? I have regular and dark, and I was leaning toward trying the dark … but I thought I’d get your expert opinion. 🙂

  62. Quick follow up … I found a “premium cocoa” by SACO, which is “a special blend of natural and Dutched cocoa.” Maybe that will suffice?

  63. Lindsay, Dutch process cocoa will react differently in a recipe, so they are usually not interchangeable. I’ve never used a blend of the two. I’m not really sure what that would do. There is some helpful explanation at Joy of Baking.

  64. The main reason I was wondering if the experimenting might be okay is because the cocoa isn’t in the actual cake — it sounds like the main issue with using Dutch-process versus regular cocoa has to do with leavening agents, which wouldn’t apply to frosting. I’m leaning toward trying the SACO blend but am, of course, a little nervous about it …

  65. Lindsay, you’re right. I was thinking that there was cocoa powder in the cake. I’m sure you could use whichever kind you like for the frosting. Enjoy!

  66. I’m just impressed. Not only for the delicious look of the cake itself (so black… Mmmmm) but also for the cream cheese frostenings. I must try tis recipe, that’s for sure.

  67. This looks amazing!!!! I had to stumble it.. the whole world needs to see this. Great work. I cant wait to try it

  68. Thanks, morgana & zestycook!

  69. oh my! someone better have a birthday fast, ’cause i want to make this cake!

    looks stunning, too.

  70. Aww man! I want to comment on everything on this blog! Everything looks good! But, this cake looks soo good I love chocolate.

  71. I baked this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday in 3 9″ round pans. Neither of us care for frangelico, so I flavored the filling frosting with one of our favorite liquors, Amarula (a proven winner with our palates when mixed with chocolate!). I could have just eaten that frosting and stoppe there. Since I couldn’t find the Dutch processed cocoa, and didn’t have time to mail order, I used Ghirardelli’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Topped with mini-chocolate chips, this cake looks wonderful (and the scraps I tasted from leveling the layers taste yummy, too!) if not like Jennifer/Quinn’s pictures. Next time tho, I think I am ditching the chocolate cream cheese frosting and just doing the Amarula flavor. It is just that delicious. Happy baking, y’all! Thanks for the recipe, BorB!

  72. wow,this looks amazing Lindsay ,i was trying to make it now but i couldn’t find the ingredients,could u help me out

  73. MMM this looks tasty!! I actually made a layered cake last weekend but it was a red velvet cake and it had some chocolate inside of it. It was really easy to make and didn’t take that long. The only thing I changed in the recipe was the amount of food coloring. Instead of just using red food coloring I mixed in some beet juice as well to get the deep red color.

  74. Just clicked on this link sent to me by my friend. Wow! Nice photography. That cake is gorgeous.

  75. Wow!It looks delicious!
    I want to bake a cake right now!

  76. Wendy, look above the top photo for a link to the recipe.

  77. So, I just put this in the oven and it was a VERY thick batter. I’m hoping all is well. Whether it makes a great cake or not, the batter laden spoon tasted amazing. Thanks!

  78. BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE & FROSTING EVER!Saw the picture (and story) of this cake last week and have been thinking about it continuously since then. Fortunately, yesterday was my friends birthday and I had a reason to make it. It was fabulous. Totally lived up to my fantasy of how it would taste.
    Thank you! batter was awesome on its own too!

  79. I followed each step in this recipe and the cake turned out MAGICAL. Even my cousins at the dinner party who dislike chocolate couldn’t get enough of it! Of course i used semi-sweet chocolate with a little unsweetened chocolate since I didn’t have many and regular cocoa instead of Dutch, but that didn’t stop this giant-sized cake from disappearing!

  80. This picture is gorgeous!! I seriously want to dive right into that cake!

  81. Hi, this cake looks absolutely divine. I want to make a birthday cake for my sons birthday…to serve about 19 kids (4-5yrs) and about 12 adults. A 9×13 double layer would be about right I think. Would you be able to help me with the quantity. I’m quite new to baking. Should I just double your recipe? Any help will be greatly received.

  82. Can it hold up to a fondant covered and tiered cake?

  83. When you reposted this recipe the other day, I had to bake this cake!
    Yesterday I found the time …BIG SUCCESS.
    Thanks for sharing Jennifer.

  84. Hi. Looooong time ” snooper!”. Big cook and baker, love love love your blog, recipes. Always spot on. How long would it bake 3×6″ pans?

    • Hi, Stacey! 3″x 6″ is fairly small, so I’d likely try about 15 minutes to start. Then just use your best judgment from there for how much longer they might need until they pass the toothpick test.

  85. Ugh. Sorry. I meant 3, 6 inch pans.

  86. Very nice chocolate recipe, looking very yummy and tempting, will try once to make it. Thanks for sharing recipe.

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