This Sour Cream Coffee Cake With Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl is light and fluffy, layered with a rich cinnamon and chocolate swirl, and topped with an irresistible crumble. It’s the best coffee cake ever!
The Best Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe
Now, I don’t like to throw around the word “best” when it comes to my recipes. That’s a high bar! But this really is the best coffee cake ever—at least, if I were the judge, it would be my number one choice. It’s amazingly soft and light, just a touch tangy thanks to the sour cream, and it has layers of chocolate and cinnamon, which is such an under-rated combination of flavors. (Try it in my Double Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Brownies, too!)
Oh, and I can’t forget the crumb topping! It’s buttery, sweet, nutty, salty, and all-around delightful.
I first made this coffee cake for a brunch with friends. The eight of us nearly devoured the entire thing. I made it again just to prove to myself that it was really as good as I thought it was the first time. As I sit here thoroughly enjoying a slice, I can tell you that it most definitely is the best coffee cake ever.
What You’ll Need
This is one of those recipes with a long list of ingredients, but once you cross out everything you have in your pantry already, you’ll see that it’s quite short!
For the crumb topping:
- All-purpose flour
- Brown sugar – You can use dark or light brown sugar in this recipe; dark brown sugar imparts a stronger molasses flavor.
- Pecans – Toasted if you like! (See notes below)
- Unsalted butter – Cold butter is key! Pop it in the freezer for a bit if you need to.
For the swirl:
- Granulated sugar
- Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
For the cake:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter – The butter should be softened, but not warm.
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs – The eggs should be room temperature.
- Sour cream – The sour cream should be room temperature, too.
- Vanilla extract
How to Toast Pecans
You can toast the pecans on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Or, if you prefer to be more hands on, you can toast them in a skillet set over medium heat; simply use your eyes and nose instead of a timer and remove them from the heat when they’re fragrant and browned.
How to Make Sour Cream Coffee Cake With Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl
Make sure you set aside some time to bake this coffee cake! It’s not something you can whip up on a busy weekday morning, but it is perfect for a weekend breakfast.
Make the crumb topping and swirl:
Pulse the dry ingredients. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until everything’s mixed. Add the pecans, then pulse again until the pecans are finely chopped and incorporated into the other ingredients.
Finish. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarse and sand-like. Cover and refrigerate.
Make the swirl. Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set it aside for later.
Make the cake:
Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″x 13″x 2″ baking pan with butter.
Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the butter until it’s smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the sugar, and beat until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then scrape the sides again and mix for another 30 seconds.
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add the sour cream and vanilla to the bowl with the butter and eggs, and beat just until combined. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 portions, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed.
Assemble and finish:
Assemble the cake. Pour one-third of the cake batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to make sure it’s spread evenly. Sprinkle half of the swirl mixture over the batter, then spread half of the remaining batter over the swirl mixture. Follow this with the remaining swirl mixture, spreading it evenly over the batter, then add the rest of the batter and spread that evenly, too. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the batter.
Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating the pan 3 times during baking. When the cake is done, a wooden pick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Cool. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)
Tips for Success
Here are some tips for making the perfect sour cream coffee cake.
- Using yogurt instead of sour cream. Can you do it? Yes! I recommend using a full-fat plain Greek yogurt, which is closest in texture to sour cream.
- Weigh the ingredients. This always yields the best results. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, use the spoon-and-sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
- Don’t over-mix. To get that lovely, light texture, mix each addition until just combined. It’s better to have a streak or two of flour in the batter than to over-mix and end up with a tough cake.
How to Store
Store this sour cream coffee cake at room temperature in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.
Can This Cake Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze this recipe! Wrap the cake tightly and freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, you can simply let it thaw on the countertop overnight.