This Chocolate Fudge Cake is dense and intensely chocolatey. Moist layers of rich chocolate cake with generous helpings of fudgy chocolate frosting - the ultimate chocolate fudge cake!
If you've been searching all your life to find the best chocolate cake recipe out there, this easy chocolate fudge cake recipe will not disappoint! Inspired by the 'Bake Off' cake (also known as the missing raspberry cake!), this is a showstopping version of an absolute classic dessert.
The chocolate cake layers themselves are super moist and use the same base recipe as my Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake. The chocolate fudge frosting is a brand-new invention that combines glossy whipped butter with chocolate ganache to create a super fudgy frosting that melts in your mouth and has an intense chocolate flavor.
This is the perfect dessert for chocolate lovers or to bring to any kind of special occasion.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's an elevated version of an old classic chocolate cake.
- The chocolate fudge frosting contains a lot of real chocolate, giving a really luxurious flavor and texture.
- Easy to make but looks impressive and is always a crowd pleaser.
This recipe uses simple ingredients that you'll see in most chocolate cake recipes. Make sure you use room temperature ingredients for best results.
- Flour - All-purpose flour is best for this cake. We want it to have good substance to help create that dense, fudgy texture. If you use cake flour the cake may be too delicate.
- Sugar - Use superfine granulated sugar (caster sugar in the UK).
- Cocoa Powder - Make sure you use Dutch process cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder may make a dry cake and the chocolate flavor won't be as intense.
- Milk - Whole milk is best, but you can use whatever you have to hand.
- Eggs - We'll use the whole eggs in this chocolate fudge cake. Use large eggs and always free-range if you can.
- Sour Cream - This is the secret to creating a super moist chocolate cake.
- Vegetable Oil - You can also use any kind of flavorless oil instead, such as canola oil.
- Vanilla - Even though it's a chocolate cake, vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste will provide a great base of flavor to build on.
- Espresso Powder - You won't taste the espresso powder at all, it will just help to show off the chocolate flavor more. Make sure you use espresso powder and not instant coffee granules.
- Butter - Use unsalted butter for the frosting and make sure it is completely at room temperature before beginning.
- Dark Chocolate - This recipe uses quite a lot of real chocolate in the frosting. I recommend getting bars of real chocolate from the grocery store, NOT candy bars. I would also avoid chocolate chips (unless they are couverture chocolate callets) as these are often not real chocolate and have lots of additives put in to make them bake stable - so they won't melt properly into your ganache.
- Heavy Cream - Make sure you use heavy cream, heavy whipping cream, or double cream. The fat content should be at least 33%.
- Powdered Sugar - Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar. This will thicken and sweeten our chocolate fudge frosting.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make the Chocolate Cake
This fudgy chocolate cake recipe could not be more simple.
- Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C and grease two 8-inch round cake pans.
Note: I don't recommend using loose-bottomed cake pans for this recipe as the cake batter is very liquid and it may leak out of the bottom. (This happened to me while I was testing the recipe - lesson learned!) For best results, use regular round cake pans and make sure you grease them well.
I also like to line the base of my cake pans with parchment paper circles to make sure they don't stick. If you only have loose-bottomed cake pans, wrap the outside of them with aluminum foil to stop the cake batter from escaping out into your oven.
- Step 2: In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (except the espresso powder). This includes the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix everything together with a whisk or wooden spoon, just to make sure they are properly combined.
- Step 3: In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients (except the hot water). This includes the eggs, milk, sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Mix them together with a small whisk or a fork. Don't worry if the mixture looks a little curdled.
- Step 4: Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix everything together until there are no more lumps.
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.
Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Step 5: In a small bowl or a glass, combine the hot water with the espresso powder and mix until the espresso powder dissolves. Pour the hot coffee mixture into the cake batter and mix until combined. The chocolate batter will be very liquid - don't worry, this is good!
- Step 6: Divide the chocolate cake batter evenly between your prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean or with moist crumbs on it. You can absolutely eyeball this, I usually do - but if you want to be precise about how much batter goes into each cake pan, you can use your kitchen scale to weigh each pan and make sure they are equal.
Pour the hot coffee into the cake batter.
Divide the chocolate batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
- Step 7: Let the cakes cool in the pans for at least an hour before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Top Tip: I always recommend weighing your ingredients with a kitchen scale, rather than a measuring cup set. This is because it's very hard to measure accurately with cups, so it's easy to get the quantities wrong and mess up the recipe without realizing it. For best results, always measure with a scale.
My recipes always give the quantities in both cups and grams so you can choose what is best for you.
How to Make the Chocolate Fudge Frosting
This chocolate fudge frosting has an extra step than some of the more basic chocolate buttercream recipes, but it is absolutely worth it! Incorporating the chocolate ganache ensures it will satisfy even the strongest of chocolate cravings and I'm convinced it's what makes this the best chocolate fudge cake you will ever try.
- Step 1: Chop the chocolate finely and place it into a medium bowl.
- Step 2: Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Keep heating until the cream is scalding hot, but not boiling. You'll know it's there when you start to see tiny little bubbles begin to burst on the surface.
Chop the chocolate finely.
Heat the cream over medium heat.
- Step 3: Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute.
- Step 4: Start stirring the chocolate and cream slowly to allow the chocolate to melt and the cream to incorporate into the melted chocolate. Once it's fully incorporated you should have a glossy chocolate ganache. Set aside for now.
Note: If you are making your ganache a few hours ahead of time, cover it in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
Let the warm cream sit on the chocolate for a minute.
Mix the cream in to melt the chocolate.
- Step 5: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, whip the butter for 5 full minutes. It should be thick, pale, and silky when it's done.
- Step 6: Check the temperature of the chocolate ganache with your finger. It should be at room temperature, if it feels even slightly warm it will melt the butter (and we definitely don't want melted butter in our frosting!). If it is warm, let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes and then check again.
The ganache should be glossy when done.
Whip the butter for 5 minutes until pale and smooth.
- Step 7: If the chocolate ganache is at room temperature, turn your mixer back on low speed and slowly add the chocolate ganache to the whipped butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between additions.
- Step 8: Once all the chocolate ganache has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt into the chocolate and butter mixture. Make sure you sift your powdered sugar and cocoa powder to avoid any lumps.
Switch to a paddle attachment on your mixer and mix everything in, slowly at first to avoid a cloud of sugar over your countertop, then build up to medium speed and beat for two minutes.
Mix the chocolate ganache into the whipped butter gradually.
Sift the powdered sugar into the chocolate mixture.
Assemble the Chocolate Fudge Cake
- Once your chocolate cakes have completely cooled, use a cake leveler or serrated knife to cut any dome off the top of the cake. If you want two thicker layers of cake then you can continue to the next step. I often like to cut my layer cakes into four thinner layers (as in the pictures), to do this, just slice each cake layer horizontally in half so you have four thin layers of chocolate cake.
- Place your first layer of cake onto a cake board or serving plate and top with a generous layer of chocolate fudge frosting. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting out into an even layer across the cake. Place the next layer on top and repeat with each of the layers.
- Once you have placed the top layer of cake on, spread a thin layer of frosting all over the top and sides of the cake to lock in the crumbs. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Put a thick layer of frosting all over the cake. You can either smooth it out with a bench scraper or make a pretty pattern with your spatula or the back of a knife. Decorate however you like and enjoy your decadent chocolate cake!
How to get perfect cake layers
In my opinion, chocolate fudge cake recipes are delicious whether they are neat as a pin or have a more 'rustic' vibe. But if you'd like to get super even, perfect cake layers, here are my two pro tips.
Use a cake leveler - When you are cutting your cake layers, use a cake leveler to make sure every single layer of cake is the exact same thickness. The levelers have little measurements on the side so you can set it to the right height and make each layer identical. This looks fantastic when you slice into that cake!
Measure your frosting - To make sure you get the same amount of frosting in between each layer, measure your frosting with an ice cream scoop so you are putting the exact same amount on each layer.
- Sour Cream - If you don't have sour cream, you can substitute this for Greek yogurt in the exact same quantity.
- White Sugar - You can substitute half of the white sugar for light brown sugar if you'd like a little more of a caramel flavor. I wouldn't substitute more than this though as it may start to mess with the texture and consistency of the chocolate fudge cake.
- Espresso Powder - Feel free to leave this out entirely if you don't want it in your cake. There's no need to substitute it for anything else, just add the hot water on its own.
- Chocolate Ganache Cake - If you'd prefer not to make the chocolate buttercream in the original recipe, you could make the chocolate ganache as it is and use that as a filling and frosting on its own.
- Vanilla Fudge Cake - For a stripy twist on your chocolate fudge cake, try replacing the chocolate cake layers with my French Vanilla Cake instead, paired with the chocolate fudge frosting.
You can store your chocolate fudge cake in an airtight container at room temperature, it will be good like this for up to 5 days.
If your house is quite warm, you may prefer to store the cake in the fridge as there is a risk of the chocolate fudge frosting melting slightly in higher temperatures. I recommend removing the cake, or slices of cake from the fridge an hour before serving as it's best served at room temperature.
FAQ and Troubleshooting
Chocolate fudge cake is a bit more dense and decadent than a regular chocolate cake, which tends to be a little lighter and airier. Also the chocolate fudge frosting is thick and fudgy to create an indulgent chocolatey experience with every bite!
You can put the ganache in the microwave for very short bursts of 20 seconds, mixing thoroughly afterward until all the chocolate has melted. Make sure you let the ganache come back down to room temperature before using in your frosting though.
I highly recommend using dutch-processed cocoa powder. It seems like a small thing, but using natural cocoa powder instead could result in a cake that is too dense and a little dry, and the flavor won't be as intense.
If your buttercream is grainy it usually means that the powdered sugar hasn't dissolved into the butter properly. Try beating the frosting for a minute or two. Don't worry too much if it still seems slightly grainy, as it sits it will naturally dissolve and smooth out, even after you have decorated your cake.
More Chocolate Recipes
Now that you have your new go-to chocolate cake recipe, check out some of these other chocolate desserts that you may love:
Chocolate Fudge Cake
For the Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups All-purpose Flour 240g
- 2 cups Superfine Sugar 400g
- ½ cup Cocoa Powder 50g (dutch processed)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ cup Whole Milk 120g
- 2 Eggs
- ½ cup Sour Cream 128g
- ½ cup Vegetable Oil 110g
- 1 teaspoon Espresso Powder
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Hot Water 240ml
For the Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- 4 sticks Unsalted Butter 452g
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar 360g
- 16 oz Dark Chocolate 453g
- 1 cup Heavy Cream 240g
- ¼ cup Cocoa Powder 25g (dutch processed)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 pinch Salt
Make the Chocolate Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C and grease two 8-inch round cake pans.
- In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients including the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (But not the espresso powder). Whisk everything together.2 cups All-purpose Flour, 2 cups Superfine Sugar, ½ cup Cocoa Powder, 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, ½ teaspoon Salt, 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, except the hot water, this includes the eggs, milk, sour cream, vegetable oil and, vanilla. Whisk together lightly until it makes a homogenous mixture.½ cup Whole Milk, 2 Eggs, ½ cup Sour Cream, ½ cup Vegetable Oil, 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until everything is combined and there are no lumps.
- In a small bowl or a glass, combine the hot water with the espresso powder and mix until completely dissolved. Pour into the cake batter and mix until combined.1 cup Hot Water, 1 teaspoon Espresso Powder
- Divide the batter evenly between your two cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pan for at least an hour before removing them. Let them cool on a wire rack completely before filling and frosting.
Make the Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- Chop the chocolate finely and put into a medium sized bowl.16 oz Dark Chocolate
- Heat the cream in a saucepan on medium heat until it is scalding hot (just starting to see tiny bubbles form on the surface). Do not let it boil.1 cup Heavy Cream
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute, then stir to mix together and melt the chocolate. It should make a smooth, shiny ganache.
- In a stand mixer, or with an electric whisk, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.4 sticks Unsalted Butter
- Check the temperature of the chocolate ganache with your finger, it should have come down to room temperature by now. If it feels even slightly warm, wait 10 minutes and then check again. If you use it while it's warm it will melt the butter. If it's at room temperature, turn your mixer back on a low speed and slowly incorporate the chocolate ganache, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing for a few minutes in between additions.
- Once all the chocolate ganache has been incorporated, add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Switch to a paddle attachment on your mixer and mix everything in, slwoly at first, then faster, beat for about 2 minutes.3 cups Powdered Sugar, ¼ cup Cocoa Powder, 1 teaspoon Vanilla, 1 pinch Salt
Assemble the Chocolate Fudge Cake
- Once the chocolate cakes have completely cooled, use a cake leveler or serrated knife to cut any domes off the top of the cake. If you want 4 thinner layers of cake, like I have in the pictures above, cut each cake in half horizontally as well to create 4 thin layers of chocolate cake.
- Place your first layer of cake on top of a cake board or serving plate and top with a generous helping of the chocolate fudge frosting. Use an offset spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Repeat with each of the layers. Once you have the top layer of cake on, spread a thin coating of frosting all over the top and sides of the cake to lock in crumbs, chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Add a thicker coating of frosting all over the cake and decorate however you like.