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Baileys Chocolate Cake

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it felt fitting to whip up this Baileys chocolate cake.

Image of Baileys Chocolate Cake

In the past I’ve made an adorable shamrock cake and a giant beer mug cake, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made a cake with Baileys in it yet!

image of a slice of baileys chocolate cake on a plate

What Is Baileys?

Baileys is an Irish whiskey and cream based liquor, which is actually pretty strong (17% ABV).

I’m not going to pretend like I’ve never taken a shot of it, but at this point in my life I’m more likely to drink it in my coffee on vacation.

I love the cream flavor of Baileys and I wanted to incorporate it into every component of this cake.

Adding Baileys Into Every Aspect of This Chocolate Cake Recipe

This recipe is based on my moist chocolate cake recipe, but I swapped out half of the buttermilk for Baileys.

Most of the alcohol bakes out in the oven, but you can still taste it once the layers are baked.

image of Baileys chocolate batter being poured into 3 8-inch pans

I also added Baileys into my chocolate buttercream recipe in place of some of the heavy cream.

It makes a slightly boozy frosting that has the most incredible, rich flavor!!

image of silky smooth, decadent dark chocolate buttercream made with Baileys

Then I did the same thing with the ganache filling! The ganache really lets the Irish cream flavor shine though.

Image of Baileys Ganache

The end result? A delicious, boozy, chocolate cake that is the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert.

How To Assemble This Baileys Chocolate Cake

Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board using a dab of chocolate ganache to help stick the first cake layer to the board.

Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the chocolate cake layer with a large offset spatula.

Chill the cake in the freezer for 5 minutes, then spread half of the ganache mixture on top of the layer of buttercream.

Repeat with the next cake layer, then place the third cake layer on upside down to make the cake easier to frost.

Photo Of Baileys Chocolate Cake

Cover the cake in a thin coat of chocolate buttercream. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the buttercream is firm to the touch.

Add a second, thicker layer of chocolate buttercream to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper.

Decorate as desired! I opted to cover my cake with long chocolate ganache drips, then made a swirled pattern using a tapered offset spatula.

It creates an oddly symmetrical and unique design, and is a lot easier to do than you’d think!

Photo of Baileys Chocolate Cake, filled with Baileys chocolate ganache, and frosted with with Baileys chocolate buttercream

Substitutions & Swaps: Baileys Chocolate Cake Layers

While I love this Baileys chocolate cake recipe just the way it is, I know some of you might not have all these ingredients on hand.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe:

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with all purpose flour. However, you can swap in a good gluten free flour blend (like this) if needed. Just be sure to stir the batter longer than normal to help give the cake proper structure, and let the batter sit for about 20 minutes before baking it if you opt to make a gluten free version.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Baking Cocoa Powder – I like to use the Ghirardelli or Hershey’s brand of baking cocoa, but you can use any brand of unsweetened cocoa powder. You can also use dark cocoa powder or black cocoa.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat).
  • Vegetable Oil – Any flavorless oil can be used in this recipe. Canola, vegetable, or even sunflower oil would all work great. I don’t recommend olive oil though, as it has a strong flavor and will change the taste of the cake.
  • Eggs – This recipe uses 2 large eggs. If you have an egg allergy you can try using a vegan egg replacer.
image of moist, 6-inch dark chocolate cake layers that are cooling on a wire rack

Substitutions & Swaps: Baileys Chocolate Buttercream

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this buttercream recipe.

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Dark Cocoa Powder – If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa or add additional powdered sugar in its place.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) can also be used to make the frosting.
  • Dark Chocolate – You can use dark chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or good-quality chocolate bars to melt and add into the frosting. Alternatively, you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate if you have a strong preference.
image of chocolate buttercream being mixed in a KitchenAid stand mixer

Making This Baileys Chocolate Cake in Different Sizes

I used three 8″ cake pans to make this cake, but this recipe can be used to make different sized cakes. You can also half or double the ingredients to make a half or double batch!

You can make also four 8″ or 7″ cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake the cake layers at 350 F / 175 C for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

One batch of batter can also be used to make one 9×13-inch sheet cake. Bake it at 350 F / 175 C for 40-50 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly.

image of sheet cake pan with flower nails being used as heating cores to help the cake bake more quickly and evenly

If you want to make cupcakes, I highly recommend using my chocolate cupcake recipe as a base!

One batch of my cupcake recipe makes 12 moist chocolate cupcakes. Make a quarter batch of ganache and buttercream to fill and frost them.

Tips for Making The Best Baileys Chocolate Cake

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This ensures your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. Make sure each pan has the same amount of batter will make your cake layers bake to the same height and bake more evenly.
  • Bang your cake pans on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it easier to stack and frost.
image of chocolate cake batter being weighed on a scale to make sure all the pans have the same amount of batter

Making This Baileys Chocolate Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

image of a bite of baileys chocolate cake on a fork

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this Baileys chocolate cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.

And don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets on social media so that I can see your delicious creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Baileys Chocolate Cake

Image of Baileys Chocolate Cake

This Baileys chocolate cake recipe is perfect for St. Patrick's Day! It uses Baileys in the cake layers, chocolate ganache filling AND in the buttercream!!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

Baileys Chocolate Cake Layers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (75g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (8g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9g)
  • 1 tsp fine salt (6g)
  • 1 cup warm water (240g)
  • 2 tsp instant espresso of coffee (5g)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (120g)
  • 1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream (120g)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (110g)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (112g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)

Baileys Chocolate Ganache Filling

  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips (340g)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (240g)
  • 2 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream (28g)

Baileys Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups or 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (454g)
  • 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted (100g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625g)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled (228g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (120g)
  • 2 Tbsp Baileys Liqueur (30g)

Instructions

Baileys Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 175 C. Line and grease three, eight-inch cake pans, or four, seven-inch pans.
  2. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup baking cocoa, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
  3. In a separate, large bowl, add 1 cup of hot water and 2 tsp instant espresso or coffee. Stir until dissolved.
  4. Add in 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup Baileys Irish cream, 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract into the instant espresso mixture. Give the mixture a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix by hand until fully incorporated. The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, and bake for about 24-27 minutes. I like to use a kitchen scale to weigh the pans. It makes sure each pan has the exact same amount of batter and helps the cake layers bake up to be the same height.
  7. Remove the cake layers from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Gently run an offset spatula around the rim of the cake pans to loosen them, then flip them onto wire racks to finish cooling.
  8. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer. If you make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Baileys Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place 2 cups of milk chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Pour 1 cup of heavy cream into a medium-sized pot and heat over a medium high heat until it just begins to boil.
  3. Pour over the chocolate and let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add in 2 Tbsp of Baileys then slowly stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes together and is smooth.
  5. Place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache and set aside to cool.

Baileys Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat 2 cups of butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  2. Add in 1 cup of sifted cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix on low until the ingredients are combined and no clumps remain.
  3. Gradually mix in 5 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed. Halfway through add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 Tbsp of Baileys to make the frosting easier to mix.
  4. Next, mix in 1 1/3 cups of dark chocolate chips that have been melted and cooled.
  5. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.

Assembling This Baileys Chocolate Cake

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board using a dab of chocolate ganache to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the chocolate cake layer with a large offset spatula. Chill the cake in the freezer for 5 minutes, then spread half of the ganache mixture on top of the layer of buttercream. Repeat with the next cake layer, then place the third cake layer on upside down to make the cake easier to frost.
  3. Cover the cake in a thin coat of chocolate buttercream. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the buttercream is firm to the touch.
  4. Add a second, thicker layer of chocolate buttercream to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper.
  5. Decorate as desired! I added a ganache drip around the sides and then used a pointed offset spatula to create lines around the cake.

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Baileys Chocolate Cake

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix the cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. Make sure each pan has the same amount of batter so that the cake layers bake to the same height and bake more evenly.
  • Bang the cake pans on the counter before putting them in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Level the room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Chill the cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!

Making this Baileys Chocolate Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

Make the chocolate frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 591Total Fat 33gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 77mgSodium 302mgCarbohydrates 67gFiber 2gSugar 54gProtein 4g

Sofia Fernandes

Monday 25th of July 2022

Wow it was awesome,can i cover fondent on top.plz reply

Chelsweets

Sunday 31st of July 2022

Hi Sofia,

This cake recipe is pretty soft. You can cover the cake in fondant but I would make sure to keep the cake chilled! If it fully thaws to room temperature you might experience some settling which can result in wrinkling or bubbles in the fondant. Hope that helps!

Jamie Orris

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Can you use gluten free four for the cake?

Angela

Sunday 6th of June 2021

Hi,

Thank you so much for this absolutely perfect recipe. I followed your instructions and it came out perfectly and was loved by everyone. I even decorated it as you did so that it was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the mouth. It was absolutely delicious and I would certainly make it again in a heartbeat.

Steffy

Friday 26th of February 2021

Hi Chelsea firstly I love your recipes especially this one it's amazing. I was wondering though in the blog you specified equal amounts of cream and baileys for the ganache however the recipe calls for 2tbsp. Which is it?

Tina

Thursday 25th of February 2021

Hi Chelsey thanks for the great recipes Can I use just white egg for this recipes? We Love your other choc cake recipe instantly become One of our favourite

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