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Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting is made with tender, moist cake layers and the creamiest cream cheese frosting!!

And for anyone asking the question, “Does chocolate cake go with cream cheese frosting??”

It absolutely does!! It’s such a delicious combination.

image of a slice of chocolate cake frosted with cream cheese frosting on a plate that's been cut into to show how moist it is

How to Make This Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

To make sure this chocolate cake recipe turns out as amazing as possible, let’s walk through each step together! I’ve also included a video tutorial of the process below.

Step 1: Bake the Chocolate Cake Layers

The first step is to make the chocolate cake batter. I love this cake recipe because it can be made by hand and comes together in minutes!

It’s as simple as whisking the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Then you mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and it’s all ready to go.

image of chocolate cake batter being made with a whisk in a green bowl

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 23-26 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

image of chocolate cake batter being poured into 8 inch cake pans

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 into wire racks to finish cooling.

image of moist, 6-inch dark chocolate cake layers that are cooling on a wire rack

These cake layers bake up pretty flat, so leveling them is optional. If you want to level them with a serrated knife, make sure to wait until the cake layers have fully cooled to room temperature.

If you’re making these in advance, you can wrap and freeze them at this point.

Step 2: Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the cream cheese frosting. This frosting can also be made in advance if needed and kept in the fridge for up to a month!

If the frosting seems too thick at this stage, add in additional cream (1 tablespoon at a time). If the frosting seems too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).

Once it’s reached the desired consistency, cover the cream cheese frosting with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming.

image of cream cheese frosting that's been mixed in a glass KitchenAid bowl

Step 3: Stack and Fill the Cake Layers

If possible, chill the cake layers in the freezer for 20 minutes before stacking them. This will make them so much easier to frost and help minimize crumbing.

Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board using a dab of cream cheese frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.

Spread a thick, even layer of cream cheese frosting on top of each cake layer.

image of cream cheese frosting being spread between chocolate cake layers

Place the top cake layer upside down to make it easier to frost. This will help give the cake better shape and sharper edges.

image of chocolate cake layers being stacked and filled with cream cheese frosting

Step 5: Crumb Coat the Cake

Spread a thin coat of cream cheese frosting around the cake to fully cover the cake layers.

Smooth using a large offset spatula, then chill the cake in the fridge (10 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

image of a chocolate cake being filled and crumb coated with cream cheese frosting

Step 5: Add the Second Layer of Frosting & Decorate

Then add a thicker layer of cream cheese buttercream around the cake and use the back of a spoon or offset spatula to make swoops in the frosting.

Then decorate as desired and enjoy!

image of a cake being frosted with cream cheese frosting

Substitutions & Swaps: Chocolate Cake Layers

While I love this chocolate cake recipe just the way it is, I know some of you might not have all of 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 – I like to use the Ghirardelli or Hershey’s brand of unsweetened baking cocoa, but you can use any brand! You can also use dark or black cocoa powder.
  • 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 a slice of chocolate cake frosted with cream cheese frosting on a plate that's been cut into to show how moist it is

Substitutions & Swaps: Cream Cheese Buttercream

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this cream cheese 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!
  • Cream Cheese – Use full fat cream cheese for best results! I like to use the kind that comes in a brick.
image of a block of full fat cream cheese

Making This Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting in Different Sizes

I used 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 four 7″ or 6″ cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake the cake layers at 350 F / 175 C for 24-28 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 25-35 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly.

image of a slice of chocolate cake frosted with cream cheese frosting on a plate that's been cut into to show how moist it is

If you want to make chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese, I highly recommend using my chocolate cupcake recipe with 1/2 batch of my cream cheese buttercream recipe! One batch makes 12 chocolate cupcakes.

Making this Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 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 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.

An uncut, frosted cake can be stored in the fridge for 5 days.

Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your cake flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • 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.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake and before adding the simple syrup. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!
image of chocolate cake batter being weighed on a scale to make sure all the pans have the same amount of batter

Let Me Know What You Think

If you make this chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating and comment below.

And don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 20

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

image of a slice of chocolate cake frosted with cream cheese frosting on a plate that's been cut into to show how moist it is

This chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting is made with tender, moist cake layers and the creamiest cream cheese frosting!!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake Recipe

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

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (339g or 3 sticks)
  • 1 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (226g or 8 oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12ml)
  • 1 tsp fine salt (6g)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (904g or a 2 lb. bag)

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 175 C. Line and grease three, eight-inch cake pans.
  2. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 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 warm water, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Give the mixture a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix by hand until fully incorporated. The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for about 23-26 minutes. I like to use a kitchen scale to weigh the pans. It makes sure each pan has the same amount of batter and helps the cake layers bake up to be the same height.
  6. 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.
  7. These cake layers bake up pretty flat, so leveling them is optional. If you want to level them with a serrated knife, make sure to wait until the cake layers have fully cooled to room temperature.
  8. If you make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the cream cheese buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 1 1/2 cups of butter and 1 cup of cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a stand mixer and paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add in 1 Tbsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp fine salt and beat on low until the ingredients are combined.
  4. Gradually mix in 7 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed. Mix on the lowest setting for another minute to make sure the frosting is nice and smooth.
  5. If the frosting seems too thick at this stage, you can add in some heavy cream (1 tablespoon at a time). If the frosting seems too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).
  6. Once it's reached the desired consistency, cover the cream cheese frosting with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming.

Assembling this Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. If possible, chill the cake layers in the freezer for 20 minutes before stacking them. This will make them so much easier to frost and will minimize crumbing.
  2. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  3. Spread a thick, even layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cake layer. Repeat this step with the second cake layer, then place the top cake layer upside down to make the cake easier to frost.
  4. Carefully spread a thin coat of frosting around the cake to fully cover the cake layers with a large offset spatula.
  5. Smooth with a large offset spatula, then chill the cake in the fridge (10 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  6. Then add a thicker layer of cream cheese buttercream around the cake and use the back of a spoon or offset spatula to add texture to the frosting. Then enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Variations

This recipe can also be used to make a sheet cake! One batch will make 1, 9 x 13-inch cake that's about 1 1/2 inches tall. Bake it at 350 F / 175 C for 25-35 minutes and use flower nails or heating cores to help the cake bake evenly.

Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese

  • 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 better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. It will make your cake layers bake to the same height and bake more evenly.
  • Bang your cake pans on the counter before putting them in the oven. This brings any big air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!
  • do not recommend using this recipe to make cupcakes! Instead, try my moist chocolate cupcake recipe. It makes the perfect amount of batter for a dozen cupcakes.

Making This Chocolate Layer Cake in Advance & 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 or freezer for up to a week.

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 3 days.

Nutrition Information

Yield

20

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 500Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 67mgSodium 446mgCarbohydrates 70gFiber 0gSugar 59gProtein 3g

Ary Weller

Wednesday 21st of September 2022

I am so EXCITED to see this recipe!! This combination has been a favorite of mine since I was a little kid. I will be making this ASAP!

Chelsweets

Friday 23rd of September 2022

YES!!!! I am obsessed with the combination too Ary :) Hope your cake turns our amazing!!!

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