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Chocolate Drip Cake

Chocolate drips are such a simple and gorgeous way to decorate a cake. It’s one of my favorite decorating techniques, and that’s why I’m sharing this tutorial on how to make a chocolate drip cake!

This chocolate drip cake recipe uses my favorite moist chocolate cake recipe and is frosted with decadent chocolate buttercream that is pretty much half frosting, half chocolate!

image of a chocolate drip cake that's been cut into and is having a slice pulled out to show it's six layers

As an added bonus, I torte the cake layers to give this cake (what I consider) an optimal frosting to cake ratio. This also makes the inside of the cake just as pretty as those gorgeous drips on the outside!

How Do I Make Chocolate Drips for a Cake?

Just because chocolate drip cakes are beautiful, doesn’t mean they have to be complicated. Let’s start by discussing the most basic part of a chocolate drip, the ingredients that it’s made with!

Believe it or not, it’s made with only two ingredients. All you need is a half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and some heavy cream.

If you can’t find heavy cream in your grocery store, you can also use heavy whipping cream.

image of chocolate chips and heavy cream laid out on a counter to make a chocolate ganache drip for a chocolate cake

Sadly you can’t use regular milk in place of the heavy cream in this chocolate drip recipe. Heavy cream has 36-38% milk fat.

You need a high fat percentage to create that wonderful consistency that chocolate ganache is known for. If you use regular milk, your mixture will be too thin.

To make this recipe, you simply heat up the cream until it’s steaming then pour it over the chocolate chips.

After letting them sit for a minute to melt, give them a quick stir. And just just like, you have silky smooth chocolate ganache.

image of chocolate ganache being made in a glass bowl

It’s a pretty straightforward and quick process! The somewhat challenging part of making a drip cake is actually adding the drips to the cake.

What Type of Chocolate Chips Should I Use?

I find this recipe turns out best with semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can use milk or dark chocolate chips if that’s what you have on hand.

Different types of chocolate have different amounts of cocoa butter in them, which influence their consistency once they’re melted down.

You may have noticed that dark chocolate seems thinner than milk or white chocolate when melted.

If you want to use dark chocolate, I recommend adding in an extra tablespoon of chocolate chips, to help thicken the mixture slightly to prevent runaway drips.

If you use milk chocolate, you I suggest adding in an extra 2 teaspoons of heavy cream to make it fluid enough to easily add drips around your cake.

These are general guidelines that should work with most types of chocolate, but different brands do have different cocoa percentages! So make additional adjustments as needed as you perform you test drip (more on that below!).

How Do I Add Drips to a Cake?

There are two common ways to add drips to cake. Most people use either a spoon or a plastic squirt bottle.

Some people prefer one method over the other, and I recommend using whatever method you feel most comfortable with.

Adding Drips Using a Spoon

One way you can add chocolate drips to cake is with a spoon. The best thing about this method is that you don’t need any special tools. I think everyone has a spoon in their kitchen!!

You simply take 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate ganache in your spoon and carefully pour it over the edge of a chilled buttercream cake.

image of chocolate ganache drips being added to a chocolate drip cake with a spoon

I recommend scraping the bottom of your spoon against the bowl each time you scoop up a bit ganache.

This will prevent rouge bits of chocolate ganache from dripping off the bottom of your spoon all over your counter and your cake.

Adding Drips Using a Squirt Bottle

The second way you can add drips to a cake is with a plastic bottle. Once the chocolate ganache is made, carefully pour it into a plastic squirt bottle.

image of chocolate ganache being poured into a plastic squirt bottle to add drips to a cake

Not everyone has these on hand, but they’re pretty cheap to buy! You can find them at Target, Walmart, or on Amazon (that’s where I get mine).

You can also place your ganache in small piping bag if you don’t have a bottle.

I like using a squirt bottle because it helps you add drips to a cake a lot faster than a spoon. In my opinion, it also is a lot easier and cleaner!

If you have leftover ganache, you can simply pop the cap on your bottle and throw it in the fridge.

image of chocolate ganache drips being added to a chocolate drip cake using a plastic bottle

Leftover chocolate ganache can last in the fridge for up to a month. I have a little shelf in my fridge door dedicated to bottles of leftover ganache!

To reuse leftover ganache, pop the bottle into the microwave and reheat in 10 second intervals until it’s fluid again and looks like it’s the right consistency.

What Should My Drips Look Like?

I always say no two drip cakes are alike. They’re all unique and beautiful in their own way!

There is no right or wrong here, just drips of all shapes and sizes! Different types of drips can help you achieve different looks for your cakes.

Sometimes I want a chunkier drip that’s super defined. It makes cakes feel almost cartoonish to me, and I think they’re fun. I went for this look with my peppermint mocha cake and used a spoon to add these thick drips. I loved the finished look!

image of a peppermint mocha cake decorated with crushed peppermint and a mocha chocolate drip

Other times I want thinner drips, like on my dark chocolate strawberry cake. I wanted the drips to look like the chocolate dipped strawberries were running over the edge of the cake.

These drips turned out just how I had hoped, and were thinner and longer than my usual drip cakes.

image of dark chocolate strawberry cake with slice cut

That leads up right into drip length. Do you want your drips run all the way to the cake board? Should they vary in length, or have a uniform look? You tell me!!

I’ve done them all. I generally like drips that vary in length a bit, but there’s nothing with drips that are all the same length.

Shorter drips can be great if you’re planning to add decoration around the base of the cake. Longer drips can be fun if you’re going for an over the top or dramatic look.

In general, I like my drips to stop about 2/3 of the way down the side of a cake, and vary in length.

image a gorgeous chocolate drip cake decorated with small rainbow nonpareil sprinkles

Tips For Adding Drips To A Cake

Whatever look you chose fo your drip cake, I have two very important steps I recommend following to make sure you get the look you’re after.

Tip #1: Chill Your Cake

My first tip is to only add drips to a chilled cake! I mean THOROUGHLY chilled. Crumb coat your cake, then smooth on a second coat of buttercream and chill the cake until the frosting is firm to the touch.

image of a chocolate cake that's been crumb coated and chilled and is ready for its second layer of chocolate buttercream frosting

This can take up to 30 minutes in the fridge, or about 10 minutes in the freezer.

Chilling your cake will help your drips stay in place once they’re added and help prevent them from running down too far.

Tip #2: Make A Test Drip

My second tip is to make a test drip. You can do this on your chilled cake, or even the side of a tall cup if you want a little extra practice.

image of chocolate ganache drips being added around a tall glass to test its consistency and practice adding drips to a cake

Take your ganache and make a couple drips on your cake. Let them flow and sit for a couple minutes. See what they looks like and how far they ran down the side of the cake.

Are you happy with how it looks? This is your time to make changes to get it just right. Is it too thin? Did the drip run too far down the cake? Maybe you need to let your ganache cool more, or melt in a bit more chocolate.

Is your drip too thick or short? You might need to pop it in the microwave for a couple seconds (seriously, don’t heat it for more than 5 seconds). Or maybe you want to add in a tiny bit more heavy cream.

image of chocolate ganache drips added around a chocolate cake

This is the point in the process where my eagerness can get the best of me. I think I’ve made the necessary adjustments and dive right into adding all my drips.

But for all you know, you may have overcorrected! You may have actually heated or cooled your ganache too much.

After each adjustment to your ganache, you need to do another test drip. It’s worth taking the extra few minutes to make sure your ganache is the perfect temperature.

My Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Drip Cake

  • Use this drip recipe on any type of buttercream cake as long as it’s chilled.
  • Don’t add this chocolate drip to a cake covered in fondant. It can do weird things to the fondant, and create a goopy mess
  • I prefer using mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, but any type of chocolate chip (or finely chopped chocolate bar) will work. See my notes above about using different types of chocolate.
  • Be sure to use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream! You need the high fat content to create the right consistency in this recipe. Milk cannot be used in place of the cream.
  • To make a vegan version of this chocolate ganache drip, use coconut cream and dark chocolate.
  • If you want to make a cake with colorful drips, try my colorful drip cake recipe.
image of rainbow sprinkles being added to a chocolate drip cake

Making A Drip Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make this chocolate ganache drip recipe ahead of time or save leftovers! Once it’s made, wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or cover the top of the plastic bottle and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • To use chilled ganache, heat the bottle or bowl in to the microwave for 10 second intervals until it reaches the right consistency
  • Use leftover ganache to top cupcakes, cookies, or even ice cream!
image of a chocolate drip cake made with moist chocolate cake layers and chocolate buttercream

Share Your Creations With Me!

If you try this chocolate drip cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Also use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Chocolate Drip Cake

image of chocolate ganache drips being added to a chocolate drip cake using a plastic bottle

Want to learn how to make a chocolate drip cake? This recipe is super easy & walks you through everything you need to know about drip cakes!

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

Ingredients

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 3/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (60g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (8g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9g)
  • 1 tsp salt (6g)
  • 1 cup hot water (240g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (240g)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (120g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (112g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (434g)
  • 1 cup sifted, unsweetened baking cocoa (80g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine table salt (3g)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (120g)
  • 1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled (240g)

Chocolate Drip

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (95g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (80g)

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line three, eight-inch cake pans.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt) into a large bowl.
  3. Pour in the hot water, sour cream, oil, vanilla, and eggs into a separate bowl and whisk together until fully incorporated.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until they're incorporated into the batter.
  5. The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  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 into wire racks to finish cooling.
  8. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  2. Add in the sifted cocoa, vanilla extract and salt, and mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. Half way through, add in the heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  4. Mix in the cooled, melted semi-sweet chocolate on a low speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Chocolate Ganache Drip

  1. Place 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until it's steaming and just starting to bubble. If you don’t have a microwave or prefer to use the stove top, you can heat the cream over a medium heat in a pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
  3. Gently pour the heavy cream over the chocolate, making sure it's fully covered with cream. Allow the mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined and mixture is smooth.
  5. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is just slightly warm to the touch.

Assembling this Chocolate Drip Cake

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of chocolate buttercream to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of each cake layer as you stack them with a large offset spatula.
  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. Make a test drip with your ganache to see if it's the right consistency (more detail on that in the post above).
  6. Once it's the right consistency, add the drips to the chilled cake using a plastic squirt bottle or spoon.
  7. Then decorate as desired! I like to use the leftover buttercream to pipe swirls on top of the cake with a large French piping tip (an Ateco 869).

Notes

My Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Drip Cake

  • Use this drip recipe on any type of buttercream cake as long as it's chilled.
  • Don't add this chocolate drip to a cake covered in fondant. It can do weird things to the fondant, and create a goopy mess
  • I prefer using mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, but any type of chocolate chip (or finely chopped chocolate bar) will work. See my notes above about using different types of chocolate.
  • Be sure to use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream! You need the high fat content to create the right consistency in this recipe. Milk cannot be used in place of the cream.
  • To make a vegan version of this chocolate ganache drip, use coconut cream and dark chocolate.
  • If you want to make a cake with colorful drips, try my colorful drip cake recipe.

Making A Drip Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make this chocolate ganache drip recipe ahead of time or save leftovers! Once it's made, wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or cover the top of the plastic bottle and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • To use chilled ganache, heat the bottle or bowl in to the microwave for 10 second intervals until it reaches the right consistency
  • Use leftover ganache to top cupcakes, cookies, or even ice cream!
  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make 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!

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 378Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 33mgSodium 312mgCarbohydrates 60gFiber 2gSugar 47gProtein 4g
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