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Chocolate Snack Cake

This chocolate snack cake bakes up so tender and is topped with decadent chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache! It’s a chocolate lover’s dream.

While I love making layer cakes, sometimes a simple, single-layer chocolate cake is all you need!

image of a chocolate snack cake that's been frosted with chocolate buttercream and swirled with chocolate ganache

How to Make This Decadent Chocolate Snack Cake

Let’s walk through each step of this recipe to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible.

I’ve also shared a video tutorial below.

Step 1: Make the Chocolate Ganache Topping

Make the chocolate ganache topping first! It needs time to cool to room temperature.

Add the heavy cream into a medium-sized bowl and heat it until it just begins to bubble. This can be done in either the microwave (takes me about 15-30 seconds in my microwave) or a double boiler.

Then pour in the dark chocolate and corn syrup and let the mixture sit for a minute.

image of spreadable dark chocolate ganache being mixed together

After a minute the chocolate should be softened.

Stir the mixture until the cream and chocolate are combined and the mixture is smooth. If any bits of chocolate aren’t fully melted, heat the mixture again for 15 seconds and stir until smooth.

Then mix in the unsalted butter and fine salt.

image of chocolate ganache being mixed together in a glass bowl with a whisk

Cover with plastic wrap placed flush against the top of the ganache to prevent it from forming a skin, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

If you need to make the ganache in advance, it can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to a month.

image of spreadable dark chocolate ganache being covered and set aside to cool to room temperature

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Simple Syrup

The chocolate simple syrup in this recipe is optional but recommended.

The cake bakes up pretty moist on its own, but I like to add simple syrup so it stays moist for several days. I like to snack on it throughout the week, and the simple syrup ensures it’s just as moist on day 5 as on day 1.

The added moisture also makes this cake that much more delicious, and I think it helps balance the richness of the ganache. It only takes a couple of minutes to make, and I think it’s worth it!

After bringing the water and granulated sugar to a boil, remove the pan from heat and stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder. Then pour the mixture into a separate container to cool.

image of a small batch of chocolate simple syrup in a small jar

Step 3: Make the Chocolate Cake Batter

Next, we tackle the chocolate cake batter! Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and line and grease a round or square 8-inch metal pan.

Make the cake recipe following the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

image of chocolate cake batter being whisked together in bowl

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove the pan from the oven.

image of a chocolate snack cake that's been baked in a square 8-inch pan

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully flip it onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you’re in a rush, place the whole pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Step 4: Make the Decadent Chocolate Buttercream

While the cake bakes and cools, make the chocolate buttercream.

image of chocolate buttercream frosting that's been made with a hand mixer

If the frosting seems too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it seems too thin, add another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.

Or if you’re unsure what consistency the frosting should be, check out my frosting consistency guide.

image of decadent dark chocolate buttercream in a bowl

Once the frosting is made, stir it by hand with a rubber spatula to get it SUPER smooth. Then cover the buttercream with plastic wrap and set aside.

Step 5: Frost the Chocolate Snack Cake

If you made the chocolate simple syrup, use a fork to poke holes in the top of the cake. I like to space the holes about an inch apart.

Use a silicone brush or kitchen brush to brush the cake with chocolate simple syrup to make it extra moist.

image of a chocolate snack cake being soaked with chocolate simple syrup

Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate buttercream on top of the fully cooled snack cake.

image of chocolate buttercream being spread on top of a chocolate snack cake

The ganache should have thickened by this point and be scoopable.

If you made it in advance and it’s chilled, set the container out a few hours ahead of time to let it come to room temperature before using it.

You can also heat it in 10-second intervals in the microwave at half power, stirring between intervals until it softens and can be scooped.

image of scoopable chocolate ganache filling

Swirl the chocolate ganache into the chocolate buttercream, and top with a sprinkle of flakey sea salt and chocolate shavings (I use a chocolate bar and a vegetable peeler to make them). Then enjoy!

Substitutions & Swaps in This Chocolate Snack Cake Recipe

This recipe uses quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make.

  • 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.
  • Dark Baking Cocoa – I like to use Hershey’s brand of dark baking cocoa, but you can also use Dutch-processed cocoa or black cocoa. If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa in its place.
  • Sour cream – You can also use full-fat yogurt, buttermilk, 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.
  • 1 Large Egg – This recipe uses a large egg. If you have an egg allergy you can try using a vegan egg replacer.
image of a chocolate snack cake that's been cut into to show how tender and moist it is

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 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 Baking Cocoa – I like to use Hershey’s brand of dark baking cocoa, but you can also use black cocoa. If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa in its place.
  • Heavy Cream – Whipping cream, coconut cream or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat, coconut) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Dark Chocolate – You can use dark chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or good-quality chocolate bars to melt and add to the frosting. Alternatively, you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate if you have a strong preference.
image of melted dark chocolate being added into chocolate buttercream

Making This Chocolate Snack Cake in Different Sizes

This recipe can be made in a round or square 8-inch pan. Bake time will be a couple of minutes longer in a round pan than in a square pan.

This recipe can also be used to make two, 6-inch cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake at 350 F / 175 C for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the layer comes out with a few moist crumbs.

You can also make one, 9-inch cake layer. Bake at 350 F / 175 C for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the layer comes out with a few moist crumbs.

If you want to make a loaf cake using this recipe, use an 8.5×4.5-inch pan and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 F / 175 C.

image of chocolate cake batter being poured into a loaf pan.

Can I Make This Single Layer Chocolate Cake in Advance?

You can make this cake in advance! A frosted cake can sit at room temperature for up to 2 days or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

It can also last up to a month in the freezer. If you plan to freeze this cake, I suggest waiting to frost it until it’s thawed.

The ganache can also be made up to a month in advance. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. When you’re ready to use it, heat it in 10-second intervals until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

You can also make the buttercream ahead of time or save any leftovers. This buttercream frosting will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Be sure to give the frosting a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

image of a chocolate snack cake that's been cut into to show how tender and moist it is

Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Snack 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 use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix the cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated once you add the dry ingredients. This will ensure your cake bakes up tender and soft.
  • Make sure the cake is fully cooled before you frost it. Otherwise, the frosting will melt right off the cake!
  • Give the chocolate ganache time to cool to room temperature. This will give it a thicker consistency and make it easier to swirl into the frosting.
image of a piece of chocolate snack cake being held up to show how moist it is

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this chocolate snack cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating and let me know your thoughts with a comment below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 16

Chocolate Snack Cake

image of a chocolate snack cake that's been cut into to show how tender and moist it is

This chocolate snack cake bakes up so tender and is topped with decadent chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache! It's a chocolate lover's dream.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (60g)
  • 1/3 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (60g)
  • 2 tsp corn syrup - optional (13g)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (15g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (2g)

Chocolate Simple Syrup - Optional

  • 1/4 cup water (60g)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (8g)

Chocolate Snack Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1/3 cup dark or regular unsweetened cocoa powder (33g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4g)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda (5g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 1/2 cup water, warm (120g)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (125g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (55g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1 tsp instant espresso or coffee (2g) - optional
  • 1/3 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped (60g) - optional

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup dark or milk chocolate chips (45g)
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (113g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (25g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (1g)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (190g)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (60g)

Suggested Equipment

Instructions

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  1. Make the chocolate ganache first, because it needs time to cool and thicken before it's used to frost this cake.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, until it's just beginning to bubble.
  3. Gently pour 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips and 2 tsp of corn syrup (optional) into the heavy cream. Make sure the chips are fully covered with cream. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute. If you want to use milk chocolate to make the ganache, use a little less than 1/2 cup or 80 grams of milk chocolate.
  4. Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are combined and the mixture is smooth. If any bits of chocolate aren't fully melted, heat the mixture again for 15 seconds and stir until smooth.
  5. Mix in 1 Tbsp of unsalted butter and 1/4 tsp fine salt until combined.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the ganache from forming a skin, then set aside to cool to room temperature. If you need to make this in advance, it can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to a month.

Chocolate Simple Syrup - Optional

  1. Pour 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until the mixture starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Pour into a small bowl to cool to room temperature, then cover and set aside. If you're making this in advance, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. 

Chocolate Snack Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line and grease a round or square 8-inch metal baking pan.
  2. Sift or whisk together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Into a separate, large bowl, add 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp instant espresso (optional). Whisk together until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If desired, sprinkle 1/3 cup of chopped or mini chocolate chips on top of the batter. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove the pan from the oven.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully flip it onto a wire rack to finish cooling. If you're in a rush, place the whole pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Chocolate Buttercream

  1. While the cake bakes and cools, make the chocolate buttercream. Start by melting 1/4 cup of dark or milk chocolate with either a microwave or double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large glass bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1/2 cup of room-temperature butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a hand mixer or paddle attachment until smooth.
  3. Mix in 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt on a low speed.
  4. Slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup of heavy cream on a low speed. Once combined, mix in 1/4 cup of melted and cooled chocolate. The chocolate should still be fluid, but it shouldn't be hot to the touch.
  5. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting seems too thick, add extra heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. If it's too thin, add in additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
  6. Once the ingredients are combined, stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple of minutes to make the frosting super smooth. Cover flush with plastic wrap and set aside.

Decorating This Chocolate Snack Cake

  1. If you made the chocolate simple syrup, use a fork to poke holes in the top of the cake. I like to space the holes about an inch apart. Use a silicone brush or kitchen brush to brush the cake with chocolate simple syrup to make it extra moist.
  2. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate buttercream on top of the fully cooled snack cake.
  3. The ganache should have thickened by this point and be scoopable. If you made it in advance and it's chilled, set the container out a few hours ahead of time to let it come to room temperature before using it. You can also heat it in 10-second intervals in the microwave at half power, stirring between intervals until it softens and can be scooped.
  4. Swirl the chocolate ganache into the chocolate buttercream, and top with a sprinkle of flakey sea salt and chocolate shavings (I use a chocolate bar and a vegetable peeler to make them). Then enjoy!

Notes

Ingredient Swaps & Substitutions

For a detailed list of ingredient swaps and substitutions that can be made in each component of this recipe, please refer to the "swaps and substitutions" section above.

Making This Chocolate Snack Cake in Different Sizes

This recipe can be made in a round or square 8-inch pan. Bake time will be a couple of minutes longer in a round pan than in a square pan.

This recipe can also be used to make two, 6-inch cake layers with one batch of batter. Bake at 350 F / 175 C for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the layer comes out with a few moist crumbs.

You can also make one, 9-inch cake layer. Bake at 350 F / 175 C for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the layer comes out with a few moist crumbs.

If you want to make a loaf cake using this recipe, use an 8.5x4.5-inch pan and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 F / 175 C.

Tips for Making the Chocolate Snack 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 use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix the cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated once you add the dry ingredients. This will ensure your cake bakes up tender and soft.
  • Make sure the cake is fully cooled before you frost it. Otherwise, the frosting will melt right off the cake!
  • Give the chocolate ganache time to cool to room temperature. This will give it a thicker consistency and make it easier to swirl into the frosting.

Chocolate Snack Cake Variations

To make a gluten-free chocolate snack cake, swap in your favorite gluten-free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for. Be sure to over-mix the batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.

Making This Chocolate Snack Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

You can make this cake in advance! A frosted cake can sit at room temperature for up to 2 days or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

It can also last up to a month in the freezer. If you plan to freeze it, I suggest waiting to frost it until it's thawed.

The ganache can also be made up to a month in advance. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. When you're ready to use it, heat it in 10-second intervals until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

You can also make the buttercream ahead of time or save any leftovers. This buttercream frosting will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Be sure to give the frosting a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 346Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 44mgSodium 250mgCarbohydrates 43gFiber 2gSugar 32gProtein 4g

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Abha

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Hi! Can't wait to try this recipe!! If i wanted to make this in a 9x13 pan should i double the recipe or 1.5x it?

Chelsweets

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Hi Abha,

Great question! I would recommend doubling the recipe to make a 9x13 sheet cake. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Sally

Friday 11th of August 2023

This is an excellent, really really chocolatey cake! I used milk chocolate chips in the buttercream which provided a nice depth. Not a simple recipe but worth it!

Chelsweets

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

So happy to hear you loved this recipe Sally :) Thank you for sharing!!

Ren

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Thanks for this Chels. I requested a single layer choc cake and you delivered right on time. Going to make this asap!

Chelsweets

Thursday 17th of August 2023

Haha I try!! :) I hope you love it as much as I do!

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