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Triple Chocolate Cake

I originally made this triple chocolate cake for a coworker’s birthday 8 years ago. If you want a good laugh, scroll down the to bottom of this post to see what my cakes looked like when I first started baking.

This recipe definitely needed a facelift, so I’ve revamped the recipe and photos to show this triple chocolate cake in all its chocolatey glory.

image of a triple chocolate cake slice that's filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

How to Make this Triple Chocolate Cake

To make sure your triple chocolate cake 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: Make the Chocolate Ganache Filling

Make the chocolate ganache filling first, because it needs time to cool. After pouring the warm cream over the chocolate, let the mixture sit for a couple minutes to give the chocolate time to melt.

Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined and mixture is smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to cool to room temperature. The mixture should get thicker as it cools.

Step 2: Bake and Level the Chocolate Cake Layers

Next make the chocolate cake batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

image of chocolate mocha cake batter being poured into 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.

Use a serrated knife to level the cake layers, then cut each cake layer in half horizontally to make six thin cake layers. Set aside.

image of chocolate cake layers being leveled with a serrated knife

Step 3: Make the Chocolate Buttercream and Simple Syrup

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the chocolate simple syrup and chocolate buttercream. Both of these can be made in advance if needed.

The chocolate simple syrup is optional, but it makes the cake layers super moist!! I think it really takes this cake to the next level, and don’t recommend skipping it.

image of chocolate simple syrup being poured into a small bowl to cool

Step 4: Soak and Stack the Cake Layers

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.

After you add each cake layer, use a silicone brush to soak the top of the cake layer with chocolate simple syrup.

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

Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the first cake layer with a large offset spatula. Add the next cake layer and soak it with chocolate simple syrup.

Pipe a ring of chocolate buttercream around the edge, then spread about 1/3 cup of dark chocolate ganache inside the ring.

Repeat this pattern with the remaining cake layers to create alternating layers of filling.

image of a triple chocolate cake being filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

Step 5: Crumb Coat

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.

image of a triple chocolate cake being crumb coated before being decorated

Step 6: Marble the Second Layer of Frosting

Add a second, thicker layer of chocolate buttercream to the cake.

Add a few dabs of dark chocolate ganache and white buttercream around the cake and smooth using a bench scraper to create a marbled look.

image of marbled chocolate buttercream being smoothed onto a triple chocolate cake

Step 7: Decorate the Top of the Cake

Decorated the top of the cake with buttercream dollops and your favorite chocolates. I used chocolate chunks, mini chocolate chips, and chocolate buttercream to create this design.

I made the buttercream dollops with a Wilton 1M, Wilton 103, and a small french tip.

image of a triple chocolate cake slice that's filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

Substitutions & Swaps: Chocolate Cake Layers

While I love this triple chocolate cake 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:

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter but it might make the cake layers taste a tiny bit saltier. You can also use vegan butter in its place.
  • 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.
  • Eggs – This recipe uses 4 large eggs. If you have an egg allergy you can use flaxseed eggs or a vegan egg replacer.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat).
  • Self-Rising Cake Flour – If you can’t find self-rising cake flour, you can make your own! For every cup of self-rising flour that this recipe calls for, measure out 1 cup of cake flour, then add 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking powder.
image of a triple chocolate cake slice that's filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

Substitutions & Swaps: Chocolate Buttercream

Below are some great swaps and substitutions for the chocolate buttercream in this 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!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) can also be used to make the frosting.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – If you can’t find unsweetened cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use additional powdered sugar in its place.
  • Milk Chocolate – You can use chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or good-quality chocolate bars to melt and add into the frosting. In addition, you can also use dark or semi-sweet chocolate if you have a strong preference.
image of chocolate american buttercream

Tips for Making the Best Triple Chocolate Cake

  • 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!
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Be sure to properly measure your cake flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • 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.
image of a triple chocolate cake slice that's filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

Making this Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your 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!
image of a triple chocolate cake slice that's filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

Let Me Know What You Think

If you try this triple chocolate cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!

Please leave a rating below and a comment to let me know your thoughts.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Triple Chocolate Cake

image of a triple chocolate cake slice that's filled with milk chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache

This triple chocolate cake recipe is truly any chocolate lover's dream! It's made with moist chocolate cake layers, dark chocolate ganache and a silky smooth chocolate buttercream.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 58 minutes

Ingredients

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (180g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (112g)

Chocolate Cake Layers

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (226g)
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500g)
  • 4 large eggs, room temp (224g)
  • 1 cup hot, strong coffee (240g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp (240g)
  • 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (100g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 3 cups self-rising cake flour (360g)

Chocolate Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water (240g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa powder (30g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (434g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine table salt (3g)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (112g)
  • 1 cup sifted, unsweetened baking cocoa (80g)
  • 1 1/3 cups milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled (240g)

Additional decorations

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (45g)
  • 1/4 cup mini white chocolate chips (45g)
  • Open Star (Wilton 1M) frosting tip
  • Petal (Wilton 103) frosting tip
  • Small French frosting tip

Instructions

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

  1. Make the chocolate ganache filling first, because it needs time to cool and set.
  2. Place 1 cup dark chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined and mixture is smooth.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to cool to room temperature. The mixture should get thicker as it cools.

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C and line three 8-inch pans with parchment rounds and spray with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Add 1 cup butter and 2 1/2 cups sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on high for 1 minute with a whisk attachment until the mixture becomes light in color.
  3. Add in 4 large eggs, two at a time. Mix on medium high until they're fully incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup of hot coffee, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 cup of baking cocoa powder and 1 tsp of vanilla extract until no clumps remain.
  5. Next, mix 1 cup of self-rising cake flour into the butter/egg mixture on a low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the flour is fully incorporated.
  6. Pour in half of the buttermilk/cocoa mixture and mix on a low speed.
  7. Repeat with next cup of cake flour and the remaining cocoa mixture.
  8. Add in the last cup of self-rising cake flour and mix on low until the flour is just incorporated.
  9. Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  10. Let the cake layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
  11. Place the pans in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  12. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, then cut each cake layer in half horizontally to make six thin cake layers. Set aside. If you're making these in advance, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them.

Chocolate Simple Syrup

  1. Pour the granulated sugar, water, and cocoa powder into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, and whisking continuously until the mixture starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and pour into a medium-sized 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 Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  2. Add in the vanilla extract and salt, and mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar on the lowest speed. Half way through, add in the heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix. Place a half a cup of white frosting in a small piping fit with a coupler and set aside.
  4. Mix the sifted cocoa and cooled, melted semi-sweet chocolate into the remaining frosting on a low speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Place 1 1/2 cups of chocolate frosting in a piping bag fit with a Wilton 1M round tip and set aside. Cover the rest of the frosting with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Assembling this Triple Chocolate 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. After you add each cake layer, use a silicone brush to soak the top of the cake layer with chocolate simple syrup.
  2. Spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the first cake layer with a large offset spatula. Add the next cake layer and soak it with chocolate simple syrup. Pipe a ring of chocolate buttercream around the edge, then spread about 1/3 cup of dark chocolate ganache inside the ring. Repeat this pattern with the remaining cake layers to create alternating layers of filling.
  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. If desired, add a few dabs of dark chocolate ganache and white buttercream around the cake and smooth using a bench scraper to create a marbled look.
  5. Decorated the top of the cake with buttercream dollops and your favorite chocolates. I used chocolate chunks, mini chocolate chips, and chocolate buttercream.

Notes

My Tips for Making the Best Triple Chocolate Cake

  • 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!
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Be sure to properly measure your cake flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • 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.

Making this TripleChocolate Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your 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 394Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 36mgSodium 294mgCarbohydrates 60gFiber 2gSugar 48gProtein 4g

Here’s a trip down memory lane! This is what the original version of this cake looked like in 2013.

018 (4)
020 (5)

Pythia

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

My son aged 13 is just discovering the joys of baking. Your before and after pics will be such an inspiration to him. Thank you for sharing your journey!

Jean

Tuesday 3rd of August 2021

What would I do if I want to make this gluten free? I usually just sub out regular flour for 1-to-1 gluten free flour.

Nutella Swirl Cheesecake Bars | Little Paula Deen

Wednesday 19th of June 2013

[…] as much as I love Nutella. And you can never have too much chocolate (which I made clear with my Chocolate Trifecta Cake) . To make this master peice, you will need the following ingredients:   For the […]

the person who CJW made the cake for :)

Friday 31st of May 2013

AWESOME! Absolutely loved it

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