This triple chocolate cake is made with three layers of fudgy, moist dark chocolate cake, a rich chocolate frosting, and chocolate ganache. It’s an incredible and decadent dessert! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Triple Chocolate Cake with Ganache
If you’re a chocoholic like me, you’re probably always on the hunt for your next fix. Devil’s food cake or fudge cookies will do in a pinch, but if you have a really stubborn itch to scratch, this triple chocolate cake will do the trick!
With three types of chocolate and an intensely fudgy texture, this cake is truly enchanting. In fact, I’m convinced this cake tastes just like the one Bruce Bogtrotter stole from Mrs. Trunchbull in the movie Matilda! As hard as that scene is to watch, doesn’t it always make you want chocolate cake?!
My triple chocolate cake is:
- Fudgy: It has a moist, dark chocolate crumb that pairs fabulously with the ganache center and my favorite chocolate frosting (though you could substitute chocolate buttercream instead).
- Impressive: With three tall layers topped with piped icing swirls and a ganache drip, this is one stunning cake. Check out my separate detailed tutorial on how to do the ganache drip, if you need a refresher.
- Decadent: With chocolate on top of chocolate on top of–you guessed it–even more chocolate, this cake was bound to be rich! It’s a chocolate lover’s dream come true.
- Straightforward: Honestly, yes, there are a lot of steps, but none of them overly complicated. Plus, the cake batter comes together in one bowl without a mixer!
What You Need
Triple chocolate cake contains quite a few ingredients, but that’s to be expected with a dessert as decadent as this! Let’s highlight the most important ones before we dig in.
- Cocoa powder. Dutch process or dark cocoa powder are my preferences for this cake, since their flavor is deeper and more intense. You could use natural cocoa, but the flavor will be different. Curious about the differences between cocoa powders? Read my natural vs. Dutch process cocoa post!
- Hot water or coffee. Hot coffee will yield a stronger, more intense chocolate (not coffee) flavor, but hot water will work too. Whichever you use, make sure it’s steaming HOT–even boiling! This will bloom your cocoa powder and enhance its flavor. I use this trick in my double chocolate muffins too.
- Chocolate. Use either semisweet or dark chocolate, whatever is your preference. You’ll need 20 oz total; 12 oz for the frosting and 8 oz for the chocolate ganache.
- Buttermilk. Just like in German chocolate cake, we’ll add buttermilk here for flavor and moisture. Buttermilk also helps activate our baking soda, especially since we are using an alkaline cocoa powder. If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, my buttermilk substitute will work in a pinch.
- Cream. Add a splash of cream to your frosting if it’s too thick (this can sometimes happen if you accidentally over-measure your powdered sugar), then save the rest for making the chocolate ganache.
SAM’S TIP: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before getting started. This ensures everything will combine easily, which means you are less likely to over-mix your cake.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Assembling & Decorating Triple Chocolate Cake
- Pipe a frosting dam on one cooled cake layer, add a smaller ring inside, then pipe a small circle inside of the second ring. This should look like a bullseye.
- Add ⅓ of the ganache inside the two rings.
- Top with another layer of cake and repeat this same frosting/ganache process, then add the final cake layer.
- Add a crumb coat and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, then finish frosting the cake.
- Decorate the top of the cake with the remaining ganache, adding a ganache drip if you’d like. If you need a tutorial on how to do this, check out my how to do a ganache drip post!
- Pipe frosting swirls on top of the ganache once it has set. Don’t forget some chocolate sprinkles on top!
SAM’S TIP: This recipe makes a lot of frosting! Since this is a decadent three layer cake, and I want to make sure you have plenty to play around with for decoration. You can always reduce the frosting if you wish though!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this recipe will fit in a 9×13 pan, but the bake time will be different, so definitely keep an eye on it.
To decorate, you can try to mimic what I suggest here, or you could do one layer of icing followed by all the chocolate ganache, and then decorate with the icing swirls if desired.
This cake can sit out at room temperature for about 24 hours, but after that it should go in the fridge where it will keep for five days.
Note that the ganache and frosting will get quite firm in the fridge. For the fudgiest and best texture, remove the cake from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a little while before serving.
Want to add a fresh twist? Serve with a drizzle of raspberry sauce!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! You can find all of my baking videos for free on YouTube.
Triple Chocolate Cake
- 1 ¾ cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- ¾ cup (75) dark cocoa powder (see note)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- ⅔ cup (155 ml) neutral cooking oil I use avocado oil, vegetable, or canola would also work
- ½ cup (113) unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk
- ½ cup (118) very hot/boiling water or hot coffee
Frosting (see note)
- 8 oz (226) semisweet or dark chocolate chopped
- 1 cup (236 g) heavy whipping cream
- Ateco 846 piping tip optional, for swirls on top (Ateco 848 is also a great choice)
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and line the bottoms of three 9” (23cm) round pans with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides (or spray with baking spray). Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well to break up any clumps from the brown sugar.1 ¾ cups (220 g) all-purpose flour, 1 cup (200) granulated sugar, 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, ¾ cup (75) dark cocoa powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, ¾ teaspoon table salt
- Add oil and melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened.⅔ cup (155 ml) neutral cooking oil, ½ cup (113) unsalted butter
- Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir well until you have a uniform batter.2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Gradually stir in buttermilk until batter is completely combined.1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk
- Finally, slowly (carefully) pour hot water or coffee into the batter, stirring until uniform. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.½ cup (118) very hot/boiling water or hot coffee
- Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans and transfer to center rack of 350F (175C) oven. Bake for 22-25 minutes or a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs (if your oven is uneven you may need to rotate cakes during baking).
- Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge to loosen from the pan and then carefully inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.
- While cakes cool, prepare frosting and then ganache.
Frosting (see note)
- Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl by heating in 20-second intervals and stirring in between until smooth and completely melted. Set aside and allow to cool until no longer warm to the touch.12 oz (340 g) semisweet chocolate
- Place the butter in a separate, large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy and smooth.2 cups (450) unsalted butter
- Once chocolate has cooled, give it a stir (make sure it hasn’t re-solidified) and then drizzle into the butter. Stir until well-combined with the butter.
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually stir in sugar.4 cups (400 g) powdered sugar
- Add vanilla extract and salt and stir well.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon table salt
- If the frosting is too thick, add cream or milk, a tablespoon at a time, until a smooth and spreadable consistency is reached. Set aside while you prepare your ganache.2-4 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.8 oz (226) semisweet or dark chocolate
- Place cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until steaming. Remove from heat and pour evenly over chocolate. Cover with foil and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.1 cup (236 g) heavy whipping cream
- Remove foil and whisk until smooth. Allow ganache to cool 15 minutes before proceeding (I like to pour mine into a small squeeze bottle to make application easier).
Assemble the cake
- Note that if cakes are uneven you may wish to level them before assembling. Place frosting in a large piping bag fitted with a large open tip.
- Place one cake layer on serving tray. Do a large dam around the edge of the cake and a smaller ring in the center followed by a circle of frosting in the very center (like you are making a bullseye – photo included as a visual in the post). Squeeze ganache inside the two rings, using about ⅓ of the ganache. Top with second layer of cake and repeat. Top with last layer of cake and frost entire cake with frosting. I usually do a crumb coating and then refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes before doing the final layer of frosting. If ganache becomes too cold/firm, heat it in the microwave in 5 second intervals until proper consistency is reached.
- Use remaining ganache to decorate the top of the cake (see my detailed tutorial on how to do a ganache drip if you’d like) and refrigerate for 15 minutes for ganache to begin to set before adding more frosting.
- Once ganache has set, fit a piping bag with remaining frosting with a large open-star tip (I like Ateco 846 or 848) and do final decorative piping on top of cake.
Making in different pansThree 8” (20cm) pans: Cake will take several minutes longer to bake. To make in two pans (instead of 3): Cakes will need to bake longer, about 30-35 minutes in 8” (20cm) round pans or slightly less time in 9” (23cm) pans.
Cocoa powderDark cocoa is recommended for best flavor, but you may substitute Dutch process or natural cocoa, instead.
FrostingThis recipe makes a lot of frosting so that you can sufficiently ice the cake and do the decorative border on top, as shown in photos. If you prefer less frosting, you can reduce this recipe in half. Some other good frostings for this cake include my chocolate buttercream, chocolate cream cheese frosting, or white chocolate buttercream.
StoringStore at room temperature for up to 24 hours or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Cake tastes best at room temperature so I like to pull it out of the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.