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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

This chocolate buttercream is made with real chocolate rather than cocoa powder (not that cocoa powder isn't real chocolate!). 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 1 4 layer, 6-inch cake


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot chocolate powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (shaken)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
  • 3/4 cup espresso (can use freshly brewed coffee)

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (may need more)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 6-inch x 3-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

  2. Sift the flour, sugars, hot chocolate powder, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, yogurt, oil, eggs, and chocolate extract and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine. Remove bowl from mixer and begin to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

  3. Cut both cakes in half (horizontally) to make 2 layers. In total, you will have 4. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer and do the same. Repeat all steps till the cake is completed frosted between the layers. You will then use an offset spatula and apply frosting along the sides for a crumb coat (thin layer). Place cake in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and apply a final layer of frosting. Decorate as desired. 

Chocolate Frosting:

  1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.  On low speed, add the chocolate to the butter mixture and whip for 5 - 7 minutes until it is nice and fluffy!

Recipe Notes

I use 6-inch cake pans that are about 3 to 4 inches deep, hence why the cooking time can be anywhere from 30 - 40 minutes! If you cake pans are less deep you will adjust the time accordingly (anywhere from 20 - 30 minutes).