Inspired by Crunch bars, this chocolate crunch cake has a soft and moist crumb with an intense chocolate flavor. It has crunchy chocolate covered Rice Krispies inside and even more on top! Frosted with decadent whipped chocolate ganache frosting, it's a chocolate lover's dream.
If your favorite Halloween candy as a kid was Crunch bars, this chocolate crunch cake is for you! It has 2 layers of rich, moist chocolate cake with a creamy whipped chocolate ganache frosting. It's filled with crispy chocolate-covered puffed rice cereal (aka Rice Krispies) for the perfect amount of crunch and has more on top!
There are so many reasons why you'll love this cake. First of all, the recipe is very forgiving. You only need a few bowls, a whisk, and an electric mixer. Secondly, lots of different pan sizes work here too. Make this into a sheet cake or snack cake if you prefer!
Last but not least, the taste is incredible! The cake is made with Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which has a rich, deep chocolate flavor that'll make all the chocolate lovers in your life super happy.
You can top this cake with real Crunch bars or another kind of candy bar like Snickers, Milky Ways, or Twix for the ultimate candy-inspired treat! It's perfect for birthday parties, showers, anniversaries, or any special occasion.
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Neutral oil- Making chocolate cake with oil helps it stay moist for days. Use a flavorless oil, like canola, avocado, or vegetable oil.
- Eggs- Large eggs add lift and hold the other ingredients together. Remove from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking to reach room temperature so they mix well.
- Buttermilk- This adds acid to tenderize the gluten strands, helping the cake become soft and tender. Make sure to take this out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking with the eggs.
- Vanilla extract- A splash of vanilla enhances all the other flavors and adds a lovely aroma.
- All purpose flour- No need for fancy flour here! All purpose flour is best for a soft texture.
- Granulated sugar- Regular white sugar adds the perfect amount of sweetness and helps the cake hold on to more moisture.
- Cocoa powder- I prefer the deeper flavor and color of Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It's treated with alkali to reduce acidity which makes the flavor richer. Regular unsweetened (also called natural) cocoa powder works too.
- Baking powder & baking soda- Baking powder reacts with heat while baking soda reacts with acid, both causing the cake to rise and get fluffy in the oven. Make sure your leaveners aren't expired!
- Salt- A pinch rounds balances the sweetness.
- Hot coffee- Adding brewed coffee blooms the cocoa powder and releases its full spectrum of flavor.
- Puffed rice cereal- You can use Rice Krispies or generic puffed rice cereal for the chocolate crunch layer. Puffed quinoa also works.
- Chocolate chips- These are melted for the crunch layer. I prefer semi-sweet chocolate, but you can use milk or dark chocolate too.
- Bittersweet chocolate bars- Please use chocolate baking bars for the ganache frosting! They are less likely to split and are easier to melt than chocolate chips. You can use semi-sweet or dark chocolate too.
- Heavy cream- Use heavy whipping cream that is at least 35% fat. You need a high fat content to properly emulsify the chocolate and get the best silky ganache texture.
- Buttermilk: Substitute plain kefir, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt if you're out of buttermilk.
- All purpose flour: Use Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour to make a gluten free cake!
- Heavy cream: Coconut cream is a great substitute.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- 8-inch round cake pans: Use light colored aluminum pans, not silicone or glass. Your cake will burn in a silicone pan and glass pans don't heat as evenly as metal. I recommend using non-stick pans, but if yours aren't, spray them with baking spray before lining with parchment rounds.
- Electric hand mixer: You need a handheld mixer to make the whipped chocolate ganache. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip/whisk attachment.
- To frost the cake, an offset spatula and bench scraper are helpful tools for evenly spreading the frosting.
- Use a revolving cake decorating stand with a non-slip pad to elevate your decorating skills! The mat holds the cake in place while the stand rotates so you don't have to reach around it.
Step by Step Instructions
Here's how to make the chocolate crunch cake! Before you start, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C, brew your coffee, and line 2 round 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
STEP 1: First, vigorously whisk the oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Make sure everything is mixed well.
STEP 2: Pour the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of wet ingredients. Fold everything together until smooth with no dry patches.
STEP 3: Next, pour in the hot coffee and fold it in until the batter is silky and smooth. It will be very liquidy.
STEP 4: Pour the cake batter into the lined cake pans and bake at 350°F/180°C for 25-30 minutes.
The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes before turning over onto a wire cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely before filling and frosting (about 1 hour).
STEP 5: The recipe for chocolate crunch is super simple. First, melt chocolate chips in a large bowl for 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds. Then, add Rice Krispies and stir together until the cereal is completely coated in chocolate.
STEP 6: Spread the chocolate covered cereal in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until solid and then break into small pieces.
STEP 7: Once the chocolate crunch is done, make the whipped ganache by chopping bittersweet chocolate and placing it in a large mixing bowl.
STEP 8: In a separate microwave-safe bowl, heat the heavy cream in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.
STEP 9: Whisk the chocolate and cream together until glossy and smooth. Then, place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ganache and chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
STEP 10: Once the ganache is cool and pliable (like creamy peanut butter), whip on high speed with an electric hand mixer for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
Assembling the cake
STEP 1: First, add a tablespoon of frosting to the middle of your cake stand and fan it out with your offset spatula. This acts as the glue to keep the cake from sliding around. Next, place one cake layer on the stand and spread an even layer of frosting on top.
STEP 2: Sprinkle a handful (about ½ cup) of the chocolate crunch on the ganache, staying an inch away from the edge. Place the second cake layer on top upside down (with the flat side facing up).
STEP 3: Next, spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake, using an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth it out. This is called the "crumb coat" because it locks in loose crumbs so they don't mix with the final layer of frosting. You can leave the cake like this for a semi-naked look or freeze it for 20 minutes before adding another layer of frosting.
After the crumb coat chills, apply the final layer of frosting. You can add leftover whipped ganache to a piping bag to pipe a boarder around the cake. Sprinkle more chocolate crunch on top, slice, and serve!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use room temperature eggs and buttermilk. Room temperature ingredients mix in more easily and make the cake's texture better.
- Measure the flour correctly. Measure the flour in grams with a kitchen scale for the best results. If you don't have one, fluff up the flour in the bag, gently spoon it into your measuring cup, and swipe the excess into the bag with a butter knife.
- Don't overbake. Your cakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean but with a few loose, moist crumbs. Another way of testing is to carefully apply gentle pressure to the center with your finger. If the cake bounces back, it's done!
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting. If the cake is still warm when you frost it, the ganache will melt and slide off!
Storage and Freezing
Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. I recommend removing any chocolate crunchies on top (they get soggy in the refrigerator) and slicing the cake into individual pieces or storing it whole in a cake carrier.
Let the cake sit on the counter for 30 minutes to reach room temperature before enjoying.
Freeze the chocolate crunch cake in individual slices. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. I don't recommend freezing the whole unsliced cake because it takes up more space in the freezer and takes longer to thaw out.
When you're ready to enjoy, thaw the slices at room temperature for a couple hours before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not tested it, but you can try making the cake using 2 flax eggs instead. Mix 2 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 5 teaspoon of water, let it set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, and it's ready to use.
If the middles sank, you either opened the oven while they were baking or they're underdone. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
This ganache has a 1:1 ratio of bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream. If you use sweeter chocolate (like semi-sweet or milk chocolate), the ganache will be looser because there are less cocoa solids.
The ganache will firm up at room temperature, but if it never does, mix in an extra 4 ounces of melted chocolate and place it in the refrigerator to cool for 1 hour.
More Cakes to Try
Chocolate Crunch Cake
- 160 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 25 grams puffed rice cereal
Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- 360 grams bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 360 grams heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- Vigorously whisk the oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until well combined.148 grams neutral oil, 2 large eggs, 262 grams buttermilk, 8.4 grams vanilla extract
- Dump flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of wet ingredients. Gently fold with a rubber spatula until smooth.187 grams all purpose flour, 350 grams granulated sugar, 87 grams cocoa powder, 3.7 grams baking powder, 4.7 grams baking soda, 4.7 grams salt
- Pour in hot coffee and fold until smooth and liquidy.218 grams hot coffee
- Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Microwave the chocolate chips in a large bowl for 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds.160 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Pour in the puffed rice cereal. Stir until the cereal is coated in chocolate.25 grams puffed rice cereal
- Spread the cereal into a thin layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until solid, then break or chop into small pieces.
Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- Place chopped bittersweet chocolate into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, microwave the heavy cream for 45 seconds.360 grams bittersweet chocolate, 360 grams heavy cream
- Pour the warm cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute.
- Whisk until glossy and smooth. Place plastic wrap on the ganache and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Once pliable, whip on high speed with an electric hand mixer for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add a tablespoon of ganache to the middle of a cake board or stand and fan it out with an offset spatula.
- Place one cake layer on the board and spread an even layer of ganache over it.
- Sprinkle ½ cup chocolate crunch on top. Place the second cake layer on top with the flat side up.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) all over the cake. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Apply a final layer of frosting. Pipe a boarder if desired and top with the remaining chocolate crunch. Slice and enjoy!