This chocolate ganache cake is a chocolate lover's dream! A layer of soft, moist chocolate cake is frosted with rich, velvety smooth chocolate ganache. It's decadent, indulgent, and will leave you wanting another slice.
If you're a chocoholic, try these recipes next- small batch chocolate cupcakes, chocolate blueberry cake, mini flourless chocolate cake, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, and lemon chocolate cake.
Calling all chocolate lovers- this chocolate ganache cake is for you! The chocolate cake is fluffy, rich, and will melt in your mouth. Topped with a smooth, glossy dark chocolate ganache, you'll want to make this cake over and over again. Whether it's for special occasions like birthdays, parties, anniversaries, or just for those nights when you're craving a chocolate cake, this recipe is sure to deliver!
There are many reasons why this cake is the best. First of all, you don't need any special equipment to make it. That's right, all you need is 2 large bowls and a whisk- no mixer required!
Secondly, this recipe is super forgiving. You can use all sorts of different sized pans. You can turn it into a sheet cake or an impressive layer cake. Also, you can substitute several ingredients to make it suitable for those with dietary restrictions or allergies.
And lastly, the taste is absolutely unmatched. Like my chocolate crunch cake, this cake is made with Dutch-process cocoa powder, which is cocoa powder treated with alkali that creates deeper, richer chocolate flavor that'll please all the chocoholics in your life. Yep, your search for the perfect chocolate cake is over!
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and the full instructions, see the recipe card below.
Ingredients for the cake.
Ingredients for the ganache.
- Egg- One large egg encourages the cake to rise and holds the other ingredients together. Take it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking to reach room temperature so it mixes in well.
- Oil- Making chocolate cake with oil makes it extra soft and spongey. Use a neutral tasting oil, like canola oil, grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil. Olive oil would also be great since it pairs well with chocolate.
- Buttermilk- Buttermilk tenderizes the gluten, creating a super soft and fluffy cake. Make sure it's at room temperature so it mixes in seamlessly.
- Vanilla extract- A splash of vanilla enhances all the other flavors.
- All purpose flour- This type of flour creates the perfect tender crumb. I highly recommend using a digital scale to measure it in grams so your cake doesn't turn out dry or tough.
- Granulated sugar- Sugar helps to sweeten the cake and retain moisture. I don't recommend reducing the amount of sugar since it impacts the flavor and texture.
- Cocoa powder- I used Dutch-processed cocoa powder for the deepest cocoa flavor. You can also use natural cocoa powder, but the flavor will be a little less intense. Make sure your cocoa powder is unsweetened.
- Baking powder and baking soda- These ingredients work together to leaven, making the cake rise and become fluffy. Make sure both aren't expired.
- Salt- A pinch of salt enhances the flavor of the cake and keeps it from being too sweet.
- Brewed coffee- Freshly brewed hot coffee makes the chocolate bloom and deepens its flavor. Use decaf coffee if you are sensitive to caffeine.
- Bittersweet chocolate- For the ganache, I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, which is 60% cacao. You can also use dark chocolate, and if you aren't a fan of dark chocolate, use semi-sweet chocolate. Just make sure to use chocolate baking bars and not chocolate chips. Chocolate chips contain emulsifiers that make them harder to melt than chocolate bars.
- Heavy cream- Use heavy cream to make the ganache. Do not substitute half and half or milk since you need extra fat to make thick and creamy ganache!
- Cold unsalted butter- Stirring cold butter into the ganache makes it shiny with an extra rich flavor. It also prevents it from hardening over time. Dairy free butter works too.
- Egg: While I haven't tested this, feel free to try substituting the egg with a flax egg. Combine 1 tablespoon water with 2.5 teaspoons flax meal and let it thicken for a few minutes before using.
- Buttermilk: Instead of buttermilk, you can use plain kefir, sour cream, or full-fat Greek yogurt. I don't recommend making your own buttermilk because it will impact the texture.
- All purpose flour: All of my cakes can be made gluten free using Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour.
- Coffee: Use boiling hot water if you don't have coffee on hand.
- Heavy cream: I've made the ganache with coconut cream and it works perfectly.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- You'll need a 9-inch round cake pan lined with parchment paper. An 8-inch pan also works. I've listed other pans you can use in the FAQs below.
- To decorate your cake, an offset spatula is helpful for spreading the ganache evenly. You can also use a rubber spatula, which you'll need to make the batter anyway.
Step by Step Instructions
Here's how to make the chocolate ganache cake! Before you start, preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9-inch round baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
STEP 1: In a large bowl, whisk the egg, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla together until smooth and well incorporated.
STEP 2: Pour the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of wet ingredients. Sifting is optional! With a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together until the batter is smooth with no lumps.
STEP 3: Next, pour in half of the hot coffee and fold until smooth. Repeat with the second half.
After that, pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan and transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
STEP 4: While the cake cools, make the ganache. Add the chopped chocolate to a large bowl. Microwave the heavy cream in a separate microwave-safe container for about 45 seconds and pour it over the chocolate. Make sure all the chocolate is covered in hot cream and let it sit for 1 minute.
Fun fact: ganache is typically made over a Bain-marie or double boiler, but this microwave method is so much easier!
STEP 5: Stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth. Then whisk in the cold butter. Once the ganache is smooth and glossy, place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface and let it cool to room temperature. It'll thicken as it cools.
STEP 6: Once both the cake and ganache reach room temperature, use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the ganache all over the top of the cake. Sprinkle chocolate curls, shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, or other garnishes on top. Slice and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use a kitchen scale. For all my recipes, I highly recommend measuring your ingredients in grams with a kitchen scale for the best results. Measuring the flour correctly is the most important because the cake will be dry if you overmeasure it! If you don't have a scale, fluff the flour up in the bag and gently spoon it into your measuring cup. Don't pack it in!! Then swipe the excess back into the bag.
- Don't overmix the batter. This cake batter will take quite a bit of mixing to remove any lumps, but don't overmix! Mixing too much creates a dense, chewy cake. Stop mixing right as the batter looks silky and smooth.
- Use an aluminum baking pan. For the best results, use an aluminum cake pan with a parchment paper round or greased with baking spray. Because aluminum pans are lighter in color, they attract heat at a slower rate, creating a softer cake. Black pans and silicone will get too hot, resulting in dry or burnt cakes, and glass pans won't heat up evenly.
Additions and Variations
- Whipped chocolate ganache: If you'd like to turn your shiny chocolate ganache into whipped ganache, let it cool completely until it's solid yet pliable at room temperature. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the ganache at medium speed for 3-5 minutes until it's paler in color and resembles buttercream.
- Fresh berries: Strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries complement the cake's chocolatey goodness with their bright and tangy flavors.
- Nuts: Chopped toasted almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans add a lovely crunch and nutty flavor to each bite.
- Salted caramel: A drizzle of caramel sauce on top of the cake makes it even more decadent.
- Liqueurs: Infusing the ganache with a splash of your favorite liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or coffee liqueur, can add depth and complexity to the cake.
- Citrus zest: Sprinkle orange, lemon, or lime zest on top for a bright and zesty twist that cuts through the richness of the chocolate.
- Spices: Warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom are a great addition to the batter.
- Edible flowers: For an elegant touch, garnish the cake with edible flowers like violets, rose petals, or lavender buds.
- Whipped cream: A dollop of whipped cream helps lighten up the texture and flavor of the ganache, making a great garnish!
Storage and Freezing
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I recommend slicing the cake into individual pieces or storing the whole thing in a cake carrier. The cake tastes best at room temperature, so let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before enjoying.
Freeze individual slices by wrapping each in plastic wrap and then storing in an airtight container or freezer bag. These slices can be frozen for up to 2 months. I don't recommend storing the entire unsliced cake!
When you're ready to enjoy, let the slices thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Make sure to use dairy free chocolate, butter, and coconut cream for the ganache. For the cake, substitute oat kefir for buttermilk.
You can use:
- 1 8-inch round pan
- A 8x8" or 9x9" square pan
- 1 9x13" sheet pan
- 1 cupcake pan (the recipe will yield about 12 cupcakes)
The bake time will vary by 5-10 minutes for each size, so keep an eye on the cake as it bakes and look for doneness cues (is the center set or jiggly, does it bounce back when touched, does a toothpick come out clean, etc.).
The cake can be made up to 2 months ahead of time. Follow the instructions, let it cool for about an hour, wrap tightly in cling film, and freeze. Let it thaw at room temperature for a couple hours before frosting.
For the ganache, follow the instructions and store it in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Let it come to room temperature before decorating. Ganache can be a little sensitive to temperature and doesn't freeze well, so only make it a day or 2 in advance.
If you want to make a layered cake, double the recipe. Separate the ganache in half and beat half of it for 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer to create a whipped ganache for the filling. As is, the ganache isn't stable enough to support 2 cake layers, but if you whip it, it becomes much more stable! Frost the cake with the regular ganache and enjoy.
More Cake Recipes to Try
Chocolate Ganache Cake
- 226 grams bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 240 grams heavy cream
- 14 grams unsalted butter cold
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk the egg, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until well combined.1 large egg, 97 grams neutral oil, 168 grams buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pour the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of wet ingredients. Gently fold with a rubber spatula until the batter is smooth with no lumps.120 grams all purpose flour, 225 grams granulated sugar, 56 grams cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Pour in half of the hot coffee and fold until smooth. Repeat with the second half.140 grams brewed coffee
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- While the cake cools, add the chopped chocolate to a large bowl. Microwave the heavy cream in a microwave-safe container for 45 seconds and pour it over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute.226 grams bittersweet chocolate, 240 grams heavy cream
- Stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth and then whisk in the cold butter.14 grams unsalted butter
- Place a piece of cling wrap over the surface over the ganache and let it cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools.
- Once the cake and ganache reach room temperature, use an offset spatula or back of a spoon to spread the ganache all over the top of the cake. Garnish with chocolate curls, shaved chocolate, or chocolate chips and enjoy.