Double Chocolate Layer Cake (2024)


By Ed Kasky



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Double Chocolate Layer Cake (1)

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman, Food Styling by John Bjostad

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Was this Gourmet classic dubbed “Double Chocolate” because of the combo of moist chocolate cake and silky chocolate ganache frosting? Or was it because of the powerhouse duo of natural cocoa and melted semisweet chocolate that get mixed into the cake batter? Maybe it was the tenderizing buttermilk or the generous pour of hot coffee that make this cake taste like it has two times the chocolate power. Did opting for vegetable oil instead of butter—which often helps chocolate cakes retain their moisture and vibrant flavor—have anything to do with it?

Whatever the reason, all we know is that this two-layer masterpiece from 1999 is one of the most popular chocolate cake recipes on Epicurious. And for good reason: The crumb is tender but rich, moist but not too dense. The cake boasts a chocolate frosting that could give Milton Hershey a run for his money. (Just don't skip the corn syrup, okay?) When this recipe was first printed in Gourmet, editors wrote that “the staff swooned” over Chef Ed Kasky's creation. Whether you choose to make this your next birthday cake with ice cream, or a celebration cake with friends, or just a Tuesday night cake with your favorite fork, we think you’ll swoon, too.


Serves 12 to 14

For cake layers

3 oz. fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut

1½ cups hot brewed coffee

3 cups sugar

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

2 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. baking powder

1¼ tsp. salt

3 large eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil

1½ cups well-shaken buttermilk

¾ tsp. vanilla extract

For ganache frosting

1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter

Special equipment

two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans


  1. Make cake layers:

    Step 1

    Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and grease paper.

    Step 2

    Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

    Step 3

    Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

    Step 4

    Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove parchment paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

  2. Make frosting:

    Step 5

    Finely chop chocolate. In a 1½- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

    Step 6

    Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

    Step 7

    Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

    Editor’s note: This recipe was first printed in the March 1999 issue of ‘Gourmet.’

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Reviews (1573)

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  • For the reviewer in France wondering what to do about the thin buttermilk, perhaps consider mixing it with creme fraiche or perhaps use a fermented beverage like kiefer instead? Both should work, given they have similar levels of acidity and will activate the baking soda to achieve the correct amount of levening.

    • Suzinsf

    • San Francisco

    • 3/22/2024

  • Here in France, where I live, buttermilk is extremely thin like skim milk but in the States when I bought it, it was very thick and creamy. I'm not sure what do do to thicken up the buttermilk. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Linda Baldwin

    • Saint Tropez, France

    • 2/21/2024

  • Perfect cake. Made it number of time.

  • Best cake ever! Substitute 1 cup melted, unsalted butter for vegetable oil. Add 1 tsp vanilla powder. Otherwise, absolutely PERFECT!

    • Anonymous

    • New York, NY, USA

    • 8/2/2023

  • Like another reviewer, I've made this cake at least 100 times in the 20 years since the recipe first appeared in the LA Times in 2003. It is perfection. A colleague who hates chocolate cake says this is one of her favorite desserts ever.When I am baking for chocolate-raspberry fans, I spread raspberry jam over the ganache in the center of the cake and then top the fully iced cake with fresh raspberries. I'm sure you can also tweak the icing flavor profile with an orange or chocolate liqueur, either brushed on the cake layers or mixed into the ganache. And if I really want to pull out the stops, I ice the cake with 1 1/2 recipes worth of the chocolate ganache.

    • Anonymous

    • Los Angeles, CA

    • 6/14/2023

  • I've been making this cake recipe forever. THIS is flat-out the best chocolate cake you will ever make. And the 10" pans make for a great presentation.

    • AD

    • CT

    • 2/9/2023

  • Moist, delicious cake; I've made it as written, and I've also made it into cupcakes.

    • Michelle

    • Bloomfield Township, MI

    • 10/11/2022

  • One of the richest & most delicious cakes I've ever made. The amount of chocolate in the ganache is decadent (but that's not a bad thing). This is a keeper. I don't bake often (because calories, etc.), but this recipe is worth it!

    • Anonymous

    • Tucson, AZ

    • 8/29/2022

  • A test review

    • Rafa

    • Mexico

    • 8/10/2022

  • Very moist, as others have mentioned here. I made some tweaks this first time that were possibly not the best choice, so I think I would make this cake again based on texture but hopefully improve the taste next time. 50 mins was fine for two layers in an 8 x 2 inch cake pan. Weirdly, I did not have the excessive amounts of batter that other people seem to have experienced, even though I used a smaller circumference pan and did not reduce the recipe. I filled the pans about 2/3 and they rose near to the top/slightly past with a slight dome but did not spillover. I fully expected to have extra batter fill my cupcake pan with, but only had extra batter for 3 cupcakes (25 mins at 300, nice dome). My modifications - I weighed out my cacao powder, which at 48 tspoons/cup came out to 216 grams (my cacao package said each tsp was 3 grams). This was way more than 1.5 cups if I'd just measured it volumetrically. I wish these older recipes had weights added to them! I reduced sugar by half, to 1.5 cups (and only had brown sugar on hand), as I do with every dessert I make since I feel like most American desserts are overly sweet. I got nervous when I saw reviews saying that the cake was not too sweet despite the original amount of sugar called for. This made indeed a not-very-sweet cake (probably also in combination with the amount of cacao added?). If I made it again I might increase it back up to 2 cups... but I don't entirely regret it because am planning to serve this with ice cream, which will be a nice counter balance. The ganache is good but for half of the pound I used 100% unsweetened Baker's chocolate; the other half was a mix of semi-sweet and milk bar/baking chips chocolate. As a result, the ganache is not very sweet or rich as if I'd used higher quality chocolate. So next time I would probably also use all bar-quality chocolate to improve the taste of the ganache (but retain very high % cacao, as I really really really prefer dark, not-too-sweet chocolate desserts).

    • Anonymous

    • Bremerton, WA

    • 8/4/2022

  • I made a happy accident! I prepared my mise en place. Got so caught up on the coffee part (I don't drink coffee) that I accidentally poured it into the 1 lb of chocolate chips. There was so much batter that I split it between 3 pans--and it still overran in the oven. But, I didn't realize what happened until I started the ganache--and realized that the 1 lb of chocolate was supposed to go into the ganache! So, I ended up with 1 lb of chocolate in the cake plus 1 lb of chocolate in the ganache--talk about decadent!!!! Also, I ran out of corn syrup so used 1 tbsp agave nectar and 1 tbsp of dark corn syrup as a substitute. That worked. Will say, making it the wrong way meant that I couldn't successfully remove the cakes from the pans. They were pretty crumbly. But still moist.

    • Ann B.

    • Austin, TX

    • 2/28/2022

  • Great and surefire recipe producing delicate crumb, deep flavor and a decadent ganache. I have made twice , once with Scharffenberger's semisweet, once with Ghirardelli's semisweet, both delicious. I did reduce ingredients by 36% as dictated by the reduced area of my 8 inch pans and I found my cakes properly baked at 50 minutes. I suggest chilling the layers before leveling and before frosting. And I applied a crumb layer and chilled briefly before applying the final layer of ganache. I made the cake a day in advance and successfully stored at a cool temperature near the window (February) under a cake dome.Guests fought for take-home leftovers.

    • Upper Westsider

    • New York, NY

    • 2/26/2022

  • Quite possibly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. It’s relatively easy to make, simple in design, but fancy enough to impress. The moisture level is out of this world!

    • Allison J

    • Oakland, CA

    • 2/9/2022

  • Not sure this was worth the effort. I have made equally good cakes right out of a box. For what it's worth, I had so much batter that I filled three 9" pans and needed every inch. I made raspberry buttercream for inside between the layers, and was glad I did, since there would not have been enough ganache for such a towering cake. It was huge!

    • jkeva

    • Forestville, VA

    • 2/7/2022

  • I think I am going to try this. At first I gulped at the amount of sugar and the fact of making a cake with no butter but the reviews are so positive I feel i have to have a go. Thank you

    • anniem

    • New Zealand

    • 2/3/2022

TagsLayer CakeCakeDessertCoffeeBeveragesChocolateButtermilkDairyCocoaNut FreeBakingGourmet

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Double Chocolate Layer Cake (2024)


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