Classic Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Classic Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Today we had our chocolate class. We started with a taste test of chocolates. 56% is baking percentage and, unless otherwise specified, this is the percentage called for in all chocolate-using recipes. If you want to use a higher percentage, you’ll have to increase the butter (or other fat) and sugar in the recipe to keep the texture. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a more fudge-like and dense cake or cookie. This may not be a problem if you’re making brownies. We tasted the 56% chocolate, 72%, 90% and unsweetened. We also tasted a milk chocolate and a vanilla bean infused white chocolate. I can’t recall all the chocolate brands that we tasted. French and Italian chocolates, like Valrhona, are a darker roast and have a very deep flavor. Belgian and Swiss chocolates, like Callebaut, are generally milder. Scharffen Berger, an American chocolatier, has more rustic chocolate that is noticeably less smooth than chocolates made by, say, Valrhona.

But this post isn’t about chocolates. It’s about chocolate cake.

We made one, two layer chocolate cake today. It was a basic buttermilk chocolate cake, quite similar to one I made earlier this year. We split the batter between two 8-inch round cake pans. As the cakes baked, we made a chocolate ganache. One batch of ganache was used to glaze a chocolate cake that we ate in class. Once the rest of the ganache was cool, we poured it into the bowl of a stand mixer and whipped it until it was fluffy and light colored. Once the cakes were cool, we spread frosting on and stacked them up. Talk about chocolaty! The cake is nice a moist with a great, tender crumb. The frosting is not very sweet, but very rich. The whipped ganache chocolate frosting will set up nicely on the cake. Do not refrigerate the cake once it’s frosted, or you’ll have a hard time cutting another slice!

Classic Chocolate Cake, slice

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Put chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to a boil, then pour it over chocolate. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Classic Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature

Grease and line two 8 inch baking pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix together cocoa powder and boiling water. Whisk in brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat for one minute. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture in three additions until batter is fully combined.Evenly distribute batter into two 8″ round cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cake will pull away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool in pans for 15 minutes, then turn out (so the bottom faces up) and peel off parchment paper. Leave to cool completely.

To Assemble:

Whip room temperature ganache until it is light colored and fluffy looking. Spread it on top of one cake layer. Place second layer on top of frosted layer. Spread frosting on sides, then on top, of the cake.
Store at room temperature.
Serves 12.


  1. I made this cake today, and it turned out beautifully. Haven’t eaten it yet – it’s a BD cake, but the batter, crumbs left in the cake pan, and ganache were yummy. Nic – what is the difference in your experience between using brown sugar and white sugar in a chocolate cake recipe?

  2. Dskbook – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the final cake. The whipped ganache is especially lovely: rich and chocolatey without being too sweet.
    Ordinarily, I think that brown sugar adds a bit of a caramel flavor to baked goods. In a chocolate cake, you can’t really taste that, but it does add a bit more moisture to the cake than white sugar does. I think that the main thing you’ll notice is that a brown sugar cake will probably stay a bit moister and fresher than a white sugar cake as time goes on.

  3. Nic – thanks for the helpful information on chocolate. I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison of different chocolates. The cake looks great – I’ll keep it in mind when the next birthday celebration rolls around!

  4. It was a hit, and every crumb was eaten. Thanks for a keeper.

  5. You’re welcome! I’m so glad it was a hit.

  6. I like your posts. I love your photos. Will post a link to your blog from Caracas, Venezuela. Thanks for your recipes. Have you tried El Rey Chocolates? Those are made here.

  7. I haven’t tried El Ray chocolates, but I’ve heard they’re good. I’ll have to look for them.

  8. I love El Rey chocolate, and it doesn’t hurt that it is much less expensive than Sharfenburger, which I also love. I get El Rey, all varieties, at my local Whole Foods. They cut it from large bars into random weight chunks. At my store, it is near the deli section.

  9. Thanks for the tips, dskbook. I’ll check at my local Whole Foods the next time I’m out shopping.

  10. Hi, wanted to make this cake but I’m not sure if the cream in the ganache frosting is heavy cream or whipping cream or any other kind of cream? Thanks :)

  11. Made cake for a birthday – was a big hit. Very chocolately and cake was nice and moist.

  12. was helpful

  13. Nicole. is it possible to put wipp cream? with fruit in the middle? which chocolate cake will be best to put wippcream? with fruit? thanks.

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