As much as I enjoy a good layer cake, most of them don’t have a lot going on texture-wise. Tender, fluffy layers of cake are sandwiched with creamy frosting. It is a wonderful contrast no matter what flavor cake you’re enjoying – no doubt about that! – but sometimes it is nice to have some nuts, chocolate chips or other elements to add some texture and a little extra flavor.
This Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Chocolate Chip Buttercream has chocolate chips in the cake batter and in the buttercream frosting. Regular or miniature chocolate chips will both work well for the cake, adding bursts of chocolate throughout. Miniature chocolate chips are light enough to be stirred into the batter, while I tend to add regular chocolate chips before baking so the don’t all sink down into the batter. They do add a subtle crunch to the cake (since you can’t frost the cake while it’s still warm from the oven and it must be cooled completely), but you can let them melt on your tongue as you enjoy a slice if you want to maximize the chocolate chip experience.
The cake is light and moist, with a very good chocolate flavor. There is some coffee in the recipe, but it can actually be substituted with water if you aren’t a big fan and would prefer not to use the coffee. It simply enhances the chocolate flavor in this cake and doesn’t make a big impact on the flavor in its own. Overall, this is a great all purpose chocolate cake even without the chocolate chips, and this is a recipe that I like to use for other projects, as well.
The frosting is a simple buttercream that I enriched with a little bit of sour cream and flavored with cocoa powder and a bit of vanilla. It has a clear chocolate flavor, but it is much lighter than the cake layers beneath it. The sour cream makes the frosting extra creamy and adds a bit of a tang that makes the frosting seem lighter and slightly less sweet. Instead of stirring chocolate chips into the frosting (which would have made it a little too lumpy to easily spread on the cake), I finely chopped up some chocolate and stirred it in. This gave my frosting some pleasant texture, as well as some extra chocolate, but didn’t take away from the overall creaminess of it.
Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Chocolate Chip Buttercream
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, divided (regular or mini)
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coffee (or water)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 cup of chocolate chips. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the coffee. Stir in remaining flour mixture. Stir just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Divide chocolate chips evenly between the two pans, sprinkling them on the cake batter. Stir gently with a knife or spatula to incorporate.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Cake layers can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container before frosting.
To serve: Place one layer of cake on a cake plate or serving tray. Spread a layer of frosting on top, then top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting.
Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
Chocolate Sour Cream Buttercream
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 – 2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
approx 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped chocolate
In a large bowl, beat together butter, sour cream, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually incorporate confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and smooth. You may not use all of the sugar.
Stir in chopped chocolate.