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Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Chocolate Chip Buttercream

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Layer Cake
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

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.

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  • Pattypro
    September 14, 2011

    That looks delicious, Nicole! I’ll be saving it, and making it, right away.

  • The Sweet Cupcaker
    September 15, 2011

    I was looking for a great recipe for my friend’s birthday on Saturday and now I think I’ve found the right idea for her cupcakes! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • Melinda
    September 15, 2011

    I’m going to make this recipe in to cupcakes this weekend. I can’t wait! It looks incredible.

  • Saira
    September 15, 2011

    Great recipe … and i love the colors of the cake light brown against the dark …. Tempting !!

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    September 15, 2011

    There is nothing better than chocolate cake with chocolate frosting! I’ve never thought to add chips but I can see how they’d add a wonderful texture element!

  • Kenni
    September 16, 2011

    That cake looks so yummy! I usually don’t get to make chocolate cake since I’m the only one who likes it, but when I get the chance I have to give this a try.

  • Lauren at The Dough Girl
    September 17, 2011

    I completely agree that sometimes even fluffy cakes could use a little crunch…love the idea of chocolate chips in the frosting!

  • Melissa
    October 13, 2011

    I made this cake today and was great! I did use cake flour instead of all purpose flour. I made a chocolate butter cream frosting instead. I did not have sour cream. The cake is very rich but is yummy! Only thing missing was a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side! Your blog is really helpful and has great recipes that are easy to follow!

  • Kim
    February 12, 2012

    This recipe is fabulous. I do recommend using parchment paper; I skipped this and broke my cake getting it unstuck from my pan. I used finely chopped Guittard chocolate chips in the frosting which was divine. The textures were amazing (and the taste, too).

  • Richard
    September 22, 2013

    I made this cake, and it tasted great – but the frosting ended up being not nearly firm enough. I added more sugar (in addition to the 3 cups) and that made it more firm, but it still oozed out from between the two layers significantly, leaving a sort of indentation between the layers. Not sure exactly what I did wrong, though a friend told me that sour cream icings are more for drizzling than for slathering onto layer cakes.

  • Nicole
    September 23, 2013

    Richard – Glad to hear that you liked the cake. Your icing problem is not because sour cream icings are for drizzling. The fact is, you can drizzle on any icing if you make it thin enough! The problem was most likely that your frosting was not stiff enough. The amount of confectioners’ sugar you nee in a frosting can vary widely due to things like humidity, temperature and the ingredients you’re using. I try to provide a wide range in my recipes, but someone baking in a very humid location will certainly need to add more than a person baking at a very dry location. If the icing – for this recipe or others – is too soft to hold its shape, try adding more confectioners’ sugar before spreading it onto the cake.

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