Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings

At least once a year, I can count on Quinn taking over the baking in the BoB kitchen. That occasion is my birthday. This year, there was much deliberation on what would be my birthday cake. The final decision was pieced together from a few different recipes and Quinn’s insistence that there be frosting involved.

As I didn’t assist in the baking process, I will keep this brief. Quinn says that it was a relatively simple endeavor, although the two different frostings were a bit daunting for him. He chose to make three square cake layers, using 9-inch square baking pans. For that reason, the original recipe from Buttercup Bakes at Home was adjusted to accommodate, thus explaining the odd amounts of some of the ingredients.

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings is sure to impress, in both flavor and appearance. This tall, beautiful cake is rich, moist, and delicious!

Now, about this cake. Honestly, this was perhaps the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It is dense and moist and just plain wonderful. I am on record as saying that I don’t like plain chocolate cake much. This is anything but plain. I think it is definitely my new go-to chocolate cake.

On top of (and in between) the cake, there are not one but two frostings. The layers have cream cheese frosting with a touch of Frangelico. We agreed that the flavor of the liqueur didn’t come through very strongly, but it was still delicious. The top and sides are covered with a chocolate cream cheese frosting that I could have eaten all by itself.

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings is sure to impress, in both flavor and appearance. This tall, beautiful cake is rich, moist, and delicious!

This is definitely a special occasion cake. No one could eat this frequently and survive it. It did, however, make a perfect, decadent treat for my day. Thanks, Quinn!

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frostings


    For the cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 & 1/8 cups buttermilk
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/8 cup sour cream
  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 & 3/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico
  • For the chocolate cream cheese frosting:
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch square baking pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add chocolate, and mix until well incorporated. Add dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in sour cream.

Divide batter equally and pour into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

Mix butter and cream cheese with a wooden spoon until blended. Add 2 cups of sugar, half of the heavy cream, and salt. Beat until smooth. Add remaining sugar, cream, vanilla, and Frangelico. Mix until smooth, but do not overmix. If frosting is too thick, add a few drops of heavy cream.

Spread frosting between cake layers. If necessary, place frosting in refrigerator before spreading onto cake layers.

To make the chocolate cream cheese frosting:

Mix butter and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in cocoa powder. Add sugar in three portions, alternating with sour cream. Beat until smooth and creamy. Stir in vanilla extract.

Spread frosting on top and sides of cake. If necessary, place frosting in refrigerator before spreading on cake.

Place frosted cake in refrigerator to allow it to set.


Cake recipe adapted from Buttercup Bakes at Home. Frosting recipes adapted from Great Cakes.

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  1. Jodie September 8, 2008 Reply

    That looks SO good. My bday’s tomorrow- you think I can get my husband to make me a cake? 😉 Happy Birthday to you!

  2. HayleyB September 8, 2008 Reply

    This looks wonderful. I must try it! Happy birthday, hope it was as spectacular as the cake! – H

  3. Smitteniche September 8, 2008 Reply

    Decadent, indulgent, amazing! This one is sooooooo going in my “must bake post haste” file! 😉

  4. Nick September 8, 2008 Reply

    It takes a lot for chocolate cake to impress me, I generally find it unappealing especially when compared to a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. I am a chocolate fanatic though, I’ll need to try baking it and the best one you’ve ever had? Certainly can’t be bad.

  5. Anita September 8, 2008 Reply

    The frosting looks so oozy and yummy! And the rest of cake looks just as scrumptious! Beautiful photos!

  6. Page September 8, 2008 Reply

    That cake looks wonderful. He did a great job! I’m going to bake that cake during the holidays. Happy Birthday!!

  7. Jessica September 8, 2008 Reply

    That first picture took my breath away. This looks knee-bucklingly good.

  8. the caked crusader September 9, 2008 Reply

    That frosting looks the perfect consistency – smooth and slightly sticky. Good job!

  9. Lauren September 9, 2008 Reply

    Wow! What Jessica said…

  10. Nan (and Jim) September 9, 2008 Reply

    Speak for yourself. I could eat this cake as often as you would like!

    This is, hands down…THE BEST chocolate cake I have ever had! I don’t know what was better…the actual cake or the frosting(s).

    The best part was helping Q cut the cake when it was time to serve. I think we both consumed about a pound of the frosting just from scraping it off the cake plate! Yum!

  11. Amy September 9, 2008 Reply

    YUM. That looks awesome! Happy Birthday!! That cake is making me wish that my birthday was soon, I’d gladly take on an extra year for that! :)

  12. Patricia Scarpin September 9, 2008 Reply

    Happy birthday, beautiful!
    An amazing cake for an amazing baker. Kudos to Quinn!


  13. Rachel September 9, 2008 Reply

    Two frostings?! That is seriously decadent. Wish I could think of an excuse to bake it soon.

  14. dawn September 9, 2008 Reply

    Wow or rather Whoa! What a masterpiece.

  15. Katrina September 9, 2008 Reply

    That looks AMAZINGLY delicious! Great job, Quinn and lucky you!

  16. RecipeGirl September 9, 2008 Reply

    I disagree. I could eat this frequently (easily!)

    Happy bday!

  17. Hannah September 9, 2008 Reply

    OH MY GOODNESS! Yum Yum Yum! You are so lucky! HAPPY B DAY!

  18. Tim September 9, 2008 Reply

    So glad you had a scrumptious birthday. Mine is week after next and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to making the cake that mom always made for me. It was just Devils Food Cake with Seven Minute Frosting but I just haven’t been able to get up the emotional stamina to pull it together. Brandt’s planning an assigned dish dinner party and asked what kind of cake I wanted him to order from Mis Muff’n. I told him to give me another week to see if I can muster the strength. Looking at Quinn’s great photos I think I have to have chocolate and if it’s going to be chocolate I might as well go for it. Maybe a few tears will act as the pinch of salt. Thanks for virtually sharing your bday with us.

  19. Cindy September 9, 2008 Reply

    Oh My Goodness!!! That cake looks amazing! Quinn did a great job! It does’nt look homemade it looks store bought! Got to come up with a reason to bake it BEFORE the holidays. Happy Birthday and God bless!!

  20. My Sweet & Saucy September 9, 2008 Reply

    Oh my!!! This looks so deadly delicious! Great photos!

  21. ashley September 9, 2008 Reply

    looks absolutely decadent!

  22. Michelle September 9, 2008 Reply

    Happy Birthday! That cake looks divine! I love the chocolate shavings on top of the chocolate frosting . . . on top of the chocolate cake! My kind of cake :-) I don’t have square pans, but I think I’ll try it in my round 9″ pans — yum!

  23. Culinarywannabe September 9, 2008 Reply

    Oh your pictures say it all!! The cake looks amazing, I can’t even imagine how good it tasted! What a lucky girl – hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  24. brilynn September 9, 2008 Reply

    Wow that’s one awesome cake!

    Happy Birthday!

  25. gingela5 September 9, 2008 Reply

    Will you PLEASE stop making recipes that get me off my diet. hehe…Looks SO GOOD!

  26. Nate September 9, 2008 Reply

    Woo! I want Annie to make this for me!

  27. Deb Schiff September 9, 2008 Reply

    That is truly the most gorgeous cake I’ve ever seen. Glad it was lovely for your birthday!

  28. jennifer September 9, 2008 Reply

    Wow! Thanks to everyone of you for making my birthday even better! :-)

    Michelle, if you’re using 9-inch round pans, you probably can use the original recipe. Send me an email if you want it.

  29. Monica H September 9, 2008 Reply

    Happy Birthday – that cake looks wonderful. My two favorite ingredients- chocolate and cream cheese :-)

  30. Judy K September 9, 2008 Reply

    I would really like to make this but I only have 9″ round pans. How would I adjust the recipe?

  31. Mandy September 9, 2008 Reply

    Quinn is so sweet! The cake looks sinfully decadent, and what is not to love about chocolate + cream cheese? Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  32. giz September 9, 2008 Reply

    You can so see the work that went into making it. It does mean so much more than a gift card from Best Buy.

  33. marilyn September 9, 2008 Reply

    Gorgeous. This may be my next birthday cake!

  34. maria September 9, 2008 Reply

    OMG…this blog is the sweetest torture…

    Happy Birthday!

  35. diva September 10, 2008 Reply

    awesome cream cheese filling and the top decoration is so gorgeous! like how simple the whole cake is and yet how wonderful it all looks..mmm. happy birthday! :) x

  36. Kim September 10, 2008 Reply

    Happy Birthday Jennifer! Wishing you much happiness in the year ahead….Mine was last week and I failed to make my favorite- a 7 layer Coconut Cake; now I wish I did. Though I am not a Chocolate Cake fan this looks like the best I have ever seen. Simply wonderful!

  37. Lorie September 10, 2008 Reply

    I love your blog! I can’t wait to explore it more. I am a Mississippi girl, too.

  38. Deborah September 10, 2008 Reply

    Will he come and make me this cake for my birthday in a week and a half? Delicious!!

    Hope your birthday was great!

  39. Dani September 10, 2008 Reply

    OMG!!!!!!! My mouth is watering!

  40. Colleen September 10, 2008 Reply

    WOW!! That is an amazing looking cake. Happy birthday to you and well done to Quinn for this fantastic cake :) I always have to bake my own xx

  41. Maria September 10, 2008 Reply

    Oh my goodness! Your photos are amazing! I want to reach in and grab that slice of cake! It looks so good!

  42. Debbie September 10, 2008 Reply

    What a gorgeous cake….and it looks so delicious!

  43. lori September 10, 2008 Reply

    All I can say is WOW! I must’ve stared at the cover photo for a good 10 seconds. It’s mesmerizing. Happy Birthday! I enjoy reading this blog for the recipes.

  44. Megan September 10, 2008 Reply

    the frosting oozing out of the cake layers looks absolutely amazing! I would definitely be the one sticking my finger in the frosting 😉

  45. Amber September 10, 2008 Reply

    I can’t get much more out.

  46. jennifer September 11, 2008 Reply

    Thanks again! I think Quinn really did an outstanding job. Maybe I should encourage him to take over? 😉

    Judy K, I have posted the original recipe using 9-inch round pans on the recipes page. Enjoy!

  47. CookiePie September 11, 2008 Reply

    Happy birthday! Now THAT’s a birthday cake – gorgeous!

  48. Sarah September 11, 2008 Reply

    Wow this DOES look amazing! I wish I could get my significant other to make something this delicious. :) Both the frostings look delicious, I love that there are 2! And I’ve never been a huge fan of plain chocolate cake either, so I’ll really have to try this recipe!

    Happy Birthday!

  49. angel September 11, 2008 Reply

    Ohmygod this looks amazing! 2 frosting? You’re quite the overachiever :)

  50. Kristen September 13, 2008 Reply

    Happy birthday! This cake has me craving a slice. YUM!

  51. Katelyn September 13, 2008 Reply

    Oh my, that looks like the holy grail of chocolate cake.

  52. dannyjay September 13, 2008 Reply

    wow. that looks amazing! I’m thinking adding some sort of coffee something would make it even better! I love chocolate, creamcheese and coffee together!

  53. Ros September 15, 2008 Reply

    I have been looking for a great chocolate cake recipe for ages and this had me hooked from the first photo. I made it for my son’s 11th birthday on Saturday (I left out the Frangelico), and the whole family LOVED it, there’s no doubt I’ll be making this again. Thanks so much for posting this.

  54. Holly September 15, 2008 Reply

    Oh my Lord…this is decadent!!!!

    Since you seem like a true foodie, I want to share the following with you…I’m promoting a new website that’s about to launch in a month–it’s called
    It’s going to provide tips and tricks about anything and everything in the culinary world. Please check it out! Tell your friends.


  55. jennifer September 15, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, y’all!

    Ros, I’m glad you enjoyed the cake. Isn’t it just fantastic?!?

  56. Indigo September 17, 2008 Reply

    Did you say… chocolate… cream cheese… frosting?

  57. Mónica September 17, 2008 Reply

    I love chocolate cakes and desserts, so i must tell you just one thing.

  58. Catherine September 18, 2008 Reply

    This sounds so great! My wedding cake was a dark chocolate cake with a thick cream cheese frosting – best cake I’ve ever had (the day didn’t hurt :). I’ll have to try this recipe on my own now to try to re-create it. Thanks!

  59. Lisa magicsprinkles September 18, 2008 Reply

    Happy Birthday to a very, very lucky girl. This looks divine and you are so fortunate to have someone make this for you (and do it so well!)

  60. jennifer September 18, 2008 Reply

    Indigo, that is exactly right. Almost too good to be true!

    Thanks, Monica & Lisa!

    Catherine, I wish sometimes that I had deviated from the norm for our wedding cake, but I went traditional all the way. Sounds like yours was delicious!

  61. Lindsay September 20, 2008 Reply

    Jennifer —

    I am pretty sure I can’t get my hands on Dutch -process cocoa powder. Do you think an “average” cocoa powder would work? I have regular and dark, and I was leaning toward trying the dark … but I thought I’d get your expert opinion. :)

  62. Lindsay September 20, 2008 Reply

    Quick follow up … I found a “premium cocoa” by SACO, which is “a special blend of natural and Dutched cocoa.” Maybe that will suffice?

  63. jennifer September 20, 2008 Reply

    Lindsay, Dutch process cocoa will react differently in a recipe, so they are usually not interchangeable. I’ve never used a blend of the two. I’m not really sure what that would do. There is some helpful explanation at Joy of Baking.

  64. Lindsay September 20, 2008 Reply

    The main reason I was wondering if the experimenting might be okay is because the cocoa isn’t in the actual cake — it sounds like the main issue with using Dutch-process versus regular cocoa has to do with leavening agents, which wouldn’t apply to frosting. I’m leaning toward trying the SACO blend but am, of course, a little nervous about it …

  65. jennifer September 21, 2008 Reply

    Lindsay, you’re right. I was thinking that there was cocoa powder in the cake. I’m sure you could use whichever kind you like for the frosting. Enjoy!

  66. morgana September 22, 2008 Reply

    I’m just impressed. Not only for the delicious look of the cake itself (so black… Mmmmm) but also for the cream cheese frostenings. I must try tis recipe, that’s for sure.

  67. zestycook September 29, 2008 Reply

    This looks amazing!!!! I had to stumble it.. the whole world needs to see this. Great work. I cant wait to try it

  68. jennifer September 29, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, morgana & zestycook!

  69. kimberleyblue October 2, 2008 Reply

    oh my! someone better have a birthday fast, ’cause i want to make this cake!

    looks stunning, too.

  70. Banginfood November 21, 2008 Reply

    Aww man! I want to comment on everything on this blog! Everything looks good! But, this cake looks soo good I love chocolate.

  71. Kelly December 14, 2008 Reply

    I baked this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday in 3 9″ round pans. Neither of us care for frangelico, so I flavored the filling frosting with one of our favorite liquors, Amarula (a proven winner with our palates when mixed with chocolate!). I could have just eaten that frosting and stoppe there. Since I couldn’t find the Dutch processed cocoa, and didn’t have time to mail order, I used Ghirardelli’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Topped with mini-chocolate chips, this cake looks wonderful (and the scraps I tasted from leveling the layers taste yummy, too!) if not like Jennifer/Quinn’s pictures. Next time tho, I think I am ditching the chocolate cream cheese frosting and just doing the Amarula flavor. It is just that delicious. Happy baking, y’all! Thanks for the recipe, BorB!

  72. Ales December 15, 2008 Reply

    wow,this looks amazing Lindsay ,i was trying to make it now but i couldn’t find the ingredients,could u help me out

  73. Mark kristian B.Jovero January 11, 2009 Reply

    hello looks delicious

  74. Daisypicker5 June 8, 2009 Reply

    MMM this looks tasty!! I actually made a layered cake last weekend but it was a red velvet cake and it had some chocolate inside of it. It was really easy to make and didn’t take that long. The only thing I changed in the recipe was the amount of food coloring. Instead of just using red food coloring I mixed in some beet juice as well to get the deep red color. I got the recipe from here

  75. ButterSweet1 October 17, 2009 Reply

    Just clicked on this link sent to me by my friend. Wow! Nice photography. That cake is gorgeous.

  76. Jasmine Veron E.Espera March 25, 2010 Reply

    Wow!It looks delicious!
    I want to bake a cake right now!

  77. wendy August 20, 2010 Reply

    This looks delicous but I can’t find recipe. Where do I look for cake recipe and icing? Please help!

    • jennifer August 30, 2010 Reply

      Wendy, look above the top photo for a link to the recipe.

  78. Dawn November 4, 2011 Reply

    So, I just put this in the oven and it was a VERY thick batter. I’m hoping all is well. Whether it makes a great cake or not, the batter laden spoon tasted amazing. Thanks!

  79. djsimone October 25, 2012 Reply

    BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE & FROSTING EVER!Saw the picture (and story) of this cake last week and have been thinking about it continuously since then. Fortunately, yesterday was my friends birthday and I had a reason to make it. It was fabulous. Totally lived up to my fantasy of how it would taste.
    Thank you! batter was awesome on its own too!

  80. dalia July 15, 2013 Reply

    I followed each step in this recipe and the cake turned out MAGICAL. Even my cousins at the dinner party who dislike chocolate couldn’t get enough of it! Of course i used semi-sweet chocolate with a little unsweetened chocolate since I didn’t have many and regular cocoa instead of Dutch, but that didn’t stop this giant-sized cake from disappearing!

  81. Jaclyn September 28, 2013 Reply

    This picture is gorgeous!! I seriously want to dive right into that cake!

  82. Albertha December 10, 2013 Reply

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    you made running a blog look easy. The total look of your site is wonderful, let alone the content!

    My weblog … seo; Albertha,

  83. Minnie March 11, 2014 Reply

    Hi, this cake looks absolutely divine. I want to make a birthday cake for my sons birthday…to serve about 19 kids (4-5yrs) and about 12 adults. A 9×13 double layer would be about right I think. Would you be able to help me with the quantity. I’m quite new to baking. Should I just double your recipe? Any help will be greatly received.

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry March 13, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Minnie. For two 9″x 13″ cakes, you’d need to increase the cake recipe by 50% to get the volumes to work out closely.

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