This right here is every chocolate lover’s dream— dark chocolate cake layers sandwiched together with fudge cream filling and covered with easy fudge frosting.
Over the weekend my little Johnny turned 3. It’s hard to believe he joined our family only 3 short years ago, it feels like he’s always been with us and I can’t imagine life without our happy little boy.
We kept birthday celebrations fun yet simple, though I spared no effort on his birthday cake, of course. Cake is the most important part!
When I asked John what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday I got one response— chocolate!
So I decided to stick with what I already know and love, and took my favorite parts of cakes I’ve made in the past and put them together into one ultimate chocolate cake. The cake layers are from this chocolate sour cream cake and the icing is this incredible easy fudge frosting. For the filling I thinned out the fudge frosting with a little whipped cream, a trick I developed with my southern coconut cake.
One complaint I often have with over-the-top chocolate cakes is that it’s hard to finish a whole slice. They’re just too rich. Adding whipped cream to the frosting in the filling helps to lighten it up ever so slightly.
Though you’ll still need a tall glass of cold milk to finish off a slice, to be sure. This is cake is all chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!
John enjoyed watching me assemble the cake, and absolutely loved being sung to. When it came time to dig into his slice, he eagerly gobbled up a few bites and then declared—
“I don’t like chocolate cake anymore.”
“Do you want to go play with your new trains from grandma and grandpa?”
Oh John, three is going to be so much fun.
See more birthday cake fun
John turns ONE — Vanilla Layer Cake with Easy Fudge Frosting
John turns TWO — Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream
Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
For the chocolate cake:
- 1 ¼ cup hot coffee (295 ml)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (110 grams)
- 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour (300 grams)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups sour cream (280 grams)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (267 ml)
For the fudge frosting:
- 6 oz unsweetened chocolate , melted and cooled (180 grams)
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar (563 grams)
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter , at room temperature (340 grams)
- 6 tablespoons whole milk or half and half (90 ml)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream (120 ml)
- 1 cup of fudge frosting , above
To make the cake:
- To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two or three 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans (see Notes) and line bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder until no lumps remain. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together until smooth and pale yellow in color. Stir in the sour cream, followed by the vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir until combined. Stir in the cocoa mixture and mix until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
To make the filling and assemble the cake:
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk, or with a hand-held mixer in a small bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream to soft peaks.
- Scoop approximately 1 cup of the fudge frosting into a medium bowl. Fold the whipped cream into the frosting in 2 additions. Mixture will be thick at first, but continue to fold until smooth.
- Place one cooled cake layer onto a plate or cake stand. Spread fudge filling on top (use half of mixture for a 3-layer cake or all of it for a 2-layer cake). Repeat with remaining cake layers and filling.
- Cover entire cake with remaining fudge frosting. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up. Let cool to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
- Coffee helps enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake. The cake will not have a coffee taste. If desired, you can substitute with hot water.
- Which size cake pan and how many you choose to use is up to you and the look you want. 8-inch pans will yield a taller, narrower cake than 9-inch pans.
- If possible, use a dark chocolate cocoa powder. I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa.