This Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing is a chocoholic’s dream come true. It has three layers of rich, velvety chocolate goodness and is filled with a fudgy chocolate ganache icing.
If you’re looking for a chocolate birthday cake for the chocolate lover in your life, look no further. This three layer chocolate cake is a winner every time. And, bonus, leftover pieces of this triple chocolate cake taste even fudgier after being carefully frozen and defrosted.
This fudgy triple layer chocolate cake was the second of the birthday cake recipes created for my 50th birthday cake-a-palooza. I baked and hand-delivered frozen cake to friends to enjoy during a zoom birthday party. In addition to this triple chocolate layer cake, the other birthday cakes included my double layer tiramisu cake, chocolate peanut butter ganache drip cake, purple velvet cake, and Earl Grey and lavender cake.
Baking in my house always involves chocolate. If your house is similar, try these triple chocolate crinkle cookies, chocolate rugelach, blueberry chocolate chip muffins, or chocolate chip banana bread.
Brewed coffee and cocoa are used here to intensify the chocolate flavor. Feel free to brew decaf or use instant espresso if you aren’t coffee drinkers. (But if you do love coffee, don’t miss these triple coffee cookies!)
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Love peanut butter with your chocolate? Make it a chocolate peanut butter ganache drip cake.
- Make a fudgy orange-flavored chocolate orange cake.
- Fill the inside of the cake with a caramel frosting made with my bourbon salted caramel sauce, cooled and beaten with a cup of powdered sugar.
- Feel free to substitute bittersweet chocolate in this recipe, but please avoid milk chocolate.
Recipe tips and tricks
Before starting the cake, heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The fudgy chocolate cake batter bakes at a low-ish temperature. As a result, the tops of the three cake layers are so perfectly flat that they make even my decorating skills look decent.
Butter three 9 inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment, then butter the parchment. Use cocoa powder to flour your pans whenever you make chocolate cakes.
Making the three chocolate cake layers
I recommend melting the chocolate for both the cake layers and the icing in a double boiler because you have more control that way. Don’t wash it in between, but you do need to let the chocolate cool before using.
In the meantime, sift or whisk your dry ingredients together into a small bowl. If your cocoa is clumpy and you don’t have a sifter, you can pass the dry ingredients through a sieve.
Use a stand mixer or a handheld mixer to beat the eggs until pale and frothy.
Add the sugar and beat a few minutes more.
Pour in the cooled, melted chocolate. Try to avoid getting the chocolate on your beater, or it may solidify there.
Add the dry ingredients in three batches alternating with the liquids, starting and ending with the dry. If you are using a mixer for this step, use the low setting and be careful because this can get messy. I often do this step by hand for that reason.
It’s ok if your batter isn’t perfectly smooth, but just be careful not to leave any pockets of the cocoa mixture in your chocolate cake.
Divide the chocolate cake batter evenly into the three prepared pans. You should have about 700 grams of batter for each of the chocolate cake layers.
Bake your chocolate cake layers for about 50 to 60 minutes in the lower third and upper third of your oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You may need to rotate your pans if your oven does not heat evenly. Let the cake layers cool in the pans.
The chocolate cake layers are very moist. So please take care when removing the three layers as you assemble the cake..
In order to remove the cake layers from the cake pans (panel #1, below), gently run a thin knife or spatula around the pan. Place a wire cooling rack upside down on top of the cake (panel #2). Turn the rack and cake pan over (panel #3).
Tap gently on the cake pan to get it to release from the pan (panel #4). Peel off the parchment paper (panels #5 and #6), and then carefully invert the cake layer onto your cake stand and frost each of the three layers with your chocolate ganache icing.
Do you have to do anything? No. But there is so much variation in how people measure that you are much more likely to get a reliable result if you weigh your ingredients.
That’s likely to result in the chocolate cake layers spilling over the pans. If you only have two 9 inch pans, bake two layers, let the cakes and pans cool, and then bake the third layer.
Absolutely, especially if you decorate the cake simply. After the cake has been in the refrigerator overnight, cut the cake into family sized portions. Double-wrap each piece in plastic wrap and then place it in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible. When you want to eat a piece, remove it from the refrigerator, unwrap it and put it on a plate, and let it come to room temperature before serving. We actually think this cake tastes even better and fudgier after being frozen and defrosted!
You can freeze frostings and have a variety for a batch of cupcakes. Or use extra frosting for cake balls or cake pops the next time you have a cake failure. Because they happen to all of us.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Fudgy Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing
Triple cake layers
- butter for greasing cake pans
- 3 ounces 85 gramssemisweet or bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled to touch
- 2½ cups (312 grams) bleached, all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups (144 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder plus extra for dusting cake pans
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
- 1½ cup coffee, cooled
- 1½ cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup neutral vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate ganache icing
- 1½ pounds semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
Triple cake layers
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Lightly butter three 9 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Use unsweetened cocoa powder to "flour" the pans and set aside.butter, 1½ cups (144 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.2½ cups (312 grams) bleached, all-purpose flour, 1½ cups (144 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt
- In a bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until pale yellow, about 3 to 5 minutes.3 eggs
- Add the sugar and beat for a couple of minutes.3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
- Add the cooled chocolate and mix, then add coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.3 ounces 85 gramssemisweet or bittersweet chocolate, 1½ cup buttermilk, ¾ cup neutral vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1½ cup coffee, cooled
- Add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed for 1 minute or by hand until just combined. Your chocolate cake batter may not be perfectly smooth, but don't leave any pockets of the cocoa mixture.
- Divide the three chocolate cake layers equally into the prepared pans. Before putting them in the oven, knock them gingerly on the countertop once or twice to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are just starting to pull away from the side of the pan.
- Cool cake layers in the pan. You may need to run a spatula or knife around the edge of the cake pans to get the layers to release from the pan.
Chocolate ganache icing
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and cool.1½ pounds semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- Combine the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small pan and heat just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.1½ cup heavy cream, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- When the chocolate and cream mixture have cooled to touch, put them into the bowl of your stand mixer or a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed. (If you mix everything before they're cool, the icing will be too thin to frost the cake.)
- Add butter and beat only until you get a smooth, spreadable consistency for your chocolate ganache. Don't whip the ganache icing or you will lose the fudgy consistency.6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
This cake is only slightly adapted from the Epicurious double chocolate layer cake to make a three layer cake.
Looking for dinner inspiration, classic recipes and new seasonal favorites?
This triple layer chocolate was created for the 2021 reddit 52 weeks of baking challenge (Childhood Favorite). I don’t have a lot of childhood memories of baked goods. My maternal grandmother supposedly made amazing blueberry pies, but I mostly remember Linzer cookies from the Jewish bakery. My mother occasionally baked a one-bowl banana bread or brownies and an apple pie or pecan pie for Thanksgiving.
What she did regularly make was a chocolate birthday cake from scratch, but sadly I don’t know where her recipe came from. She rarely left notes in cookbooks. As I cook and bake, I’m leaving all sorts of fingerprints for my kiddo to read in the future.