This hot chocolate cake is an intensely rich chocolate cake made with one and a half cups of real hot chocolate, iced with chocolate frosting on top of a layer of chocolate ganache, and filled with marshmallow buttercream. 

The real pièce de résistance is my hot chocolate cake is made with hot chocolate mix right into the cake batter. It helps to add a deep, rich chocolate flavor and makes this cake taste like the comfort of a cup of hot cocoa.

Be sure to grab the full recipe & check out the full video tutorial in the recipe card below. And if you try this recipe (I mean you totally should be), tag me on Instagram @imancake and use the hashtag #BakingWithMANCAKE.

TIPS FOR THE PERFECT BAKE

HOW DO YOU MAKE A SIMPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE?

  1. Sift and whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Add wet to dry mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Bake in prepared pans until centers are springy to the touch.

Use Room Temperature Ingredients

Cold ingredients do not mix well with room temperature ingredients. As with any recipe that calls for dairy products, always be sure to take the time to bring ingredients to room temperature because it will result in a lighter, fluffier bake. 

Proper Measurements

Proper measuring of ingredients is key to perfectly baked cakes & cupcakes, especially when you are making them from scratch. Take a moment to kneel down, get face to face with your measuring cup, and measure liquids at eye level in standard liquid measuring cups.

When it comes to dry ingredients, measure by spooning the ingredient into a measuring cup or spoon, then leveling off the top with a knife or straight edge spatula.

Don’t Overmix the Batter

No matter what you will be placing into your oven, over-mixing the batter can lead to over-developing the gluten, which means your cake or cupcakes will come out dense and heavy.

Bake Immediately

Bake your desserts immediately after mixing the batter. Letting batter stand for too long can cause some of the air you’ve beaten in to escape, making for a denser bake.

No Peeking!

While it can be tempting, resist the urge to peek in the oven on your dessert’s progress. Opening or closing the oven door before the baking time is complete can cause fragile air bubbles in the batter to burst, preventing the bakes from rising. Even if you are gentle with the oven door, a rush of cold air can affect the bake while it is trying to set up, resulting in dense, deflated bake. Try to resist the urge to peek until your bakes are at least 2/3 through their baking time.

How to Test if Your Baked Treats are Done

Test your bakes for doneness while they’re still in the oven by inserting a cake tester or wooden toothpick into the center. Your bakes are done when the tester or toothpick comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs clinging to it; you should see no wet batter. You can also gently press down on the bake and, if it bounces back leaving no dent, then it is done. If removed too early, the bake will sink in the center as it cools and, if over baked, it will be dry.

Marshmallow Buttercream filled each layer of this Hot Chocolate Cake

SOME TIPS TO MAKE THE PERFECT CAKE

WHAT MAKES THE CAKE MOIST AND FLUFFY?

  • Adding the right amount of fat gives chocolate cake a moist crumb. Fluffiness comes from using the right amount of leavening agent; too much and the cake will collapse, too little and it will be dense.
  • Another way to get a moist and fluffy crumb? Creaming the butter and sugar coupled with whipping egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage then folding them into the batter.

HOW DO YOU MAKE A CHOCOLATE CAKE MOIST FROM SCRATCH? 

Use a nice quality cocoa powder, fresh ingredients and remember to balance the sweetness with a bit of salt. Follow the recipe below for the most moist and fluffy chocolate cake imaginable.

Don’t over bake your layers! Watch the batter and remove from oven when the centers spring back when pressed lightly and the edge starts pulling away from the pan.

Be sure to enter the MANCAKE KitchenAid giveaway.

I have 20 KitchenAid Stand Mixers to giveaway & one of them could be yours!

WHY DO PEOPLE PUT COFFEE IN CHOCOLATE CAKE?

Coffee brings out and amplifies the chocolate flavor in baked goods like cake and cupcakes. Adding a little bit will make things taste more “chocolatey” without giving a coffee flavor. Adding a LOT of coffee will create a mocha flavor. If you would like to omit the coffee from this recipe just substitute for warm water or milk. I’ve done this and the cake still tastes great! Just a little toned down in my opinion.

WHAT’S THE BEST FROSTING FOR CHOCOLATE CAKE?

  • I love a chocolate American buttercream. The cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate along with a nice dose of salt really balances out the sugar and creates a decadent flavor explosion! 
  • If you like things less sweet and maybe a bit more subtle then you should try a meringue-based frosting like Swiss or Italian buttercream. The consistency is VERY light and creamy with not too much sugar. 

HOW DO YOU MAKE A CHOCOLATE CAKE MOIST FROM SCRATCH? 

Use a nice quality cocoa powder, fresh ingredients and remember to balance the sweetness with a bit of salt. Follow the recipe below for the most moist and fluffy chocolate cake imaginable.

Don’t over bake your layers! Watch the batter and remove from oven when the centers spring back when pressed lightly and the edge starts pulling away from the pan.

WHAT KIND OF COCOA POWDER DID YOU USE?

I used Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder in order to use a brand that is most widely available to my readers. I’m also fond of using higher quality cocoa powders like Ghiradelli’s or cocoa powders from specialty chocolatier shops, but those are pretty pricey. I don’t recommend using cheap store brands.

INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS

  • If you are not a coffee fan then sub in milk, or water. The coffee, which you really don’t taste, helps bring the chocolate taste out but I know lots of people either can’t stand it or have dietary restrictions.
  • If you don’t have sour cream handy then plain whole milk yogurt will work just fine!
  • Buttermilk can be annoying to keep on hand as it expires quickly and most recipes use very little. I often use powdered buttermilk reconstituted with water or add a tablespoon of lemon juice into some whole milk to curdle it.
  • I’m OBSESSED with cacao nibs, they’re pure, unprocessed chocolate aka they’re very crunchy and chocolatey but not sweet! They contrast the buttercream nicely and prevent the cake from cloying. DOn’t worry if you can’t find them, you can totally skip them, or sub in chopped nuts. Use your favorite nut and never forget to toast them!!
  • If you don’t like coffee just use water or milk instead. Both will still make a tasty cake

Cake Troubleshooting

Why are the Baking Pans Sticking to the Cake?

While spring form pans make it easy to get the cakes out of the pan with minimal cleanup, they can sometimes stick to the cake. A high sugar content recipe can cause the batter to caramelize against the baking pan, and a lower fat recipe tends to stick more than a batter higher in fat.

If you notice your cakes are sticking to the baking pans, try placing a deep baking pan filled with water on the bottom rack of your oven. This added moisture my help prevent sticking.  A cake is also more likely to stick to the baking pan if it has not cooled completely before trying to unwrap it.

How to Store Cakes

Cakes are at their best within the first 2 days of baking. While they can last up to 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container, they will start to dry out after 3-4 days.

Be sure to let the cakes cool completely. Packing un-iced cakes while still warm can create sticky tops, making it more difficult to get the icing to stick when you are ready to frost them.

Choose an airtight container that is tall enough, so the container lid doesn’t touch the icing. Typically, the container can be left out at room temperature; however, if you are experiencing hot and humid weather that is causing the icing to melt or if the cakes are filled or decorated with something that requires refrigeration (like lemon curd or a meringue buttercream), you can store them in the refrigerator. If you must refrigerate your cakes, bring them back to room temperature before serving.

Freezing Baked Cakes

Un-iced cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure the cakes are completely cooled to room temperature before freezing to avoid condensation forming, which can result in soggy cakes when it’s time to defrost them.

While simply placing the cakes in an airtight container is enough, individually wrapping each cake before placing them in the airtight container will better help preserve the freshness and taste. After removing them from the freezer, let them defrost uncovered to prevent the tops from getting sticky.

What I Use To Make Cakes

Tips For Perfect Chocolate Ganache Drip Cakes

Make ahead tip: this ganache can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it as a drip, microwave it in 10 second increments, stirring after every interval until your ganache is room temperature and uniform in consistency.

If you’re using white chocolate: my favorite ratio is 3:1, meaning three parts white chocolate to one part heavy whipping cream. Follow the same steps with this ratio and you’re good to go! 

If you’re using dark chocolate: add 2 extra Tbsp of heavy whipping cream to the recipe ratio above. Since dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids, it tends to set harder and is prone to cracking if not balanced with more cream. 

Be Patient With The Cooling Process

Once you’ve whisked the ganache together, it’s crucial to let it cool on your countertop until it’s room temperature, about 20-30 minutes depending on how cold your environment is.

Trying to speed up this process by placing ganache in the refrigerator doesn’t usually end well – I’ve found that it cools unevenly, leading to thick, globby drips.

Cooling in the fridge also leads to the urge to stir it too often. Ganache (especially white chocolate!) does not like to be stirred too often, and the end result can mean that your whipping cream starts to separate from the chocolate.

You’ll know that this has happened because the ganache will look grainy and dull, or even separated like oil and water. To fix situations like these, you’ll need to reheat the ganache to 92ºF to melt the fat crystals and re-whisk to bring it back together.  

Make Sure Your Buttercream Is Chilled

There’s a science to this tip. Since molecules move more slowly at cooler temperatures (and warp speed at higher temperatures), it makes a lot of sense that you can better control how far the chocolate ganache drips when the buttercream is chilled.

Make sure that after you do your final coat of buttercream, you chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Always Do A Test Drip

When your buttercream is nice and chilled, do a test drip by letting the ganache run down the side of your cake. If it travels rapidly and pools at the bottom, your ganache is too warm.

Continue to cool the ganache for another 5-10 minutes and try your test drip again. If it’s globby or doesn’t travel very far down the side of the cake, it’s too cold. Reheat the ganache in the microwave for about 10 seconds, stir, and try again. Repeat the reheating process as needed until you get the perfect consistency.

The good thing about a test drip is you’re able to see how the ganache will behave. That way you don’t have to commit until you like what you’re seeing.

Tip 4: Drip The Sides Before Filling In The Top

When I first started caking, my initial thought was to just dump ganache over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides naturally. If you’ve ever tried that before, you’ll know it doesn’t end up looking good.

You’ll have a lot more control over the appearance if you start by dripping the sides until they’re aesthetically pleasing before filling in the top of the cake.

Try not to add too much ganache to the top when filling it in, because if you add any more to the drips you’ve created, it will make them travel farther than you’d like.

Instead, try to use just a little ganache and spread it so that it just touches where your drips begin. The ganache on the top should self-level a bit, so don’t worry too much about getting it super smooth.

Tip 5: Don’t Touch Those Drips

If you’ve ever made a drip cake with ganache before, you’ll know that it’s a little sticky to the touch when it’s room temperature.

When the drips have been refrigerated, they’re a little less fragile, but try not to touch the drips at all during the decorating or boxing-up process.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about drip cakes? I’m certainly not an expert per se, but if you have more questions, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer!

If you’ve tried this tasty treat then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!

Hot Chocolate Cake

Hot Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ sticks butter at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot chocolate powder/mix
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water or fresh brewed coffee
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (see notes)
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature (see notes)
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini-marshmallows or more depending on preference

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chocolate Cake

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy on a medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Beat butter mixture at a medium speed for about 1 minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture while alternating with water. Be sure to start and end with the dry ingredient mix.
  6. On a low speed, mix until creamy. You should not need to mix longer than a minute at most. With that said, be sure not to over mix.
  7. Pour cake batter into a prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan. After, invert onto cooling rack and let cook entirely.

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

  1. If not already done prior, sift 3 cups of powdered sugar. When finished, measure out 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar and put away what’s left.
  2. Beat butter, shortening, and marshmallow cream together until well combined, light, and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  4. Place your stand mixer, or hand mixer, on the lowest possible setting. Begin to slowly and gradually add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. (see notes)
  5. Add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating buttercream at a medium speed until light & fluffy. (see notes)
  6. If you'd like to cut the sweetness, you can incorporate a pinch of salt.

Chocolate Buttercream

  1. Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar & set bowl aside.
  2. Cream butter & shortening.
  3. Add cocoa powder & vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the sides.
  5. Place your mixer on the lowest speed & slowly add in your powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
  6. Do not worry if your buttercream looks crumbly & dry because we will fix that next.
  7. Scrape down the sides one last time.
  8. With your mixer on, slowly add in heavy cream.
  9. Turn mixer up to a medium speed until you have light & fluffy consistency you are looking for (about a minute or so).

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Place chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a glass measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup of heavy cream and heat for 60 seconds in microwave.
  3. Pour hot heavy cream over chocolate chips and allow to sit for 1 - 2 minutes.
  4. Mix chocolate chips & heavy cream until fully combined and you are left with a silky smooth chocolate ganache mixture.

Decorating

  1. After your cakes have cooled, level your cakes. If you'd like to make this a 4-layer cake, half each cake.
  2. Place your first layer onto your cake turntable.
  3. Spread a generous amount of marshmallow buttercream on top and spread evenly with your straight or offset spatula.
  4. Drizzle chocolate ganache.
  5. Place your next layer of cake, top with more buttercream, and spread evenly before drizzling more chocolate ganache. Continue these steps for all of your lays.
  6. Once your cakes have been filled and stacked, begin to cover your cake in chocolate ganache. All cake to set in fridge for 5 minutes.
  7. When ready to add chocolate buttercream frosting, start from the bottom, and while rotating your cake turntable, pipe on your chocolate buttercream in an upward motion.
  8. Using a cake frosting scraper, straight spatula, or offset spatula you will want to smooth over your chocolate buttercream. The best way is to hold your smoothing tool upright and gently pressed against your cake while rotating your cake turntable.
  9. You'll want to continue this until you have a smooth coating. When you’re doing the final smoothing and you notice the texture of the buttercream become a bit ragged there’s an easy fix! Get a bowl of HOT water and dip your tools into the bowl to warm them up. pat dry and smooth. The warm metal will melt the buttercream and give you a nice SMOOTH finish.
  10. Smooth the top of your cake with an offset spatula.
  11. Set in the fridge and allow to chill for 5 minutes.
  12. After your cake has set, begin your chocolate drip. Begin to drip your chocolate ganache off the sides of the cake before filling in the top.
  13. Decorate with a ring of mini-marshmallows around the outside edge of your cake.

Notes

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Be sure to allow your dairy ingredients to reach room temperature. Room temperature ingredients not only combine more effortlessly (no over-mixing needed) but they also trap air so much better. This trap air will expand and produce a fluffy texture during your baking process.
  • Prepared Pan: There will always be the "next best way to prepare your pan" article. Simply put however, the most effective way i find in my kitchen is a light rub of shortening around the sides, parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, & a very light dusting of flour (cocoa powder for chocolate baked goods) all throughout.
  • You can use this buttercream right away or place it in an airtight container in your fridge until ready to use. Just be sure to whip before using.
  • If you’d prefer to skip the shortening, simply swap it out with 1 additional stick of room temperature butter.
  • If you’d prefer a more white, stiffer, buttercream then simply omit the butter & replace with 1 additional cup of shortening. Also be sure to swap out the vanilla extract for clear vanilla extract.
  • Make sure you sift your powdered sugar. This will help the sugar mix into the butter & shortening smoothly.
  • When all your powdered sugar has been added in, the buttercream will appear dry. Don’t raise the alarms. When adding in your milk or heavy cream, your buttercream will start to have the fluffy texture it‘s known for.
  • Keep in mind that your heavy cream should be added in 1 tablespoon at a time. I do this way to make sure I am not drowning my buttercream to the point of a soupy mess.
  • Also worth mentioning, if desired, you can easily swap out the heavy cream for equal parts of your preferred milk such as whole milk or buttermilk.

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More Cake Theme Tutorials👉 https://bit.ly/2NN3s39Let’s have a Llama Party! I had so much fun working with fondant though more practice will definitely be needed😅 Also been enjoying learning new techniques to share with everyone here so keep sending those comments over on the MANCAKE channel with what you'd like to see make next. I'll see you all very soon with another yummy tutorial so be sure to ring the bell when you subscribe 👉 https://bit.ly/30otZW3

Posted by Man Cake on Wednesday, July 10, 2019

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