Buttermilk Chocolate Layer Cake
The ULTIMATE soft and fluffy chocolate layer cake. Made from scratch with buttermilk, and slathered in an ultra creamy buttercream frosting!
Gone are the days of dry, boring cakes… this buttermilk chocolate layer cake is SO rich, fluffy and moist, you’ll be amazed it came out of your oven and not a fancy bakery! Standing two generous layers high, it’s coated with a silky smooth chocolate buttercream and has a sinfully good coffee syrup drizzled in between the layers…
**I was compensated by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for my time in developing this recipe and post. All opinions are my own.**
Okay, so maybe you need another chocolate cake recipe like you need another hole in your head… or maybe you’ve been searching and just haven’t found the perfect recipe. Well look no more… this is it folks! And even if you don’t need another chocolate layer cake recipe… you need THIS one, because it has a great surprise.
I’ve made a few chocolate cakes in my time, (okay more than a few), and a lot of them were just dry and kind of boring. It didn’t matter how closely I paid attention to the baking time, or what ingredients I added, they were just “blah”. So when I saw some awesome Nielsen-Massey products in the grocery store, I knew I had to try one more time, using only the finest ingredients.
Armed with some great extracts, I went to one of my favorite baking blogs for some inspiration, I am Baker. Amanda makes some of the most amazing things, and her photos are just stunning! I found that she had a recipe for chocolate cake that looked just about perfect… so this is my version of her cake!
I’m certainly no professional cake decorator… my frosting is a bit “rustic“, and my cake is even slightly off center, but hey, it’s made with love 🙂
This cake would pair well with just about any frosting you’d like! For a fun boozy twist, try my Bailey’s buttercream! I went with a light and airy chocolate buttercream, as I thought the cake was already so decadent, and didn’t want to over-do it on the richness factor.
You might be wondering what those little balls are all around the top and bottom of the cake… they’re chocolate covered espresso beans! Ohhhhhh man, are they ever GOOD! Not just on the cake, but as a little snack… whew. I *might* be snacking on a few now…
There are three secret weapons for the best chocolate layer cake…
First is…. drumroll please…. coffee. There’s one cup of brewed coffee in the cake and it emphasizes the chocolate flavor. It’s essential and adds a unique richness and depth to the cake! I used decaf (finally finding a use for that bag of decaf coffee we bought by accident lol). It’s that something that makes the difference between a good cake and a fantastic one!
The second secret weapon is the buttermilk. I keep a jug of buttermilk in our fridge nearly all the time, mostly for baking! Or for whipping up an excellent batch of homemade pancakes 😉 It really makes the cake so incredibly soft, tender, and moist.
The last secret weapon is in using quality ingredients, like Nielsen-Massey vanilla products! They have an awesome line of extracts and flavors, and a handy guide to help you choose the best vanilla. Nielsen-Massey was started in 1907 and remains a family owned company to this day. They use a unique cold extraction process for their vanillas, which takes 3-5 weeks, but preserves the delicate flavor notes that a faster heat extraction would damage.
I mentioned that there’s a surprise inside this cake… and ohhhh it’s a good one!! I made a coffee syrup to drizzle in between the layers…. it’s so decadent, and adds a little something extra to take this cake over the top! I didn’t have any coffee left from the cup I brewed for the cake itself, so I used something just as awesome… Nielsen-Massey coffee extract. Just a teaspoon gives a rich coffee flavor to the simple syrup.
You need this cake in your life… I promise you!
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup quality unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee cooled to warm, can use decaf
- COFFEE SYRUP:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Coffee Extract
- CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM:
- 1 cup butter softened
- 4 - 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 5 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp salt
MAKE THE CAKE:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of 2 8" cake pans with parchment paper and spray pans lightly with baking spray. Set aside.
To the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine and remove any lumps.
In a separate mixing bowl, add buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
Turn stand mixer on LOW speed and slowly pour in wet ingredients, until just combined, scraping sides of the mixing bowl if necessary.
Keep mixer on LOW speed and carefully pour in brewed coffee. Mix until just combined, scraping the sides of bowl again if needed.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove cakes from oven and let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn out gently onto cooling racks to continue cooling. Cool completely.
MAKE THE SYRUP:
Heat a small saucepan over MED heat, and add water and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Let simmer about 3 minutes or so, until thickened slightly. Stir in coffee extract and set aside to cool slightly.
MAKE THE FROSTING:
Add butter to bowl of a stand mixer and cream on MED-HIGH speed until butter is light and fluffy. Butter will be almost white in color.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt, until no lumps remain.
Add 1/2 of the sugar mixture to butter and beat until combined. Add half the cream and beat.
Repeat with remaining sugar mixture and cream.
Increase mixing speed to MED-HIGH and beat for 3-5 minutes until fluffy.
Add bottom layer of cake to cake stand, drizzle with half of the coffee syrup.
Let stand a minute, then spread a layer of buttercream frosting over the top.
Top with second cake layer. Drizzle with remaining coffee syrup and let stand a minute.
Frost top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans if desired.
Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before eating.
1. Recipe inspired and slightly adapted from I am Baker