Simple Chocolate Cake

Cake doesn't have to be complicated! This simple chocolate cake recipe is easy to make but sacrifices no flavor.

Simple Chocolate Cake

This is a moist, multipurpose cake coated with a ganache, a rich, liquid mixture of melted chocolate and heavy cream. Depending on its temperature, ganache will act like a smooth, rich glaze or a thick, spreadable frosting, making it a most versatile embellishment for any kind of cake. As with all chocolate desserts, use the best-quality chocolate you can find--it really makes a difference. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment.

This recipe makes two 9- or 10-inch cakes. You can serve one cake and freeze the other for another time, or layer the two cakes for a classic dessert presentation. Or spread the bottom layer with 3 cups of Chocolate Mousse, cover with the second layer, and frost with ganache.

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Makes2 9- or 10-inch cakes

Cooking MethodBaking


Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe CourseDessert

Dietary ConsiderationHalal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Vegetarian

EquipmentElectric Mixer


Taste and TextureChocolatey, Sweet

Type of DishCake, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Dessert, Dessert


  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Butter or vegetable oil spray for greasing, if not using nonstick pans
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken up into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup thin-sliced almonds, toasted in a 400°F. oven until light golden, 3 to 5 minutes (optional)



  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, mix together the baking soda and sour cream with a wooden spoon and let sir for 5 minutes. Grease two 9-or 10-inch cake pans, or use nonstick pans.

  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Whisk in the vanilla and sugar, then whisk in the yolks one at a time. Add the sour cream mixture and blend. Combine the flour and baking powder and add to the chocolate mixture, mixing just until combined.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, or using a hand-held electric mixer, heat the egg whites at high speed to soft peaks. Fold them into the chocolate mixture.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until lightly springy, about 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then invert onto racks and cool to room temperature.

  5. For the ganache: In a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat the chocolate and cream together, stirring, until smooth and combined. Keep it warm over the water or on a warm pan of your stove top until ready to use.

  6. To finish the cake: When the cakes are well cooled, pour the ganache over the top and let it run down the sides. Smooth it with a spatula, filling in any gaps. Sprinkle with the optional almonds.

  7. For a 2-layer cake, cool one third of the ganache in a small bowl at room temperature, set in a larger bowl of ice cubes, or in the refrigerator, until somewhat stiff. Keep the remaining ganache warm in a bowl set over water that has been brought to a simmer and removed from the heat, cut a thin slice off the top of each layer with a serrated knife, leaving a flat surface. Spread the stiffened ganache over one layer and cover with the second. Pour the warm ganache over the top.

Order of Preparation

  1. Bake the cakes and let cool.

  2. While the cakes are baking and cooling, toast the almonds and prepare the ganache.

Make-Ahead Notes

  1. The cooled cake layers can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month.

  2. Toasted almonds can be refrigerated lip to 1 week.

  3. The ganache can be refrigerated up to 3 weeks. Before using, let it come to room temperature, or microwave it briefly, then stir to smooth it out.

To Make Cupcakes

  1. Use half the batter to make 6 to 8 cupcakes.

  2. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F.

  3. Frost with half the ganeche, chilled to a spreadable consistency.


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