Need a decadent chocolate cake for a party? Try this Easy Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Making a chocolate cake from scratch can seem intimidating, but this easy recipe makes it simple and fun! The rich chocolate flavor is complemented by the tangy cream cheese frosting for a delicious dessert that’s perfect for any occasion!
As a professionally trained pastry chef, I’m often tasked with making special occasion desserts or big birthday cakes for family and friends. If you’re in the same boat and your first instinct is to buy a store bought cake, try this recipe first!
This chocolate cake is easy to make and comes out moist and delicious. It uses simple baking ingredients you probably already have on hand and can be made into large rounds or one large rectangle.
The cream cheese frosting is my favorite part – it’s not too sweet and has a delicious tang that pairs perfectly with the chocolate cake. It can also be whipped up in just minutes! If you love chocolate and cream cheese combo you will also totally love these brownies with cream cheese frosting.
This chocolate cake recipe is great to have in your back pocket whether you need to make a big chocolate birthday cake or something sweet to bring to a party or special occasion!
If you need a smaller cake, try this 6 Inch Chocolate Cake with my chocolate buttercream frosting, or for cupcakes try these Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting or these mini chocolate cupcakes– they are so fun for parties!
WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS RECIPE
- The flavor of cream cheese frosting and chocolate is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy.
- Make this cake for a birthday celebration or for any party or potluck.
- We love using cream cheese frosting, but you can frost or fill this cake with any flavors you enjoy.
- This moist chocolate cake is made with simple ingredients you may already have on hand.
For the chocolate cake:
- Granulated Sugar – Sweetens up the base of the chocolate cake.
- All-Purpose Flour – Makes up the main structure of the cake and also blends all of the ingredients together.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Gives this cake its classic chocolate flavor.
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder – Helps the cake rise and set while baking.
- Kosher Salt – Activates the leavening agents and balances the sugar in the recipe.
- Eggs – Helps bind all of the ingredients together so they stay set once baked.
- Buttermilk – Gives the batter a rich and creamy flavor and helps make the batter pourable.
- Vanilla Extract – Adds light and warming vanilla flavor to the cake.
- Brewed Black Coffee – Enhances the flavor of the chocolate in the cake.
- Vegetable Oil – Adds a rich texture to the cake batter that keeps it moist and decadent.
For the cream cheese buttercream:
- Cream Cheese – Adds a tangy and tart flavor to the frosting while keeping it creamy and spreadable.
- Unsalted Butter – Adds a rich buttery texture that is traditional in a buttercream recipe.
- Confectioners Sugar – Gives this frosting its classic sweet flavor.
- Vanilla Extract – Adds a light vanilla flavor to the frosting.
- Milk – Helps to thin out the frosting to make it a spreadable consistency.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Prepare for baking: Preheat your oven to 350° F and spray a 9×13” or 3- 8” round pans with baking spray. Set aside.
- Mix the dry ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix on low till combined and evenly distributed.
- Mix in the wet ingredients: To the stand mixer, add the eggs one at a time, incorporating them into the mix before each addition. Raise the speed up to medium and in a steady stream add in the 1 cup buttermilk and tablespoon vanilla. Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides to make sure it is evenly mixed. With the mixer running on medium again, add in the coffee and oil slowly until everything is mixed and a runny batter is formed.
- Bake and cool: Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 mins, or until the edges of the cake break away from the pan, or a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pans on a wire rack.
For The Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
- Cream butter and cream cheese: In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer, add cream cheese and the unsalted butter and mix on low- medium speed for 2-3 minutes until fully creamed.
- Add sugar: Stop and scrape down the mixer. Add in the 4 cups of confectioners sugar. Mix on low speed working your way up to medium speed as the sugar mixes in. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the wet ingredients: Turn the mixer to low and add in vanilla and milk. Mix for an additional 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Level off the cakes: Carefully remove the cakes from the pans. When the cake is cool, level off the tops to make it even. Use a long serrated knife to help with clean cuts.
- Frost and Fill: Fill and frost the cake with cream cheese buttercream. If making the 9×13 just top the cake with the frosting!
This recipe makes enough cake for 2, 9″ round cake pans that will feed about 12-15 people depending how big you cut the slices. The cream cheese frosting makes enough to fill and frost the cake. You can also make this cake into a 9×13 sheet pan but increase the baking time to 10 more minutes.
You can make this recipe into cupcakes by baking them for 18 minutes.
TIPS FOR RECIPE SUCCESS
- Light-colored pans distribute heat more evenly while dark pans could cause the cakes to burn quicker.
- Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before mixing the batter. This will help all of the ingredients mix together more easily.
- Don’t overmix the batter! Mix just until everything is combined and no streaks of flour remain. Overmixing will result in a tough cake.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to milk and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
- Be careful not to over bake the cake. Chocolate cake is especially prone to drying out, so be sure to check it often towards the end of baking.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting and filling to avoid the frosting from melting.
- If you can’t tolerate coffee, you can omit it from this recipe, use additional water or milk as a replacement.
STORAGE AND FREEZING
Storing: A frosted chocolate cake will last in the fridge for up to one week. The frosting itself will last up to two weeks in the fridge.
Freezing: This cake can be frozen unfrosted for up to two months. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it in a freezer-safe container. Thaw overnight in the fridge before frosting. Cream cheese frosting can also be frozen for up to two months. Store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before using it to frost your cake.
Does cream cheese buttercream need to be refrigerated?
Yes, cream cheese frosting should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or in a sealed piping bag.
How can I keep my cake from drying out?
Be careful not to over bake the cake and keep it covered when youre not eating it.
Why is my cream cheese frosting runny?
If your buttercream is too runny it means your cream cheese or butter was too soft when you started mixing it. Or you used too much liquid. Pop in into the fridge for 15-20 minutes. If its still too runny, add 1/3 cup confectioners sugar and mix again.
What makes a cake moist and fluffy?
In this recipe we use oil instead of butter to help keep the cake super moist and fluffy.
We think cream cheese frosting is a perfect pairing for this chocolate cake, but you can also use this Classic American Buttercream Frosting recipe as the base for many different flavors!
- Coffee Buttercream Frosting
- Mascarpone Frosting
- Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
Easy Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 eggs large
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups black coffee brewed
- ½ cup vegetable oil
For the cream cheese buttercream
- 8 oz cream cheese block at room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp milk
- Preheat your oven to 350° F and spray a 9×13” or 2- 8” round pans with baking spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the 3 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 1 ½ cups cocoa powder, 1 tbsp baking soda, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, and ½ tsp salt, and mix on low till combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating them into the mix before each addition.
- Raise the speed up to medium and in a steady stream add in the 1 cup buttermilk and tablespoon vanilla.
- Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides to make sure it is evenly mixed.
- With the mixer running on medium again, add in the 1 ½ cups coffee and ½ cups oil slowly. Continue mixing until the batter is evenly mixed, it is a runny batter!
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 mins, or until the edges of the cake break away from the pan, or a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Make the buttercream
- In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer, add the 1 block cream cheese and the 1/2 cup unsalted butter and mix on low- medium speed for 2-3 minutes until fully creamed.
- Stop and scrape down the mixer. Add in the 4 cups of confectioners sugar. Mix on low speed working your way up to medium speed as the sugar mixes in. Mix for 2-3 mins more until fully mixed.
- Turn the mixer to low and add in the 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tbsp milk. Mix again on medium speed for 2-3 more minutes until super light and fluffy.
Assemble the cake
- When the cake is cool, level off the tops to make even. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese buttercream. If making the 9×13 just top the cake with the frosting!