This rich and decadent death by chocolate cake makes for a dramatic, show-stopping dessert. With chocolate cream cheese icing and ganache sandwiched between layers of dark chocolate cake, it’s a chocolate lovers dream.
With Halloween around the corner, we styled this cake with some easy abstract white chocolate spiderwebs, but it’s a great cake to make year round. Think red hearts at Valentines, fresh berries in summer, a chocolate sail for a birthday cake – whatever you like.
If you love chocolate, can’t live without chocolate, you dream of chocolate, this death by chocolate cake is for you. With four layers of dark chocolate cake iced with chocolate cream cheese frosting and ganache icing, it’s very rich and decadent.
Since it’s such a large cake and you only need a small slice, this can serve at least ten people no problem. That being said, in the times we’re in right now, it also keeps really well for a few days!
- All-purpose (white) flour
- Cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Sea salt
- Olive oil (see substitutions)
- A batch of cream cheese frosting
- A batch of chocolate ganache (see substitutions)
Start by making the ganache. It needs at least four hours to chill fully, preferably overnight, so it should be done ahead of time.
Preheat the oven and grease two 8-inch (20 cm) baking tins with butter or coconut oil. Set aside.
Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined, then add the milk and olive and whisk again. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the cake, mixing until no streaks of flour remain, but be careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. Cool the cakes fully before slicing and frosting.
Make the cream cheese frosting and place it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Once the cakes are fully cooled, cut the domed tops off to make them about straight (don’t worry if the edges are sloping in slightly). Cut each cake in half lengthwise to get two layers from each cake.
Ice the cake in alternating layers, starting with the cream cheese frosting in the first layer, then a layer of ganache, followed by a third of cream cheese, then topped with ganache. Place the cakes with the domes cut off cut-side down onto the frosting.
Ice the sides with the remaining chocolate ganache, using an offset spatula to get the semi-naked cake effect we’ve done here, or using the back of a spoon to make swoops if you prefer. Chill the cake and drizzle the sides with melted chocolate if desired. Keep it refrigerated or in a cool place until serving.
Tips and Notes
This is a large cake, but you can cut the recipe in half if you prefer a smaller version. We figured death by chocolate should be a bit over the top! It might seem like a lot but it does keep quite well and can be frozen, well wrapped, in an airtight container.
Make sure the cake layers are completely cooled before starting to ice them. If they’re even a little bit warm, the frosting layers will melt and the structure will be comprimised.
The cake isn’t super light and fluffy because it needs to hold itself up for four layers. It’s not dense, but it’s no angel food cake, definitely a dark chocolate cake.
This cake is easy to make dairy-free. Just use non-dairy milk, vegan cream cheese, and the ganache linked is already made with coconut milk. It’s adapted from this chocolate raspberry cake, so if you need a version version, just use that minus the raspberries.
Of course you can use any chocolate frosting or ganache recipe you like. The chocolate cream cheese frosting adds just the right amount of tang to the cake to cut through the richness, and the ganache isn’t overly sweet. Avoid any ultra sweet buttercream icings or it’ll be too much.
Any light tasting oil can be used in place of olive oil. Vegetable, canola, whatever you have on hand. Don’t use melted coconut oil as it’ll make the cake too dense.
More Chocolate Recipes
Death by Chocolate Cake
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- 2 8-inch (20 cm) springform baking tins
- Mixing bowl
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup olive oil, or another light oil, like canola
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Butter, or coconut oil, for greasing the pans
- Start by making the ganache, preferably the day before, if you’re using it.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease two 8-inch (20 cm) springform baking tins.
- Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add the milk, olive oil, and vanilla, and whisk again to mix.
- Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl and whisk again to mix. There shouldn’t be any streaks of flour remaining, but be careful not to over mix.
- Pour the batter evenly between the two baking tins and bake, on the centre rack, for 40-45 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean when they’re done.
- While the cakes are baking, make the cream cheese icing. Follow the recipe instructions, but add the 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix for a chocolate frosting.
- Cool the cakes completely before cutting off the domed tops to level them, then cut each cake in half lengthwise to create two layers out of each cake.
- Layer the cakes in the following order: cake, ½ cream cheese frosting, cake, ¼ cup ganache, cake, remaining frosting, cake, and then coat the top and sides with the remaining ganache.
- Chill the cake if not serving immediately, and keep leftovers refrigerated, wrapped well or in a sealed container.