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Three Layer Chocolate Cake

Three Layer Chocolate Cake With Frosting

A super moist three layer chocolate cake with an easy and good frosting.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Servings 12
Author Cookie Madness



  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped -- any brand is fine (114 grams)
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (20 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (110 grams)
  • 3/4 cup cake flour (84 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature (230 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar (336 grams)
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature and lightly beaten in a separate bowl
  • 1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature (114 grams)

Favorite Chocolate Frosting

  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter softened (114 grams)
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar sift or aerate before using (350 grams))
  • 3/4 cup natural style cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sour cream room temperature
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons of heavy cream plus more as needed or use a combination of cream and whole milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 8-inch round pans. If desired, line bottoms with rounds of parchment.
  • In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in chocolate, cocoa powder and instant coffee. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sift together both flours, baking soda and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat on medium high for about 3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl often. Reduce mixer speed to medium low and add the eggs slowly – a few tablespoons at a time. Beat just until incorporated, then beat in the sour cream.
  • With mixer still on low, add the flour mixture and the chocolate mixture alternately, ending with the flour. Scrape sides of the bowl again and mix well but do not overbeat. Divide batter among the three pans and bake for about 23 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched. You may need to shuffle the cakes around in the oven halfway through so they’ll bake evenly.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then invert and let cool completely before frosting.
  • Frosting: To make the frosting, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until well mixed, then add the cocoa powder and beat until mixed – it should look crumbly and pasty. Add the sour cream and salt and beat well, then gradually add the cream, scraping sides of the bowl, until frosting starts looking smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust sugar and cream as needed.


**It's always best to weigh brown sugar since the amount varies depending on how you pack it. The weight should be 12 ounces of whatever type brown sugar you use. -- This was adapted from a 13 year old Cook's Illustrated recipe (March/April 2000). I changed the procedure a bit, increased the salt slightly and added coffee powder to enhance the chocolate flavor. You can leave the coffee out if you need to. For the cocoa powder, I recommend Rodelle or whatever good quality you can find. However, I used a pretty cheap brand of unsweetened chocolate and still got great results. For the frosting, Hershey's Natural (the usual kind as opposed to the "Dark") works perfectly.