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Chocolate Sour Cream Layer Cake from Chocolate Holidays

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 - Recipes & food

Dessert recipe from Chocolate Holidays

Serves 10-12

Start the autumn baking season with this versatile all-chocolate, all-purpose, American-style chocolate layer cake. I’ve updated it slightly so it’s a little less sweet and more chocolatey and topped it with a tangy chocolate sour cream frosting that takes only minutes to make.


  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt 
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened 
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 to 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee (optional)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons hot water (optional)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces


  • Two 8-inch round layer cake pans, lined on the bottom with a round of parchment paper and sprayed on the sides with vegetable oil spray or lightly greased 
  • 8-inch round corrugated cardboard cake circle or cake pan bottom (optional).

Chocolate Note:

You can use any domestic semisweet or bittersweet chocolate without a percentage on the label, or any boutique or imported brand marked 50 to 62 percent. Or, substitute 7 ounces chocolate labeled 64 percent, or substitute 6 ounces chocolate marked 66 to 72 percent and stir 4 teaspoons sugar into sour cream.


All ingredients should be at room temperature.

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together 3 times. Set aside. 

Combine the sour cream with 1/4 cup water and set aside.

In a medium to large bowl with an electric mixer (using the flat beater or paddle instead of the whisk on heavy duty stand mixers), beat the butter for a few seconds until creamy. Add the sugar in a steady stream and continue to beat (at high speed with a hand-held mixer or at medium speed with a stand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile break the eggs into a cup, add the vanilla, and whisk to combine the whites and yolks. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture gradually, taking 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, beating constantly.

Stop the mixer and add one third of the flour mixture to the bowl. Beat on low speed only until no flour is visible. Stop the mixer and add half of the sour cream. Beat only until blended. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, then all of the remaining sour cream, and finally the remaining flour. Stop the mixer each time you add ingredients, then beat on low speed only enough to incorporate ingredients after each addition. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread evenly.

Bake until the cake starts to shrink away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert each layer onto a rack and peel off the parchment liners. Turn the layers right side up and cool completely on the rack before assembling. Cake can be prepared to this point, wrapped well, and kept at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before using, or frozen for up to 3 months.

To make the frosting, dissolve the coffee powder, if using, in the hot water. Stir into the sour cream and set aside.

Place the chocolate in a small bowl and set in a pan of barely simmering water, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Or microwave on Medium (50 percent) power for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring from time to time. Off heat, scrape the sour cream on top of the chocolate and stir to combine. Do not continue to stir after the mixture is combined and smooth. Use immediately. If the frosting becomes too stiff or loses its gloss, set the bowl in a pan of hot water for a few seconds to soften.

Turn 1 cooled cake layer upside down on a platter, if using, or corrugated cardboard. Spread about 2/3 cup of the frosting on top. Top with the second layer, right side up. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Store and serve at room temperature. Cake keeps at room temperature, in a covered container, for 2 to 3 days.

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