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Dark Chocolate Layer Cake

35 mins
1 hr 30 mins
Dark Chocolate Layer Cake
Carson and Siri Daly share their go-to date night steak recipe and show us how to make a triple chocolatey layer cake so that we can have a Valentine's Day that's just as magical as theirs.Nathan Congleton / TODAY
35 mins
1 hr 30 mins


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup stout beer (chocolate stout if you can find it)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, plus more as needed

Chef notes

This ode to chocolate combines a deeply rich, moist chocolate cake with smooth chocolate pudding and dark chocolate frosting. I wouldn't be mad at you if you decided to sprinkle the top with chocolate chips too!

Technique tips: Make sure cakes are completely cool before you begin to layer, or else pudding will melt. A long serrated knife will help you slice your layers evenly.

Swap option: Instead of stout beer, you can use brewed coffee in its place.


For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between.

Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and beer. Set the mixer to low speed and add 1/4 of the dry ingredients. Then add 1/3 of the buttermilk and beer mixture. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients, ending with the dry ingredients, until batter is smooth.

Divide batter into two cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

For the pudding:

In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Slowly whisk in the milk and then turn on the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until it's thickened.

Reduce the heat to low, and then stir in the chocolate until melted.

Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two, or until cold.

For the frosting:

Add chopped chocolate and butter to a heat-proof bowl, and place that on top of a small saucepan filled with an inch or so of water. Turn heat on to medium-high, and stir chocolate and butter until it has melted. Set aside and let cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the powdered sugar and the cooled chocolate mixture and stir until combined. With the mixer on medium-low, pour in the milk (add more milk as needed) and mix until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

For the assembly:

Once cakes are cooled, slice each in half horizontally. (You will use three of the layers, and the fourth layer you will crumble with your fingers. This will be your cake topping!)

Place first cake layer on serving platter and add half of the pudding, spreading evenly. Top with another cake layer and add the rest of the pudding, and then top with the third cake layer. Crumble the fourth cake layer into a bowl and set aside.

Spread frosting onto top of cake (I like to leave the sides unfrosted), and top with the crumbled cake. Serve with vanilla ice cream!