Double Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing on a plate, ready to be sliced.

This double chocolate cake is everything a chocolate cake should be: fudgy, moist, intensely chocolaty. When assembled into layers with chocolate ganache slathered in between, as the original recipe instructs, this cake becomes the perfect birthday finale for any chocolate lover; when topped with black velvet icing, as pictured here, this cake becomes an elegant dessert, a perfect treat to enjoy with morning coffee or afternoon espresso.

Why Is This Cake So Good?

A few things:

  1. Unsweetened cocoa powder, which imparts a deep, intense chocolate flavor and a rich, fudgy texture.
  2. Buttermilk, the magic ingredient in many a cake, namely this buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake.
  3. Oil (as opposed to butter), which keeps cakes incredibly moist (read: The Case For Making Cakes with Oil as Opposed to Butter).

The difference between Dutch-process and natural cocoa powder:

This info comes from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen:

  • Natural cocoa powder is produced if virtually all of the cocoa butter is removed from the cocoa liquor, leaving a dry cake that is then ground to a fine powder. Natural cocoa powder is quite acidic, so can be used as the necessary acid to activate baking soda in leavened baked goods, if present in sufficient quantity. Because of its high acidity and unpalatable bitterness, natural cocoa powder is best used only in baked or cooked desserts.
  • Dutch-process cocoa (also called alkalized cocoa powder) has been treated with a small quantity of an alkaline solution to reduce the natural acidity. The process darkens the cocoa’s color, making it rich, often redder brown, and gives it a smoother, more mellow flavor.
  • Both natural and Dutch-process cocoa have had about 75% of the cocoa fat removed.
  • Although some recipes can be made with wither form of cocoa powder, many rely on the properties of one or the other. For this reason, be careful when substituting Dutch-process for natural and vice versa. In recipes for baked goods using baking soda as the leavener in which no other acid is present, Dutch-process cocoa is not appropriate as it does not contain sufficient acid to activate the baking soda. (You could use Dutch process for natural cocoa but an additional acid such as cream of tartar would need to be added.) Similarly, using natural cocoa powder in a recipe originally calling for Dutch process cocoa may cause the mixture to become overly acidic. Adding a small amount of baking soda, or increasing the amount already called for, will compensate for this.
  • Natural cocoa is better for brownies, old-fashioned chocolate cakes and simple chocolate cookies. Dutch-process cocoa, more palatable than natural cocoa when raw, is good for icings, custards, creams and sauces that will not undergo further cooking. It has a more subtle, delicate flavor, one well suited to many to many elegant European-style cakes, biscuits, pastries and creams, and in any recipe where an overt, sharp chocolate flavor would overpower more delicate flavors. It is very good in nut cakes and ice creams, where a refined, un-bitter chocolate taste can complement the soft flavors of the other ingredients.
  • If the cocoa will be tasted raw, as it is when dusted on cakes, cookies or truffles, opt for Dutch-processed. If the recipe is for a traditionally rich and fudgy baked good, use the stronger flavor of natural cocoa powder.
A slice of double chocolate cake standing on a board.
A saucepan with the black velvet icing.
A slice of double chocolate cake with black velvet icing on a napkin.

A of slice of double chocolate cake with black velvet icing on a napkin, ready to eat.
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Double Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 65 reviews

Save Recipe


Adapted from: Gourmet via Epicurious 


  • The original recipe calls for making a chocolate ganache, which sounds heavenly, but I have always adored my grandmother’s chocolate glaze recipe — it’s called black velvet icing and it contains eggs, which is odd, but it’s so good — so that is the one I use. If you want to use Gourmet’s chocolate ganache, find it here.
  • Some commenters have found the amount not to be enough for a full cake, so I’ve updated the quantities below to be a double batch, which should leave you with more than enough icing.
  • If you want to make a half recipe, see this post: Gourmet’s Double Chocolate Cake, Revisited. I love these 6-inch cake pans for making half recipes of all sorts of cakes, namely this one. You need two.


for the cake:

  • 3 ounces (85 g) fine-quality semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups (648 g) sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (144 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

for the black velvet icing (*updated to a double recipe April 2020, see notes above):

  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • a heaping 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 eggs, well beaten
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature


  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease two 9- or 10-inch by 2-inch round cake pans with unsalted butter or nonstick spray. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  2. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Divide batter between pans (being sure not to fill pans higher than 2/3 full—they will overflow if you do; it’s not worth it) and bake in the middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the icing: Because several commenters have had trouble, with the icing, I am suggesting you use a double boiler. If you know how to set up a double boiler, do so; otherwise, fill a pot with an inch of water. Place a medium bowl over top. Turn the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the bowl. Once it has melted, stir in the confectioners’ sugar, whisking until smooth. Stir in the eggs a little at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition — a flat-bottomed whisk is good for this. (I use a whisk until the ingredients are blended and then switch to a heat-proof spatula.) Cook over low to medium-low until thick. Stir in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a glass measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring or store in whatever vessel you wish.
  4. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Remove parchment paper. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
  5. If you are making a layer cake, halve each cake round crosswise to create 4 layers. Spread icing over one cake layer. Top layer with other cake layer. Repeat until all layers are stacked. Pour icing on top of top layer and with an off-set spatula (if you have one) spread it all over the sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving. (I keep mine at room temperature always…there’s never space in the fridge.)
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American