Triple-Layer Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

This magnificent cake has three layers of moist, tender chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and a silky chocolate ganache. Slideshow: Cake Recipes 

Triple-Layer Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Photo: Nicole Franzen
Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins



  • Unsalted butter, for greasing

  • 3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting

  • 9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

  • 2 cups hot brewed coffee

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup hot brewed coffee

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • Sugared cranberries, for garnish (see Note)


Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position the racks in the center and lower thirds. Butter three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate with the coffee and vanilla and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil until pale yellow, then whisk in the sour cream. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the 3 cups of flour with the sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. At medium speed, beat in the wet ingredients in 3 batches until just incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat until the batter is smooth.

  4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean; shift the pans halfway through baking. Let the cakes cool completely, then carefully invert onto a rack and peel off the parchment.

Meanwhile, make the ganache

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, butter, sugar and salt just to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Stir in the coffee and vanilla. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

  2. Transfer 1 cake to a plate. Spoon one-fourth of the ganache on top and spread in an even layer. Top with another cake and one-fourth of the ganache. Cover with the third cake and spread the remaining ganache over the top and side of the cake; decoratively swirl the ganache on top. Top the cake with sugared cranberries, cut into wedges and serve.

Make Ahead

The frosted cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Toss fresh cranberries in simple syrup, drain and chill. Roll the cranberries in sugar and spread on a plate; chill for about 1 hour before serving.

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