Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

chocolate cake slice

It’s time for my annual make my own birthday cake tradition! Okay it’s not really annual, given that on one birthday I made roasted cabbage instead… but every now and then I make a cake to share with loved ones as we commemorate my getting older.

And this chocolate cake is not just any old chocolate cake. This is something special. Fudgy and moist chocolate layers, filled with cherry preserves, brushed with Grand Marnier, and finished with a dark chocolate sour cream frosting. It has all my favorite things in one bite: I love chocolate and cherry together, I love boozy desserts, and I love frosting.

It’s an updated version of this Double Chocolate Cake I made three years ago (!) with a few little changes for extra flavor and better texture.

kate's buttermilk grand marnier cherry preserves

I used real buttermilk in the cake batter, brushed the cake layers with Grand Marnier before frosting, and spread sweet and tart cherry preserves in between the cake layers. I also used coconut oil for a richer taste, added an extra egg for more fudginess, and stirred in chocolate extract.

chocolate cake with sour cream frosting

The resulting cake was PERFECT. Fudgy (but not fudge brownie-consistency), moist (with added moisture from the orange liqueur) and velvety with rich chocolate flavors. The tart cherry preserves provide a nice contrast to chocolate, and the whole cake is generously frosted with tangy dark chocolate frosting.

I used to be intimidated by layer cakes, thinking it was too tedious to make one. (I also used to be intimidated by springform pans, thinking it will trap my baked good in it.) But making a layer cake is actually pretty easy. It’s really just a matter of baking two cakes in two pans, choosing a filling, then frosting generously (always generously). You can use a boxed cake mix to make things even more convenient for you, but this recipe is already easy as is – there’s no need for a mixer, just two separate bowls. You can whip up the frosting (by hand!) in minutes. I find that these three tips in making layer cakes are helpful: 1) freeze the cake layers before assembly so they don’t break (especially if you have a spongey cake) and it will be easier to slice off the domed tops to create an even layer. 2) When frosting the cake, line the platter with strips of parchment paper. This lets you frost with abandon, without messying up your serving platter/cake stand. Just remove the strips before serving. 3) Don’t worry too much about making it look perfect! Everyone loves cake anyway and there’s a certain appeal to imperfect, homemade ones made with love.

I didn’t care too much about prettying this one up, or doing everything neatly. I just slapped on the sour cream frosting, used a spoon to create some rustic looking swirls, and then my friends and I went to town. We paired it with red wine, and I paired leftovers with hot tea and a 10 pm bedtime. That’s right. I’m embracing my old age with hot tea, adequate sleep, and anti-aging serum. And lots of chocolate frosting.

beattys chocolate cake slice

Yield: 1 layer cake

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Frosting


Chocolate Cake

1 tablespoon butter for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
1 cup hot brewed coffee
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)


1/2 cup cherry preserves

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

18 oz good quality dark chocolate
3 cups sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Make the cake. Butter and flour two 8-inch round pans.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate extract.
  5. Slowly add in the wet ingredients to dry, mixing until combined. Add coffee and stir until smooth.
  6. Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake fo3 35 minutes. Set aside and let cool completely before frosting. I suggest making the cake a few hours or a day ahead, and freezing for an hour or so (make sure you wrap it in plastic wrap before freezing or refrigerating). This will make it easier to slice off the domed tops so you'll have a completely flat surface to work with for the cake layers.
  7. Make the frosting. In a large bowl, whisk together the room temperature sour cream, honey, vanilla, and salt.
  8. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate. Heat on full power for 1 minute, then remove from microwave and stir. Everything would have started to melt but you’ll still have some lumps. Heat again in 30-second intervals and stir until the mixture turns smooth. I heated everything for a total of 2 minutes. You can also melt the chocolate in a double broiler.
  9. Important: if you want smooth frosting, let melted chocolate cool until tepid! If you combine the hot melted chocolate with the sour cream mixture immediately, the chocolate will seize/harden into little bits. I don't mind this but if you want a smooth frosting, then let the melted chocolate cool first.
  10. Fold in melted chocolate into sour cream mixture and mix well. If you live in warmer temperatures, chill frosting for about 20 minutes to let it thicken a little bit before using.
  11. Assemble the cake. Slice off any domed tops to have a flat/even surface on both sides of each cake layer. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake layers with Grand Marnier (or Cointreau, or any other liqueur you prefer.)
  12. Stack layers on top of each other, with the cherry preserves in the middle.
  13. Frost the top and sides of cake. The frosting recipe makes a lot so be generous with the frosting!


If you don't have chocolate extract, just substitute with more vanilla extract.

If you don't like or have orange liqueur, you can replace with rum or brandy. If you would prefer to keep this alcohol free, just omit completely.

Cake recipe is modified from Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake

double chocolate cake slice

Both young and old will enjoy this cake. Just remember that there’s a little bit of liqueur in the cake if you’re serving this to babies.

Looking for other cake ideas? Check out my favorite birthday cake, mini orange pound cakes, hummingbird cake, pineapple upside down cake, and coconut cheesecake.


38 Responses to “Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Frosting”

  1. #
    Sues posted January 19, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Happy birthday!! Also, I love that you made roasted cabbage instead of a cake one year :) This cake looks incredible!! SO moist and chocolate-y :)

  2. #
    Daisy posted January 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

    your recipes seems to get better / amaze me even more as you get older! Happy Birthday!!

  3. #
    Meghan posted January 19, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Ahhh! I am SO craving cake and this looks so delicious. All the best birthday wishes to you. I hope your birthday is as amazing as you are!

  4. #
    Monica posted January 20, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday! I know and love this cake very much and I love your changes to it, particularly that Grand Marnier! I can see how you customized it to be just how *you* want your ideal birthday cake to be. And birthdays are all about you…clearly, you have great taste.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 20, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Thank you so much, Monica! xo

  5. #
    Jenny @ BAKE posted January 20, 2015 at 10:58 am

    This cake looks fantastic! I have some serious envy over here! and it is definitely a contender for my (made by me) birthday cake this year!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 20, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks Jenny! Birthday cakes are the best :)

  6. #
    Megan posted January 20, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Aw! Happy birthday! This sounds perfect for celebrating with!

  7. #
    Molly Galler posted January 21, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    This looks outrageously delicious! Love the gold B mug hiding in the background. Happy birthday week! xo

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 21, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks, Molly! B mug from Anthro, of course ;)

  8. #
    Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor posted January 21, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Happy Birthday, Bianca! I would love a big slice of this cake. It sounds like the perfect way to celebrate!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you, Ashley! I’m craving the cake just by looking at the photos haha

  9. #
    Medha @ Whisk & Shout posted January 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Happy Birthday! This is some kind of cake! Wow :) I’m loving the frosting job… so pretty and decadent.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      Than you, Medha! The frosting was so good. Hope you are enjoying the weekend!

  10. #
    Liz posted January 22, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Happy, happy birthday, Bianca! Your cake looks perfect for any celebration at our house, too! Love that you added preserves and Grand Marnier—swooning!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks, Liz! Enjoy the rest of the weekend! xo

  11. #
    Joanne posted January 22, 2015 at 8:10 am

    I have to start figuring out my birthday cake also, since it’s next month! This is definitely a contender.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Are you also an Aquarius? Hmmm I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you have cake :p Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  12. #
    Mike@TheIronYou posted January 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Happy Birthday Bianca!
    Btw what a great cake and that bottle of Gran Marnier looks good to ;)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you, Mike! My bottle’s almost empty, I need to stock up soon. Hope you are having a nice weekend!

  13. #
    Kelly - Life Made Sweeter posted January 22, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday, Bianca!! :) Hope you had an amazing day! This cake is gorgeous and I love all the flavors in here! Definitely the perfect cake for celebrating!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Aww thank you, Kelly! Hope you are enjoying the weekend!

  14. #
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry posted January 22, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Happy Birthday!! I hope you enjoyed two slices of this beautiful rich chocolate cake.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Thank you, Nicole! It may have been more than two over the course of the week but who’s counting? ;) Take care!

  15. #
    Dana @ Simply Romanesco posted January 23, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Happy Birthday!!! This cake looks so fudgy and decadent! What a great way to celebrate such a special occasion :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks so much, Dana! Hope you are having a nice weekend!

  16. #
    marcie posted January 23, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    This is one special cake with the grand marnier, buttermilk, coffee, and that frosting! Happy, happy birthday, and I’m totally into baking my own cake, too. Then you know it’s exactly what you want! :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you, Marcie! Exactly :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  17. #
    celyn posted January 24, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    wow this looks so decadent! Now I’m craving for some cake!

  18. #
    Hannah @ Eating with Alice posted January 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday!

    What a wonderful looking cake with so many delicious flavours! I love the combination of cherry and chocolate too, and have ALWAYS love a sour cream frosting.

    xx Hannah

  19. #
    Choc Chip Uru posted January 25, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!! This cake looks so decadent it is the only way to enjoy your day :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. #
    grace posted January 26, 2015 at 9:19 am

    i love how you follow your healthy dessert post with this example of utter decadence! hope your birthday is/was fantastic. :)

  21. #
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures posted January 26, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Wow! What a great way to celebrate your birthday!

  22. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet posted January 27, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Looks like the perfect birthday cake for you! I’ve actually never tried a sour cream frosting but this one looks too good to miss!

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