Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Looking for a tried and true chocolate cake recipe? This dark chocolate cake is rich and moist and the perfect, from scratch recipe you want! Topped with a smooth and creamy vanilla frosting and your sweet tooth will be satisfied!

Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting: from scratch, dark chocolate cake. Delicious, easy and gorgeous with fluffy vanilla frosting!

This week I turn 40. As in 40 years old. I made myself a “pre-birthday” cake.

What is a pre-birthday cake you might ask? It’s the cake you make yourself the week before your birthday. A cake that is so rich and indulgent, it may help you overcome those feelings of “oldness.”

Once upon a time I looked forward to turning 30. I had 4 kids and I was ready for my 30’s! There were many occasions when I would receive comments about being a young mom, how I had so much to learn, etc. I was 23 when I had my first…was done by the time I turned 30. Yes I was young. But, it was right for us. I wouldn’t trade it for a minute!

But now? See, I have friends my age who have little kids. 5 year old. 3 year old. Babies, even. Even though they are 40, they can pass for much younger because their children are so little.

It doesn’t work for me. My oldest will be 17 this year. No mistaking it…I am officially old.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting: from scratch, dark chocolate cake. Delicious, easy and gorgeous with fluffy vanilla frosting!

BUT, and this is a BIG but, I am so thankful for all the experiences that have brought me to where I am in life (well, almost all of them, hehe)!! I am confident in who I am, what I do, where I’m going and how I’ll get there! I love myself too. Yeah, I may have some cupcake handles, and my abs aren’t as tight as they were when I was 20…but it’s okay. I’m okay.

And because of that…let’s eat cake! I wish I could share a slice of cake with each and every one of you! Your sweet comments really make my day, honestly!

And, this rich dark chocolate cake is just what a 40yr old birthday girl craves!

Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting: from scratch, dark chocolate cake. Delicious, easy and gorgeous with fluffy vanilla frosting!

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Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: serves 12-16


    For the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate morsels


  1. In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a measuring cup, mix together cooled coffee and milk. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes, until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Slowly add in dry ingredients alternating with the coffee/milk mixture (about 3 additions of each).
  4. Pour cake batter into two prepared pans (2-9inch round cake pans, lined with parchment paper and greased and floured). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool about 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  5. For the frosting, beat butter for 3-4 minutes until pale in color. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Beat an additional 3-4 minutes until fluffy and smooth!
  6. To assemble cake, lay one layer of cake on a cake plate. Spoon 1/4 of frosting onto top of cake, spreading evenly. Top with about 1/2 cup of mini morsels. Add second layer of cake. Spread a layer of frosting around the sides of the cake and the top, very thin. This is your crumb coat. Allow to set about 15 minutes (or refrigerate). Apply final layer of frosting, spreading evenly and using a straight edge spatula to smooth. Using your hands in a cupped fashion, press mini chips around sides. Continue until all sides are done.
  7. Slice and enjoy!


**The coffee in this cake just deepens the chocolate flavor. It does not make this cake taste like coffee in any way! If you absolutely must remove the coffee, just replace the 1/2 cup coffee with water. **To keep frosting off cake plate, lay strips of parchment paper under the first layer of cake, all the way around. Once frosting is applied, carefully remove strips of paper! **I used Wilton's Bake Even strips to get perfectly flat cake tops. If desired, slice dome of cake to make a flat layered cake.


Looking for more delicious Cake ideas?

Vanilla Cake Rolls are easy and light, a perfect summer birthday treat! Add sprinkles for more fun!

Vanilla Funfetti cake roll

This Lemon Cake has a homemade Lemon Curd filling and Whipped Cream Cheese frosting too! Perfect for that citrus lover!


Looking for something a little richer? A little bit more chocolate? This Chocolate Cake with Mint Chip Frosting is your answer (don’t mind the old photos!!) The frosting truly tastes like mint chip icecream!


Check out some of these other great recipes from around the blogs…

Looking for a tried and true chocolate cake recipe? This dark chocolate cake is rich and moist and the perfect, from scratch recipe you want! Topped with a smooth and creamy vanilla frosting and your sweet tooth will be satisfied!

95 Responses to “Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting”

  1. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Haha – I always thought that I’d be married by 21 and done having kids by 30. But as it turned out, I didn’t even get married until I was 28 and started having kids at 31! But at least I can pass as younger then, right?? (And I would never guess that you are turning 40. Never.) Happy, happy pre-birthday. This cake looks like the perfect way to celebrate! Thanks for the link love, too. :)

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      You’re so lucky. You’re in the group of people who look young because you have a little one in tow….
      Thanks for the birthday wishes :)

  2. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 12:51 am

    My daughter is turning 13 in 22 days, which makes me officially old. My husband is four years younger than me, and he loves to remind me all the time how old I am. I think I definitely need this cake. It looks gorgeous. Happy birthday! I hope your kids spoil you and throw you a huge party.

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      My husband is 5 yrs older, so at least I have him paving the way for me! Thanks for the birthday wishes, and Happy Early birthday to your almost teenager!

  3. Marcie@flavorthemoments
    posted Jul 18, 2013 at 1:07 am

    You enjoy your 40th, Aimee! You’re still young, and its a great age. I didn’t feel old when I turned 40, but I’m really starting too now.

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      I don’t feel I old, I just look it 😉 Thanks for the bday wishes!!

  4. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Happy early Birthday Aimee! This dark chocolate cake sounds amazing! I love coffee and chocolate together so I know I’ll love this cake. I hope your family is doing something fabulous for your special day.

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks Anne- as long as it includes dinner out I’ll be a happy girl :)

  5. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Happy Birthday, Aimee! What a lovely post. I love how you shared your experiences with being a mom, starting your family when you were younger, and how it was a great thing for you and honestly, I think it’s great that your oldest is going to be 17 – just think of all the fun you can have now when you’re still super young and you’ve raised your kids! My husband is the opposite – our daughter was born when he was 49! First kid at 49 :)

    And this cake – love it! Reminds me of the cupcakes you’ve made with the same batter. Or maybe this is a new batter? Regardless, looks so good!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks Averie :) I can’t imagine starting at 49, but I guess it keeps him young!!

  6. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Happy 40th! It sounds like you have a lot to celebrate, and I love that you are looking at the bright side. Bright sides make everything pretty! 😀 I’m just now starting my own family at 32 (soon to be 33) so our son will only be 7 when I turn 40, and I can only hope that will make me feel younger. Somehow I doubt it. But if my young son doesn’t make me feel younger, surely this chocolate cake will. It is a cake worthy of a milestone birthday! Or, pre-birthday. :)

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      haha! You’ll feel great at 40 Veronica! It’s all about perspective. And cake!

  7. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 7:10 am

    So happy to be along with you in this time of life! I think it I great to embrace age! Either way it will still come! Happy per celebrations and lets eat cake!!!!

  8. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I love that you made yourself a “pre-birthday” cake! Happy early birthday my friend. Wish we could share a piece together to celebrate!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Awww, I wish we could celebrate together too…over doughnuts 😉 Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  9. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Happy almost birthday!!! This cake looks AHHMAZING!

    And I love that you had your kids when you were so young-that would’ve been my ideal situation if I had my way. My mom was young too (22 when she had me, 25 when she had my brother) and I always LOVED that!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks for the bday wishes Kayle. My mom was 20 when she had me and my grandma was 21 when she had my mom…so we are a bunch of young women in our family (and my kids get the benefit of having their great-grandma in their lives…she turns 81 this year)!!

  10. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Happy Birthday Aimee! Now you have your cake and you can eat it too!!! Looks so good! I hope you have a wonderful celebration with your family. This cake is officially on my list to make, my family will love it — dark rich chocolate surrounded by creamy vanilla frosting and those little chocolate chips, can’t go wrong with this!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      Sheila, I definitely think your family will love this cake!! Thanks for the birthday greetings :)

  11. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Happy pre-birthday!! I fell on my 40th and ended up in a boot cast…it felt so womp..womp and old! Better now and good cake is the only way to celebrate!!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Oh my goodness Cathy! that would totally be my luck….Glad you are all better now :)

  12. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Happy pre-birthday, Aimee! Your pr-birthday cake looks gorgeous! Have an awesome week, and hope it’s super sweet!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Thanks Eva, this cake is helping my week be a little sweeter :)

  13. Tanya
    posted Jul 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

    40 rocks Aimee!!! Happy birthday!!! Oh this cake rocks too! I’ll have to make it for my “post birthday”

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks girl!! Let’s do coffee when school starts!!

  14. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Well, happy birthday to you. I turned 37 on Tuesday :-) I think time flies as I get older, so weird. Nice looking cake. I hope you have a very especial day!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Happy Birthday to you too!!! Thanks for the wishes :)

  15. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Happy early birthday to you! Eat the whole cake….you’ve earned it :)

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Well, if you say so….
      Thanks for the birthday wishes :)

  16. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Gorgeous pictures! Happy pre-birthday!

  17. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Happy Birthday!! The best thing about having kids young is you’ll also have grandkids young! Why is that great? Because you’ll still be able to do fun things with them and really know them. My dad was 43 when I was born and 70 now and I worry all the time that my kids will never really know him. So I think it’s great! :)

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      so true. Great outlook :) Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  18. Darlene
    posted Jul 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Happy Birthday! and thanks for the new cake recipe. It’s going to be my cake for my 37th birthday next year. Also, I can’t guarantee I’ll share it. On a side note, I always thought I’d be married with at least 2 kids by now, and I’m still single. Just goes to show you that life laughs at your plans.

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      Enjoy the cake Darlene!! I guess we can’t really plan everything like we thought when we were just teens!

  19. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Happy Birthday Aimee! You don’t look a day over twenty. This cake is the perfect way to usher in your forties.

  20. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I definitely want this cake for my next birthday! Happy birthday to you!! :)

  21. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Happy Birthday! =)
    This is one of my all time favorite Cake /Frosting combinations!

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      I love chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. My absolute weakness :)

  22. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    STOP IT YOU ARE NOT OLD! Old is like, way way down the road. You still have all the energy to run this awesome blog and make these fantastic cakes! I think you’ll be just fine heehee. 😉 I hope you have a lovely birthday though, Aimee (with more cake!).

    • posted Jul 18, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      I do have lots of energy. But the 10 cups of coffee a day might help with that :) Thanks for the birthday wishes Jess!!

  23. Shelby
    posted Jul 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Aimee, continue to celebrate your life! Your timeline is close to mine; just one problem. My son didn’t co-operate. He didn’t have my one and only grandchild until he was almost 37. So, at 57 I thought of myself as an old grandmother. But, the best thing is I didn’t feel old and still don’t! Just blessed! Enjoy.

  24. posted Jul 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Happy Birthday!! And stop it, you are not old. Not at all!!!

    LOVE the cake!

  25. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 1:00 am

    You make such lovely delicious cakes..beautiful pictures..thanks for sharing the recipe will certainly try this delicious cake.

  26. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Happy Birthday, Aimee! I remember when I was younger I thought 40 was old, but now that I’m getting to be 30, 40 doesn’t seem old at all…haha! Have a wonderful birthday celebration :)

    • posted Jul 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

      Funny how our perspective changes!! Thanks for the birthday wishes :)

  27. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Happy Birthday! I can tell by looking at the color of this cake that it is absolutely amazing and perfect for a 40th birthday!

    • posted Jul 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

      Yes. Yes it is :) Wait…did you mean cause it’s over the hill colors? hehe

  28. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Happy Birthday Aimee…:-) You look so young, you don’t look like 40, I tought you’re under 30. You’re so lucky to have 4 kids . I will be 32 on 21st July and I don’t have any kid yet. My mom was 19 when she had me. That’s life….the important thing is happiness.
    Love your cake, nice blog. Keep posting!
    Regards from Germany

    • posted Jul 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Amallia, Thank you very much for the sweet words :) Have a blessed weekend!!

  29. jann jones
    posted Jul 19, 2013 at 5:38 am

    HAPPY, HAPPY 27TH BIRTHDAY!!! you do not look almost 40, and I am pretty good at guessing.. I’m also 57.. till December… My one was born when I was 34, few months before 35, like my dad.. He was 34 Ault my birth, 35 two months later.. Enjoy, its worth it!! Love your blog!!!BIG FAT HUGS FOR THAT DAY!!!!!=)=)

    • posted Jul 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Awww, sweetest comment :) thanks for the birthday wishes Jann!!

  30. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Happy birthday my sweet friend! I’ll be hitting 35 this winter and it has never really bothered me until recently. Now that my oldest is in Kindergarten and making friends…well their moms and dads are like kiddos themselves! lol

    • posted Jul 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      You look so young I’m sure you fit right in! See you can get away with being young! Thanks for the birthday wishes :)

  31. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Happy almost birthday! I want to make this cake and it is nowhere near my birthday! I had a hard time turning 30. I just had my daughter 6 days earlier and baby blues had set in hard that day. Since then, birthdays have gotten much easier!

    • posted Jul 22, 2013 at 8:14 am

      30 was a breeze for me!! So far 40 hasn’t been too bad, but I don’t think it’s hit me yet, LOL.

  32. posted Jul 19, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Happy, happy birthday! This cake looks incredible!

  33. posted Jul 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Happy Birthday Aimee! And I was looking for a chocolate cake for my hubby’s birthday next week. This may be it! Though I have other plans for the frosting.

    • posted Jul 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Enjoy the cake. Can’t wait to see what you make!

  34. posted Jul 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

    This looks so delicious! And I love the idea of a pre-birthday cake!

  35. Beth
    posted Jul 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I’m 46 and I feel like my 40s have brought me clarity in that I finally figured out who I am, I’ve settled into myself. A real time of acceptance. I will say that so far this has been the hardest decade of my life, maybe the clarity that comes with age. Whatever. Remember this, age is truly just a number, it’s how you feel inside about yourself! Rejoice & embrace the changes that come next!

    • posted Jul 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Thank you Beth for these words!! I think clarity does come with age. And I think the hardships come from not only from getting older, but also less self centered and we see more around us!

  36. posted Jul 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Oh, girlfriend this looks right up my alley! Might have to make this for Lemon Sugar soon!! :)

  37. posted Jul 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I have been craving chocolate cake like nobody’s business. I’ve tried making it a couple of times but it never came out just right. This cake however looks like chocolate cake perfection! Must make it soon.

    • posted Jul 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

      I love chocolate cake!! Deep dark chocolate cake :) Good luck if you try it (and enjoy)!

  38. posted Jul 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Happy almost 40th! I turn 40 this year too and I think this needs to be my months before 40 birthday cake! Looks amazing!

    • posted Jul 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

      This side of 40 isn’t so bad. I’ll welcome you to this club soon :)

  39. Christina Gathright
    posted Jul 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Happy belated birthday! You make 40 look great! And this is my favorite cake combo, chocolate cake with vanilla butter cream :)

  40. Nessa
    posted Jul 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    This looks insanely good!

  41. posted Jul 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Happy Birthday girl! 40 (and all the 40 somethings to come) are fabulous! Welcome to the club! Oh and I love “cupcake handles”, I’ll wear mine with a little more pride now that I know what they really are 😉

  42. posted Jul 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Lucky you making yourself a cake this fabulous :) happy birthday! I hope you enjoy

    • posted Jul 25, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      Thanks for the birthday wishes girl. It was a delicious cake :)

  43. posted Jul 25, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I MISSED IT?! Happy day!!!!

  44. posted Jul 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    This cake looks amazing Aimee!

  45. posted Sep 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    i just made this as a end of summer celebration cake, its ready to come out of the oven and smells fantastic! thank you!

  46. posted Sep 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Cakes are beautiful in image, I think these will be delicious too when I taste it. Thanks to author.

  47. Susan J
    posted Dec 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I made the chocolate cake with vanilla frosting for Christmas and it sure was good. Thanks for the recipe! It will be a keeper!

    • posted Dec 27, 2013 at 7:12 am

      Thanks Susan, so glad to hear you loved the cake! Thanks for stopping back over and letting me know! Happy New Year!

  48. Amber
    posted Jan 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    As the Mad Hatter would sing, “A very merry un-birthday to you!”

  49. Felica
    posted Jan 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Amiee,
    What would be the cook time and temp for the dark chocolate cake if I wanted to make a single layer, rectangular shaped cake?.

  50. posted Mar 26, 2014 at 9:25 am

    This cake looks delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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  52. posted May 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    WOW! This cake looks so good, I can’t wait to make up a special occasion so I can try it!

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  56. Catriana
    posted Oct 6, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Any suggestions for making this gluten free? We’re doing a group Thanksgiving with a gluten intolerant friend and I’d love for her to be able to have some but I’m nervous about the greater density of gluten free flour mucking things up!

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