Ultimate chocolate cake topped with chocolate curls

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(1275 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins - 40 mins Cook: 1 hr - 1 hr, 30 mins Plus baking and cooling time


14 slices

Indulge yourself with this ultimate chocolate cake recipe that is beautifully moist, rich and fudgy. Perfect for a celebration or an afternoon tea

Nutrition and extra info

  • un-iced and undecorated

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal541
  • fat35g
  • saturates20g
  • carbs55g
  • sugars40g
  • fibre2g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.51g
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    For the chocolate cake

    • 200g dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa solids), chopped
      Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

      Dark chocolate

      dahk chok-o-let

      Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

    • 200g butter, cubed



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
    • 85g self-raising flour
    • 85g plain flour
    • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

    • 200g light muscovado sugar
    • 200g golden caster sugar
    • 25g cocoa powder
    • 3 medium eggs
    • 75ml buttermilk
      Buttermilk pancake mixture in bowl with whisk



      There are two types of buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is a thin, cloudy, slightly tart but…

    • 50g grated chocolate or 100g curls, to decorate

      Chocolate ganache


      Chocolate ganache is a combination of chocolate and double cream. It's simple to…

    For the ganache

    • 200g dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa solids), chopped
      Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

      Dark chocolate

      dahk chok-o-let

      Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

    • 300ml double cream
    • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar


    1. Heat the oven to 160C/ fan140C/ gas 3. Butter and line a 20cm round cake tin (7.5cm deep).

    2. Put 200g chopped dark chocolate in a medium pan with 200g butter.

    3. Mix 1 tbsp instant coffee granules into 125ml cold water and pour into the pan.

    4. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. Or melt in the microwave for about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through.

    5. Mix 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder, and squash out any lumps.

    6. Beat 3 medium eggs with 75ml buttermilk.

    7. Pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir everything to a smooth, quite runny consistency.

    8. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1hr 25 – 1hr 30 mins. If you push a skewer into the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit).

    9. Leave to cool in the tin (don’t worry if it dips slightly), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut the cold cake horizontally into three.

    10. To make the ganache, put 200g chopped dark chocolate in a bowl.  Pour 300ml double cream into a pan, add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar and heat until it is about to boil.

    11. Take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool until it is a little thicker but still pourable.

    12. Sandwich the layers together with just a little of the ganache. Pour the rest over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smooth over any gaps with a palette knife.

    13. Decorate with 50g grated chocolate or 100g chocolate curls. The cake keeps moist and gooey for 3-4 days.

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    Comments, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    1st Jun, 2016
    This is THE best chocolate cake ever - and believe me, I have tried a lot! I make this often and get so many compliments and requests for the recipe.
    25th May, 2016
    I read a lot of reviews before making this cake, and I really wanted it to work. Sad to say, it didn't. I'm assuming it is 'baker error' rather than the recipe, given the number of good reviews, but the cake came out flat as a pancake with a chewy, almost burnt-tasting ring around the outer top, and the top in the middle was hard as a rock. God knows what I did!!!
    AnnieGambles's picture
    7th May, 2016
    This is a great recipe and I will definitely make it again. As others had recommended using half milk chocolate and half dark, I did this for both the cake and the ganache. I'm always nervous about splitting cakes after baking, so I just baked it in two tins for 45 minutes. They came out perfectly, cooked through but very moist. The ganache was a bit runny so I ended up with a chocolate moat around the cake but that seems like a bonus, to be honest. I didn't bother with the chocolate curls, but instead decorated the top with silver chocolate pearls. It is very sweet and rich so I couldn't eat a lot of it personally but I found the cake and ganache both very tasty and easy to make. Highly recommended!
    3rd May, 2016
    This recipe is fantastic. Easy to make, looks professional, tastes phenomenal and lasts for days (if you don't cut into it straight away). I made this for my friend's 30th birthday and I will be making it again. P.s. I watched Martha Stewart's video on making chocolate curls and they came out perfectly too.
    2nd May, 2016
    I made this for a birthday without the ganache (wanted to play around with a white chocolate mirror glacage. And it didn't work. So that was a waste of time) and it was phenomenally good. Strangely a friend of mine who is a far superior baker to me used the same recipe and it tasted awful. No idea why. I don't think I used buttermilk for this, I think I just mixed milk with lemon juice according to the ratios on Nigella's website.
    25th Apr, 2016
    Best chocolate cake I've ever had. Everyone enjoyed it, lots of great comments, deliciously moist. As brilliantly suggested by others, I used half milk and half dark chocolate for both the cake and ganache, and baked it in 2 tins and cooked for 45 minutes. After cake was ganached and refrigerated, I decorated it with fondant (for a birthday), which stuck well to the ganache and the taste wasn't too overwhelming. This is now my no. 1 cake recipe!
    16th Apr, 2016
    This is a brilliant recipe. The only changes I make are: use cheap plain chocolate and use drinking chocolate instead of coffee (kids don't like coffee flavour). I also make the ganache with milk chocolate which makes it more kid friendly and put white chocolate shavings over. This cake is so moist and keeps for days but never lasts that long.
    27th Mar, 2016
    Lovely moist chocolate cake. I used half milk and half dark chocolate for both the cake and ganache as others had suggested and this worked perfectly. Was worried that using all dark chocolate would be too bitter. I split the mixture and cooked for 45 mins in 2 tins as I agree with others that it would have been tricky to split the cake once cooked. Baked for Easter Sunday family dinner and served with ice cream and seemed to be successful judging by all the clean bowls!
    St georges
    17th Mar, 2016
    I felt I needed to register to tell you how disappointed I was with the results of the ultimate chocolate cake. I used all the best ingredients and followed the recipe. I was making it for my daughters birthday. It was impossible to slice it in 3 pieces without it falling apart. I would not recommend it to anyone.
    15th Mar, 2016
    I made this a the weekend. Thought it was lovely - really rich and moist. A little goes along way. I should have spread more ganache in the middle (I was unsure of how much I would need to cover the cake) therefore I had lots left over after covering the cake. The cake does take several hours to cool. I am going to make it as a birthday cake this Saturday - I shall bake the cake on Friday and then decorate on Saturday.


    goodfoodteam's picture
    21st Feb, 2014
    Hi there, thanks for your question. You can actually make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tsp of white wine vinegar or lemon juice per 200ml of regular milk. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team
    5th Dec, 2013
    You'll nedd Milk (just under one cup) and 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Mix them together and let the mixture stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.
    7th Jan, 2014
    I substituted the buttermilk with half greek yoghurt / half full fat milk, it worked great!
    5th Dec, 2013
    Hi, I live in Norway and needed buttermilk for another recipe and was not able to find it. I managed to make my own using cream - it takes a bit of time but it does work - see the following http://frugalliving.about.com/od/makeyourowningredients/r/How-To-Make-Buttermilk.htm
    2nd Nov, 2013
    How do you make the chocolate curls?
    goodfoodteam's picture
    21st Feb, 2014
    Hi there, thanks for your question. You can buy chocolate curls ready-made or make them yourself using a vegetable peeler to shave curls from a bar of chocolate. This video shows you two methods for making curls: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-melt-chocolate
    21st Oct, 2013
    Hello, i was wondering if you think its possible to turn this cake into cupcakes instead. Just by making the mixture the same and then splitting it into cake holders and add the ganache on top like icing? If so how long would you recommend to cook for? Thank you.
    5th Dec, 2013
    I was thinking about the same thing but have not yet done it. Have you, was it successful?
    29th Sep, 2013
    Hi, i've made this cake 4 times, every time successfully and its always been for celebration cakes. I am making a birthday cake, but time is restricted and i need to make it in advance, can i freeze it?
    22nd Sep, 2013
    I would like to use this cake recipe for a wedding cake as it is sooooooo good. can you advice how I up-scale this recipe suitable for a 12 inch square tin. Thank you.


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