Ultimate chocolate cake topped with chocolate curls

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(1292 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


    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

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    24th Mar, 2019
    I made this cake yesterday for my son's 22nd birthday today. We've just had it warm with some vanilla ice-cream. It is absolutely divine, the best chocolate cake Ive ever had. Yes, it's rich so a small slice is probably all you need. I followed the recipe but after reading the reviews made a few changes: I used 150g of dark choc 70% and 50g milk choc for the cake. I divided the mixture between 2 20cm tins and baked for 45 mins, letting it cool in the tins before putting on a cooling rack. I reduced the sugars to 100 grams of each and it was still plenty sweet enough. I didn't sweeten the ganache at all and used 150g of 70% plain chocolate and 50g milk. I also reduced the double cream to 200mls and this worked well. I decorated with mini eggs (as its that time of year). Good luck with the recipe - I definitely recommend it
    LydiaLeavyJones's picture
    10th Mar, 2019
    Made this cake for my brother on his birthday- I decorated it with raspberries, chocolate flakes and icing sugar. It was delicious!!!
    7th Mar, 2019
    Tips: 1) Follow the ingredients exactly (the coffee can be safely left out but don't forget to still use the water the coffee is supposed to be dissolved in). 2) Make the cake the day before you need it - wrap in foil or put in an airtight tin and decorate it the following day. Allow plenty of time. 3) The raising agents and combination of ingredients are essential for it to be a sponge cake and to rise - proper Buttermilk is essential IMHO (Sainsbury's sell it fresh in pots - looks like cream pots). The raising agents are the self raising flour, the Bicarbonate of Soda - and the Buttermilk. It's also important to whisk the eggs and the buttermilk well (the recipe says to whisk them but doesn't say whisk them well) as this incorporates air. Also to use good quality chocolate so the rest of the ingredients caramelise and blend well together. I use the Lindt plain chocolate bars which are 70% cocoa. They are quite thin bars of chocolate so they break up easily into small pieces - there is plenty of sugar in the recipe so the chocolate isn't bitter at all. The Lindt bars are my go-to plain chocolate for cooking. I have become a big fan of buttermilk in cakes after using an American recipe a few years ago - it really makes cakes soft, light and spongy - which is why it's essential to this recipe to make it a cake rather than a Brownie (IMHO). My cakes rose beautifully and were perfect. I now substitute milk for buttermilk in most cake recipes. I wanted a smaller cake so made it in 2 x 7" loose bottomed sandwich tins - greased and lined. Filled the tins about 3/4 full - had some leftover mixture which I made a couple of buns with later. I took advice from another reviewer and cooked these at 150 degrees fan (instead of 140 degrees as the cakes aren't as deep in the sandwich tins) - checked after 40 minutes - they took just over an hour because I kept letting all the heat out of the oven every time I checked them :-) For the last 10 minutes I put foil over the top just in case they burned but it probably wasn't necessary. You can tell when they're nearly cooked as the cake shrinks from the side of the tin - but mine still needed a bit longer to have the "bounce back" when pressed on top - which is an easier indicater than the skewer - although test with a skewer as well. With two sandwich cakes you end up with two slightly crispy tops which is fine - but I sliced off one of the crispy tops when the cake was cold, for the bottom half of the sandwich. Once the cake is cold that is easy to do with a very sharp serrated bread knife, leaving the cake the right way up and coming at it from the side with the bread knife. This is the second time I have made this cake - and the buttermilk, correct flours and bicarb are important - as is the correct chocolate. The first time was ok with substitute buttermilk but didn't rise well and sunk in the middle. I used a thin layer of white chocolate ganache and a thin layer of blueberry jam in the middle. Both are quite mild flavours but contrast well with the intense chocolatiness. I usually use whipped cream and strawberries for fillings but wanted a change. For the topping I used Nigella's Chocolate Icing from her "birthday custard sponge" instead of the Ganache - it makes a lovely plain chocolate topping which looks just like ganache but children seem to prefer it - it's sweeter but less rich without the cream.
    4th Mar, 2019
    Wow .made this for my birthday such a lovely treat and a big hit to.I did knock 20gms each off both sugars 180grms. Next time will reduce sugar again .stayed lovely and moist and fudgie. Defo make again .also used half dark and half milk in the choclate mix just a cadbury and morrisons dark chocolate.
    27th Jan, 2019
    this is the first cake I've ever made. It was absolutely delicious. Just loved it. I decorated the top with strawberry slices and used Date molasses or Gur in place of the Muscovado sugar. thank you for this wonderful recipe. I shall be making it again and again and again !
    4th Jan, 2019
    it was very crumbly. you should wait for it to cool completely before cutting into 2 or 3, but it was very tasty
    Ruth McDonald's picture
    Ruth McDonald
    31st Dec, 2018
    This is a wonderful cake with a real depth of flavour. I had to bake it for a little longer than the recipe advised. I agree with those who say it's very sweet. But I omitted the sugar entirely from the ganache. The amount of sugar in cooking chocolate varies so I suppose it depends on how sweet your chocolate is. Wonderful cake though!
    23rd Oct, 2018
    Have made this cake twice - each time following the recipe exactly. My first cake dipped a little after cooling but I used this as the bottom layer (only cut into two slices). I have to say this is the most scrumdiddlyumptious cake I’ve ever made and those who’ve shared it with me agree. My tip is to allow the cake to cool completely before trying to slice it.
    20th Oct, 2018
    Well, it didn't start off well, I really struggled to get the cakes (I split it into several tins) out of their tins. They were crumbly as hell. Half an hour in the fridge helped... I iced it (peanut butter cream cheese frosting, didn't do the ganache)... And it was just glorious. Probably one of the best chocolate cake I've ever made, the recipe is going straight into my recipe book: rich, intense, delicious.
    24th Sep, 2018
    Best Chocolate Cake I've ever made. Best Chocolate Cake they've ever eaten as voted by my husband and daughter. Filled with sweetened fresh cream with vanilla and fresh raspberries, and topped with more fresh raspberries and a grating or a drizzle of dark chocolate. I cooled then whipped the ganache to spread on the cake whch gives it a lighter texture. Utterly delicious recipe.


    28th Jul, 2018
    Can the cake be baked in two separate tins, if so what size please?
    goodfoodteam's picture
    2nd Aug, 2018
    Thanks for your question. You could bake this in 2 x 20cm sandwich tins but you'll need to reduce the cooking time. We can't give a specific time without testing. See step 5 for how you test if the cake is done.
    4th Jul, 2018
    I have made this cake twice. Unfortunately, on both occasions the surface of the cakes have had a crust that have cracked quite badly and after cutting the cake horizontally making 2 halves, the top layer has just crumbled and disintegrated. The ganache has come to the rescue and I managed to patchwork the cake back into shape, covering with a thick layer of the ganache. The cake has been a success and enjoyed but I would like advice as to why the cakes have fallen to bits. I have followed the recipe accurately and have used an oven thermometer to ensure that it is at the correct temperature. Help please!
    goodfoodteam's picture
    4th Jul, 2018
    We're sorry to hear your cake has cracked and crumbled. The first reason is usually that the oven temperature it too high but you've checked this so we'd suggest that the cake is too high in the oven. Move the cake lower to avoid the top forming a crust too soon during the cooking process. You can also put a baking sheet on the shelf above to shield the top of the cake from the heat slightly.
    4th Jul, 2018
    Hi, I have made this cake on two occasions now. Unfortunately, although I have followed the recipe absolutely, the top of the cake comes out with not only a crusted top but it has cracked quite badly and the top layer (I have only attempted to cut the cake horizontally into two) just crumbles and falls apart. Fortunately, the ganache has saved the day and once covered the cake looks fine and tastes delicious but I would like to know what I am doing wrong. Help please !
    Jo Templeton
    29th Jan, 2018
    I make this cake all the time in a 20 cm tin and always have fab results and so many great comments. I’ve decided to make my wedding cake using this recipe but really need a bit of guidance on cooking times for increased quantities of mixture in bigger tins. I’m going to be doing three tiers... a 6” a 10” and 14” tier. Would you advise reducing the oven temperature for the bigger version and cooking it for longer? Any help greatly appreciated!!
    goodfoodteam's picture
    6th Feb, 2018
    Thank you for your question. We would recommend keeping the oven at the same temperature but you will need to increase or decrease the cooking time depending on the relative size of the tin. Unfortunately we are unable to give specific timings without testing.
    4th Dec, 2017
    Hi, if I can't find buttermilk , can I replace it with yoghurt? Thanks, I really want to bake this cake, it looks fabulous!
    goodfoodteam's picture
    8th Dec, 2017
    Buttermilk is available in larger supermarkets in the dairy section. However if you don't have access to this then you can make your own, simply add a little under 1 tsp of lemon juice to 75ml full-fat milk and set aside for 10 mins. It will curdle into a thick mixture, then it's ready to use.
    16th Sep, 2017
    How do stop it from crumbling it's impossible to handle just falls apart.Finished with a crumbling mess.


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