This hot chocolate cake is a moist chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, and hot cocoa mix! Perfect for the holiday season, this is a simple dessert that is sure to impress!
Hot Cocoa Cake
The holiday season is my busy period of the year. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but rather it’s the time where entertaining friends and family is at an all time high. Every weekend, I have friends or family over, sharing with them a dinner which of course, is followed by dessert. I usually end our meals with a cake of some sort. As it is the holiday season, I’ve been giving my cakes a holiday spin, and recently been loving this hot chocolate cake!
I’ve been meaning to share a hot chocolate cake recipe, ever since sharing a mug cake version. While the mug cake is great when you want a sweet treat after dinner, it gets a little tricky when there are over 8 mouths to feed. Luckily, you can bake it into a fabulous layer cake!
Now, this hot chocolate layer cake may look incredibly fancy, but I promise you it is SO easy to make and uses simple ingredients.
No eggs, no milk, and no butter are needed, but you’d never tell. The texture is moist, fluffy, and with a creamy frosting between each layer. It’s got a rich and creamy chocolate flavor, with notes of vanilla, to give a marshmallow impression!
I’ve already made this cake for TWO dinner parties so far, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be stopping anytime soon- My friends have been BEGGING for the recipe!
Ingredients to make a cake with hot chocolate mix
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this hot cocoa cake. The frosting can be made at the same time, but be wary that the chocolate one has the addition of real melted chocolate in it, along with cocoa powder. Also, this cake was made using vegan and gluten free ingredients. If you don’t follow any specific diet, you can use traditional chocolate, butter, and milk.
For the cake-
- All purpose flour– Also known as plain flour. Be sure to sift it well, to ensure there are no clumps. If you’d like this cake to also be gluten free, you can use any gluten free baking flour with added xanthan gum.
- Cocoa powder– Dutch processed cocoa powder or dark cocoa powder. Be sure the cocoa powder is 100% unsweetened.
- Sugar– Either white sugar or a mix of white and brown sugar can be used.
- Baking soda– Gives some rise and fluffiness to the texture of the cake. Also reacts with the vinegar to mimic what an egg would do (without actually using eggs!).
- Salt– Brings out the sweetness of all the other ingredients.
- Oil– Any neutral flavored oil, like canola or vegetable.
- Vinegar– White vinegar or apple cider vinegar. You can also use lemon juice if you don’t have any vinegar on hand.
- Vanilla extract– A must for any good cake recipe!
- Plant based milk– I used almond milk, but any milk can be used.
For the vanilla and chocolate frostings–
- Vegan butter– Use vegan butter from a block, not from a tub or spread. It just yields a much creamier and thicker texture.
- Powdered sugar– Also known as confectioners’ sugar. Sift it well prior to using it, to ensure there are no clumps throughout.
- Cocoa powder OR hot cocoa mix– Only for the chocolate frosting. I used my homemade hot cocoa mix.
- Vegan milk chocolate– Only for the chocolate frosting. If you can’t find a plant based milk chocolate, you can use generic vegan chocolate chips.
- Vanilla extract– Only needed for the vanilla frosting.
- Plant based milk– I used unsweetened almond milk. Only add enough to thin out the frosting.
How do you make a hot chocolate cake?
Start by preparing the cakes. In a large mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients and mix well. Next, add the wet ingredients and mix well, until combined. Transfer the cake batter into two greased 8-inch cake pans. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely.
Now, once the cakes have cooled, prepare the frosting. Have two mixing bowls set up, so you can make one chocolate and one vanilla.
To make the chocolate frosting, beat the butter until creamy, before adding the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. Melt your chocolate and beat that into it at the end, until fully combined.
To make the vanilla frosting, beat the butter until smooth, before adding the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk of choice.
Finally, assemble the cake! Carefully slice the two cakes in half, to be left with 4 thin chocolate cakes. Place the first base cake on a flat surface. Spread with 1/4 of the milk chocolate frosting, followed by 1/4 of the vanilla frosting. Place the second layer of cake on top, and repeat with the two frostings. Continue until the entire cake has been layered, and finish by covering with extra frosting, if desired. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, for the frosting to firm up.
Tips to make the best cake
- Be very careful when slicing the two cakes in half. To make it easier, you can chill the cakes for 30 minutes beforehand.
- When adding the second layer of frosting between each cake layer (you’ll start with the chocolate, so it will be the vanilla), you can add it to a piping bag to make it easier. I found using a pastry spoon to spread it was a little uneasy.
- If you have a preferred store bought hot chocolate mix, you can use that instead of the cocoa powder in the frosting.
- Feel free to use store bought frosting if you’d like to make this cake even easier to make.
How do you store a hot chocolate cake?
- To store: Cake should always be stored in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, or covered in plastic wrap. The cake will keep well for up to 1 week. Be sure to let the cake sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes, before consuming.
- To freeze: Place slices of the cake in a shallow container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
More delicious vegan cakes to try
- Strawberry cake
- Chocolate zucchini cake
- Lemon poppy seed cake
- Snickers cake
- Chocolate peanut butter cake
Hot Chocolate Cake
For the vanilla frosting
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients and mix well. Add your wet ingredients, and mix until combined.
- Distribute the cake batter amongst the two cake pans. Bake the cakes for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Once the cakes have cooled, prepare the two frostings.
- Beat together the butter until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, until combined. Add the milk until a thick frosting remains.
- For the chocolate frosting, beat the butter until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk, until combined. Add the melted chocolate and continue beating, until smooth.
- Carefully slice the two cakes in half, to be left with four thin chocolate cakes. Start layering it up by placing the bottom layer of the cake, followed by the 1/5 of the chocolate frosting, before adding 1/5 of the vanilla frosting. Add the next layer of cake and repeat. Continue until you have a four layer cake. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake.
- Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, to firm up.