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5 from 5 votes

Death by Chocolate Cake

Rich, incredibly moist chocolate cake layers made with REAL chocolate and paired with a silky chocolate frosting. This decadent death by chocolate cake is for every chocolate lover. Inspired from our favorite Costco cake that is now discontinued! 
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Author: Lori Vaughn



  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour spooned and leveled, NOT packed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cups dutch processed cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 oz high quality dark chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 cup hot water or brewed coffee for more enhanced chocolate flavor


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups dutch processed cocoa sifted
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Ganache (optional)

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream



  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 8" cake rounds, line with parchment rounds (to make it easy to release), and spray again.
    (You can also make as four layer 6" cake, two 9" cakes, a sheet cake, or cupcakes - just adjust baking time)
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and powdered buttermilk if you're using the powdered form.
  • Melt the chocolate in 20-30 second bursts in the microwave. It's done when the chocolate is almost completely melted, but not all the way. Stir together until all of it is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool down.
  • Whisk together the wet ingredients (sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, hot water, and melted chocolate) in a separate bowl. Then combine with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix together well until combined. Just don't over mix as that can lead to a crumbly cake.
  • Pour into prepared cake pans.
    (I did 4 layers above for a thinner and more stacked look). You can also do two 9" pans, four 6" layers, or 24 cupcake liners. Bake for 22-26 minutes. The cake is done when the toothpick comes out with moist crumbs on it. Transfer to cooling racks when done.


  • Beat the butter and cream cheese for about 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder intermittently with the heavy whipping cream. Add the vanilla and salt. Add more cream as needed to get a soft consistency.
  • Beat the frosting for about 2-3 minutes.

Ganache (optional)

  • Heat up the heavy whipping cream in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds till hot. Pour over the chocolate chips. Cover and rest for a couple minutes to let it begin to melt the chocolate.
  • Whisk together the chips and ganache until smooth. Pour it into a drip bottle or use a spoon to add a drip to the cake.
  • If the ganache is too runny, let it cool longer. If it's still runnier than desired, you can add additional melted chocolate. If it's thicker than desired, add a little more warm heavy cream and whisk together.


  • Trim cake layers if needed to help achieve nice even layers.
  • Spread a small amount of frosting on a cake board (this will act like a glue for your first cake layer). Then place your first cake layer down.
  • Add an even layer of frosting, top with a cake, layer, add the layer of frosting, then add your last cake layer.
  • Apply an even, thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. Leave as is if frosting a semi-naked cake. Otherwise, place the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes to create your "crumb coat".
  • Spread remaining frosting around the cake and garnish, drizzle ganache if desired, and pipe as desired.**


*You can use powdered or real buttermilk. If using powdered, follow the instructions of powder vs water ratios on the package. Add the powder with the dry ingredients and the water with the wet ingredients.
**To achieve a smooth even layer, I used an ateco cake scraper and icing spatulas. I also LOVE using parchment liners for my cake pans along with spraying non stick. No sticking every time!