Chocolate Ombre Cake

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don’t worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!

This post may contain paid links. For more information, please see our disclosure policy.

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!As a kid, I remember ice cream flavors being fairly straightforward.  We’d always have containers of butter pecan and vanilla ice cream in the freezer.  Sometimes we’d get wild and toss a container of mint chocolate chip into the mix.  But that was basically it.  Now a trot down the ice cream aisle resembles a collision between an 18-wheeler carrying all sorts of candy bars and a freight train carrying chocolate and vanilla ice cream.  (On a side note, how fun would it be to clean up after that collision!?)  And here’s the thing…I love all of those seasonal flavors of ice cream!  I love a good Samoa ice cream in the spring all year long.  I love maple ice cream.  I love pumpkin ice cream.  I even love a bowl of peppermint ice cream around the holidays.  Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!But this post isn’t about ice cream.  It’s about cake.  (On a side note, cake and ice cream are best pals, so there’s that.)  While I do enjoy baking up fun cake flavors (ahem, Maple Walnut Cake), I truthfully always go back to the classics.  I always go back to chocolate and vanilla.  As I was sitting there pondering the classic ‘chocolate vs. vanilla’ debate one afternoon recently, it hit me that I don’t have to actually decide.  What if I created a cake with both chocolate and vanilla layers?  I’ve seen some amazing rainbow ombre cakes, but what about an ombre cake with different flavors?  I followed that rabbit hole into the kitchen, and *voila* the Chocolate Ombre Cake!

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!This Chocolate Ombre Cake features 3 layers of deliciousness: a chocolate layer, a vanilla layer and an “in-between” layer (basically a chocolate layer that isn’t as intensely flavored as the main chocolate layer).  And since I really love to do dishes, I decided to create 3 different frostings, too.  I mean if you’re going to make 3 different cake layers, you might as well go all in and make 3 different frostings, too.  To be fair, I based both the cakes and the frostings off a single larger batch of each…so it’s not quite as difficult as it sounds!  Plus, once this Chocolate Ombre Cake is all done, you get to eat cake.  And eating cake makes you forget about doing all of those dishes.

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!I chose to go with a simple star-tip decoration for the outside of this cake.  It’s a rather simple technique that produces a fun result.  But feel free to get creative here!  You could reverse this technique and fill the top of the cake with a bunch of little stars.  Or you could just go rustic and use the back of a spoon to decorate the sides of the cake.  At the end of the day, you get to eat a slice of Chocolate Ombre Cake.  And eating cake makes everything better!

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on us, and this Chocolate Ombre Cake would be a fun dessert to make for the holiday!  Cheers, friends, and enjoy eating that cake!

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!

Chocolate Ombre Cake

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don’t worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 582kcal


For the Cake

For the Frosting


For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease or spray (3) 9” round baking pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
  • Using a large bowl, add flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; whisk until well combined.
  • Add eggs, egg yolks, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla; whisk until well combined.
  • Divide batter evenly into 3 mixing bowls.
  • Add ½ cup of boiling water into one of the bowls; whisk together until well combined. Transfer batter into one of the prepared baking pans. This will be the “vanilla” layer.
  • Using a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of cocoa powder with another ½ cup of boiling water. Add this mixture to the batter in one of the two remaining bowls; whisk together until well combined. Transfer batter into one of the prepared baking pans. This will be the “50-50” layer.
  • Using a small bowl, whisk together remaining ¾ cup of cocoa powder with remaining ½ cup of boiling water. Add this mixture to the batter in the remaining bowl; whisk together until well combined. Transfer batter into one of the prepared baking pans. This will be the “chocolate” layer.
  • Tap pans lightly on countertop to release any air bubbles.
  • Bake at 350°F for 20-22 minutes. At this time, check the chocolate layer of cake as it will likely be done. Continue baking the 50-50 layer and vanilla layer for another 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  • Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool. (Note: Remove parchment paper from bottom of cakes when transferring them to the cooling rack.)

For the Frosting

  • Using a countertop mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (~3 minutes).
  • Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition.
  • Add salt, vanilla extract and 2 Tbsp of milk; mix on low speed until well combined.
  • Remove ~½ of the frosting and put it in a separate bowl; set bowl aside.
  • Working with the remaining frosting, add cocoa powder and remaining 2 Tbsp of milk; stir until well combined. Using a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate. Pour melted chocolate into the mixing bowl and stir together until well combined. If necessary, feel free to add a bit more powdered sugar or milk here to adjust the consistency of the frosting after adding the melted chocolate.
  • Using a third bowl, add ~½ of the vanilla frosting and ~½ of the chocolate frosting; stir until well combined. This will be the “50-50” frosting. (Note: There should be more 50-50 frosting than chocolate or vanilla frosting as decorating the sides of the cake will take more frosting.)

To Frost Cake

  • Place chocolate layer of cake on large platter. Spread half of chocolate frosting on top.
  • Place “50-50” layer on top and spread remaining chocolate frosting on top.
  • Place vanilla layer on top.
  • Frost the top of the cake with a smooth layer of vanilla frosting.
  • Using a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip, decorate sides of the cake with the “50-50” frosting.

Chocolate or vanilla?  Don't worry about picking just one with this Chocolate Ombre Cake!

Spiced® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that receives a small commission by linking to and other sites at no cost to the readers.


    1. Tell me about it! I feel like Christmas got here in a flash this year, but now Christmas is in the rear view mirror and we’re heading into February already. Crazy! But let’s celebrate with some chocolate cake, ok? 🙂 Thanks so much!

  1. Hahaha – David, I don’t think I’ve heard a better description of the flavors in the ice cream aisle! Speaking of which – Mayfield was on sale for $1.99 (crazy eh?!) at the store this weekend, so Lil Shashi and I stocked up…as in 4 containers! You’d think it would take us a month to go through ’em but we are down to 3 as of this morning – if we had this cake, we’d probably be down to 2! Dude, this cake looks so so good – I am LOVING the 3 ombre layers – BTW – you should just leave those frosting dishes in the sink – I’ll head up there and do them for you – and all I NEED in return is a slice (or 4) of this cake!
    Happy Monday, my Upstate NYC friend! Say Hi to Laura and Robster for us!

    1. Oh, I would’ve stocked up on Mayfield at $1.99, too! I might have even gone for 5 containers. Haha! (We don’t get Mayfield up here, but I remember it from my days back in your area.) I love me some ice cream! But I also love me some cake, and this cake didn’t last long around here. (Granted, we froze a good portion of it to keep us from eating it all, but still…) Wait. You’ll do my dishes for me? All I have to do is bake you a cake? DONE! Haha. Thanks so much, Shashi. And I’ll definitely tell the little guy you said hello. He’s a little under the weather, but then again he’s a toddler so it’s par for the course. 🙂

  2. Holy moly David!!! This cake is STUNNING!!!! Those layers! That frosting! It’s like a freakin’ piece of art, but I know for a fact that I would have to dig right into it and definitely no stopping at one piece 😉 Mint Chocolate is my fave ice cream flavour, but I definitely love chocolate….who doesn’t?? Have a wonderful week!

    1. Why thank you very much, Dawn! I definitely didn’t have a hard time digging straight into this cake. In fact, if it was more socially acceptable, I might’ve just shoved my face right into the top of it. 🙂 Hmmm…mint chocolate, eh? How about a mint chocolate cake? Sounds good, right??

  3. UMMMMMM this is the best cake ever. I mean that! Your piping is perfection! And I love ombre anything (just ask my hairdresser). Plus, I can never decide between chocolate and vanilla! Just give me a slice (or two) of this and a big ol’ scoop of Samoa ice cream and I’ll be a happy girl :). PS, if you ever come upon one of those ice cream and candy bar truck collisions be sure to call me! I will do the same for you.

    1. Why thank you so much, Kelsie! But I must disagree with you about this being the best cake ever…mainly because you’ve posted a bunch of cakes I want to shove my face into. Too bad that’s not more socially acceptable, eh? You think you’re scared of serial killers in the bathroom? What about random foodies rummaging through your freezer looking for cake? Yeah. And I’ve got you on speed dial in case I find the ice cream truck – candy bar truck wreck. 🙂

    1. Oh man, you had to go and make this hard, Kathy! I have no idea what kind of ice cream! Too bad they don’t make a Neapolitan in chocolate-vanilla version, right? 🙂

  4. Wow, David! What an awesome cake! I do love anything chocolate and I love the array of frostings, too! But I did catch your statement about doing dishes! I’ve got a few here in my sink, so….when did you say you would be over? Oh, yeah, I’d love a scoop of chocolate ice cream with all this chocolatey cake!

    1. Thanks, Laura! So yeah. Dishes. They really are the bane of my existence. They just keep showing up in the sink no matter what I do. But then again, I’ll gladly do some dishes if it means tasty treats like this cake. I’ll tell you what…you save me some of those amazing pork chops of yours, and I’ll do your dishes. 🙂 Pinky swear.

  5. I’ve never had an ombre cake but I know I would love it, cake always makes me happy. Ice cream flavors were a lot simpler when I was going up also, I’m pretty sure we are the same age so I guess I can say we. Weirdly I’ve never had pumpkin ice cream, I’m going to have to fix that soon. I wish I could decorate a cake as well as you, when I finally settle down and actually have people to cook for I plan on baking regularly and my decorating skills should improve, hopefully. Have a great week my Friend.

    1. You know what, Mary? Cake always makes me happy, too! I mean who looks at a piece of cake and gets mad? It’s not possible! (Well, unless the cake flavor isn’t what you wanted…haha) I think we’re about the same age, too, so ‘we’ is totally acceptable here. Hey, decorating cakes is serious business. But that doesn’t mean it has to be hard. I mean look at this cake here. All I did was take a small star tip and make about 1 zillion (hah) little stars all over the sides. It took a bit of time, but it wasn’t hard! And with you being an artist, I bet you could come up with some awesome cake decorations, too! Hope your week is off to a great start!

  6. Your post reminded me of working in a hotel kitchen and when a guest ordered ice cream we would have to go into the huge “walk in” freezer to get the containers of ice cream flavours the guest had asked for. There was like a HUGE amount of different flavours of ice creams. So many to choose from. It was “Ice Cream Heaven!”. Ah, but now I’ve got this chocolate ombre cake to think of and all those delicious layers! Thanks for this wonderful creation this week David!

    1. Haha! I can only imagine that hotel freezer full of ice cream. Did they at least give you a big coat when you had to go into the walk-in freezer? On a side note, I might have spent all of my breaktime in that freezer! 🙂 Thanks so much, Neil!

  7. I’m definitely a classic flavors person (as is Keith, thank goodness) and I love both chocolate and vanilla. So this looks pretty perfect to me!

    1. Yeah, I think I lean towards the classic flavors, too, Marissa. I mean I do love some of the candy bar flavored ice creams…but a good vanilla bean ice cream is still my true love! Serve it up with a side of this cake, and I’d be in heaven. 🙂 Thanks so much, my friend!

  8. You know..growing up I was the weird kid that didn’t like chocolate(don’t worry that problem has been fixed). But, I still have a tendency towards vanilla and lightertasting chcolates. You are hitting all the notes here for me with these three layers! Having just the one stronger layer would totally balance out with the other too! Awesome recipe!!

    P.s. I always go back to the classics too…I mean there’s a reason they’re classics right??

    1. You didn’t like chocolate as a kid? I mean I guess that’s not that strange…our little one (Robbie) isn’t the biggest chocolate fan. In fact, he’s not the biggest sweets fan in general. But that just means more desserts for me…hah! 🙂 As for me, a good vanilla bean ice cream (or cake frosting!) is how I roll. Hope your week is going well, Matt!

  9. I think my childhood in Russia was even more straightforward. We only had 3 kinds of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate, and fruit (normally strawberry). In large cities you could find few options more, but basically that was it. The ice cream department is my favorite part of any supermarket. Trust me, I can spend 15 minutes choosing some 😉 If choosing between a cake and ice cream, I will always opt for the ice cream. However, this chocolate ombre cake looks so divine that I’ll grab a slice, please (And top it with a scoop of ice cream) 😉

    1. That is pretty basic in terms of ice cream flavors…and I’m actually ok with it! My all-time favorite ice cream is still a good vanilla bean. But now? I’m like you. I can spend 15 minutes studying all of the ice creams, even though I usually end up with vanilla bean. Hah! (Either that or coffee. I love coffee ice cream!) I’ll send you a virtual slice of this cake, Ben, and I’ll top it with some virtual (boozy) ice cream. Enjoy!

  10. I do love me some pumpkin ice cream too! Speaking of ice cream, I was getting such a craving for cookie dough ice cream last night…. so off to the grocery store I went at 8 pm 🙂 But reading this post now makes me want cake… My sweet tooth is raging this week!

    1. Haha! I know all about that sweet tooth raging, Nicole. I’m pretty sure I have a mouthful of sweet teeth…not just one! Speaking of sweet tooth, that cookie dough ice cream sounds like a great option (and it’s only 7:45am here on the east coast right now.) Have you seen the edible cookie dough shops that are popping up? We just had one open down in Albany…so that means it’s probably been a fad for several years by now! 🙂

  11. There can never be too many chocolate cakes! I am saving this amazing Chocolate Ombre cake too! I have been wanting to do an ombre cake for long! And I think this would be perfect..after all it’s chocolate!

    1. I totally agree, Deepika! It’s hard to turn down a good slice of chocolate cake, right? This Ombre version takes a bit more time than a standard chocolate cake, but doesn’t it look so cool when you slice into it?? 🙂 Happy Monday, my friend, and thanks for the comment!

  12. Nicely done. I feel strongly that a cake should look the way it tastes. So, if a cake has different layers of different colors, the different color should taste different. So I love what you’ve done. Bravo!

    1. Why thank you very much, Jeff! I agree that we could’ve faked the color, but no way…it’s more fun to do three different flavors in there. That way everyone wins no matter whether you prefer chocolate or vanilla!

    1. Thanks, Agness! I always recommend using 2% or whole milk for this recipe. And I would go with traditional dairy milk here. Other milks don’t tend to work as well in baking. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating