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.
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!
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.
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!
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 Ombre Cake
For the Cake
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup cocoa powder divided
- 1½ cups boiling water divided
For the Frosting
- 1¼ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 4 Tbsp milk divided
- 10 oz. milk chocolate chopped
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.