In this fun layer cake developed by Erin Clarkson of Cloudy Kitchen, classic vanilla cake is jazzed up a little by adding dark chocolate chips. It’s finished with Chocolate American Buttercream, which gets its fudgy and luscious texture from the high ratio of heavy cream. This frosting is a great choice for piping perfect points on the outside of the cake, which you can learn more about in our Baker’s Complete Guide to Buttercream.
Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate American Buttercream
- 1¼ cups (300 grams) whole milk
- 4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature
- ½ cup (120 grams) full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 large egg yolks (37 grams), room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla bean paste
- 4¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon (602 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2¼ cups (450 grams) granulated sugar
- 3¼ teaspoons (16.25 grams) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
- 1½ cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
- 1½ cups (255 grams) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (see Notes), roughly chopped
- 2 recipes Chocolate American Buttercream (recipe follows) (see Notes)
- Garnish: sprinkles*
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour 3 (8-inch) round cake pans; line bottom of pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, yogurt, egg yolks, and vanilla bean paste.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed just until combined. With mixer on low speed, add butter, 1 cube at a time, beating until well combined after each addition. (Mixture should look like sand.) Add half of milk mixture, beating just until combined. Add remaining milk mixture, and beat at medium speed just until combined. Fold batter using a rubber spatula to ensure that no dry ingredients remain. Fold in chocolate chips until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans.
- Bake until springy to the touch and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
- Place 1 cake layer on a cake turntable. (To help hold cake in place, smear about 1½ teaspoons Chocolate American Buttercream onto center of turntable before adding first cake layer.) Spread ¾ cup (153 grams) Chocolate American Buttercream on cake layer. Top with second cake layer, pressing very lightly to secure, and seal edge where cake layers meet with a thin layer of buttercream. Spread ¾ cup (153 grams) buttercream on second cake layer, and top with remaining cake layer. (I like to add this one upside down to give a nice smooth top.) Apply a thin layer of buttercream to top and sides of cake, smoothing with an of set spatula or icing scraper. Refrigerate until crumb coat is set, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer any remaining buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a French star tip (Ateco #866).
- Make a second batch of Chocolate American Buttercream, and transfer to piping bag. (Do not fill piping bag too full or it will be hard to pipe; keep remaining buttercream covered.) Pipe buttercream all over outside of cake, refilling piping bag as needed. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
*Because this cake’s frosting design requires a larger amount of buttercream, you’ll make two batches—the first for the crumb coat and stacking, reserving the rest, and the second to add to the first batch for covering the outside of the cake.
Chocolate American Buttercream
- 1½ cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups (128 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
- 5¾ cups (690 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 grams) heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) vanilla bean paste
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cocoa at low speed until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup (120 grams) at a time, alternately with cream, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Add salt and vanilla bean paste. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Increase mixer speed to high, and beat until soft and spreadable. (See Note.) Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat for 1 to 2 minutes to release any air bubbles. Use immediately, or cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of buttercream, until ready to use.
The texture should be fluffy and easy to pipe. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons additional heavy whipping cream if needed to get it to the right consistency for piping.