Cake,  Layer Cake

Chocolate Champagne Cake

Champagne makes me think of one thing: celebrations. Champagne is the traditional beverage to serve at any celebration: birthdays, weddings, retirements…you name it. We all know that life is unpredictable. That you make plans that ultimately get thrown out the window because…life. So it got me thinking about how celebrations might not need to be only for the big milestones in your life. Maybe sometimes you should celebrate that it’s Thursday. For your next celebration, of any kind, I would serve this Chocolate Champagne Cake.

chocolate champagne cake
This cake is hands-down one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. If you know me, you know how many cakes I’ve made, so this is saying something! I made it for no reason at all, really. I had a bottle of champagne, and I wanted to bake with it. What I ended up with was this: three layers of chocolate champagne cake with champagne Swiss meringue buttercream, all topped off with dark chocolate ganache.

This cake is heaven!

I made the cake for no reason, but as life would have it, it ended up being my birthday cake. The big 3-9! (Like for real 39, not like next year when I might be “39 again.”) 😉

I made this cake the day before my birthday, and had every intention of making another cake ON my birthday with all my favorite flavors. I realize that making two cakes on two consecutive days is outrageous, but it’s how I roll. Also, spending my birthday making a big ol’ cake sounds like fun to me.

chocolate champagne cake

This Chocolate Champagne Cake turned out way better than I ever imagined. The cake is moist and decadent and the champagne swiss meringue buttercream has the perfect amount of sweetness to complement it. And you’ll never see me turn my nose up at anything involving dark chocolate ganache!

So, I didn’t get to make the cake that I had planned for my birthday. But, as luck would have it, I already had a celebration cake! I had just started the celebration a little earlier than I had intended. And how could that be a bad thing? Maybe from now on I’ll celebrate the whole week. 😀

chocolate champagne cake

A few notes on ingredients:

– If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitution with milk and vinegar or lemon juice. Check out the recipe notes for the deets.

– I highly recommend this (sometimes overlooked) extract! It lends an amazing depth of flavor to chocolate baked goods! If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, you can find some [here]. Even better, makes yourself some [Homemade Chocolate Extract] for next time!

– The cake recipe uses hot coffee, but the cake won’t taste like coffee, I swear! The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor, and I highly recommend it! If you would prefer not to, you can use hot water instead.

chocolate champagne cake

A few notes on hardware:

– To ensure I have the same amount of batter in each pan, I use my kitchen scale (link [here]) and weigh the pans. It’s hard to eyeball the amount when you’re using three pans, especially if you don’t have three and you’re baking the cake layers individually.

– Cake strips are helpful to help ensure your cake layers bake up with a flatter top, so you cut less cake away when you level the cakes. If you’re looking for some, you can find them [here].

chocolate champagne cake

I hope you find a reason to celebrate with this cake soon, even if there is no “official” cause for celebration! Celebrate life, celebrate health, celebrate cake! <3

 

Other posts you may like:

Champagne and Chocolate Strawberries Cake

Mimosa Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Champagne Truffles

Mimosa Tart

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

High Hat Cupcakes

chocolate champagne cake

Chocolate Champagne Cake

Amee
Chocolate champagne cake with champagne swiss meringue buttercream and dark chocolate ganache! For your next celebration, or anytime!
Cake recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest (link here).
5 from 1 vote
Course Dessert
Cuisine Cakes
Servings 1 3-layer 8" cake

Ingredients
  

Chocolate Champagne Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (see note)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp chocolate extract (see note)
  • 1/2 cup champagne/sparkling wine
  • 1/2 cup coffee, hot (see note)

Champagne Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • 1 cup champagne/sparkling wine
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature (6 sticks)

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  • 3 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60% cacao)
  • 3 oz heavy (whipping) cream (about 1/3 cup +1 Tbsp)

Instructions
 

For Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans (see note) and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt). Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, buttermilk (see note), oil, vanilla extract, and chocolate extract (see note). Mix to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients gradually, mixing until just combined.
  • Add champagne and coffee (see note). Mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared pans (see note on weighing batter). If desired, affix wet cake strips to the pans (see note).
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are set and no longer wiggle. Allow cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

For Buttercream:

  • Pour champagne into a small saucepan. Over medium-high heat, reduce champagne to about 1/4 cup in volume. Reduction will be syrupy. Allow to cool completely.
  • Put egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, combine water and 1 cup sugar. Stir to moisten sugar, but do not stir after that (see note). Warm over low heat until sugar dissolves. Once sugar is dissolved, increase heat to medium-high. Cook until syrup reaches 246F-250F.
  • When syrup reaches 240F, begin beating the egg whites using the whisk attachment. Once frothy, add cream of tartar and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.The goal is for the egg whites to reach stiff peaks at the same time the syrup reaches temperature. If the egg whites are done early, let the mixer run on low speed until the syrup comes to temperature
  • Once syrup is to temperature, remove from the heat. With the mixer running on low speed, carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites in a slow, steady stream (see note). 
  • Beat mixture on medium-high until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Then add butter, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, allowing the butter to incorporate completely after each addition.
  • With mixer on low, drizzle in champagne reduction. Beat to combine. Frost cooled cake layers with the buttercream. Reserve some buttercream to pipe on top of the cake, if desired. Chill frosted cake to prepare for the ganache.

For Ganache:

  • Combine chocolate and cream in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave on 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until ganache is smooth.
  • While still warm and pourable, pour over the top of the cake, spreading the ganache with an offset spatula and allowing the ganache to drip down the sides, if desired.
  • After ganache has set, pipe reserved buttercream on top of ganache, if desired.
    Enjoy!

Notes

Note on buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitution with milk (2% milkfat or greater) and vinegar or lemon juice. For this recipe, pour 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar into a liquid measure, then add enough milk to come up to the 1 1/2 cup line. Let sit for 5 minutes, then it's ready for use!
Note on chocolate extract: I highly recommend this (sometimes overlooked) extract! It lends an amazing depth of flavor to chocolate baked goods! If you can't find it in your local grocery store, you can find some [here]. Even better, makes yourself some [Homemade Chocolate Extract] for next time!
Note on coffee: The cake won't taste like coffee, I swear! The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor, and I highly recommend it! If you would prefer not to, you can use hot water instead.
Note on stirring sugar syrup: Stirring the sugar syrup promotes crystallization of the sugar, when that's the opposite of what you want. Don't stir, even though (like me) you really want to.
Note on handling hot sugar syrup: Don't worry about scraping out the saucepan to get every last bit of syrup. Keep your focus on not burning yourself. Be VERY careful not to touch the syrup, as it will stick to your skin and can cause serious burns!
Note on cake pansThis recipe is for a triple-layer 8" cake. If you don't have three pans, the batter will still be good at room temperature for about three hours if you need to bake them individually. See note on weighing the batter--it's much easier to divide the batter equally when you have a kitchen scale!
Note on weighing batterTo ensure I have the same amount of batter in each pan, I use my kitchen scale (link [here]) and weigh the pans. It's hard to eyeball the amount when you're using three pans, especially if you don't have three and you're baking the cake layers individually.
Note on cake strips: If you've never heard of cake strips, they're pretty handy. The wet strips affix to the outside of your pan, and help ensure your cake layers bake up with a flatter top, so you cut less cake away when you level the cakes. you can find them [here]
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10 Comments

  • Vicki hiller

    Hi a couple questions. This cake looks amazing. I was looking for a good chocolate cake for my nieces wedding cake. Is this cake a moist cake or heavier as a lot of homemade cakes are? IM hoping this cake is going to have a better chocolate taste as opposed to being more of a bitter chocolate. Also, I am not a coffee drinker. What kind of coffee do you use, just straight black coffee? Thank you so much.

    • Amee

      Hi Vicki! I love that you’re thinking about making this cake–it’s one of my faves! It’s definitely a moist cake–not at all dense or heavy as some homemade cakes can be! I used black coffee in the recipe. It’s a flavor enhancer to bring out the flavor of the chocolate…I promise you don’t taste the coffee! If you don’t have coffee on-hand, since you’re not a coffee-drinker, you can substitute hot water. I hope you love the recipe!

      • vickI hiller

        Hi amee. Thanks for replying so quick. I made the test cake today for my family to taste this weekend. The chocolate came out amazing and moist as you said and I did use the coffee and I got the chocolate extract. This will be 3 of the layers on my nieces wedding cake. I could not taste any of the asti I put in. Does it serve a different purpose and not taste?
        Also, my Swiss meringue came out thin like quick set pudding. It could be that I cut the buttercream in thirds because my tasting cake is only 8 inches. Should the consistency be like normal buttercream? Lastly have you ever froze this cake with the icing between the layers. I did just freeze just the cake layer but I know they are always fine. Thank you. Now I need to check out your other recipes

        • Amee

          Hi Vickie–So glad that the cake turned out well for you! The flavor of the chocolate definitely overpowers the champagne flavor. The champagne is more to help the cake be light and fluffy.

          As for the buttercream, it should be the consistency of a regular buttercream! If you kept all the ingredients in the same proportions, it should turn out the same. It sounds like perhaps your butter was too warm…? When this happens, you can pop the buttercream into the refrigerator until it firms up a bit (not hard!)–usually only takes 10 or 15 minutes, but it will depend on how warm it was to begin with. Then re-whip the buttercream. It may look curdled at first, but keep whipping and it will come back together into a creamy consistency!

          Unfortunately, I never have frozen this cake with the icing. My gut tells me that it will work, but with a wedding I would test it out and not leave it to chance! Thanks for reaching out again, Vicki! Love hearing about peoples’ bakes!

  • Diane

    We made this cake and loved the taste of it. We did have to leave in oven for over 35 minutes and it still was not done. Your recipe says 20-25 minutes. Our oven is new so not sure what happened. Any ideas?

    • Amee

      Hmmm…you did make two layers and not three? I went back and checked my original notes and they do say 20-25 minutes. I typically bake cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, but for this particular recipe I bake just until the cake it set to avoid overbaking. A difference of >10 minutes is significant, though! I’ll be making this cake again for my son’s birthday in about a month–I’ll check the bake time again and report back! Thanks for your comment!

  • Sharon

    Hello. I am so excited to cook this cake for my upcoming 40th… chocolate and champagne sounds like such a winner! Just wondering if you think this buttercream would be ok to make the day prior and store in the fridge? Thanks so much

    • Amee

      You can absolutely make it in advance! Make sure to set it out on the counter to warm, then stir to check the consistency. You may need to re-whip it to make it smooth and fluffy again. If at any point it looks curdled, just keep whipping and it will come back together! If it’s too thin, back in the fridge for a bit. It’s all about temperature with this buttercream. And happy birthday!! I turned 40 this year, too. 🥳

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