Is there anything that is present at more celebrations than cake and champagne? I'm a firm believer that celebrations don't need to be only for the big milestones in your life. This Chocolate Champagne Cake is a celebration in itself!
This Chocolate Champagne Cake has super moist and chocolatey champagne cake with champagne Italian meringue buttercream and dark chocolate ganache! For your next celebration, or anytime!
Chocolate Champagne Cake Ingredients
Ingredients for Chocolate Champagne Cake:
- Flour - Provides structure and moisture for the cake. I used all-purpose flour.
- Sugar - For sweetness and keeping the cake soft and moist.
- Cocoa Powder - For chocolatey flavor!
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder - Provide leavening for the cake.
- Salt - Helps to balance and enhance the flavor of the cake.
- Eggs - Two large eggs, to provide structure, additional leavening, and a little richness.
- Buttermilk - For flavor, richness, and moisture. Chocolate cake with buttermilk will always be sooo soft and fluffy! (Check out the FAQ section below for a quick substitution if you don't have any on-hand!)
- Vegetable Oil - Provides even more moisture to the cake than butter would, and easier to incorporate in the batter!
- Vanilla Extract - For flavor.
- Chocolate Extract - For even more flavor! I highly recommend this (sometimes overlooked) extract! It lends an amazing depth of flavor to chocolate baked goods! Even better, makes yourself some Homemade Chocolate Extract for next time!
- Champagne/Sparkling White Wine - The flavor of the champagne is dominated by the flavor of the chocolate, but it provides some nice lift (and you get good champagne flavor from the buttercream)!
- Hot Coffee - To enhance the flavor of the chocolate. The cake won't taste like coffee, I swear! If you would prefer not to use coffee, you can use hot water instead.
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Ingredients for Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream:
- Champagne/Sparkling White Wine - For flavor.
- Sugar - For sweetness.
- Water - To dissolve the sugar to make syrup for the buttercream.
- Egg Whites - To form a meringue. The whites will separate from the yolks more easily when they're cold, but room temperature egg whites will whip up fluffier!
- Cream of Tartar - Helps to stabilize the meringue, and provides an acidic balance to the super sweet meringue.
- Unsalted Butter - The butter makes your meringue into buttercream! You want to use *unsalted* butter that's been out of the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes. If you use salted butter, you could end up with salty buttercream.
Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- Dark Chocolate - For (amazing) flavor. You can choose whatever kind of chocolate you like, but dark chocolate is my jam. I would use a chopped chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips, as chocolate chips have stabilizers and your ganache might not turn out as smooth/pourable.
- Heavy (Whipping) Cream - For richness, creaminess, and a pourable consistency.
Making the Champagne Cake Recipe
This champagne cake recipe couldn't be easier! With no mixer required, the batter mixes up in two bowls:
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and chocolate extract. Mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients gradually, mixing until just combined.
- Add champagne/sparkling white wine and coffee and mix until smooth.
To help ensure even baking:
- Make sure that you have about the same amount of batter in each pan. I use my kitchen scale and weigh the pans for this step. This will also ensure that your cake layers are about the same thickness after baking.
- Make sure that your oven is thoroughly preheated (for at least 15 minutes) before baking.
- Turn your cake pans around (gently so as to not cause the cake to sink!) about halfway through baking.
Making Champagne Buttercream
The champagne buttercream is an Italian meringue buttercream, which is super smooth and creamy, and just barely sweet! To make the buttercream:
- Reduce the champagne/sparkling white wine to a syrup. Allow to cool completely.
- Combine water and ½ cup sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then increase the heat until the syrup reaches 246-250° F. Do not stir!
- When syrup reaches 240° F, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer. Once frothy, add cream of tartar and remaining sugar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.
- Once the 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 recipe for safety precautions!*)
- Beat the mixture until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Then add butter 2-3 tablespoons at a time until incorporated.
- With the mixer on low, drizzle in the champagne reduction and beat to combine.
Instead of buttermilk - If you don't have buttermilk on-hand, you can do a quick substitution with white vinegar or lemon juice and milk (2% milkfat or higher). Just pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup, then pour in the milk to the 1 cup line. Stir, let sit 5 minutes, and then it's ready for use!
Instead of coffee - If you would prefer not to use coffee, you can use hot water instead.
Instead of fresh egg whites - Boxed egg whites will whip up just as nicely as fresh ones for the buttercream.
Store this cake on your counter! The cake will retain its moisture better and the buttercream and ganache stay nice and creamy at room temperature. The cake will keep, covered, for up to three days.
Frequently Asked Questions
The quick answer to this is whatever kind you have on-hand or prefer! Make sure that you're using a sparkling white wine that you like, so that you enjoy the flavor of the buttercream, but I'll add that I wouldn't break out the champagne you've been saving for your 20th anniversary!
This recipe makes two 8" cake layers. The layers are thick, so I suggest using two 8" cake pans with tall (3") sides.
A candy thermometer is the best way to make sure that your egg whites have come up to temperature.
That said, there are a few things that you can do to make this buttercream without one: First, bubbles will cover the top of the syrup when it's just about to temperature. Secondly, you can check to see if your syrup has reached the "soft ball" stage. To do this, simply drip a drop of the syrup into some ice water. If the syrup forms a ball in the ice water that melts away if you try to pinch it with your fingers, you've reached the appropriate temperature.
You can make the cakes a day in advance and, wrapped well, leave them out on your counter. Storing the cakes in the refrigerator could cause them to dry out.
You can also make the buttercream a day in advance, but it's a bit of a hassle. If you choose to make it ahead, store it in the refrigerator, but take it out well in advance so that it can come up to room temperature and be re-whipped before using. I usually just make the buttercream the same day to avoid these steps.
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
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Chocolate Champagne Cake
Chocolate Champagne Cake:
- 1½ cups flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk (see note)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoon chocolate extract (see note)
- ⅓ cup champagne/sparkling white wine
- ⅓ cup coffee, hot (see note)
Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream:
- ⅔ cup champagne/sparkling white wine
- ¾ cup sugar, divided
- ⅓ cup water
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature (Eggs are easier to separate when cold.)
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups unsalted butter, out of refrigerator 30-40 minutes (4 sticks)
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
- 2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60% cacao)
- ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans (see note) and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, 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).
- 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.
- Pour champagne into a small saucepan. Over medium-high heat, reduce champagne to about 2 tablespoons in volume, about 5-7 minutes. 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 ½ cup sugar. Stir to moisten sugar, but do not stir after that. Stirring the sugar syrup promotes crystallization of the sugar, when that's the opposite of what you want.
- Warm over low heat until sugar dissolves. Once sugar is dissolved, increase heat to medium-high. Cook until syrup reaches 246-250° F. (See notes for helpful tips on how to do this without a thermometer.)
- When syrup reaches 240° F, begin beating the egg whites using the whisk attachment. Once frothy, add cream of tartar and remaining ¼ 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. 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!
- Beat mixture on medium-high until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Then add butter, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, allowing the butter to incorporate completely after each addition before adding the next.
- 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.
- Combine chocolate and cream in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave on 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until ganache is smooth. Let cool slightly to let the ganache thicken a bit.
- 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. Store covered cake on your kitchen counter.Enjoy!