Hot chocolate cake tastes just like your beloved cozy winter drink. Rich chocolate cake layers filled with chocolate marshmallow frosting and marshmallow fluff. Topped with additional marshmallows, this cake is not only delicious, but a real showstopper. By the way, have you tried my s'mores cake yet?
Step-by-step video tutorial
Expert tips for success
- Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting. Otherwise, the cake will become unstable while frosting.
- If the frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar to thicken it. You might want to add a pinch of salt to reduce the sweetness.
- Make sure you chill the cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving as it needs time to set and chill properly.
- Slice the cake cold, otherwise the marshmallow fluff filling will ooze out too much, making the cake difficult to slice.
- You'll notice that the marshmallow fluff will ooze out over time once the cake is sliced. Cover the cut sides with plastic wrap to prevent the marshmallow flow from leaking too much during storage.
Can I make this cake with natural cocoa powder?
The cake layers are made with dutch-processed cocoa powder and baking powder. If you want to use natural unsweetened cocoa powder, then substitute 1:1. Instead of 1 tablespoon of baking powder, use 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon of baking soda. Substitute the cocoa powder for the frosting 1:1.
How do I make hot cocoa needed for the cake layers?
Hot cocoa is just unsweetened cocoa powder and boiling hot water. You'll typically need 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder per 1 cup (240 ml) of water, but you can check the package directions if there are any. Don't use hot chocolate or sweetened cocoa as it would change the texture and taste of the cake layers.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Make ahead and freezing instructions
- Cake layers: After baking the cake layers, let cool completely. Then tightly wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap twice. Place in freezer bags or containers and freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw, unwrap the cake layers and let sit on the counter for about 1-2 hours. Once it is at room temperature, make the frosting and assemble the cake as instructed.
- Whole cake: After chilling, place the cake in the freezer until it is firm, for about 2 hours. Remove the cake from the freezer and tightly wrap in plastic wrap twice. Make sure that everything is covered. Then wrap in aluminum foil twice until completely covered or place in a freezer container. It freezes well for up to 2 months. Unwrap the cake and thaw in the fridge overnight.
- Single slices: Place the slices in the freezer for about 1 hour. Then remove from the freezer and tightly wrap in plastic wrap twice until fully covered. Place in a freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, unwrap the cake and place on the kitchen counter for 1 hour.
More festive desserts to try
- Orange Cranberry Cake
- Black Forest Cake
- Eggnog Gingerbread Tiramisu
- Tiramisu Cake
- Eggnog Gingerbread Cheesecake
- Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
Hot Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ¾ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder, spooned and leveled
- 1 ½ cups granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup canola or mild vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsweetened hot cocoa
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder, spooned and leveled
- 7 oz marshmallow fluff
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoon milk, if needed
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 7 oz marshmallow fluff
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line the bottom and the sides of two 8" (20cm) baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- Cake: In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl with a stand or a handheld mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla just until combined. Stir in dry ingredients to combine. Slowly mix in hot cocoa until combined. The batter will be very thin. Divide batter into the two prepared baking pans equally. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then remove from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature.
- Frosting: In a large mixing bowl with a stand or a handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter until creamy for about 1-2 minutes. Sift in powdered sugar and cocoa and mix until combined and sugar is dissolved. Add marshmallow fluff and stir until smooth. Add salt to your taste. If the frosting is too firm, stir in 1-2 tablespoon milk to lighten it up. Stir until creamy.
- Filling: In a medium mixing bowl with a stand or handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter and powdered sugar until creamy for about 1-2 minutes. Add marshmallow fluff and stir until smooth.
- Assemble: Cut a thin layer off the tops of your cakes to create a flat surface. Then cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on a cake stand, turner or serving plate. Spread ¼ of the chocolate frosting over the cake. The frosting should be higher around the edges that it holds the marshmallow filling inside the cake. Layer with ⅓ of the marshmallow filling (where the frosting is lower). Repeat two more times. Place last cake layer on top and lightly frost the outside and the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Chill at least 3 hours in the fridge or overnight. Decorate with marshmallows or whipped cream to your preference. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days.
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Your recipe is wonderful and simple to follow for myself as a novice baker! My mother is obsessed with all things hot chocolate, so I am currently making this and topping with hot chocolate cookies and marshmallows! Can’t wait to share how it tastes… I’ll definitely be there when she’s ready to cut it 😆
This ake looks divine! I am thinking of aking it as my birthday cake on Sunday and just wanted to ask, when you say hot cocoa, do you mean just the normal unsweetened Dutch press cocoa powder with some water? And also, when you say marshmallow cream, is that like marshmallow fluff? Many thanks in advance xx
Hi Karin, Yes, exactly. It's dutch-processed cocoa powder with water. Second yes, it's marshmallow fluff. Happy birthday!
I just read the previous comment and post. My daughter is 9 and she wants to make this Thursday to serve Friday night. I just want to make sure for the hot cocoa you are not talking about like swiss miss hot chocolate but 1 tablespoon of Hershey’s cocoa powder mixed with 3/4 cup of hot water? So the dutch-processed cocoa is like the Hershey’s special dark chocolate cocoa powder or are we talking like raw caca powder? My family never made homemade cakes so my daughter and I are learning together. Thank you!
That's so lovely that you bake together with your little sunshine! Exactly, hot cocoa is cocoa powder mixed with water. And no it's no raw cocoa powder You can use the Hershey's special dark chocolate cocoa powder, but because it is not pure dutch-processed cocoa powder but a mix of dutch-processed cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder, you will need to add baking soda that the cake rises.
Replace the 1 tbsp baking powder with 1+1/2 tsp baking powder and 1+1/2 tsp baking soda.
Hope that helps! If you need anything else, just let me know!
Happy baking (:
Hi Sabine this cake looks amazing I am going to attempt to make this for Thanksgiving my question is can I make the cake a day before and leave it in the fridge? And also how did you make the hot chocolate?
Thank you in advance for your feedback
Hi Ashley, Thank you so much! This is a perfect Thanksgiving dessert. Yes, you can make it the day before and store it in the fridge. You can serve it then straight out of the fridge or let it sit on the counter for 1-2 hours that it gets to room temperature. I prefer to eat the cake at room temperature because the marshmallow filling is then even gooier and the taste even more intense. The 3/4 cup of hot cocoa what is in the cake is just cocoa powder and hot water. I made it accordingly to the package instructions. I took 1 tbsp of cocoa powder and 3/4 cup of hot water. I did not add sugar to the hot cocoa. Hope that helps! Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂
I hope you are having a fantastic trip to NY, Sabine. You probably don't have the time, but in case you are interested, here is a new list of the top 38 restaurants with quite a few being in New York: https://www.eater.com/best-american-restaurants-review/2018/11/13/18071890/best-restaurants-america-2018
Safe travels and can't wait to hear all about your latest adventure.
Thank you so much, Amanda! Our trip is awesome. But it is way too cold for me. Have a great day!