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Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe

Impressive to look at but easy to make, this cake is a good old-fashioned "Sunday supper" dessert that melts in your mouth. —Marsha Lawson, Pflugerville, Texas
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 35 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling YIELD:16 servings


  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar


  • 1. Dissolve cocoa in boiling water; cool. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Add cocoa mixture and mix well.
  • 2. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • 3. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 16 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 692 calories, 30g fat (18g saturated fat), 119mg cholesterol, 451mg sodium, 102g carbohydrate (75g sugars, 3g fiber), 7g protein.

Reviews for Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

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Kristens198 User ID: 2663751 244908
Reviewed Mar. 4, 2016

"Thank you, lailabakes, for sharing the 115g AP flour info. I added 2t cornstarch for each 115g AP flour then followed the recipe exactly. It made 48 delicious cupcakes! These are moist and chocolatey."

Katemckib User ID: 8622897 237565
Reviewed Nov. 17, 2015

"Love, Love Love this frosting. It is creamy and so easy to spread. It is chocolatey but balanced by the sour cream. Simply the best chocolate frosting I have ever made."

lailabakes User ID: 8583482 235478
Reviewed Oct. 23, 2015

"A cup of butter, a cup of sour cream and 1 cup water, 4 eggs ... with 3 cups CAKE way this cake will come out dry... I am willing to bet anyone getting a dry cake did not measure the flour right. Cake flour weighs less than all purpose flour. A cup of cake flour is 115 grams not 130 grams as in AP flour. Either use a scale and measure 345 grams for 3 cups cake flour or whisk the flour and then SCOOP with a spoon in measuring cup and swipe top... some people measure a cup and remove 2 tablespoons... not accurate but better than scoop from a compacted flour with measuring cup and swipe...... BIG DIFFERENCE...that is why good recipes are written in weights not volume... 2 other reasons for dry cake... over baking and over mixing after flour is added... I did not make the frosting....Happy Baking..."

anncosta User ID: 2131819 49870
Reviewed Oct. 25, 2014

"Best chocolate cake ever"

Rmaries User ID: 8031226 65262
Reviewed Oct. 11, 2014

"Made this cake EXACTLY as instructed. Something I noticed, when mixing baking cocoa, mix in a separate bowl and not in the pan so it doesn't burn. My first time so I made that mistake and had to do it over!

Anyway, this cake was not very moist. I had higher hopes and it just didn't do it. Came out just too dry and cakey. Next time I will bake with one less egg so it stays nice and moist. And with the ingredients costing about $20 it's not worth another mess up. Cake was meh, alright. I didn't even want another piece and I made it for my boyfriends birthday."

latouchetl User ID: 7702829 202766
Reviewed May. 15, 2014

"The ruffles are easily made with a chocolate ruffle tool. I found one at ? Tools ? Candy, Chocolate & Confectionery Tools but you may be able to find it elsewhere. To prevent the dry cake, I brushed the layers with a simple syrup / raspberry preserve liquid (with a little raspberry liquor in it) before frosting the cake. This added a great amount of flavor and made the layers moist. I get RAVE reviews on this one. My most requested cake."

Roxiecooks User ID: 6576862 17837
Reviewed Jan. 30, 2014

"I made a two layer they came out very moist and the taste was great! I used organic unsalted butter in the cake. In the frosting I used salted butter and only 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar. The next time I make this I will make a chocolate whipped cream frosting ."

rivergulch User ID: 6817712 82728
Reviewed Jul. 30, 2013

"This was excellent. Very rich tasting. A big hit with the family"

MOM2SENIOR User ID: 3466260 23817
Reviewed Jul. 30, 2013


MOM2SENIOR User ID: 3466260 202765
Reviewed Jul. 30, 2013

"Cake was ok needed to be moister. I wish that Taste of home would also include the instructions for any decorations for those of us that would like to take it the extra mile especially if we are using it for a special event."

BrownieQueen2 User ID: 1836231 23814
Reviewed Jul. 30, 2013

"This is my favorite "go to" chocolate cake recipe. I have tried various ingredients to make chocolate cake moist but sour cream does a better job than buttermilk."

MarcyC48 User ID: 2794696 57461
Reviewed Jun. 26, 2013

"A nice very moist cake. I always us Hersey's Special Dark Cocoa and I think that helped to make it deep dark and great tasting.

The frosting was very very rich, in fact it was a little too rich for my taste . The next time I make this cake I will just use a butter cream frosting with pre-melted chocolate and a little less butter."

bills1951 User ID: 7286016 65259
Reviewed Jun. 1, 2013

"taste was ok. Made this for moms birthday it was super dry"

mg2013 User ID: 6402248 65256
Reviewed May. 8, 2013

"Could somebody please tell me how are those gorgeous ruffles made on top of this cake?? Thank you so much."

Mz.CocoLee User ID: 7234337 65230
Reviewed Apr. 20, 2013

"The cake is amazing. The frosting?? Not so much. I suggest making your own regular chocolate frosting, and frosting as usual."

Wags84 User ID: 7105705 82726
Reviewed Jan. 25, 2013

"I made two layers. I only had two cups of conf sugar and I added some melted peanut butter to the icing - Amazing!"

keech User ID: 181751 57402
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2012

"i did a 2 layer version, and it was very good. But wondering about the chocolate curls. Can they be put on the frosted cake the night before?? or should the curls go on right before serving or that same day?"

Cindy Trask User ID: 7035608 24094
Reviewed Dec. 13, 2012

"getting a dry cake... decrease the cooking time by 5 minutes ... checking to make sure it's done."

MS LISA User ID: 5279129 23809
Reviewed Nov. 3, 2012

"A perfect chocolate cake !! Everything about it was perfect, from the cake to the frosting. I used Bensdorp cocoa from Holland, which, to me, is the best tasting cocoa on the market. In my search, over the years, for that perfect chocolate cake, I've finally found it ! Thanks so much for this outstanding recipe ."

TinaMeadows User ID: 6726930 52496
Reviewed Oct. 23, 2012

"I made this cake for my husband's birthday and we all thought it was very good. As far as being dry, most cakes are better if they are made and frosted a day ahead of serving. The problem I had was that after cooling the layers on a rack when I tried to pick them up they absolutely fell apart. I was able to cobble it together and ended up with 2 layers instead of 3 but it was still very good. And thoughts?"

Lori9772 User ID: 6694580 29532
Reviewed Oct. 15, 2012

"It was a tad bit dry but I think next time I'll add a pudding mix to the recipe, other than that ,it was the bomb.The frosting is what made the cake.It tastes better the day after."

tcavman15 User ID: 1537577 65211
Reviewed Sep. 17, 2012

"I was very disappointed in this recipe. I expected it to be moist because of the sour cream in the cake batter. It was extremely dry. No one finished their piece or asked for seconds. That never happens in this house. What a waste of my time and ingredients. On a positive note: the frosting is good. I'll make that again on another cake."

Brilll Girll User ID: 6860026 82718
Reviewed Sep. 13, 2012

"Sorry i have done a review before, but for us English ones what i bittersweet/semisweet chocolate? i used dark/ milk chocolate. is it the same?"

Josiedee User ID: 6296685 24044
Reviewed Sep. 9, 2012

"I thought this cake was rather dry and not as moist as the reviews indicated. I have other chocolate cake recipes that I like better than this one."

Louisavan User ID: 6786468 29529
Reviewed Sep. 8, 2012

"I haven't made this recipe yet but I was responsing to BusyBusyBakers' question about how to make the chocolate curls for the cake. You can find the kit for making the curls at Click on the "Tools" link and then click on "Candy, Chocolate & Confectionery Tools" link. Scroll down and you'll find a picture and link called "CHOCOLATE RUFFLE CURLER KIT". Click on this link and you'll get the info and price of the product. Hope it helps."

Lady1bug User ID: 6740886 57447
Reviewed Sep. 6, 2012

"Great recipe, but it would have been nice to see how you created the white edges on the chocolate curls."

yellowbrickroad User ID: 3105964 29525
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"I'm looking for a video clip on making those sensational two-toned chocolate ruffles! Then... I'll make this wonderful sounding cake! ' D"

rose1138 User ID: 1352405 47409
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"You can make the chocolate ruffles without a special tool. Google "how to make chocolate ruffles" and you'll find a video from one of the Cooking with Julia shows that ran on PBS. Alice Medrich was making a chocolate raspberry ruffle cake with Julia Child. This is also on YouTube."

DelorisG User ID: 5561890 47407
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"The tool that makes the ruffles on top of the cake is called a girolle. It is available for purchase at The cheapest one is about $50. It can also be used as a cheese slicer. I wanted one, but decided that I wouldn't use it often enough to justify the expense."

Nathansgramma User ID: 376985 65204
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"65 years ago this is the recipe that I used to make my very first cake. It was good then and still is the best chocolate cake."

boncie User ID: 2237422 29318
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"Great cake. And I live in the UK as well, so there are at least three of us over here!"

babycakes24 User ID: 5806747 65198
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"Brill Girl - 'lush' and 'colour' u r def frm UK!...i almost forgot that colour isn't the right way to it spell it in USA!! - awesome to hear that some1 in UK uses TOH!!!- cheers!...and these cakes are lush!!! way to go TOH!"

BusyBusyBaker User ID: 4858089 65197
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"Where can I find directions for making the garnish on top of the cake? It is beautiful!"

yellowbrickroad User ID: 3105964 23084
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"OOPS! I was on the wrong recipe page! That review was for the 'Come Home to Mama Chocolate Cake!"


yellowbrickroad User ID: 3105964 23807
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"I followed the recipe to a 'T'. One exception, no Dutch process cocoa here, so I used my Hershey's Special Dark. I absolutely LOVED the frosting!!!! I considered just eating it out of the bowl!

When I took the cake out of the oven it was tall and looked delightfully light and fluffy. I turned and continued chopping the Bakers chocolate squares for the frosting. When I turned back around... 'What the?!'... I was looking at two sunken cake 'bowls' :
Glad you sent pictures of how your cake looked when cooling. Mine looked the same.
High when taken out of oven then it fell to pan level!
The recipe calls for 3.9 oz pkg of pudding - the large pkg = 2.0 oz - that's what I used.
I also added some extra sour cream and water as the batter was very stiff - too stiff for my little hand mixture to finish the mixing. I used large bar of Ghiradelli chocolate - it probably wasn't enough - it looks milk chocolate, but tastes good. I added extra powdered sugar, so I guess I messed with success in more than one way on this cake - oh well, it will all be gone by nightfall with 8 adults and five children! I'll send pix and comments later. "
True, she messed with the recipe, but she got the same sunken cake results that I had. I shared 1/4 of the cake... and totally enjoyed the rest all by myself!
OK everyone listen up! Make the recipe with the 1/2 C powdered sugar! It is ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS! It stays on the cake and does not slide down/off, and the flavor was magnificient!
I'd like to hear from someone whose cake did not fall. The AC is the only thing I can relate it to. I need a little pop-up tent to cover cakes/cookies/pies etc. when cooling. The way the AC is set up in this apt. is not good for cooling baked goods.
Thank you for such great recipes!!!!!

Brill Girl User ID: 6845689 29317
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"Lush! To add colour i put fresh strawberries on top. i think this is the best cake in the whole of England! (Or should i say the United Kingdom!"

licatinodm User ID: 2395127 49868
Reviewed Sep. 5, 2012

"Haven't made this yet but I want to know how to make the things on the top of it."

lbvf User ID: 5927964 47388
Reviewed Aug. 19, 2012

"This cake is amazing! I didn't have semisweet chocolate, so I substituted unsweetened chocolate and 1 tbs sugar for each ounce. The frosting almost tastes like a fudge, though not overly sweet and is absolutely delicious. Will definitely make this cake again."

robbinthornton User ID: 3362574 17832
Reviewed Apr. 27, 2012

"Great taste, fabulous texture and the frosting was to die for!"

silly girl User ID: 5270321 29521
Reviewed Apr. 17, 2012

"This was really good..i tried it in a cupcake too because I have been looking for a moist recipe but that doesn't stick to the paper..this works! I like how the tops are a little crunchy..I was about 1/4 cup short of cocoa so I used espresso powder to make up the difference. Still debating on the frosting here or my coffee frosting.."

Holmescsh User ID: 2528368 23038
Reviewed Mar. 3, 2012

"Awesome flavor, but stuck to everything it touched, pan, cooling rack, cutting knife, very crumbly - still got rave reviews."

berthaj User ID: 6060920 57337
Reviewed Feb. 20, 2012

"This is the best chocolate cake recipe ever. The cake is deliciously moist and the icing is to die for. I will definitely keep making it over and over for my family and friends."

marrisa_s User ID: 6152461 57118
Reviewed Jan. 21, 2012

"This cake was just the right amount of sweet! And i agree with 25kevin, the frosting does taste similar to fudge, much better than the overly sweet frosting on most cakes."

25kevin User ID: 2113564 52488
Reviewed Oct. 9, 2011

"Such a moist cake. The frosting sets up firmly and tastes like fudge!"

TriniRoz5 User ID: 6023923 17829
Reviewed Jun. 3, 2011

"My family love this cake. I substitute the sour cream with Plain Greek non-fat yogurt. Absolutely the best. I finished off this delicious cake with 'Sangster's' Rum and Raisin Cream glaze-I put together."

DianeMeyer User ID: 1137178 17827
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2011

"My 32 year old daughter requests this cake for her birthday every year.....for the past 13 years!! It is a wonderful chocolate cake!"

Flora Colboch User ID: 2415324 23790
Reviewed Aug. 2, 2010

"It is truly a sight to see. Very impressive to make. Everyone is sure to enjoy. It is a chocolate lovers dream come true! This cake is great for any event. I add 1 small box of vanilla instant pudding and 1/4 cup of water to be sure it is moist!"

lstraub User ID: 3484828 23037
Reviewed Sep. 24, 2009

"I made this for my son's birthday. AMAZING!!!"

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Wine Pairings

Sweet White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a sweet white wine such as Moscato or a sweet Riesling.