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Special-Occasion Chocolate Cake Recipe

Special-Occasion Chocolate Cake Recipe

“This cake won Grand Champion at the 2000 Alaska State Fair,” and you will see why once you taste it. This decadent chocolate cake boasts a luscious ganache filling and fudge buttercream frosting. —Cindi Paulson, Anchorage, Alaska
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 40 min. + chilling Bake: 25 min. + cooling YIELD:12 servings


  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted


  • 1. In a small bowl, combine cocoa and water; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with cocoa mixture, beating well after each addition.
  • 2. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 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. For ganache, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small heavy saucepan over low heat, bring cream and sugar to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk gently until smooth. Refrigerate for 35-45 minutes or until ganache begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.
  • 4. For frosting, in a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  • 5. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with second layer and 1 cup ganache; sprinkle with 1/2 cup almonds. Top with third layer; frost top and sides of cake. Warm ganache until pourable; pour over cake, allowing some to drape down the sides. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 slice equals 961 calories, 51 g fat (29 g saturated fat), 178 mg cholesterol, 574 mg sodium, 123 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 11 g protein.

Reviews for Special-Occasion Chocolate Cake

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Reviewed Mar. 17, 2015

"This cake was just ok. Not bad but not terrific. There are other chocolate cake recipes on this site that are much better."

Reviewed Feb. 12, 2014

"This is a very elegant cake and beautiful to serve to guests. With the chocolate cake, ganache, and fudge frosting, it was the triathlon of chocolate! A chocoholics delight."

Reviewed Aug. 18, 2013

"This cake is good, don't get me wrong. The problem with it is how much work it is to make! With the cake, the ganache and the frosting, it was just too much work for a just 'ok' cake. In all honesty I feel like you could just buy a boxed cake and frosting and have something about the same as this without the ganache that I didn't find to be all that impressive. I would make an easier lower calorie cake for a special occasion and save my time!"

Reviewed Mar. 21, 2013

"I made this cake last year for my mother's birthday and everyone is still talking about how good it was, so I have a request to make it again for my dad's birthday in March."

Reviewed Dec. 3, 2012

"This is my go to recipe for cakes at work now. everyones loves it."

Reviewed Nov. 22, 2012

"Very tasty and not very difficult to make. Looks fabulous - tall and impressive looking as well as a mouthful of rich chocolate. The actual icing was really great - I usually do not like powdered sugar icings. I was told by a bakery to make sure to always beat those icings longer than you would think."

Reviewed Jan. 12, 2011

"I have not made this recipe yet, however I am very anxious to try it. I have a special birthday coming up for my nephew and he is a chocolate lover. What a wonderful presentation this cake has made. Can't wait!!"

Reviewed Nov. 23, 2010

"Yes, as someone else mentioned this does take a long time to make, but the end results were worth every minute! I made it for a special birthday, and everyone loved it! It is a delicious cake and makes quite an awesome presentation. I used pecans in place of the almonds. I would definitely make again!"

Reviewed Jul. 28, 2010

"I totally agree that it was inappropriate for vinca to give a durogatory rating - so excited to know she is concerned about her health - really didnt need to know this. I on the other hand have actually made this cake, and am a very healthy person - this cake is wonderful! I would recommend it for any occasion - a recipe for the keep file."

Reviewed Dec. 18, 2009

"I made this for our Christmas dinner yesterday, they loved the cake, they loved the way it looked! YES, it is a keeper!"

Reviewed Nov. 29, 2009

"I agree with wjc50......if you can't make the cake then MOVE ON!! Yes it has a lot of calories, but the name kind of gives you a hint..."Special Occasion"! I can't wait to make this and don't really care what the calories are!"

Reviewed Nov. 19, 2009

"Why do people give a bad review (1-star) when they haven't even made the recipe?"

Reviewed Nov. 18, 2009

"Haven't made it yet. It looks scrumptious!"

Reviewed Nov. 17, 2009

"This is an awesome cake and is delicious the next day as well!!! I made this for a special birthday party and it was a HIT! ;0))"

Reviewed Nov. 16, 2009

"I could not make this cake. I could feel my arteries closing up while I was reading the ingredients. I'm sure it must taste wonderful,but 961 calories and 51 grams of fat,29 of which are saturated!!That cannot be good."

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