Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream | Lemon Sugar

It was a year ago today that I first made this cake.  Well, not this cake exactly – I can’t remember the exact flavor combination, but it was a big, heavy three-layer cake with fluffy frosting and glitter sprinkles everywhere.

Just as I finished frosting the cake and was moving it to another table so I could begin clean-up, I dropped it.  All.  Over.  Everything.  The enormous cake slid off the platter and landed with a disgusting, infuriating PLOP, all over my feet, my newly cleaned wood floors, my walls, my cabinets, my refrigerator.

I cried.  Right there in my kitchen.  I said bad words and I actually cried.  Not only had I dropped a cake that splattered all over my freshly cleaned kitchen, I had just spent nearly three hours working on the dang thing.  And to make matters worse?  It was meant to be my sister’s birthday cake.

I had to call her and tell her what happened.  The conversation went something like this: “Hey, Happy Birthday!  Yeah, so I dropped your cake, can you run by Dairy Queen and pick up an ice-cream cake instead?”

Fail.  Complete and utter birthday fail.

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream | Lemon Sugar

So, after a year of my sister reminding me that I dropped her birthday cake, we tried again today.  She requested a glitter cake again this year.  I believe her exact request was a “really moist chocolate cake with super-sweet frosting and glitter sprinkles.”  Although you can’t really tell from these pictures, that’s exactly what she got.  {I decided that since I dropped her cake on the floor last year that I probably shouldn’t cut into this year’s cake for blog pictures…it just didn’t seem right.}

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream | Lemon Sugar

My very favorite “super-moist” chocolate cake is the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe – my family has been making it for years and it really is an awesome recipe.  I’ve tweaked it a bit to make a more substantial three-layer cake, but otherwise it’s the same recipe that’s been around for ages.  Not only is it a very tasty cake, it’s also sturdy enough to stand up to layering and lots of frosting.

The butter cream is just a basic vanilla butter cream – I use clear vanilla extract to keep the color of the frosting as white as possible, and I do not use shortening {blech}, well, because shortening has no taste.  Butter is definitely the way to go.  Using a combination of heavy cream and half and half keeps the frosting fluffy and easy to work with.  This particular recipe makes a lot of frosting just because it’s a pretty big cake.

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream | Lemon Sugar

For the sprinkles and glitter, I just used a lot of everything.  Sanding sugars, edible glitter flakes, nonpareils and silver dragees – it all went on there.  This is a crusting butter cream, so I had to work quickly so the glitter would stick to the cake, but it was lots of fun to decorate.  I wish you could see the sparkle and shimmer in the photographs, because it really was a pretty cake.  Isn’t the little banner cute?  It’s just a couple of bamboo skewers with yellow baker’s twine and some card stock circles.  More fun than candles, I think!

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream | Lemon Sugar

If you follow Lemon Sugar on Instagram, you’ve probably been following along with my cake saga all day long.  If you aren’t, come check it out {here}. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, so come see me!

Hope you enjoyed the cake!  I’m just really relieved I didn’t drop it.

Happy Birthday, MeMe!

Chocolate Cake & Vanilla Butter Cream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The perfect celebration cake, this moist chocolate cake is topped with simple vanilla butter cream and tons of festive sprinkles. Enjoy! Recipe source: Cake adapted from Hershey's, Butter cream is LS original.
Serves: Approximately 16 servings
Chocolate Cake:
  • 2 and ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 and ¼ teaspoons banking soda
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 and ⅛ cups cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 and ½ cups boiling water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 and ½ cups milk
Vanilla Butter Cream:
  • 3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • 3 pounds confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons clear vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup half and half
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray and parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. Add wet ingredients: oil, eggs, vanilla and milk.
  5. Beat on medium speed (a hand mixer is fine) until well combined.
  6. Carefully add boiling water, and stir to combine. Batter will be thin.
  7. Evenly divide batter between three cake pans.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake-tester comes out mostly clean. Do not overbake.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until soft and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream.
  3. Slowly beat until the sugar is completely moistened.
  4. Add half and half, and beat at medium speed until frosting is light and fluffy. If too thick, add additional half and half one Tablespoon at a time or until desired consistency is met. If too thin, add additional powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time.
  1. Place bottom layer of cake on a cake board and spinning platform.
  2. Spoon approximately ¾ cup of frosting on to cake. Using an offset spatula, spread to ½ inch thickness.
  3. Add middle layer, and repeat process of spreading ¾ cup of frosting to ½ inch thickness.
  4. Add top layer of cake. Spoon approximately 2 cups of frosting on top layer, and slowly work frosting over top and down the sides of the cake to form a crumb coat.
  5. Smooth frosting to desired thickness, completely covering the cake. Don't worry if you can see chocolate crumbs in this layer of frosting, we'll cover them in the next step.
  6. Allow frosting to harden in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  7. Using remaining frosting, evenly spread frosting over the entire crumb cake.
  8. Garnish as desired, and enjoy!

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  • Hello My Sweet

    That Hershey’s recipe is my go to recipe as well. It really is super moist and delicious! Everyone I make it for always enjoys it.

    • lemonsugar

      Definitely one of my favorites – it’s nice that it’s so easy, too! Thanks for stopping by!

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  • Laura@bakinginpyjamas

    It’s beautiful, I like your icing technique and the colours you’ve used for the sprinkles. So pretty.

  • Honey James

    What can I substitute the half and half with? We don’t get that in NZ.

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