Death By Chocolate Cake

Death by chocolate cake is a chocolate lovers dream! This cake gets its intense chocolate flavor from Guinness beer, mayonnaise, espresso powder and mini chocolate chips. Paired with easy chocolate buttercream and a rich ganache drip, you might be dead but you'll be happy! This chocolate cake isn't for the faint of heart!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Print Recipe
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves: 8 cups
slice of chocolate cake on grey plate with cake in background

The death by chocolate cake is the perfect cake for the ultimate chocolate lover. This features three layers of ultra decadent, moist cake with big chocolate chunks. Then it’s slathered with light and fluffy easy chocolate buttercream and a chocolate ganache drip. It’s chocolate heaven (Get it? Because you died haha) in every bite! 

slice of chocolate cake on grey plate with cake in background

This cake gets its amazing texture and a big flavor boost from dark, flavorful Guinness stout beer, Dutch-processed cocoa powder, espresso powder, big chocolate chunks, and even a little mayonnaise! This is hands down, the MOST amazing chocolate cake I’ve ever personally tasted. It’s so moist I’d almost say it’s on the verge of being too moist. Is that a thing? It’s so full of chocolate flavor it’s practically fudge.

When I first made this cake, halfway through I thought, “there is no way I’m making this cake again, it’s taking way too long!” But then… I tasted it. And I died. I died a delicious chocolate death and then I was re-incarnated thankfully so I could go in for a second bite. 

 

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CAKE INGREDIENTS

Before you start this recipe, I highly suggest you go through the ingredients to make sure you have everything on hand. There are some ingredients you might not have on hand. 

death by chocolate cake ingredients

I frequently get asked about substitutions so I will list them here. 

Dark Beer – No this will not make your cake alcoholic. The alcohol cooks out but the fizzy nature of the beer and it’s deep dark flavor adds a TON of flavor to the chocolate. You can replace the beer with room temperature coffee or water. If you use coffee, leave out the espresso powder. I prefer using Guinness beer because it already kinda tastes like chocolate!

Espresso powder – Again, the espresso powder will not make your cake taste like coffee, it just boosts the flavor of the chocolate and it’s amazing! If you don’t have espresso powder, you can also use an instant coffee mix. If you can’t find either or you don’t want to use it, just leave it out but trust me, the cake will not be as good without it!

Dutch-process cocoa powder – Natural cocoa powder like Hershey’s is alkaline meaning it needs something like baking soda to make the cake rise. Baking soda can leave an after taste in your cake if you use too much. By using the dutch process cocoa powder, we can use baking powder to make our cake rise plus a little baking soda for flavor. If all you have is Hershey’s replace half the baking powder with baking soda. 

Mayonnaise – I know it might sound odd to be adding mayo to your chocolate cake but trust me if you want moist, mayo is the way to go! Mayonnaise is made from eggs and oil. Eggs and oil = moisture! If you don’t want to use mayonnaise or you don’t have any, you can replace it with oil but only use half as much as the mayo by weight, or your cake will be too oily. 

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CAKE STEP-BY-STEP

BEFORE YOU START – Bring your butter, Guinness, eggs, and mayonnaise to room temperature and prepare the rest of your ingredients. Check out my blog post on room temperature ingredient hacks for more info. 

Room temperature ingredients make a huge difference in your recipes. Learn how I warm up my cold ingredients from eggs to cream cheese, quickly and easily.

For best results, use a food scale to weigh your ingredients. Converting this recipe to cups could lead to failure. Read my blog post on how to use a scale for more information.

Pro-tip – If you’re in the UK search for Shipton mills soft cake and pastry flour or flour that has a protein level of 9% or less. 

Step 1– Preheat your oven to 335º F/168º C. Prepare your cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan release. I used three 8″ round cake pans but you can adapt this recipe to any size pan by using my cake batter calculator right above the recipe card at the bottom of this blog post. Optional: Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking from the chocolate chips.

Step 2 – In a large measuring cup combine the beer, espresso powder, and the vanilla. Whisk it all together.

pouring dark beer into a measuring cup

Step 3 – In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

sifting death by chocolate cake ingredients

Step 4 – Place softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium until smooth and shiny. About 30 seconds.

Step 5 – With the mixer on low, gradually sprinkle in the sugar. Mix on medium-high until mixture is fluffy and almost white. About 3-5 minutes. 

adding sugar to creamed butter

creamed butter and sugar

Step 6 – Reduce the speed back to low. Add your eggs one at a time. Let the egg incorporate fully before adding in the next egg to avoid breaking your batter.

adding egg to butter and sugar mixture

Step 8 – Next add in your room temp mayonnaise and mix until combined.

Pro-tip – If your batter is broken (curdled looking) your cake will not rise properly and you will get an un-cooked gummy layer at the bottom of your cake. So it’s very important to make sure your eggs, mayo, beer and butter are all room temperature or even a tad warm so they mix together properly. 

Step 9 – With the mixer on low, add in 1/3 of your dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Add in 1/3 of your liquid ingredients. Scrape the bowl. Repeat the process two more times until everything is combined.   adding dry ingredients to cake batter

adding liquids to cake batter

finished death by chocolate cake batter

Step 10 – Mix in your chocolate chips or chopped chocolate at the end. These chocolate chunks take the death by chocolate cake over the top and make it ultra chocolate-y (is that a word?) 

Pro-tip –Using finely chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips is best, regular chocolate chips are too big and will sink to the bottom of the pan.

adding chocolate chips to cake batter

Step 11 – Divide your cake batter into your prepared pans (I like using homemade pan release, cake goop). I’m using three 8″x2″ cake pans and I used a scale to make sure each pan had the same amount of batter in them so I get even layers. Totally optional haha!

Step 12 – Bake at 335º F/168º C for 40-45 minutes (baking times will vary depending on the size of the pan you use) until a toothpick comes out cleanly but with a few sticky crumbs. Don’t over bake. 

Step 13 – Let your cakes cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Flip the pans out onto a wire rack and cool fully.

Pro-tip – To easily remove cakes from the pan, place the cooling rack on top of the barely warm cake pan. Hold the cake pan and the cooling rack together with your hands, one on top, one on the bottom. Flip the cake pan and the cooling rack over and set them both down so the cake pan is now on top of the cooling rack. Lift the pan off. 

Step 13 – Once cooled, gently wrap in plastic wrap and chill until the cakes are firm enough to handle. You can flash chill in the freezer for an hour if you need to cool them quickly. 

EASY CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM STEP-BY-STEP

I decided to update the frosting that originally went with my death by chocolate cake because the cake already has so many steps, why make the frosting so complicated. Originally I had a chocolate cream cheese frosting for this but every time I make it for myself (which is often) I just make chocolate easy buttercream and a chocolate ganache drip!

Don’t worry, if you still want to make chocolate cream cheese frosting, you can! Just add 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar or 1/4 chocolate ganache (you can use the leftovers from your drip) and add it to my regular cream cheese frosting recipe

Step 1 – Add the pasteurized egg whites and powdered sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine.

Step 2 – Add in your sifted cocoa powder, salt and vanilla extract. Then bump the speed up to high. 

Step 3 – Start adding in your softened butter in small-ish chunks. About the size of a large marshmallow until you have added it all. 

Step 4 – Continue letting your buttercream whip on high until it is light and creamy and tastes like chocolate ice cream. This can take 10-15 minutes or more depending on the strength of your mixer or if your butter is cold. If it still tastes like butter, keep whipping!

Pro-tip – If your butter is not mixing in, it might be too cold. Take out 1 cup of your buttercream mixture and microwave it for 15 – 30 seconds until its JUST melted. Not hot! Pour the mixture back into your mixing buttercream and it will help it come together.  

GANACHE DRIP STEP BY STEP 

Step 1 – Microwave your chocolate for 30 seconds to warm it up

Step 2 – Heat your heavy cream until it just begins to simmer. Do not boil your cream or it will cause your drip to split. Learn more about making the perfect ganache drip here. 

Step 3 – Let your ganache cool to 90ºF before dripping. I usually make my drip right before I start frosting my cake. By the time I have done the crumb coat and the final coat of buttercream, the drip is ready to use. 

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CAKE ASSEMBLY 

For more information on how to make your first cake step by step, check out my how to make your first cake tutorial

how to make a cake tutorial

Step 1 – After your cakes have cooled and chilled so they are easier to handle, cut off the domes with a serrated knife to level them. 

leveling a chocolate cake

Step 2 – Place your first layer of cake on your cake board or on top of your cake platter. Fill with buttercream. I like to go for about 1/4″ of frosting. Try and keep the frosting level with an offset spatula. Repeat with the next layer. 

layers of chocolate cake and buttercream

Step 3 – Cover the entire cake in a thin coat of buttercream. This is called the crumb coat and will lock in those crumbs! Then freeze the cake for 20-30 minutes to set the buttercream. 

chocolate cake on turntable with thin layer of chocolate buttercream

Step 4 – Apply the final layer of buttercream and smooth with a bench scraper or your offset spatula. Level off the top with your offset spatula. 

Step 5 – Send the cake back to the fridge for 15 minutes before you do the drip. 

Step 6 – Place your cooled ganache into a piping bag and snip off the tip. Don’t make the hole too big. Drip one drip on the side of the chilled cake to make sure it doesn’t drip too far. If it does, it might be too hot and need to cool before you do the drip. 

piping bag with chocolate ganache inside a glass cup

Step 7 – I used my leftover buttercream and ganache to make some swirls for the top of the cake with another piping bag and a 1M piping tip.

Just look at that gorgeous cake! If you’re going to experience death by chocolate, this is the way to do it! Even though the drip and the swirls are super simple, they look truly gorgeous!

slice of chocolate cake on a grey plate

Pro-Tip – I always keep my frosted cakes in the fridge. The frosting acts as a barrier and keeps the cake fresh but NEVER serve a cold cake. Cold cakes taste very dry because the butter is cold. Always take your cakes out of the fridge a few hours before you serve them. I’ve even gone as far as microwaving my cake slice for 10 seconds if it’s too cold. 

FAQ:

DO I HAVE TO USE CAKE FLOUR?

For this recipe yes. Cake flour is a low-protein flour that results in less gluten development during the reverse creaming stage. You cannot do the flour/cornstarch trick or the cake will get over-mixed and taste like cornbread. 

CAN I LEAVE OUT THE MAYONNAISE?

I promise your cake will NOT taste like mayo! It adds a lot of moisture to the chocolate cake for that yummy stick to your fork texture. You can also use plain greek yogurt or sour cream, but the flavor won’t be the same. 

WHAT CAN I SUBSTITUTE FOR BEER?

You can use water or coffee. The Guinness intensifies that rich chocolate flavor, it doesn’t make the cake taste like beer and all the alcohol cooks out. 

WHAT IS ESPRESSO POWDER?

Espresso powder is commonly used in baking to bring out the chocolate flavor. It is made from coffee beans that have been brewed, dried, and ground into a fine powder. It’s much more concentrated than instant coffee but won’t add any coffee flavor to your cake. 

You can make your own espresso powder, or substitute it with dark roast instant coffee. It won’t bring the same rich, roasted flavor, but it will do the trick if you’re stuck. 

DUTCHED COCOA POWDER VS REGULAR

Dutch-processed cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder are not the same. Dutch-processed is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acidity, making it have a stronger flavor and a darker, almost black color. If you can’t find Dutched, you can use regular cocoa powder instead.

Love death by chocolate cake? Check out these other recipes for chocolate lovers!

RELATED RECIPES

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Easy chocolate cake

Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream

 

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Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

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slice of chocolate cake on grey plate with cake in background

Death By Chocolate Cake

Death by chocolate cake is a chocolate lovers dream! This cake gets its intense chocolate flavor from Guinness beer, mayonnaise, espresso powder and mini chocolate chips. Paired with easy chocolate buttercream and a rich ganache drip, you might be dead but you'll be happy! This chocolate cake isn't for the faint of heart!
4.91 from 54 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 1881kcal

Ingredients

Death By Chocolate Cake

  • 14 oz (397 g) Stout Beer Like Guinness (Room Temperature)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (1 1/2 Tbsp) Espresso Powder
  • 2 tsp (2 tsp) Real Vanilla
  • 14 oz (397 g) Cake Flour
  • 1 tsp (1 tsp) Baking powder
  • 2 tsp (2 tsp) Baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp (1 1/2 tsp) Salt
  • 6 oz (170 g) Dutched Cocoa Powder
  • 10 oz (284 g) Unsalted Butter Room Temperature
  • 16 oz (454 g) Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large (4 Large) Eggs Room Temperature
  • 6 oz (170 g) Mayonnaise Room Temperature
  • 6 oz (170 g) Mini chocolate chips

Easy Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 ounces (113 g) pasteurized egg whites
  • 16 ounces (454 g) powdered sugar
  • 16 ounces (227 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 2 ounces (57 g) cocoa powder sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ganache Drip

  • 8 oz (227 g) Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 4 oz (113 g) Heavy Whipping Cream

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Paddle Attachment
  • Whisk Attachment
  • 1M Piping Tip
  • Piping Bag
  • Bench scraper
  • Offset Spatula

Instructions

Death By Chocolate Cake

  • NOTE: It is SUPER IMPORTANT that all the room temperature ingredients listed above are room temperature and not cold so that the ingredients mix and incorporate correctly. 
  • Heat oven to 335º F/168º C. Prepare cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan release. I used three 8"x2" round cake pans. Use the cake batter calculator above this recipe card to adjust the recipe to your size cake pan. Optional: Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking from the chocolate chips.
  • In a large measuring cup combine the beer, espresso powder and vanilla. Whisk together and set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda and set aside. 
  • Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream until smooth and shiny. With the mixer on low, gradually sprinkle in the sugar. Mix on medium high until mixture is fluffy and almost white. About 3-5 minutes. 
  • Reduce the speed back to low. Add your (ROOM TEMP) eggs one at a time. Let the egg incorporate fully before adding in the next egg to avoid breaking your batter. Add in your mayo and mix until combined. 
  • With the mixer on low, add in 1/3 of your dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Add in 1/3 of your liquid ingredients. Repeat the process two more times until everything is combined. 
  • Fold in the mini chocolate chips and divide the cake batter into your cake pans. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out cleanly but with a few sticky crumbs. Don't over bake. 
  • Let your cakes cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Let fully cool then gently wrap in plastic wrap and chill until the cakes are firm enough to handle. You can flash chill in the freezer if you need to cool them quickly. 

Easy Chocolate Buttercream

  • Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to remove any clumps.
  • Place pasteurized egg whites, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  • Attach the whisk, combine ingredients on low and then whip on high for 5 minutes.
  • Add in your softened butter in chunks. Add in vanilla and salt. Whisk on high until light and fluffy.
  • Optional: Switch to a paddle attachment and mix on low for 15-20 minutes to make the buttercream very smooth and remove air bubbles.

Ganache Drip

  • Microwave your chocolate for 30 seconds to get it warm
  • Heat cream on the stove over medium heat just until it starts to simmer. Do not boil. chilled cake. 
  • Pour over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. If you have lumps, place the bowl into a microwave for 30 seconds and whisk. Let the ganache cool to about 90º (barely warm to the touch). Place the ganache into a piping bag and drizzle over the top of your frosted and chilled cake.

Notes

1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, beer, mayo, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle. 
2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it's place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
4. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking. I always keep my cakes chilled in the refrigerator before delivery for easy transporting. Learn more about decorating your first cake. 
5. If the recipe calls for specific ingredients like cake flour, replacing it with all-purpose flour and cornstarch is not recommended unless specified in the recipe that it’s ok. Substituting ingredients may cause this recipe to fail. 
All purpose flour is a plain flour with no rising agents. It has a protein level of 10%-12%
Cake flour is a soft, low protein flour of 9% or less. 
Cake flour sources: UK - Shipton Mills Cake & Pastry Flour
6. I always keep my frosted cakes in the fridge. The frosting acts as a barrier and keeps the cake fresh but NEVER serve a cold cake. Cold cakes taste very dry because the butter is cold. Always take your cakes out of the fridge a few hours before you serve them. I've even gone as far as microwaving my cake slice for 10 seconds if it's too cold. 
7. You can replace the Guinness in this recipe with another type of stout beer or room temperature water or coffee, but it will not have the same taste. 
8. You can replace the mayo in this recipe with room temperature greek yogurt or sour cream, but it will not have the same taste. 

Nutrition

Serving: 8ounces | Calories: 1881kcal (94%) | Carbohydrates: 199g (66%) | Protein: 20g (40%) | Fat: 119g (183%) | Saturated Fat: 66g (330%) | Cholesterol: 324mg (108%) | Sodium: 1282mg (53%) | Potassium: 806mg (23%) | Fiber: 13g (52%) | Sugar: 137g (152%) | Vitamin A: 2845IU (57%) | Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) | Calcium: 161mg (16%) | Iron: 7mg (39%)