Chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla: Birthday cake for fence-sitters

I’m not a passionate cake baker. I mean, I’ll bake a cake, sure. And I bake a lot of birthday cakes here at King Arthur Flour, because how can you possibly work at a baking company and NOT have a candle-lit cake delivered to you, at your desk, on your birthday?

But cake doesn’t speak to me like bread. It doesn’t whisper in my ear, late at night, “What if you shaped those rolls around a chunk of cheddar?” I don’t suddenly drop everything I’m doing and decide to make chiffon cake, the way I sometimes do with pizza. A beautifully decorated cake—truly, a work of art, over which some soul has slaved for hours—doesn’t look half as good to me as a shapely baguette, or a golden loaf of sandwich bread.

But back to those King Arthur birthdays. I know most of my fellow workers pretty well. My e-o’s (short for employee-owners; King Arthur Flour is owned by us, the employees) are pretty reliably chocolate lovers, with the occasional fruit fanatic thrown in.

But every now and then, I’m not so sure… I know Janet likes peaches and Halley digs chocolate and Kelly is a lemon lover, but what does Jim like? He seems pretty omnivorous, happily sampling anything that comes his way. But if forced to choose the dessert for his final meal, would it be vanilla… or chocolate… or something I’d never consider?

Rather than ask and spoil the surprise, I’ve hit upon a compromise cake flavor: Choco-nilla. That would be chocolate and vanilla, of course. Two chocolate layers, two vanilla, sandwiched together with a darker-than-dark chocolate ganache.

This cake tastes great, the assertive chocolate playing off nicely against milder vanilla. It looks impressive. It’s surprisingly easy to make: both the chocolate and vanilla cakes are of the stir-together variety, no fussy creaming or whipping necessary. And the icing is simplicity itself, chocolate and cream melted together in the microwave.

So join me here in the King Arthur test kitchen as I make Choco-nilla Cake. And oh, by the way, my favorite birthday cake, the one my fellow e-o’s bring me every year? Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake, right out of the supermarket freezer case. Call it my hidden vice.

Let’s make the vanilla cake first. This is an easy, stir-together cake. First combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, and vanilla.

It’ll be a thin batter.

Next, stir in the baking powder and flour to make a thick batter.

Grease a 9” pan, line it with parchment (if you worry about getting the cake out in one piece), and grease the parchment.

Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake the cake till it’s starting to brown. The top may crack a bit; that’s fine. Once it’s iced, no one will see the cracks. After about 5 minutes, turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Next, the chocolate layer. Combine all of the ingredients.

Mix till everything is thoroughly combined. How easy is that?

Pour the batter into a 9” round cake pan, which again, you’ve prepared with greased parchment if you’re worried about getting the cake out intact.

Bake the cake for about 35 minutes, till a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. After about 5 minutes, turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Once the cakes are cool, split each one in half by cutting around the circumference. A long serrated knife works very well here.

You’ll have four layers that look like this: two chocolate, two vanilla.

Now we’re going to make the ganache icing. For those of you who’ve seen me demonstrate ganache in this blog multiple times, you can skip down a few pictures. For those who’ve never seen this—you’re going to learn how to make the best, easiest, most chocolate-y icing ever. First, combine heavy cream and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave till the cream is very hot and beginning to foam just a bit.

Remove from the microwave, and stir. It’ll look VERY unpromising at first. Keep stirring.

After a bit, the chocolate will begin to come together, and follow the spoon or spatula around the bowl as you stir. Keep stirring; you want to incorporate all of the liquid.

Ah, lovely! That’s chocolate ganache. At this point you can flavor it with liqueur or an extract, if you like. I stirred in some Kahlua.

Place a vanilla or chocolate layer on a serving plate. If you’re worried about messy drips, tear some strips of parchment, and slide them under the edges of the cake. They’ll catch any extra icing, and you can easily remove the parchment when you’re done.

Spread the icing with a spatula nearly (but not quite) to the edge of the cake.

Leave a little bit of bare cake showing. That way, when you add the other layers, the icing will be squished to the edge, but not over.

Continue with the other three layers, alternating vanilla and chocolate layers. When you’re done, anchor the layers together with cake testers, broom straws, bamboo skewers, or something else long and skinny. This will keep them centered atop one another till the ganache hardens.

See how the weight of the layers has pushed the icing right to the edge? Let the cake sit (with a cake cover on top, if you have one) for a couple of hours, till it’s pretty secure.

To ice the cake, you’re going to make another batch of ganache. Spread it on top of the cake, letting it run down the sides.

Use a spatula to smooth it all around the sides. Add decorations while the ganache is still warm; otherwise, they won’t stick.

Light the candles! Sing Happy Birthday!

Have the birthday girl or boy blow out the candles…

…and serve, to great huzzahs all around.

Another view. I tell you, I’m not a great cake baker, but I’m pretty darned proud of this one. That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing another picture.

And, by the way: Jim said it was the best cake he’s ever eaten.

Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Choco-nilla Cake.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Supermarket bakeshop iced single-layer chocolate cake, 44¢/ounce

Bake at home: Four-layer Choco-nilla Cake, 20¢/ounce

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Eric

    Oh thank god. I’m not the only baking geek with a *SERIOUS* love for the PF Coconut Cake. When you say “straight from the freezer”, I hope you mean “still cold, requiring just enough knife pressure that there’s a risk the frosting falls off in big shards, capable of being picked up with the fingers”.

    I love that cake. I just wish they’d make it in something larger than the single-serving 8″-square size.

    Eric, cut it out! YOU CANNOT eat the entire cake yourself….. Bad boy! And yes, I meant taken out of the freezer, unboxed (so it can “breathe” – uh, so the plastic doesn’t stick to the frosting), then served so the knife gliiiiiiides through that shorten-y frosting… Be still my heart! – PJH

    I agree with Eric, but am forced to share with my husband, so one cake makes 4 servings. Do you guys eat the cake first, carving around the frosting so your last bites are nothing but icing? It’s an art!
    🙂 MJ at the Baker’s Hotline

  2. Chris

    It looks excellent! I’m in charge of choosing and baking my own birthday cake this year (a present to myself), and I think this will be it!

    I did notice a small typo on the recipe page (–the chocolate cake recipe calls for 34 cups of water instead of “3/4” cups. 🙂

    What, you don’t think 34 cups of water would work? !!!! Thanks for letting me know, Chris, I’ll change it RIGHT NOW. – PJH

  3. Daphne

    That’s impressive. And PJ, I just want to say that I love how easy-going you are in the kitchen. None of this “everything must be perfect” nonsense. You’re right, no one will know if the cake is cracked, and nobody cares if the hamburger rolls are symmetrical or if the pie filling oozes out of the crust. Thanks for your refreshing perspective on baking, in contrast of the persnickety perfectionists in most cooking magazines these days!!

    Thanks, Daphne – I suffer occasional bouts of guilt over NOT possessing the Martha Stewart gene, but I confess – they pass quickly! – PJH

  4. The other Bridget

    Ok, first, I LOVE That PF Coconut Cake. I mean L O V E….my grandmother used to have that for our “things” and it brings back memories…but I thought I was the only one. Nice to know there are others in the club! 🙂

    Second, this cake looks AMAZING. I am going to work on converting it to Gluten Free ASAP!!!

  5. Nel

    O, The Other Bridget! You’re going to make this cake GLUTEN-FREE?! And will you post the recipe here?

    I’ve got wonderful friends who love cakes and sweet things, but he’s got celiac’s disease and I don’t know how to bake ANYTHING for them. All my recipes are glutenfull (as we call them), so my girlfriend sighs wistfully about ‘those brownies/ cookies/ that bread/ apple cake’ I used to make, and her husband looks interested… but there’s no point taking over anything that only one of them can eat.

    If you can make THIS cake gluten-free, I’d love to have the recipe!

    Do you have a blog where you post such recipes?

  6. Jane

    Looks lovely! Festive sprinkles! This could also be made in a checkerboard pan for extra pizazz; easy to do and everyone is so impressed. (Well, everyone is usually impressed with a cake, anyway) I like Grand Marnier for an additional flavor to chocolate. Think I will try this one!

  7. Clare

    Looks great. Do you need to use the expresso? Can I substitue something else or omit it from the recipe? If you do use expresso is there any coffee taste? I do not like coffee of any kind and shy away from any recipe that contains it.

    Hi Clare – Don’t need to use it. But you don’t taste it as coffee, either – it simply heightens the flavor of the chocolate. Use instant coffee, crushed fine, if you want to give it a try- PJH

  8. pat

    Hi, this recipe looks so good. Every birthday cake I make I want it to be this one! I can just taste it already.
    I was in Vermont the end of June and my husband and I stopped in to your store. What a nice place. All the workers were great and helped me find everything I wanted. It was a great visit.

    Pat, glad you had a good visit – come on back soon! – PJH

  9. suzanne

    I kid you not….my mouth started WATERING with that picture. Save me a slice, I”ll be right over…..

    of course the gas from DC to VT will off-set the savings of the homeade cake.


    Hey, at least I inspired you, right?! Birthdays are special occasions – go for it! – PJH

  10. Kat DeFonce

    I too am a passionate bread baker and seldom make any cake other than angel food. My layer cakes always seem to slide apart. NOW I know the secret! Thanks! I really love a combination of white and chocolate cakes. Can the yolk just be omitted? Or, would I have to increase the amount of egg white to compensate for the missing yolk? I really will have to give this a try. I don’t want to wait for someone’s birthday!

    I have had 1 recurring question about all of you since the beginning… does your kitchen sometimes look like a disaster area (esp. when multiple projects are going on at the same time)? Or, am I the only slob?

    Kat, you are NOT the only slob. I try to clean as I go (learned that in Girl Scouts, LONG ago); but when things get hectic, it looks like an explosion in the bakery – you know, when the Napoleons got blown apart… (groan)
    Not sure what egg yolk you’re referring to – all of them? Sure, leave them out – try substituting about 2/3 tablespoon of butter for each. -PJH

  11. Sarah

    I saw this blog and said to my husband, “I’ve done that.” I hope I can say that great minds think alike! LOL Last time I did that I had 2 chocolate layers and one vanilla, with chocolate icing inside and cream cheese icing over the outside. I also like to do a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing between the layers and a cooked chocolate icing over the outside. Looks like a big Hostess Ding Dong. Or I do the reverse with a yellow cake and the chocolate icing inside and cream cheese icing outside. I have had to stop eating chocolate in any form and our family’s birthdays are all coming up in September…I will have to think of other things to make so I can indulge too! Looks like a great recipe…wish I could eat it, especially the ganache!

    Ooooh, Sarah, no chocolate! Sorry about that. Take a look at our Berry Blitz Torte recipe at, though – that’s the fruit lovers’ favorite birthday cake.- PJH

  12. Charlotte

    Can’t wait to try this chocolate-vanilla cake for my two grown childrens’ wedding anniversaries next month. They are chocoholics but a granddaughter and I like vanilla more–so, this is more than perfect. I often make, bake and frost layer cakes and freeze them whole–just like PF does and it always works well. Just wrap them really well and limit the freezer time to a few weeks.

  13. Lee

    This looks perfect for our upcoming birthday series (six birthdays in the months of August and September). I have a question about the ganache. I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t like microwave ovens. Can I do this on the stove top? How would that work?

    Lee, I didn’t have a microwave till 2001… no problem! Just heat the cream and chocolate SLOWLY over a burner – don’t want the chocolate to burn. – PJH

  14. karen price

    Oh,my. Should I bother wondering what the nutritional analysis is? I know, it’s like expensive things…..if you have to ask, you shouldn’t eat it. Well, I’m making this anyway. I cant sit here and just drool at a photo. Thank you! (Besides, my birthday is in a couple

    Actually, as far as cakes go, I don’t think these are too bad. Except for the ganache. SIGH. Hey, my birthday is next Monday – but I never get a homemade cake. My husband tried to make one once and set the oven on fire (how can you possibly set the oven on fire with a cake?! I never figured that out.) Since then, it’s strictly Pepperidge Farm at work, and Ben & Jerry’s or Carvel ice cream cake at home. Ah well… a moment on the lips, forever on the hips, right? 🙂 PJH

  15. Sherry Moran

    How long before you turn the cake out of the pan? In the recipe, you say 15 minutes and in the pictures you say 5 minutes – unless I mis-read it. I try not to be a perfectionist because otherwise, I hate to start anything, but this looks like a cake I could do! Thanks.

    Well, let’s split the difference and make it 10 minutes – thanks for alerting me to this, Sherry, I’ll make the change. – PJH

  16. Sue

    Your cake looks delicious!

    Maybe your next challenge should be your own version of Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake!? You could freeze it if you think you’d really miss that just out of the freezer feeling.

  17. Terry

    PJH – thanks for coming up with this one!
    Commenting back to Nel, who wanted a gluten-free version — I’m celiac (13 years now), and no question, the conversion to gluten free baking has been as much of an education as my original (self-taught) baking education. Since my birthday’s coming up at the end of the month, and since I’m one of those _confirmed_ chocoholics and since I’m drooling over this recipe (what, I needed a reason to try another great-looking recipe from KA?), I’ll give this one a whack with GF ingredients. Will definitely post back with my results. Hm, I’m off work for the next three days…. I think I need to go shopping for ingredients on my way home tonight …. ;-))

  18. dorothy creasman

    love the iganache. can`t seem to find how to make white chocolate ganache. would you do it the same way

    Hi Dorothy,
    We were just discussing white ganache in the kitchen yesterday. White chocolate is definitely more finicky than dark or milk, so extra care is needed. One part cream to 3 parts chocolate should be about right.

    Happy Baking!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

  19. Anne

    I and my two daughters love the photos — thank you for the extra photos at the end, because I always forget to put birthday candles and sprinkles on my shopping list…and those are my daughters’ favorite part. We can’t wait to make this cake for our birthday party at the end of the month.

  20. Cindy Ayres

    When I saw this cake I really got excited. I do alot of Dutch Oven in the summer and this cake would be great for a cook-off. Question though, How would I change the ingredients to be right for a 12″ dutch oven? Would I 1/12 times the recipe?

    Hi Cindy,
    We have not tested the recipe in a Dutch oven, so you could certainly give it a try and let us know how it works out.
    Best of luck with the cook off!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

  21. Alice Kissling

    the recipe looks wonderful, but what I really love is your comment about bread ideas sneaking into your head late at night. I’m not the only one ! my husband thinks I’ve gone over the edge when I leap out of bed and begin messing about with bread dough while I’m still in my pjs!
    but I am going to try this cake recipe.

  22. Sherri

    This cake looks so yummy! I am always in charge of baking everyone else’s birthday cake, but my own preference is for a commercial bakery cake with a double layer of shortening icing, nice and greasy! I think I may have to make my own cake this year though because this one looks so good.

  23. Susan

    You bake cakes for your E-Os??! Where’s the application for employment? 😀 I do have to bake my own birthday cake – I’m the baker in my family. But, lucky me, my husband’s the cook!

    Absolutely. Can’t have a birthday without a cake! Employ online, we’re always hiring – 🙂

  24. Teresa

    Darn. I wish I live close enough to work there.

    I have a question not related to the birthday cake. Is there a substitute for potato flour in a bread recipe in a pinch?


    Yeah – the test kitchen is a great place to work so long as you also spend like an hour at the gym every day, working off those calories… 🙂 You can substitute instant mashed potato flakes for potato flour (Use about 2 1/2 times the amount – like, 2 tablespoons potato flour would be about 1/3 cup flakes). Or leave it our entirely – your bread will simply be drier, and won’t stay fresh as long. Good luck – PJH

  25. Andrea

    My little guy is turning one in August, and I’ve been hemming and hawing for a few weeks now on what cake to serve – should it be healthy, whole wheat something or other? Or should it be gloriously sugary, with layer upon layer of sweet cream frosting and an ethereally soft set of cake layers? Chocolate? Vanilla? Carrot cake?? (Ooops, no nuts – the Mother in Law is allergic, and I like her, so anaphylactic shock isn’t on the menu….) I even entertained the idea of a blueberry lemon pound cake.

    But after reading this entry….well…you know what I’m making for that 1st birthday! And I’m having it all with a big ol’ mug of Irish coffee (the real stuff, with whiskey…) – you know, to celebrate getting through that first year. 🙂 Thanks!

    BTW, how many does this cake serve? Could I just double the recipe and make two square pans of each flavor for two layered cakes??

    Like your style, Andrea – trust me, the challenges change as they get older, but there’s always something that sends you towards a cup of Irish coffee at the end of the day! 🙂 And yes, definitely want to stay away from any anaphylactic reactions… This is a tall cake, and easy to slice thin, so I’m betting it would serve 16 easily. It would also make 2 dozen cupcakes. I’m thinking you could double the recipe and make a 9″ x 13″ and have a big four-layer sheet cake, how does that sound? Enjoy- PJH

  26. Christina

    This recipe came just in time for my daughter’s birthday on the 18th. Since she was just turning two we decided the super layers may be a bit much, so we went for some Choco-nilla Cupcake Caterpillars with vanilla buttercream. It has worked out great since not everyone likes chocolate (though that person is not me). Truly the best of both worlds!

    Initial Flickr pic:

    However, my birthday…I’m following the recipe to the letter.

    Christina, thanks for sharing – love the neon icing and the legs! I actually made vanilla cupcakes from the recipe 2 days ago, just to see how many it would make (a dozen). They’re super easy, and the batter is thick enough that I could stick Hershey kisses in it and they didn’t sink to the bottom. They made a nice chocolate center -albeit a hard one, while I was looking for creamy. So that experiment continues… Have fun- PJH

  27. Natasha

    I would like to make this cake tonight for my husband’s birthday party tomorrow, and I have a question about the “resting” time for the chocolate to set. You said to let it rest overnight or at least several hours and with a cake cover. I live in NYC and it will be a high of 98 degrees and very humid- a regular mid-summer scorcher. Do I rest the cake at room temp or covered in the fridge until close to party time? I don’t want the cake to get all melty or even start to go bad, and I also don’t want it to get all dried out in the refrigerator–what should I do? Thanks! The pics look great and I can’t wait to try it out!

    Natasha, don’t worry, the cake won’t go bad. The resting period is just so it’s not all slippery and unstable while you’re trying to ice it. Stick it in the fridge for maybe an hour, then ice. Put it in as cool a spot as you can manage (not the fridge), and it should be OK. The only thing you’re trying to prevent is the soft chocolate allowing the layers to slide around… and HB to your husband! – PJH

  28. Eric


    I’m with Sue. I think you should *TOTALLY* try to clone the PF cake. I’ll make it even more difficult: no using bleached cake flour. Because, you know, if it comes from KAF, it’s *never bleached, never bromated* (cough, Guinevere, cough). ;0) Shouldn’t be *that* hard to make a tender sponge cake with so many baking experts around, even if you are working with a harder flour than strictly necessary. *big evil grin*

    The staff of _The Oregonian_ food section set pastry chefs to work with our beloved PF cakes in an attempt to tart them up – they did have some lovely ideas, including homemade sorbets. I cannot find the article on line for the life of me.

    Hey, what can I say – Guinevere is our bleached blonde! 🙂 And yeah, I could make a sponge cake. It’s more that shortening-y icing that I’ve never quite matched… – PJH

  29. Molly

    Hello. Know about KAF and have bought products via catalog, but am a first-timer to this site. What a terrific resource for home cooks! I’m looking for a strawberry cake recipe using real strawberries in the cake and/or frosting too.
    There may be a recipe already on blog; newbie me is looking forward to exploring this in more detail…

    Molly, how about the Blitz Torte recipe, using strawberries in the filling? Other than that I know we don’t have a strawberry cake recipe such as you describe,sorry… Just put Blitz torte in the blog search box. – PJH

  30. Marguerite

    Oh you are so totally hooking me on the possibility that *I* can do something like this! Looks delish from here…and I’m planning on trying something like that for my husband’s birthday!

  31. Carrie

    This cake looks amazing and I am planning on making it for my son’s 3rd birthday. Question, if I need to make this cake the day before, should I put it in the fridge assembled and frosted or just refridge the cakes and make the frosting the day off? And should any leftovers be put in the fridge or can this stay at room temp under a tupperware cake cover? Thanks so much for your help, this site is an amazing resource. Carrie 🙂

    Hi Carrie,
    If you bake the cake the day before, just wrap it well (after it is completely cool) in layers of plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature. No need to refrigerate. IF you happen to have leftovers, you can refrigerate them, especially if it is very warm out. Taking the cake out 15-20 minutes before you serve it again allows the ganache to soften.

    Happy Baking!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

  32. Autumn

    Oh my. This was one rich cake. 🙂 I was all set to let it sit overnight when my husband informed me that was “unacceptable.” It was better the next day, not quite as insanely chocolatey. I especially liked the vanilla layer and will be making that (sans chocolate layer) again.

  33. Sharon

    Wow, I want it!!! Can you pls let me know how I would make this at 6,700 ft – still moist and yummy? Thanks 🙂 Can’t wait to try 😉

    Hi Sharon – Take a look at our high altitude baking tips. That should tell you what you need to know. Have fun! – PJH

  34. Kathi

    What amount of cornstarch is needed. Can’t find a conversion of 1/2 ounce to tsp. or Tbsp.


    Hi Kathi,
    The amount by volume would be 2 tablespoons whether you use Clearjel or cornstarch, only the weights are different.

    2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) Instant ClearJel® or cornstarch (1/2 ounce) .

    Happy Baking!

  35. Casey

    This is in the oven as I write…….the vanilla layer is out, cooled and split and the chocolate
    layer is baking. There seemed to be more choco batter and it rose quite high in the pan.
    I’m finding that the 35 minutes was for the vanilla layer and just passed 45 for the choco
    layer and it’s still got quite a wet spot in the middle.
    It’s a birthday cake for an employee……………walking in tandem with PJ 🙂 I always take requests, but this 22 yr. old said it was my choice, how’s that for easy?!?
    O.K. 48 minutes for the choco layer.
    Wish I had a serrated-edge knife 9″ long! The tip about the skewers to hold the layers in
    place while the filling sets is a keeper.
    Thanks, I’m sure there will be rave reviews, moaning Weight Watchers, and with only 5
    employees, leftovers for Wednesday!

    Not sure what’s up with the time, but yeah,the chocolate layer does rise right to the top… Weight Watchers, huh? We have them come onsite sometimes. It’s tough to keep the calorie count down around here! Have fun, Casey -PJH

  36. Ellen

    Thanks SO much for the chocolate-vanilla cake and the blitz torte recipes! I made the cake for my sons 13th b’day– a huge hit with all who tried it. I also have plans to double each layer and make an all vanilla or all chocolate cake. Both were teriffic. Ganache is always a winner with me. I used half semi-sweet and half bitter-sweet choc though, no added flavors– super dark and perfect.

    My husband is making the blitz torte for my b’day next week– lucky me, I know! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    So much cake, so little time…

  37. Steve

    I made this today. One tip, and maybe this is obvious for seasoned cake bakers: for the bottom layer, use the domed side of one of the layers, turned upside down. This allows all the flat sides to fit together so the sides can be more easily iced. My chocolate layer ended up with a pretty big dome, and I used that as the top.
    Additionally, I don’t like the idea of heating cream in the microwave, so I heated it on the stove, removed from heat, then added the chocolate. This worked out nicely.
    Thanks for this.

    Steve, good tip, thanks. And certainly heating cream for chocolate ganache the traditional way, on the stovetop, is also a good option. – PJH

  38. Nel

    Has anyone tried making this as a checkerboard cake, as one poster (Jane) suggested? That was my first thought, but since I’ve done some research about checkerboard cakes, it seems that the batter has to be rather stiff for the checkerboard design to be distinct. With all the liquid in this recipe – and especially with the oil – this looks like it’s a more light, delicate cake and a more liquid batter, which I don’t think would work for a checkerboard cake.

    Any good recipes for chocolate and vanilla cake that would work with checkerboard pans? I only made the cake once, many years ago, and it seemed to me to be somewhat bland and on the dry side.

  39. Jackie

    Hi PJH

    I was wondering about the skewers in the cake. How do you cut the cake with the skewers in the cake.

    Let the cake set until the ganache goes to the outside and the layers are stable. Remove the skewers and finish with the final “frosting”. Irene @ KAF

  40. Tiffany

    I’m making this cake right now, I was wondering what temperature to bake it at! I couldn’t find it anywhere. My vanilla is in at 350 just to be safe but it’s been about ten minutes and it hasn’t done much.. what should I do?!

    I think 350 is just fine. Us e a toothpick to double check the doneness. I’ll ask the web team to update the recipe. Frank @ KAF.

    Yes, check the Choco-Nilla Cake recipe – 350°F it is. PJH

  41. Mrs. White

    This looks delicious! I appreciate the step-by-step pictures. It makes it easier to follow.

    Mrs. White
    The Legacy of Home blog

  42. sarahepardee

    Thanks for the great tutorial- this cake looks beautiful and easy to make! Also, I’m an in-the-closet frozen coconut cake lover, too. I love the Sara Lee one, but Pepperidge Farm is good, too.

  43. calily

    Would a raspberry jam filling be a suitable replacement for one of the filling layers? I just wanted to cut the chocolate with something a little tart and thought that would work.
    Raspberry jam sounds wonderful to me- one of my favorites! ~Amy

  44. The Baker's Hotline

    They seem quite moist to me. However, you can always soak your cakes with a sugar syrup to provide extra moisture! Also this method can be done with any similar chocolate and vanilla cake recipe. Jon@KAF

  45. LJ

    Big hit this weekend – the perfect large cake for a family gathering celebrating Easter and my husband’s ‘birthday festival’. As much as I love chocolate, and I really do, I sometimes find pure chocolate after dinner too much, so this one fit the bill. I also made a half-batch of ganache, and instead made a batch of pastry cream with just a small hit of orange essence, and used it for the interior layers. Resulting yum’s around the table concurred. Will make again. Looks spectacular as well!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You made some great modifications and coming up with a real winner! Great job! Elisabeth@KAF

  46. Reeva

    I made this a week prior for my niece’s 1st birthday. I baked the layers and leveled them then stacked them without the filling, separated with layers of parchment ten froze them. Today (1 day prior to the event, I defrosted it and will layer with the ganache filling. This is because I work the day before and could not possibly bake it the day of and decorate it elaborately all on the same day! yikes!!!)

    Anyways this turned out beautifully, the cake is delicious and moist but a bit dense (but I think that adds to the moisture) even without the ganache frosting. I had some extra cake when I leveled it so we have been munching on that all week long. THANKS A LOT! 😛

    This recipe is definitely a keeper. I did not add the cornstarch to the chocolate cake though and I believe my baking powder was not the freshest.

    The only thing is that I doubled both choc and vanilla layers so I ended up with 2 9″ round pans of cake because I am making two tiers.

    The chocolate rose beautifully so I was able to layer it in half and have 4 chocolate layers–the vanilla, not so much. I only got 2 pans, which were not risen enough to layer in half, but that’s okay. It worked out and there was still so much extra cake.

    I will be filling with ganache in between the layers with a layer of fresh strawberry cream and then frosting the whole thing with homemade buttercream icing recipe from

    Yum yum! Thank you!!! 😀

  47. Michi

    Hi there!!

    The cake looks fantastic! This is exactly what my husband wants for his belated birthday cake. However, I just got these pans from Wilton. It’s a 5 layer cake pan hat makes a 6″ diameter cake. It takes one recipe for a cake or 1 box of mix. How would this recipe work for these pans? Would I have to reduce the recipe?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Michi, we are happy to hear you think this Choco-nilla recipe is just what your husband needs for his birthday! If your new Wilton pans say they will fit a recipe for 1 cake or 1 box of mix, that’s great news! Usually 1 box of mix makes one 9″ x 13″ cake or two 9″ round cakes, like this Choco-nilla recipe does. The layers for this cake are particularly thick to really add an element of birthday cake glory, so you could consider reducing the recipe by about 25% if you would like to make thinner layers that are a bit more manageable or else you will have a very tall (and potentially tippy) cake. Personally, I think it is a shame not to make a whole cake recipe while you are at it–I like to fill my cake pans with the appropriate amount of batter (about 2/3 of the way full) and then bake off any extra batter in a muffin pan to have some spare cupcakes around for gifting. Who doesn’t love having spare cupcakes? I hope this helps! Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  48. Julie

    I have never made a ganache before, it is silky and beautiful. Having just prepared my four pretty-perfect looking layers, and spread my filling, I am thinking I’d like to cut the richness of the frosting. Any suggestions on how to alternatively frost this choco-vanilla cake (with choco ganache filling)? Could I doctor the ganache to make it less “intense?” More 12-year-old birthday cake like?

  49. Marjorie

    I have a question — I’m planning to make a “pinata cake” — I know this would truly be gilding the lily regarding this beautiful black and white treat you have created — but do you think this layer cake is “hardy” enough to to hold a cup of candies in the center? I planned to bake 4 layers and hide the surprise candies inside layers 2 & 3, with the bottom later forming the foundation.

    Any thoughts?


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I think that would work- just don’t make the secret center hole too large, or the top layer of the cake will sink in. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  50. Bloomsvilla

    Thanks PJ Hamel ,

    I am glad to find the new step by step guide to creat a Cholate vanilla cake for the birthday. I have ordered cakes from online store but nevery tried this so i am going to made it at home.


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *