Chocolate Sour Cream Celebration Layer Cake

  • Serves: Makes one 3-layer 9 x 2-inch layer cake
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
  • Views: 6171

Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 12-13-2015 Sarah Phillips

Happy Holidays from all of us at! This is our perfect celebration cake! It's fudgy and chocolaty, and especially moist and this recipe makes a spectacular cake that feeds a large family or crowd. It's everything you'd ever want in a special occasion cake because your family, friends, and guests will rave about it for weeks afterwards. We've paired it with our favorite White Chocolate Mint Ganache Frosting and Filling and topped it with our whimsical Christmas Tree and Snowman Cake Topper for a unforgettable presentation. This cake can stay at room temperature for your guests to admire while they eat their Christmas dinner, and can be served afterwards in small servings because it is rich and filling. But it's one of those cakes where everyone wants a small sliver for a second serving, and then some more later on in the evening. Left-overs freeze beautifully for another occasion should you not finish it all. This is really a glorious cake for the holidays! 

Chocolate Sour Cream Layer Cake:

9 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate; chop into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups hot brewed coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla

4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup sour cream

3 cups bleached cake flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
3 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Filling, Crumb Coat, and Frosting:
2 recipes White Chocolate Mint Ganache Frosting and FillingMake one recipe, then crumb coat the cake in Step II.
Place the crumb coated cake in the refrigerator, to set the icing, then make the second recipe in Step III.

1 package Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips, optional; For some extra added mint flavor, we added some between the layers.
These are available, seasonally, in grocery stores. This is optional, but really adds a nice flavor punch to the cake.

Topper and Decorations:
1 recipe Christmas Tree and Snowman Cake Topper 

1 package White Cotton Candy, Charms “Fluffy Stuff Snow Balls”, optional;  available, seasonally, at stores like Target.

1 package Soft Peppermint Candy Balls, such as “Bob’s Sweet Stripes”, optional; available, seasonally, as grocery stores and departments stores, like Target.


1. Position the oven racks in the center and lower thirds. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans with nonstick oil and line with parchment paper. Spray again.

2. In a medium bowl, add the chopped chocolate. Pour in the coffee and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Add in the vanilla.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil until pale yellow, then whisk in the sour cream.

4. Add some of the egg mixture to the melted chocolate to temper. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture back into the egg mixture until smooth.

5. Sift together, the flour with the sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Fit with a paddle attachment and mix on low until well combined.

6. On low speed, beat in the wet ingredients in 3 batches until just incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then turn the mixture up to medium speed and beat until the batter is smooth, about one minute.
The batter will be very thin.

7. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.  Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out with a few moist crumbs but not batter.

8. Let the cakes cool completely, then carefully invert onto a rack and peel off the parchment.

Wrap and store the cake layers at room temperature, but we recommend refrigerating them, instead, because they are very moist, even for a few days.
Freeze for a month or more. Thaw, unwrapped, at room temperature.

This cake has a very moist crumb, and the frosting is very thick and creamy, therefore you MUST seal in the crumb, to have a flawless finish.
Make one recipe White Chocolate Mint Ganache Frosting and Filling, then crumb coat the cake.
The cake is also very dark, and the final coat of frosting is needed so the chocolate cake does not show through the frosting.
1. Cut the dome off each of the three cake layers with a serrated or very sharp, long knife.

2. Place one layer on a cake plate and put a scant 1/2 cup of frosting on the layer.
Spread with an offset spatula.
You will, most likely, get some crumbs in this frosting, due to the moist crumb of this cake.

3. Place about 1 cup of frosting in a disposable piping bag fitted with a pain open tip and pipe a dam around the edge of the layer.

4. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips over the frosting.

5. Place the second cake layer over the first, pressing down gently to level.
Repeat the above steps with the icing and Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips.

6. Set the final layer in place, then spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, using a large offset spatula, sealing in the crumbs.
Place the crumb coated cake in the refrigerator, to set the frosting. This will take about an hour.

Cake can be stored at the cool side of room temperature for a day or two, which we do not recommend because the cake is very moist; it's better to refrigerate the crumb-coated cake for a few days or freeze for a month or more.  
Thaw unwrapped at room temperature (not in the refrigerator).

While the crumb coat chills, make the second recipe of the White Chocolate Mint Ganache Frosting and Filling.

Frost the cake:
1. Spread the second recipe of  White Chocolate Mint Ganache Frosting and Filling over the top and sides of the cake.
You may not need all of the icing. Use just enough so the chocolate cake does not show through.
We had about 1 cup of icing left over.

2. Smooth the frosting, using a large offset spatula, but don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth, because slight ridges make it look “snowy”.

The frosted cake can remain at room temperature for a day or two, but it's very moist. Instead, we recommend that you refrigerate the frosted cake for a few days, or freeze it for a month or more.
Thaw, unwrapped, at room temperature.

Right before serving:
NOTE: The cotton candy starts to break down as it absorbs moisture from the air. DO NOT do the final assembly until you are ready to serve the cake.
You may do this up to TWO hours before service.
1. Right before service, pull apart the White Cotton Candy balls.
Place on the cake and create a snowy environment for the cake toppers. 
NOTE: Leave a 1-inch to 2-inch border around the edge of the cake.
Leave two areas bare, to set in the Christmas Tree and Snowman Cake Topper.

4. Set the Christmas Tree and Snowman Cake Topper into place.

5. Place the Soft peppermint candy balls around the bottom edge of the cake.

As we mentioned earlier, this cake is VERY rich. We recommend serving it in small slices.

Remove all decorations. The frosted cake can remain at room temperature for a day or two, but it's very moist. Instead, we recommend that you refrigerate the frosted cake for a few days, or freeze it for a month or more.
Thaw, unwrapped, at room temperature.