Better Together Chocolate Vanilla Birthday Cake. Because sometimes you just want chocolate and vanilla. Now you don’t have to choose! Soft and fluffy vanilla cake, sandwiched between two layers of soft and fluffy chocolate cake, and frosted with both chocolate and vanilla buttercream. Truly the best of both worlds!
Fridays and cake are honestly just the best combo. It’s a combo that doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s good.
If you follow along on Instagram, then you know that my favorite (and only) little sister turned ten years old yesterday. Yes, yes, yes, Asher is TEN and I have no idea how or why time has to go so fast. Also, if Asher is ten that means in five years I am going to be about to turn thirty, and oh my gosh, this scares the living hell out of me…
Anyway, Asher is ten, and obviously we needed cake to celebrate. Here’s the thing though, like may kids, Asher only likes chocolate cake (or vice versa and your kid only likes vanilla cake). And when I say chocolate cake, I mean specifically this chocolate cake with chocolate cake layers, chocolate frosting, and chocolate sprinkles (please excuse the bad photos, old post, amazing recipe). So basically it’s a cake with nothing but CHOCOLATE.
Do you see a theme here?
Asher loves her chocolate. Just like my mom, just like my brothers, and just like me. Thanks mom for making all seven of your kids chocolate freaks.
Every year for Asher’s birthday I always, always, rack my brain and try to come up with a cake that she would love, but I always run into the same problem. Asher only wants a chocolate cake and nothing else. She wants it moist, soft, fluffy, and frosted with double the chocolate frosting.
Classic and delicious. I really can’t blame her for requesting this every single year (ahh, more like every single day).
But you guys, I write about food and I can’t write about the same chocolate cake every year. I have to switch it up, bring you a new recipe, share something different and delicious.
Enter this cake. It’s a dream cake for both chocolate and vanilla cake lovers, and it’s quickly become a new favorite.
In full disclosure though, Asher still prefers an all chocolate cake, and yes, she is requesting that I make her favorite chocolate, chocolate cake for her birthday party tomorrow. So, I guess I didn’t really sell her on this cake as her birthday cake, but she still ate it and loved it…and I hear my dad ate her vanilla leftovers.
Point is, this cake is delicious. And if you love both chocolate and vanilla cake, you NEED to make this cake. It’s the best of both worlds. It also allows you to not have to choose between two very delicious flavors.
Cool. Cool. Love it.
To keep things simple and easy, both the vanilla and chocolate cake layers are made from one batter. You’ll make one big batch of vanilla cake batter first. Then remove some of the vanilla batter. Next, stir the chocolate into the rest of the vanilla batter to make the chocolate batter.
I made two chocolate layers and one vanilla layer, because in our family we much prefer chocolate to vanilla…as if you couldn’t tell. But you could also do the opposite. I included steps in the recipe notes if you would like to go this way.
For the chocolate layers, I use a little cocoa powder and a splash of coffee. The coffee highlights the chocolate and makes for the perfect rich and moist chocolate cake every single time.
For the frosting, I made two simple vanilla and chocolate frostings and then layered them throughout the cake.
Truth? My original idea for the design of this cake was to cover the cake in the swirls that you see on the top third of the cake. I wanted the swirls to resemble roses and I wanted to mix and match vanilla roses with chocolate. I’m sure from my description that you have no idea what I was going for…just try to picture a cake frosted in roses.
I attempted this and failed. So miserably, like it was so bad. I spent thirty minutes trying to pipe roses onto the side of the cake. When I stepped back to look at the cake, it was so bad that I just took my spatula and wiped away all the swirls. Thirty-plus minutes of work all gone in less than sixty seconds.
I really, really wish I would have taken a photo though, because I ended up turning my mistakes into a simple cake design that I kind of love.
I left some of the swirls on the top of the cake and just simply frosted the remainder of the cake with swirled chocolate frosting. It’s nothing fancy, but I like it, and it just goes to show you that if something doesn’t work the way you originally envisioned, try something else. I always find that if I stick with something, I usually end up loving the end result. I might shed a few tears along the way (for real), but giving up is never the answer.
As you can imagine, this cake is everything delicious.
You cannot go wrong with chocolate and vanilla, and combining them together in cake form is the best. These cakes are soft, buttery, fluffy, moist, and filled with rich chocolate and vanilla flavor. The frosting is light, not too sugary, and extra whipped, almost like a mousse.
Whether or not it’s your birthday or just another weekend, this cake should be in your near future plans. It’s easy to make, delicious, and perfect for celebrating everything from Friday nights, to birthdays, to Labor Day (which I am just now realizing is Monday).
Trust me. Make it. You’ll love this one. It’s classic, but with a fun twist, and just mouth-wateringly good.
If you make this Better Together Chocolate Vanilla Birthday Cake, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I love hearing from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every one of you. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram so I can see! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Better Together Chocolate Vanilla Birthday Cake
Calories Per Serving: 3426 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk or buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup hot black coffee
- 4 sticks (2 cups) salted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter 3 (8-inch) round cake pans and line with parchment paper.2. In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand-held mixer) beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the greek yogurt and vanilla and beat until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with flour until just combined.4. Remove 1/3 of the batter (about 3 cups) and spread in 1 of the prepared cake pans. Set aside. 5. To the remaining batter, beat in the cocoa powder and coffee. Divide the chocolate batter evenly between 2 cake pans. Transfer all 3 cakes to the oven and bake 25-30 minutes, until the tops are just set and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Cover and let the cakes cool completely before assembling.6. To make the frosting. Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until the butter is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Remove 1 cup of the vanilla frosting and set aside. 7. To the remaining frosting, add the cocoa powder and cream and whip the frosting for 2-4 minutes more or until light and fluffy. 8. Place a chocolate layer on a plate or cake stand and spread the top with chocolate frosting. Place the vanilla cake on top and spread with vanilla frosting. Add the final chocolate layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with chocolate frosting. If desired, you can alternate between chocolate and vanilla frosting to create a marbled, swirled look. Slice and serve.
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To make 2 vanilla layers and 1 chocolate: 4. Remove 2/3 of the batter (about 6 cups) and spread in 2 of the prepared cake pans. Set aside. Adjust these two ingredients: 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder 2 Tablespoons coffee 5. To the remaining batter, beat in the cocoa powder and coffee. Pour into one cake pan. Transfer the cakes (all 3) to the oven and bake 25-30 minutes, until the tops are just set and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Cover and let the cakes cool completely before assembling. 6. To make the frosting. Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until the butter is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Remove 2 cups of the vanilla frosting and set aside. Adjust cocoa powder in frosting to: 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 7. To the remaining frosting, add the cocoa powder and cream and whip the frosting for 2-4 minutes more or until light and fluffy. 8. Place a vanilla layer on a plate or cake stand and spread the top with vanilla frosting. Place the chocolate cake on top and spread with chocolate frosting. Add the final vanilla layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with vanilla frosting. If desired, you can alternate between chocolate and vanilla frosting to create a marbled, swirled look. Slice and serve.
This cake is excellent. Super moist, great flavor. I’ve made it for three birthdays so far and am making it tonight again. I switch up the chocolate to vanilla frosting ratio sometimes and do more vanilla vs. chocolate.
Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it and sharing your feedback! Hope you’re off to a great weekend:)
What is the proper way to store this cake? In the fridge? In an airtight cake container? Or can I leave it in out of the fridge in an airtight container?
I like to store this in an airtight container on the counter:) Let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xTieghan
Hello with a stand mixer do I use the paddle or the whisk attachment,
For cake batter, I like to use the paddle:) I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xx
Did it twice and it was not remotely as nice as expected. Too dense, too fat, too sweet.
Thanks for giving the recipe a try, so sorry to hear it was not enjoyed. Is there something I can help with? Let me know! xTieghan
Hi! This cake looks heavenly. I want to make this for son’s birthday. Can I use this recipe for an 11×11 in. or 30×30 cm. (square) pan?
Sure, that will work well for you! I hope you love the recipe and happy birthday to your son! xTieghan
Love this recipe. Will definitely give it a try 🙂
Does it hold well under fondant please?
Sorry, I am not sure, I am not familiar in working with fondant. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan
I’m making this today and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will hold fondant as I am making a birthday cake for tomorrow
I hope you love the recipe Sarah, let me know how it turns out! xx
Made this for my husband’s birthday, and it was a huge hit! Also, very easy with the simple batter and frosting starting vanilla and adding chocolate after taking out the needed vanilla mixture. Loved it!
Thanks so much for trying this recipe, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Happy Holidays! xTieghan
I plan to bake this for my son’s birthday. A quick question, if i have run out of salted butter, is there a ratio of how much salt i could add and use unsalted better for frosting?
I would just add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I hope you love the recipe and happy birthday to your son! xTieghan
Hello, what can I use to substitute yogurt.
You could use sour cream in place of the yogurt. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give the recipe a try! xTieghan
Thanks so much for the recipe, looks delicious and would like to try baking myself. I have two questions please
1) I would like to reduce the amount of sugar in the cake by 100g to make it less sweet. I know baking is like chemistry would the affect the bake? Would I also need to reduce the amount of butter or any other ingredient accordingly?
2) sorry am not clear on the amount of coffee to use, you give the measurement in grams but not sure if this is when the hot water is added? Can you confirm how many tablespoon of coffee I should use and how much hot water?
Thanks so much
Since I have not tested reducing the sugar, I would recommend following the recipe as is for best results. You will want to use 1/4 cup or 52 grams of hot black coffee that is already brewed. I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan
Hey!! Wanting to make this cake the way your sister likes it- all chocolate! Will I need more cocoa or coffee if I’m not removing any batter for vanilla?
This is the cake that Asher prefers:
Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
I had this cake made for my birthday and it is hands down the best cake I’ve ever had.
We made it with a gluten free all purpose flour and it turned out perfect. 10/10 would make again!
Hey! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 xxTieghan
This is literally the best birthday cake recipe I have ever had. Also, this may be my second post stating such.
Question: If I wanted to make this as a sheet cake, would I need to alter anything?… time, temperature?
Thank you so much!! You will want to keep an eye on the cake, it may need a little longer in the oven if you are using a sheet pan. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
What kind of greek yogurt? Full fat? Non fat? Plain?
I like to use full fat greek yogurt. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan
Hello-I am in the middle of making this cake and the recipe does not indicate when to put the milk/buttermilk into the batter. I am going to assume it is at the same time as the greek yogurt. Fingers crossed.
Please ignore my ignorance! Thank goodness for my 13 year old daughter who read the recipe correctly and found the step I could not see!
Thanks for trying the recipe:)
The buttermilk is listed in step 3. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan
I made this cake today and it’s fabulous! It didn’t make 3 cakes for me, but it made 2 nicely sized layers. I used margarine instead of butter because I didn’t have any and we are in lockdown. It turned out great! It made a lockdown birthday very lovely. Thank you, my 4 year old was thrilled
Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try! xTieghan
Can you cover it with fondant or will it be too heavy for the soft cake?
Hey there! I haven’t tried to cover this in fondant before, but I would imagine it should work fine! xxTieghan
Delicious cake and this recipe made a combo of vanilla and chocolate cake easier than I imagined!
Happy Sunday! I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! xxTieghan