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One Layer Fudge Cake - a decadent, chocolate dessert for when you don't need a huge cake

One Layer Fudge Cake

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If you happen to be looking for an easy, decadent chocolate dessert, this One Layer Fudge Cake will fit the bill! Plus, it’s perfect when you need a smaller dessert. One of my friends served this exquisite chocolate cake last night for a birthday party, and it just reinforced how incredible this recipe tastes! I practically licked my plate clean.

chocolate cake is pretty much a given on December 27. That’s the date of my oldest’s birthday.  Any other day of the year a luscious Chocolate Lasagna would make the family swoon, but for a birthday, it must be cake.  It doesn’t matter that we still had 3/4 of a Chocolate Mousse Torte in the fridge. We had to honor the kid who drew the short straw as far as birthdays are concerned.

One Layer Fudge Cake with a rich chocolate ganache topping on a white dessert plate


Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

One Layer Fudge Cake

It’s difficult when your special day is so close to Christmas. Mom is tired of cooking, mom is tired of shopping. There may have been some IOU’s this time around.  But I did make certain there was a chocolate cake. And a one layer cake is perfect when you’ve been overindulging your way through the holidays.

Slice of One Layer Fudge Cake on a white plate with a red handled fork

Single Layer Chocolate Cake

This year, a one layer fudge cake topped with a decadent, glossy ganache was selected for the celebration. When I showed the birthday boy this photo on the Fine Cooking website, he quickly agreed with my choice. You cannot go wrong with an Alice Medrich recipe when it comes to chocolate desserts. But besides birthdays, this single layer cake is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Or if you’re celebrating with your favorite girlfriends, “Galentine’s Day.”

One Layer Fudge Cake on a white ceramic cake stand

Easy and Decadent

Dense and moist with a glossy coat of ganache, this one layer fudge cake was so easy to put together. No worries about lining up layers, piping decorations or fiddling with leveling. Bake, cool and coat. It was as simple as that. And it was as superb in taste as it was a breeze to assemble.

You’ll definitely want to whip up this single layer chocolate cake for the chocoholic in your life. We sent the leftovers home with Tom. I’m certain he and his roommates finished it for breakfast. That’s a birthday boy’s prerogative.

Tips for Making This One Layer Fudge Cake

This glazed chocolate cake is ideal for when you aren’t feeding a huge crowd. Less leftovers (if any!) and no waste, plus the flavor is out of this world!

  • I like lining the bottom of my cake pans with a round of parchment paper. It peels off easily from the baked cake and prevents any cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You grease first, add the parchment to the bottom of the pan, then grease the top of the parchment.
  • The ganache is too thin if you glaze your cake immediately after making it. It will thicken to a more spreadable, yet still pourable, consistency as it cools but that takes some time. You can always put the ganache in the refrigerator to hasten the process, checking on it and stirring at regular intervals so it doesn’t get too thick. Gently microwave if it gets too thick.
  • Adding an extra 4 ounces of chocolate will make a thicker ganache if that’s your preference. But remember that the ganache should still pour so you can get a smooth, glossy coating.

Baking a One Layer Cake

  • An underdone cake will sink in the middle as it cools. Make sure to use a toothpick to check to see if the cake is done by inserting it into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, or with just a moist crumb or two, it’s done.
  • An additional check is to press or tap the center of the cake with your index finger. If the cake pops back up, it’s fully cooked. If an indentation remains, the cake needs more time.
  • When you start smelling a delicious aroma, it means the cake is getting close to being done. Remember, all ovens bake a little differently. Some have hot spots or cook hotter, and others cook cooler than the temperature setting states.
  • Purchase an oven thermometeroven thermometer to be sure. No one likes a dry, over baked cake.

How to Make A Gluten Free Version

  • One of my friends makes a gluten free version of this one layer fudge cake just by substituting Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour for the flour in equal measurements. I’ve tasted it, and you’d never know the difference.


Galentine’s Day

A group of my blogger girlfriends are sharing some of their favorite recipes for a “Galentine’s Day Party.”  A big thanks to my lovely friend, Courtney, of NeighborFood, for gathering us gals together for this Valentine’s Day bash. Be sure to check out all the delectable offerings:

Galentine’s Day Drinks

Blood Orange Bourbon Fizz with Fried Sage from Lauren of Climbing Grier Mountain

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Martini from Shanna of Pineapple and Coconut

Ladies’ Night Rum Punch from Lindsay of The Live In Kitchen

Galentine’s Day Brunch

Sweet Potato Cornmeal Waffles with Bourbon Cream and Pecan Butter from Susan of Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

Chocolate Dipped Donuts from Angie of Big Bear’s Wife

Lemon and Ginger Scones from Lauren of Healthy. Delicious.

Galentine’s Day Desserts

Piña Colada Cupcakes from Courtney of Neighborfood

Strawberry Chocolate Dessert Bars from Marly of Namely Marly

Banana Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosting from Nancy of Gotta Get Baked

One Layer Fudge Cake from Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Double Strawberry Angel Food Cake with Whipped Vanilla Creme Fraiche from Cynthia of Two Red Bowls

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Ice Cream with Candied Bacon Bits from Steph of Girl Versus Dough

Fruity Dessert Pizza from Morgan of Peaches Please

Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Pecan Bites (Gluten Free!) from Karen of The Food Charlatan

DIY Cheesecake Parfait Bar from Heather of Heather’s Dish

More Chocolate Cake Recipes You’ll Love:

Used in This Recipe:


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One Layer Fudge Cake - Rich, delectable and perfect when you don't need to feed a crowd!

One Layer Fudge Cake

A smaller version of the perfect chocolate cake!

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


For Ganache:

  • 812 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (some have found the ganache is too runny unless you add the larger amount of chocolate, but I find that 8 ounces is fine if you let it cool to thicken)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For Cake and Assembling:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces(1/2 cup) butter, melted and warm
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 cup warm ganache (listed above)


  1. Make ganache. Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a saucepan or via the microwave, heat cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Add sugar and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan or line it with parchment.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. Sift the cocoa into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and vanilla; stir until well blended. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir just until all the flour is moistened.
  5. Pour the hot water over the batter; stir just until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes or till toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of cake and remove from pan to finish cooling on the rack, removing parchment if used.
  7. Once cool, set the rack over a baking sheet or foil. Pour the warm ganache over the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides. Let set for about an hour before serving.


Adapted from Fine Cooking. Recipe from Alice Medrich

You may find you have extra ganache. I love to make sandwich cookies with two chocolate chip cookies and a thick layer of ganache as the filling.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

126 comments on “One Layer Fudge Cake”

  1. Such a gorgeous cake, I love the fudgy ganache topping!

  2. Can’t be too much of chocolate cake!

  3. This sounds great Liz! I like one layer cakes, they make less temptation:@)

  4. Anything that can be described as having a “glossy coat of ganache” is okay in my book, Liz! This looks so rich and glass-of-milk-necessary. Yum. Happy Galentine’s Day!

  5. wow, pretty damn beautifull fidge cake,
    lovin the shiny ganache too!!!

  6. I die. I mean really – you can’t go wrong with a fudge cake!

  7. You’re a good mom! Lol

    LOOOVE the decadent chocolatey goodness–and that it’s only one layer! Hooray for simplicity!

  8. This is gorgeous Liz. I love the simplicity of ganache frosting. It always looks lovely but is so easy to make and assemble. This would be dangerous at our house! Thanks so much for joining the party today!

  9. This looks fantastic and a perfect way to celebrate Galentine’s Day! So glad we’re in this even together!

  10. Chocolate cake belongs at every occasion! This looks great!

  11. Aww, love the story behind this cake! It’s true, I had a good friend with a Dec 28 birthday and it was the pits for her. (Even my little brother gets the “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!” twofer sometimes …. maybe sometimes from me ………. and his birthday’s at the end of January!) This looks like the perfect remedy for an overshadowed birthday. Thanks for posting this decadent cake!

  12. That one layer looks just good enough to eat! Oh, that ganache…and all that moist, chocolaty cake 🙂 ela

  13. This looks fantastic and a perfect way to celebrate Galentine’s Day! So glad we’re in this even together! goooooooo

  14. Wow look at that shiny cake, looks amazing. Ganache rules. So does a moist cake, a real winner. Happy Belated bday to your son.

  15. I love the look of that glossy ganache!

  16. “One Layer”…that’s my kind of cake (to make). My multi-layered cakes are ALWAYS lopsided. hahaha. Happy Galantine’s Day, Liz!

  17. Hey Liz, guess what.. I just baked it 🙂 its come out really well.. I will post the pictures soon in my blog. thanks for the wonderful recipe. its a perfect dessert for chocoholics!

  18. I am a sucker for delicious chocolate cake! This is gorgeous!

  19. I love simple desserts like this Liz. It’s looks elegant yet it sounds super easy to put together. Perfect in my book!

  20. stunning chocolate cake!!!! LOVE this. . I am drooling. . now I’m gonna have to go bake!

  21. This cake looks so soft and moist. Perfect for an afternoon tea. 🙂

  22. I have friends and family members whose birthdays fall on or around Christmas and I always feel bad for them to share their special day. You making this cake would make up for anything! It’s gorgeous, Liz. That glossy ganache layer is killing me! I’m so happy and grateful to have met and become friends with you. Happy Galentine’s Day, lady!

  23. That chocolate cake looks amazing! I love the ganache!!!

  24. Yes, i can attest to this cake because it is the one I call quick chocolate cake, that I posted for Zoe’s half marathon. I love this cake and everyone that has tasted it does, too. As for birthdays, mine is December 20th. My mother never made me a cake because my dad’s birthday is December 25th. Needless to say when my twins were growing up I made two cakes. Yes. I did.

  25. This is my kind of cake! No layers, easy to put together and simple to decorate. Plus I imagine it tastes fantastic too!

  26. As many time as I’ve made cakes, I’ve yet to make ganache. I really need to get on with that. That shiny coat looks perfect!

  27. Such a lovely chocolate cake Lizzy and yumm!!!!!
    Happy Valentine’s day dear!

  28. One layer of absolute heaven, bookmarked this cake 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  29. Oh, now this cake looks sensational, Liz! For just one layer, it’s so fluffy and moist. I want to cover it in raspberries and snag a big slice!

  30. Lizzy,
    I love your desserts. This cake looks delicious! The hubby always wants chocolate on chocolate cakes. I’m sure your son didn’t lose out on his Birthday with all the baking and cooking you do.

  31. This cake looks magnificent Liz! Chocolate cake is my favorite and this one looks so decadent and fudgy. I love the shiny ganache – it looks heavenly!

  32. I’ve been in a real chocolate mood lately and this is making me drool!!

  33. You are speaking my language, I have been craving Chocolate!
    This looks so super special!! YUM!
    Perfect for Valentine’s Day too

  34. That looks like perfection! I love Ganache frostings – perfect!

  35. I think you and your family love chocolate as much as I do. Another great cake recipe, Lizzy!

  36. That gorgeous glossy ganache icing over that fudgy cake would be enough to tell any birthday boy how much he’s loved.

  37. This cake is gorgeous — perfect for a Galentine’s Day party!

  38. This is perfect for Valentine’s Day and ANY DAY, Liz! If it’s chocolate, it’s just always perfect!


  39. Perfectly moist and chocolatey…and that thick layer of ganache coating looks unbelievably divine!

  40. I would love this cake for a birthday cake or Valentine’s Day. Looks yummy!!

  41. Decadently divine! I’d love a bite of this beauty…Undoubtedly your Valentine is very happy with this choice of cake.

  42. My oldest child was due on the 8th of January. Because I was so big I was worried I would have a baby born around Christmas but no, no need to worry, I had him induced 12 days after his due date (and I shouldn’t have done that – should have waited to go into labour naturally but that’s another story – I’ll spare you!) I do agree that a birthday on or around Christmas is difficult timing and I admire you for going to the effort. This cake looks super moist and delicious xx

  43. This is a great go-to recipe for a chocolate cake. I think I’ll bake it today for the kiddos and surprise them…it is quick and easy, which means faster chocolate craving pleasure!!! Beautiful ganache too, Lizzy! xx

  44. Love it, Liz: “bake, cool and coat”! Easy but stunning and a must have recipe to have up your sleeve. Absolute beauty. Have a glorious weekend xo

  45. There can never be too much chocolate cake… ever! 🙂 Looks like an amazing way to end a meal… or just a treat with a big glass of milk. 🙂

  46. Yum! A rich, delicious cake without the hastle of layers.

  47. What a wonderful birthday treat this cake would make, I am sure he was a very happy boy this cake looks amazing and so beautiful as well.

  48. Chocolaty perfection!

  49. Now that is some chocolate cake! Beautifully scrumptious!

  50. Nothing says Valentines Day like rich, decadent chocolate! Fantastic!

  51. Looks like one delicious cake! Perfect for Galentine’s Day!

  52. I think this chocolate cake could solve all the world’s problems. Delicious and I pinned this as a recipe I want to try. Great post!

  53. This is so beautiful! You always make the best stuff.

  54. Pure
    Shame on you! xx

  55. If it’s an Alice Medrich recipe, it’s sure to be delicious! What a perfect way to make the birthday boy with a short straw feel special.

  56. the ganache looks perfect!

  57. Love the idea of a one-layer birthday cake. Looks just as impressive but with much less work. Wonderful!

  58. yum yum yum! gonna try it out…………. 🙂

  59. Bake, cool and coat are delicious words to live by!

  60. Oh my,…MMM, that looks delicious! 🙂

  61. I baked this cake last night for our daughter-in-love’s birthday. You are sheer genius! My husband said he thought it was the best chocolate cake I had ever baked. Thank you!

  62. Can I skip baking soda? I am not allowed to use it for medical problem. Will it effect the taste of the cake if I dont use it

  63. This cake is perfect 🙂

  64. I made this cake tonight. While making The ganache, I realized the proportions were WAY OFF. It is far too liquidy. Either an ingredient has been left out, such as a large quantity of confectioner sugar, or the amount of cream is not accurate. Is that the original post you please check the measurements and ingredients and or explain why the good Nash is liquid chocolate, it’s like soup. I made half the ganache recipe, and added a cup of confectioners’ sugar. I’m hoping that will help the glaze. Haven’t eaten the cake yet, tho it seems very promising.

    • I’m sorry the ganache didn’t work for you, Victoria. I checked back with Alice Medrich’s original recipe and the proportions are correct—so I’m not sure what happened as mine worked fine. Here’s a link to her ganache:

      P.S. I went back to read the reviews of her recipe and it looks like a couple others had the same problem. One upped the chocolate to 12 ounces. I hope the cake is still delicious!

  65. Dear Lizzy, what a beautiful and decadent dessert…perfect for any occasion. xoxo, Catherine

  66. OK, made it to the letter the first time and it was great.
    Just made it it for the second time, substituting buttermilk for the water. I also used a full tsp of baking soda to compensate. The result: Super rich and flavorful!

  67. Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

  68. Salted or unsalted butter?

    • I always use salted butter unless noted otherwise. If you’d prefer to use unsalted butter, I’d add a touch more salt (slightly less than 1/2 teaspoon). Hope you enjoy!

  69. I made this as the dessert for our dinner party group and it was a hit. I used the full 12 ounces for the ganache and it had a perfect consistency. I topped it with some fresh raspberries. Yum Yum. Will make this one again, for sure!

  70. I first made this for my grandson’s 15th birthday, since there were only 6 of us for the get-together. It is now a family favorite. I can’t imagine that I did anything wrong but I had way too much ganache. The next time, I made only half the ganache (using 6 oz of chocolate) and still had a bit too much. (It didn’t go to waste either time though – it makes wonderful ice cream topping). The next time, I may try cutting the cake in half and spreading a little buttercream frosting between layers as a little bonus.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Karen. I’m make a note of this in the recipe—as I recall using the leftovers to sandwich between chocolate chip cookies! Hope you have a terrific weekend!!

  71. I have a question. You make the ganache first. Then you mix the cake and bake the cake for 40min and then cool the cake. Then pour “warm” ganache over the cake. By now it’s been off the stove for at least an hour. Is it still warm at the point to pour over the cake?

    • Hi, Phyllis,

      The ganache really does stay pourable–calling it “warm” might not be the most accurate term. If it happens to get a little too stiff to pour, just gently warm it in the microwave until it gets to the consistency you want. That could possibly happen if your kitchen is cold (and mine is with this awful winter weather!). Good luck!

  72. This truly does look like a chocolate lover’s dream come true!

  73. Wow Liz – I LOVE this cake and will be making it for my birthday this summer! I always mess up layer cakes but maybe I can handle this single layer with the gorgeous frosting 🙂

  74. A classic simple cake that can star at any dinner or birthday! Love how quickly it comes together.

  75. Such a fantastic recipe! Totally crave-worthy!

  76. Definitely worth the reblog. Such a gorgeous and simple cake.

  77. this is a gorgeous Cake I just love all that fudgy goodness! I would love a slice right now

  78. Although I love cakes with many thin layers and lots of frosting more, this guy looks fantastic. Love its fudgy and airy texture. It’s a quintessence of chocolate love 🙂

  79. One layer is fine with me and this looks awesome!

  80. What a beautifully sliced piece of cake! Looks so decadent!

  81. You had me at fudge.. this cake is perfection!

  82. i jut love how easy a one layer cake can be! perfect for family dinners

  83. Yes please, a big slice for me!


  85. What a beautiful chocolate cake. My kids keep begging me to try to make a chocolate ganache (they saw it on a cooking show). This recipe would be perfect. Thanks for linking up with us a the #HomeMattersParty this week!

  86. wow! looks so yummy!

    thanks for sharing at Talk of the Town.



  87. I love fudge so much and was so excited to make this delicious looking cake! Everyone loved it! I can’t wait to make it again!

  88. Could this recipe be used to make cupcakes? I’d like to make the 8″ cake for my daughter’s birthday party with cupcakes to give guests to take home. Looks delicious, can’t wait to try it!

    • Hi, Elisabeth,

      Great question, but I haven’t tried it, so I’d hate to assure you 100% that they’d work. But if you have the time, I’d definitely give it a try. The recipe might make 10-12 cupcakes and I’d bake them 20-25 minutes. Let me know how it goes if you give them a shot!

  89. Hello! Tried this today for my brother’s birthday and it was a hit! My ganache was too runny though because I only used 8 oz of chocolate. I was confused with the measurement of the brown sugar…. I ended up using 1 and 1/4 sugar! Was that how it was supposed to be? Thank you very much and more power! 

    • Hi, Carmela,

      Yes, 1 1/4 cups of sugar is correct. I took out the dash to make it less confusing. The ganache with only 8 ounces of chocolate will eventually thicken as it cools—but it takes longer in the summer. You can always put it in the fridge, but watch so it (stir on occasion) doesn’t get too hard (though you can gently microwave to loosen it up again). Glad you all enjoyed this cake!

  90. This cake is perfection!

  91. This cake has the perfect crumb to it, and it’s so approachable too.

  92. I am craving this cake so much! Perfectly fudgey!

  93. I love one layer cakes in any flavor..that ganache though!

  94. Without a doubt that is one beautiful cake.

  95. I love the single layer, it seems perfect for when you want a bit of chocolate.

  96. I personally think one layer cakes are the best. This is wonderful!

  97. This is absolutely droolworthy!

  98. I’d love a slice right now!

  99. what an irresistible looking chocolate cake!

  100. this is incredible!

  101. I made this cake for the lunch today at church. Everyone liked the cake. I used 2 Hershey bars for the chocolate frosting. The frosting was not too sweet and I used about 1/4 cup of heavy cream not a whole cup

  102. This looks amazing & delicious. I love chocolate! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday.

  103. A plain fudge cake is good any time! Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty

  104. Fantastic recipe! I just wanted a snack cake to share with a few friends, and this was perfect. I paired it with a salted caramel chocolate buttercream, and it was divine!

  105. Can you double the recipe to make two layered cake? 

    • Hi, Eli,

      Yes, you could definitely use the cake recipe to make a two layer cake. Since the frosting is a ganache, I don’t think it’s best suited to frost a layer cake. I’d use a traditional buttercream frosting instead. You could also just fill it with buttercream and try to pour/spread the ganache over the cake (chill so it’s more of a spreading consistency than liquid). You’ll need to make extra ganache, maybe 1 1/2 times the recipe. Hope this helps! and if you try this, let me know how it goes.

  106. Great cake BUT 4 ounces is NOT 1\2 cup…

    • Hi, Nancy,

      In many cases, 4 ounces of an ingredient is not 1/2 cup, but if you go look at a stick of butter, you’ll see that the weight is 4 ounces and the label will also show that it’s 1/2 cup/8 tablespoons. Glad you enjoyed the cake! It’s perfect when you want a smaller sized cake. Have a great weekend!

  107. Pingback: Quick chocolate fudge cake – Eat cake for breakfast

  108. Hi, can I use hot coffee instead of water for this recipe?

  109. hi, can I use hot coffee for this recipe instead of water?

  110. Pingback: Lemon Ginger Scones

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