I pointed out a photo of a magnificent Triple Layer Chocolate Cake in an old Fine Cooking Magazine as a potential birthday cake for my oldest. Some tweaking was in order, like filling it with cream cheese whipped cream frosting and dialing down the espresso powder.

A Three Layer Cake is always a showstopper and this was a huge hit with my whole family, especially the birthday boy. 

 Triple Layer Chocolate Cake on a white cake stand.

Why You Must Make

  • This was one perfect chocolate cake. The layers were moist and tender with the perfect amount of cocoa and sweetness.
  • Paired with a light cream cheese frosting was a dreamy match made in heaven.
  • The birthday boy was pleased, in fact, the whole darn family loved this!
  • This was a Gale Gand Recipe! She is a fabulous Chicago-based pastry chef with her own Food Network show. I trust her recipes implicitly, so when I saw her name under the by-line for a recipe for a gorgeous chocolate Irish whiskey cake, I took the bait. As a stunning cover photo for a December 2012 Fine Cooking magazine, it was beckoning me to bake it!

But I wasn’t sure how a whiskey cake would fly with my crew, so that was the first ingredient to go. Then the tablespoon of espresso powder in the whipped cream was next on the chopping block. I can sneak a little Kahlua or instant coffee/espresso powder into a recipe, but it has to be very subtle to keep the picky hubby happy.

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake on a white ceramic cake stand

Recipe Tips

This splendid cake turned out better than I imagined. A quality recipe ensured that. The cake layers were moist and flavorful and the frosting was light and decadent.

  • You’ll need three 9-inch cake pans. Most kitchens are stocked with one or two, so you may need to borrow (or buy) what you need before you start the recipe.
  •  PRO-Tip: Try to divide the batter equally between the cake pans so your layers are the same height. I like using my kitchen scale. This is easiest if all 3 pans are from the same manufacturer and, therefore, the same weight.
  • Another option is to weigh your mixing bowl empty, then again when it’s full of the cake batter. Subtract the weight of the bowl from the weight of the filled bowl and divide it by 3. Each pan needs about 1 pound and 1 ounce of batter. Or just take the easy route and eyeball it!
  • PRO-Tip: Though I love the flavor of butter in baked goods, the addition of oil in the batter makes for a super moist cake.
  • PRO-Tip: Adding coffee enhances the chocolate flavor without turning this into a mocha cake. Incorporate some espresso powder or instant coffee into the batter if you want a stronger coffee flavor. Mix either of the options into the milk before adding it to the batter; about a teaspoon will dial up the chocolate intensity.
  • When making the frosting for this chocolate cake, have your cream cheese at room temperature, so it will blend smoothly.
  • When spreading the filling on the bottom two layers, do not go all the way to the edge. Instead, stop at least ½-inch from the edge, so that the pressure from adding the additional layers does not push the filling out too far. If you own an offset spatula, it’s a terrific tool for the job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Else Can Be Used to Fill a Chocolate Cake?

Besides the cream cheese whipped cream filling used in this recipe, chocolate buttercream frosting, chocolate ganache, or chocolate mousse would all be delicious alternatives.

How Do You Ensure a Moist Chocolate Cake?

First, do not overbake. Check your cake early to see if it’s done using a toothpick. All ovens bake a little differently, so the time in the recipe gives you some guidelines, but your cake may take more or less time to be perfectly baked.
You can also brush a simple syrup on each cake before layering. Simple syrup is made by simmering equal parts sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. This will add moisture to the layers.

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Triple Chocolate Layer Cake on a white cake stand

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake Recipe

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 3 minutes
Yield 12

A magnificent Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with a whipped cream cheese frosting.



  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee

Cream Cheese Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate shavings or curls to garnish, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment rounds, and grease parchment. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer for about 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully, stir in hot coffee. The batter will be very thin.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 cake pans. I like using a kitchen scale to make sure the layers are even.
  6. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes to cooling racks. Cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, whip the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and creamy, then mix in the sugar. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and beat to medium peaks.
  8. To assemble the cake, place the first layer on a serving plate and top with ⅓ of the frosting. Leave some space (about ½-inch) around the perimeter as the weight of the cake will cause the frosting to expand.
  9. Repeat by adding the second layer, another ⅓ of the frosting, and finally top with the last layer and spread on the rest of the frosting.
  10. Garnish as desired.


Adapted from Fine Cooking.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 680Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 492mgCarbohydrates: 75gFiber: 2gSugar: 54gProtein: 8g


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