This Chocolate Gingerbread Cake is a delicious twist on a holiday classic. A rich chocolate spice cake paired with a silky dark chocolate ganache.
There are these cookies that my parents always get from the Polish store around the holidays. They’re these puffy and soft (though often dry) gingerbread cookies coated in chocolate. Very similar to these ones, but with Polish packaging (lol). You can get them plain or filled with a jam of sorts, but I always preferred the plain ones.
I didn’t actually set out to make this cake with those in mind, but once I tried the first bite I was all like — what does this remind me of?? This Chocolate Gingerbread Cake is my cake version of those cookies.
How to Make this Chocolate Gingerbread Cake
This cake was yet another adventure in the making. And this time I HAD bought everything I need in advance. I was ready for this one.
I thought I would get a head start on the baking too, and store the cake layers in the freezer until I was ready to decorate. Too bad I didn’t remember that I wanted to use this Chocolate Gingerbread Cake with my new cake stand.
The two 8″ layers I baked were too big, and definitely not going to work with this stand. SIGH. Luckily, the layers tasted delicious on their own, so they didn’t go to waste.
Take two on the layers (6″ this time) was a success, and I made the ganache frosting in advance since it needs to sit and thicken up.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
The ganache frosting on this Chocolate Gingerbread Cake is on the thinner side (read: not the easiest to work with at room temperature). It’s fairly soft, and when you’re trying to stack 6 layers they can start to slide around a bit.
Once I had stacked the cake layers, I nudged them all into place so they were even, and then stuck 4 (trimmed to the right height) bamboo skewers through the top of the cake to act as support.
Another alternative is placing the ganache into the fridge to thicken up, but you need to watch it and stir often to make sure it thickens evenly. If left in the fridge for a long time, it will firm up to the point of not being spreadable.
The texture of the ganache is SO good with this cake. It’s soft and creamy at room temperature, and rich and truffle-like when chilled. It’s really the best.
It is my preference to have it this way, but you may want something a bit thicker and easier to work with. As such, I’ve included two Dark Chocolate Ganache recipes below — you can choose which one you’d prefer!
Decorating this Gingerbread Cake
Alright, so it’s decorating day! I have my ganache ready, my second set of cake layers baked, and all of my props and garnishes on hand. Woohoo!
My original plan was to put rosemary trees on the top or the sides of the cake, similar to my Gingerbread Cake. I had also bought some thyme sprigs to act as a different set of trees.
I didn’t take a good look at the rosemary when I bought it (ugh). When I finally did, I discovered it was HUGE. Seriously, these were some mutant giant rosemary sprigs.
They would have looked ridiculous on top for sure, or even on the sides of this cake. DAMMIT. Off to the store I go.
Not just one store though, noooo, that would be too easy. The farmers market I checked first also had the giant rosemary, Safeway had none at all (wtf), and I finally found some normal-sized rosemary at an organics store.
Ironically, it was the closest store to my house, and I should have gone there first (sigh). I also found pomegranate seeds and gingerbread cookies there that I intended to use as more props.
You’ll notice that there are no rosemary trees on this cake (LOL).
I didn’t like the way they looked, at all. The cake is already tall, so having them on top looked ridiculous, and pressing them into the sides just looked weird.
I didn’t end up using the damn gingerbread cookies either (they were delicious to snack on during picture taking though).
So my 30min outing resulted in using the one thing I didn’t intend to buy in the first place — pomegranate seeds.
Did I mention that I also left the house with no makeup, wearing whatever I was wearing (it was not pretty), and soaking wet hair in near freezing temps? It was fun times all around. In hindsight though, I think the pomegranate seeds look really pretty, so I’m glad I bought them!
Oh, AND, my ganache was lumpy because I didn’t make sure all the chocolate bits were totally melted. UGH. I thought they were, it looked like they were, but I should have listened to my gut and put the bowl over a double-boiler on the stove just to make extra sure. So I had to strain my ganache (true story), because I wanted to get the chunks out.
Never a dull moment in the Liv for Cake kitchen!
Antler Cake Stand
So, this cake stand that I was so determined to use that I rebaked the cake layers… it’s borderline tacky, I know, but it just screams holidays and winter and Christmas, and I had to have it. The deer antlers go so well with the woodsy-like exterior of this cake.
Apparently, it’s actually not a cake stand at all. I literally found this out just now as I was looking it over for info to see if I could find it online to link to you (I couldn’t), but the one thing I did find was some safety precautions for a pillar candle. Lol, oops.
Anyway, this candle holder moonlighting as a cake stand works pretty well, no? I think so. Except when it came to putting the cake in there and then cutting a piece out. The antlers did not make my life easy there, but it worked out in the end.
I’m happy about the texture on the frosting. It reminds me of tree bark, and I just love this rustic woodsy look for the holidays. It was actually really simple to do.
Once I frosted the cake and smoothed the sides, I used this icing comb (the grooves on the bottom) to make the texture.
I pressed it into the side of the cake and spun the cake on my turntable. I went over it a few times to create a more rustic and messy look.
Since the cake was chilled before the final frosting, the ganache would start to firm up on the cake which made it easier to create the texture.
I decided to go for 6 layers with this cake, and I’m so glad I did. The cake is incredibly rich and delicious, with hints of gingerbread throughout, and the silky dark chocolate ganache makes for a perfect pairing in this Chocolate Gingerbread Cake.
Tips for this Chocolate Gingerbread Cake:
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so.
- The ganache recipe is fairly soft at room temperature and can be harder to work with. Read post above for details. I’ve included an alternate ganache recipe that is thicker.
- When making the ganache, be sure to chop your chocolate very fine, and make sure it’s all melted after you add the cream. I had chunks in mine (because I was too lazy to chop the chocolate into small pieces) that I ended up having to strain out.
- If you’re looking for more holiday inspired cakes, be sure to check out my Gingerbread Cake, Eggnog Cake, Spice Cake, and White Chocolate Candy Cane Cake!
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my Flat Top Cakes post.
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake
Chocolate Ganache Frosting – Original:
- 20 oz good quality dark chocolate chopped (not bakers chocolate)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
Chocolate Ganache Frosting – Alternate:
- 20 oz good quality dark chocolate chopped (not bakers chocolate)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake:
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp fancy molasses
Chocolate Ganache Frosting (make in advance):
- Place chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, combine heavy whipping cream and butter. Cook over med heat, stirring often, until it just starts to simmer.
- Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit 5 minutes.
- Stir gently with a spatula until completely smooth.
- Place plastic wrap directly on top of chocolate ganache. Allow to thicken and set overnight.*
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease three 6″ round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
- Place all dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl whisk all wet ingredients (pour water in slowly as not to cook the eggs if very hot).
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. A total of 30-35mins.
- Cool 10 minutes in the pans then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cut each layer of cake in half horizontally.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving dish. Top with about 1/2 cup ganache. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for at least 20mins until firm and set.**
- Frost the chilled cake with the remaining ganache. It will start to set against the cold cake.
- Use a decorating comb (I used the bottom side of the one here) on the sides and top of the cake. Run it across the cake a few times to create a rustic look.
- Decorate the top with thyme sprigs and pomegranate seeds if desired.
** If the ganache is too thin or soft and the cake layers start to slide around a bit during assembly, you can place 3-4 bamboo skewers into the top of the cake as support. You’ll need to trim the skewers to the proper height of the cake.
Originally published on Nov 26, 2017
I made the ganache, It has separated. Looked it up on internet and added more chocolate as did not have low fat milk. Did not help. Do you have recommendations
Hi Maggie! Do you have an immersion blender? That can help emulsify it together: https://www.santabarbarachocolate.com/blog/how-to-fix-a-broken-ganache/
I love this recipe! It’s so quick and easy to make. I am now thinking I would like to make this on Christmas Day however using a bundt tin. How would I adapt this recipe for a bundt tin?
Hi Melissa! Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here are some sites I use as a guideline:
I would just make the recipe as is and pour it into a Bundt. The batter is thin and rises a lot (doubles in size) so keep that in mind and don’t fill the pan too full. Baking time will be longer — I find Bundts can take anywhere from 50mins to 1h 15mins depending so be sure to check on it as it’s baking! Let me know how it turns out 🙂
Hey Liv! Just reporting back on the success of this chocolate gingerbread cake. I made it in 8″ cake pans using extra virgin olive oil instead of veg. oil. Layers weren’t very high but I cut them in half anyway (read more layers for more ganache 😉 I opted to use the alternate ganache because of transporting it 1 1/2 hours. Result: big hit. So delicious. Also, I used erythritol (sweetner) instead of regulat sugar and also a brown sugar sweetner due to diabetics in the family. Didnt even notice the difference. So good 👍 👏 definitely will make again. Its a keeper!! Merry Christmas to you!
Hi Jacquie! Hope you had a great Christmas 🙂 So glad it turned out well and thanks for your tips!
Marian Moss says
Made this for my husbands birthday. He said it was the best chocolate cake he’s ever eaten. He’s 57, eaten alot of chocolate cakes! I grated fresh ginger in the batter. Made it in a bundt pan and drizzled 1/2 of the ganache recipe over the top. Perfect.
Hi Marian! So happy you he loved it 🙂 Thanks for your tips!
Roseann Girardin says
I have a British style gingerbread cake recipe that I will be using for this Christmas – I love the tips, and the Antler cake (candle) stand. I checked on Amazon.ca – I searched on this page but can’t find the link, would you be able to provide this? Thanks
I will be checking out more of your recipes : )
Hi Roseann! I wasn’t able to find it anywhere online either which is why I didn’t link it 🙁 I found it at my local Homesense.
Hi there Olivia
Firstly, I just wanted to say thanks for your AMAZING cakes and website. This is now my go-to for cakes and you have gotten me back into baking and absolutely loving it!
Planning on making this cake for Christmas… I’m just wondering, I can’t find the fancy molasses here, would pure blackstrap molasses from Meridian work if you know it? Thanks in advance!
Hi Linda! Thanks so much for your sweet comment! It totally made my day! I would not use blackstrap molasses. It will be way too strong (unless you like that sort of thing). What you can try though is half blackstrap and half golden syrup to tone it down a bit 🙂
Hi Liv! I’m making this cake for dessert for Christmas. We are trying to avoid veg oils and I was wondering if I could use 1/4 cup of melted butter in the cake instead of the 1/4 cup veg oil.
This cake looks so yummy. My husband’s aunt just LOVES chocolate. I’m usually designated to bring dessert so I always search your website first.
Hi Jacquie! You definitely can but it will make for a denser cake. It’s a preference thing 🙂 You can also sub almost any other kind of oil if you prefer 🙂 Let me know how everyone likes it! Merry Christmas 😀
Carol Boissiere says
I cannot get the molasses. May I substitute with pure Canadian maple syrup?
Also I’m making cupcakes for an event, using this recipe. This is my first time baking cupcakes. I read somewhere that the shells should half filled with batter. Is this correct?
Thank you so very much.
Trinidad and Tobago
Hi Carol! Are you able to get Treacle where you are? Molasses is really what gives it that gingerbread flavour. Maple syrup will work, but the flavour won’t be the same. And yes, about 1/2 full to 2/3 full for the cupcakes.
Cerian Wood says
Hi Olivia, I love all your recipes and this sounds amazing, I noticed though that you use buttermilk in quite a few of your sponges and normal milk in others. I was wondering if there’s a reason other than taste and if I can just use regular milk in place of buttermilk for this or any of your cakes?
Hi Cerian! For the most part you can use regular milk instead, except for in the chocolate cakes, those need the buttermilk. Buttermilk just adds a bit of tang and cuts the sweetness. I tend to change it up here and there 🙂
Hi! This cake looks beautiful! I need to pin it! I had a quick question for you, I actually am trying to make your pistachio cake https://livforcake.com/pistachio-cake/#wprm-recipe-container-10486 and I was reading about your ganaches and I wanted something a little more sturdy as the chocolate truffle cake was amazing but a little difficult to work with. The alternative ganache posted in the chocolate gingerbread cake is slightly different than the one in the pistachio cake – which one do you recommend? Thanks so much! I hope you’re staying safe from the corona virus!
Hi SS! I would use the ganache from this recipe here. I’m still working on the perfect chocolate ganache for frosting, but this one is my fave so far 🙂
Thank you so much for getting back to me! Just to double check – the alternative frosting right?
Yes, sorry! That would yield a thicker ganache that’s easier to work with.
The recipe calls for 6 inch round. I see in the comments that someone mentions 8 inch round. I ordered 6 inch but I also have an 8 inch. I plan to make this on Christmas Eve. could you please tell me which size it was that you used in your photograph?
Thank you for including the brands and the links to Amazon. I have ordered the items you listed.
Hi Sonya! I used three 6″ round pans as per the recipe (and photos) and then cut each in half horizontally once baked.
Lori A Decker says
Oh my! Your shopping/decorating escapades sound very familiar … I’ve had a few similar experiences. My husband tells me I should write a book. I love these flavors together – I have a lovely recipe for chocolate gingerbread cookies that is to. die. for. I cant wait to try this cake!! Thanks so much for sharing. You’ve been quite an inspiration over the years – love your recipes, your decorating style and your photography. 🙂
Lori’s Little Bakery
Hi Lori! Thank you so much for your sweet comment – You totally made my day 🙂 I’m so glad you like the chocolate gingerbread combo as much as I do, it’s so delicious!
Laura Riff says
I made the chocolate-gingerbread cake last week and it turned out pretty well! Very moist. But it was hard to handle the cake layers and I wonder if that’s because I used golden syrup instead of the fancy molasses. I’m making the cake again tomorrow and don’t gave access to fancy molasses. What can I substitute? Regular molasses?
Hi Laura! The cake layers will be a bit fragile, especially if you cut them in half — they are thin and fairly delicate. I don’t recommend using blackstrap molasses if that’s what you have — but you can dilute that half and half with golden syrup. Or use regular unsulphured molasses. Let me know how it turns out!
I totally love the cake stand,it looks so beautiful. I will try out the chocolate,gingerbread cake and see how it goes..
Hi Emma! Thank you! I hope you like it.
Diana McFeters says
As the result of a medical problem I am having some right sided weakness, and I am right handed, so I wasn’t up to the usual tiering and decorating of a round cake. I followed the recipe but used a 9×13 rectangle pan and poured the ganache over. Yummy!!
Hi Diana! Love the idea of pouring over the ganache — makes it so much easier! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂
Hey, I am a big fan of your cooking skills. Thanks for sharing another unique recipe of chocolate gingerbread cake.
Stacie L McEntyre says
This was an INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS CAKE!!!! I would HIGHLY recommend this cake for a special occasion — it’s not too sweet, the chocolate ganache is divine, and it’s beautiful. I put pomegranate seeds on top with greenery around the base sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. It was BEAUTIFUL for Christmas, and quite the crowd pleaser!!
Hi Stacie! I’m so glad you liked it!!
I’m diving into the world of your somewhat-intimidating cakes, and attempting this cake for Christmas Eve (TOMORROW!). I’ve just discovered my pans are 9″ round (not 8, as I thought). Should I do two 9″ cakes, or…? (Damn poor planning on my part!) Thanks for any advice.
Hi Jennifer! With the recipe as is, there won’t be enough batter for 9″ rounds. Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here’s a site I use as a guideline: http://www.joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html I would double the recipe and use two 9″ cake pans. I hope that helps! Let me know how you like it 🙂
May be a stupid question, but for cooking with 9” rounds, should you double the ganache recipe as well??
Hi Chelsea! I would double it as well so that you have enough – always better to have more than less 🙂 You can freeze any extra.
Hello, can’t wait to bake this! Stores are out of Dutch processed cocoa, can I sub regular?
Hi Katie! Yes, regular will work fine. I hope you like it!
ok Im going to bite the bullet and try this tried untried cake for our Christmas Eve dinner at my brothers. No one too critical there. It sounds great and really good details in the blog and comments. Will also put truffles around it as commented. easier than ordering and picking up at the local whole foods parking lot which would be a 1 hour excursion minimun anyway
Hi Laila! I love this cake and hope you and your friends/family do too!
Hi! Can the original ganache recipe be whipped?
Yes, for sure!