A Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream. Moist chocolate layer cake, simple vanilla buttercream frosting, and chocolate ganache drips. This chocolate drip cake is perfect for special occasions!
We celebrated a very special birthday in the family this month. While planning the party, the first thing I obviously thought about was what type of cake I was going to make. It had to be chocolate (by request), over-the-top, and absolutely delicious. Don’t be fooled… this Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream might sound simple, but it is oh-so-perfect for special occasions!
This chocolate cake is just as good as it looks. It’s so moist and rich, frosted with a fluffy vanilla buttercream, and topped with a chocolate ganache drip. Seriously though, how fun are drip cakes?!
This cake is actually almost the same recipe as my chocolate raspberry cake. I’ve just adapted it slightly to create a three layer cake, and paired it with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting. I’ve also listed the weight of the flour I used for greater accuracy! I’m a huge fan of weighing my gluten free flour, since even the slightest difference in amount used can change the texture of the recipe. Adding a simple digital kitchen scale to your cabinet can really make a big difference in your gluten free baking!
A quick note: I did dye some of the frosting with reduced raspberry purée to create an ombré effect. The ombré frosting isn’t part of the recipe… but if you’d like to do this for your cake, watch this video for some help and tips!
Ok, time for that ganache drip. I’ve seen so many of these beautiful drip cakes lately, I just had to create my own for this gluten free chocolate cake. They key to a good drip cake is to pay attention to the consistency of the ganache.
How to make your drips:
- Chill the cake before pouring and spreading the ganache. Chilling the frosting helps control the drips so they don’t run all the way down the side of the cake.
- Make sure your ganache has completely cooled before you pour it on the cake. I find using a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to heavy cream works best. The ganache should be thick, not runny, but should still be fluid. So somewhere between chocolate sauce and hot fudge sauce…it should slowly drip off a spoon.
- Pour some of the ganache in the center of the top of the cake, so that it covers about ½ to ⅔ of the surface area. While rotating the cake, use an offset spatula to spread the ganache out to the sides. Allow a little of the ganache to start dripping down the sides of the cake.
- If you aren’t happy with your drips, or some of them haven’t fallen off the side, don’t panic! You can spoon a little bit of chocolate right over the edge where you want the drip to form.
- If you’re a visual learner like me, check out this amazing video that explains all of these steps!
It’s truly optional to add the ganache on top, but my family and I loved the extra special feeling it gave to this cake. Not to mention, ganache is always so delicious… I would top it on everything!
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
For Three 8” Cakes:
- 1 ¾ cup (255g) Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour, spoon and leveled!
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ cup oil
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- 2 cups butter, room temperature
- 5 - 5 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tsp guten free vanilla extract
- 5-6 Tbsp heavy cream
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp gluten free vanilla extract
Make the Cakes:
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour (use cocoa powder) three 8” round cake pans, lining the bottom of each with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugars, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, whisking to combine. Slowly mix in the coffee until totally combined. The batter will be fairly thin.
- Pour the batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake for 28-33 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely in the cake pans before removing.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- In a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the softened butter for 2 minutes until it’s fluffy and lighter/paler in color.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed. Slowly mix in the confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, making sure it’s totally combined before adding the next cup.
- Increase the speed to medium-high, add the vanilla and the heavy cream, and beat for an additional 1-2 minutes until it’s fluffy and easily spreadable in texture. You can adjust the frosting to preference at this point: adding additional confectioner’s sugar to thicken or heavy cream to thin out.
Assemble and Ganache:
- Place one cake layer on on a plate or cake stand (Optional to use a serrated knife to slice off a thin layer of the top of each cake to make them flat). Using a knife or offset spatula, evenly spread the top with about 1 - 1 ½ cups of frosting. Top with the second cake layer and evenly spread the top with about 1 - 1 ½ cups of frosting. Top with the third cake layer, then spread the remaining frosting across the top and around the sides.
- Refrigerate the frosted cake for at least 30 minutes so that the frosting is set and chilled.
- While the cake is chilling, make the ganache by heating the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-safe mixing bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Carefully whisk the mixture until the chocolate completely melts and combines with the cream. When smooth and silky, whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Let the ganache sit at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes to thicken and cool. You are looking for a ganache that is very thick, but it should still flow easily.
- When the cake is done chilling, and the ganache is ready, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Carefully pour some of the ganache over the top of the cake (you won’t use it all!). Pour just enough to thickly coat about ½ to ⅔ of the top.
- While rotating the cake, use an offset spatula to spread the ganache out to the sides. Allow a little of the ganache to start dripping down the sides of the cake. Avoid further spreading. Enjoy!
- Some of the frosting on this cake was dyed ombré pink with raspberry purée. You could also create the same effect using freeze-dried raspberries and grinding it to a powder, or using beetroot powder. For tips on making an ombre frosting like this, check out this video for some tips! For help with the chocolate ganache drip, watch this video!
- I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free baking flour, which already contains xanthan gum, so I cannot guarantee that your cake will turn out the same if using a different flour mixture. Not all gluten free flour mixes absorb moisture the same way, they can have different weights and they all have different proportions of ingredients used. If using a different gluten free all purpose flour mix, I recommend using a 1:1 mix that contains xanthan gum and measure by weight.
- Always spoon and level your flour into your measuring cups! Scooping out your flour with the measuring cup can lead to using too much.
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How many GRAMS of chocolate are needed for the ganache? I don’t have chips and will need to measure with a scale.
Lauren @ Zest and Lemons
Hi Monika! I would say about 90 grams or 3oz of chocolate and the same for the heavy cream. You will likely have some leftover ganache, which makes a wonderful sauce to pour over ice cream! Enjoy!