Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Caroline Murphey
Prep Time
1 Hour
Total Time
6 Hours 40 Mins
Makes 16 servings

A rich whipped chocolate ganache filling is the happy surprise when you slice into this decadent chocolate layer cake. Frost with a 7-Minute Frosting and decorate with festive candied orange slices, citrus leaves and cranberries.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease parchment paper.

Step 2

Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.

Step 3

Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.

Step 4

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. (Mixture will be thick.)

Step 5

Stir vanilla into hot coffee. Gradually add coffee mixture to batter in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed just until blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Step 6

Bake at 350° for 38 to 42 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack, and let cool completely (about 1 hour).

Step 7

Spread Whipped Ganache Filling between layers, spreading to edges of cake and leveling with an offset spatula. Gently press top cake layer down, pressing out a small amount of Ganache Filling from between layers, and spread filling around sides of cake, filling in any gaps between layers. Spread Seven-Minute Frosting over top and sides of cake. Swirl frosting using back of a spoon, if desired. Top with Candied Oranges. Garnish, if desired.

Ratings & Reviews

azlij83's Review

November 17, 2010
This has been adopted as my family's holiday cake for the past two years- my Mom and I have now made it four times, with each take improving on the last. This past time, we discovered that placing the ganache in the freezer for the first thirty minutes of the chilling time and then beating it for an additional 30-45 seconds really helped it keep it's thicker consistency. Additionally, we substituted orange zest for the liqueur, and found that it imparted an even more intense orange flavor, without being overpowering. Love this!!

FeliciaKW's Review

January 03, 2011
I've made this cake two Christmases in a row, and it's been a big, big success. I don't do the candied oranges. Rather I sprinkle with red and green decorative sprinkles to save time. They look so festive against the white background of the frosting. I was so impressed with how easy the ganache is to make and work with. Having never made ganache before making this cake, I was afraid it would be tricky and difficult. Using it as frosting is a great idea. The orange flavor in the ganache is very light, and after a day, the liqueur becomes more pronounced. The seven-minute frosting takes some getting used to, to work with, but it gives a nice, fluffy finish to this wonderful winter holiday cake, like drifted snow. I think I've found a new Christmas tradition.

DecaturAla's Review

December 28, 2010
Very impressive, but takes forever, and I skipped the orange slices. I could barely taste the orange in the ganache. I'd like more! Using OJ concentrate might help. I like the idea of doubling the ganache & icing the whole cake. 7 Min. Frosting is difficult to make and handle. Coffee - meh, but some like it.I'd rather taste more OJ in the cake. Doubt I'll make this again. But I might make the ganache alone!

bakeitsister's Review

December 16, 2010
Just so-so. Oranges way to much trouble & became a runny mess on top of cake.

SusieBell's Review

January 28, 2010
I had a hard time with the ganache it was not thick enough to with stand the heavy cake. So when I put the top cake on it rolled right out of the layers and I put it ALL over the cake as it came out. Then put the icing on it. It tasted great! I was disappointed in the ganache. Reading other reviews I see someone else had a problem. I didn't go over 30 seconds whipping time. I will try again. I used orange extract and it was very good.

Nonnyj's Review

December 28, 2009
It was beautiful, but definitely not the best chocolate cake I ever ate.

billbush's Review

December 28, 2009
Excellent cake! I made this for Christmas ... everyone, but my wife (doesn't like chocolate), loved it!

RSanders129's Review

December 28, 2009
I followed the recipe exactly and was pleased with the results. This is definitely a special occasion cake since it takes a good six hours to follow all the steps, including the candied oranges. The icing turned out beautiful, so I wouldn't change it in spite of previous comments. I am an experienced baker, so maybe that made a difference. My only issue is that several ingredients were expensive and difficult to locate (bittersweet chocolate and vanilla bean). I will make this again for Christmas next year.

elizpr's Review

December 27, 2009
This cake was fantastic! The only thing I substituted was orange zest instead of the orange liqueur. You could definitely taste the orange flavor, but make note that, if you use the orange zest in the white icing you will have small flecks of zest showing, if that bothers you. Also, I would like to point out that it is important that you mix the white frosting over the boiling water, as the recipe calls for, so that the sugar will dissolve, otherwise, your frosting may be gritty. I refrigerated this after I made it to keep the outer frosting intact. It gets better every day!

bigalotbunches's Review

December 27, 2009
I made this Christmas Day and everyone raved about it. It took forever but was worth it. I could not taste the orange liqueur in the ganache or icing. The ganache was to die for. Also, I really couldn't taste the coffee either which was good because I don't like coffee. It took longer than 20-30 seconds for the ganache to have soft peaks but it eventually turned a lighter color and had soft peaks. My husband says this recipe is a keeper.