Black and White Cake

Black and White Cake – dark chocolate cake layers with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, my friends! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break, filled with loved ones, good times and delicious food! We spent the holiday back home in LA with our families and the most beautiful weather. I’ve started to love the white winters here in Utah, but I’m not going to lie, I’d take those 70-degree winter days in LA over a winter white any day. You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl!

Black and White Cake: Dark chocolate cake layers with vanilla buttercream #blackandwhitecake #cakebycourtney #newyearscake #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #thebestchocolatecake #easychocolatecakerecipe #vanillabuttercream #vanillafrosting

The 10 days away were packed with fun and lots of yummy food, but by the end, I was definitely ready to come home. Aside from baking a few things here and there with my mom and sister, I really didn’t do much in the kitchen this break. I didn’t even make a single cake. And I missed it so much! In fact, we arrived home on Sunday night this past weekend, and by Monday morning at 8am, I was already whipping up my chocolate cake.

Black and White Cake: Dark chocolate cake layers with vanilla buttercream #blackandwhitecake #cakebycourtney #newyearscake #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #thebestchocolatecake #easychocolatecakerecipe #vanillabuttercream #vanillafrosting

Black and White Cake

It really did just feel so good to be home and in my element. Since it was New Year’s Even, I made sure we had cake for our festivities. I decided to keep it simple with a classic I’ve made before but have actually never posted about. I used my dark chocolate cake recipe with my vanilla buttercream to make a classic Black and White Cake. It’s an easy combination to overlook, but it’s always a hit. And because there are just two elements to this cake, it’s the perfect cake for beginners to master.

Black and White Cake: Dark chocolate cake layers with vanilla buttercream #blackandwhitecake #cakebycourtney #newyearscake #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #thebestchocolatecake #easychocolatecakerecipe #vanillabuttercream #vanillafrosting

Chocolate Cake

This is my high-altitude-friendly chocolate cake recipe, but remember, it works anywhere! I originally came up with this recipe when we moved to Utah four years ago to account for the altitude, but it won’t taste any different at low altitude.

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You’ll notice I have a four-layer cake in my pictures, but the recipe is for a three-layer 8-inch cake (or four-layer 6-inch cake). To add an extra layer for a four-layer 8-inch cake, I added an additional ⅓ of the recipe. You’ll then put 15-16 ounces of batter in each pan for the 8-inch cake and 11-12 ounces of batter in each pan for the 6-inch cakes

Vanilla Buttercream

If you’ve tried this buttercream before, you know I’m not exaggerating when I claim it to be the best vanilla buttercream you’ll ever try. It’s light and fluffy and full of flavor. Per usual, I went with an American Buttercream, with good ol’ powdered sugar and butter. But, to ensure I get a light and fluffy texture, I always add a little heavy whipping cream and beat my frosting with the paddle attachment for about 5 to 7 minutes. I love watching the buttercream color turn nearly white with those extra little steps.

Black and White Cake: Dark chocolate cake layers with vanilla buttercream #blackandwhitecake #cakebycourtney #newyearscake #chocolatecakerecipe #chocolatecake #thebestchocolatecake #easychocolatecakerecipe #vanillabuttercream #vanillafrosting

Here’s a look at how I decorated this cake for our New Year’s Eve party. You’ll see I added parchment paper to the “wet” frosting. Don’t let that scare you. Gently place the parchment paper into place, add your sprinkles, and then freeze the cake (with the parchment paper still on) for about 20 minutes. After the cake has been frozen, you can then remove the parchment paper without compromising your smooth edges.

Enjoy this black and white cake! 

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Black and White Cake

5 from 7 votes
Dark chocolate cake layers with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream. 
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 1 hr 18 mins



  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups minus 4 tablespoons ((350 g)granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (88.5 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder or similar premium brand
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
  • 3 large or extra large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 cup (236.6 g) hot water
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter chilled (I take the butter out of the fridge 30 minutes before I make my frosting)
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 3-4 tablespoons (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans by spraying the bottom and sides with nonstick spray, lining the bottom with parchment paper, and spraying the parchment paper.
  • In a bowl of electric mixer, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • Combine eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until combined. Batter will be thin. Scrape sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed - about 15 to 16 ounces in each 8-inch or 12 ounces in each 6-inch).
  • Bake for 18 minutes (you may need more time depending on your oven), until toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Cool on wire racks for 10-15 minutes, then gently invert onto racks until cooled completely.
  • When cakes are completely cooled, I like to wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until I’m ready to frost. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. If I’m making the cake a day or two before I actually need to frost it, I put it in the freezer to ensure freshness. If I’m frosting same-day, I’ll just put it in the refrigerator to chill until needed.


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 2 minutes. This will soften the butter without it having to be warm.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing a little in between each addition.
  • With mixer on medium speed, add whipping cream, vanilla and salt.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. The frosting will become lighter in color and texture.
  • Before spreading on your cake, spend a couple minutes mixing the buttercream by hand with a wooden spoon to push out the air pockets.


  • Place the first cake layer, top side up and spread about 3/4 cup of frosting on top. Make sure to get eye level with the cake to ensure the frosting is spread evenly over the cake.
  • Repeat this step until you get to the final cake layer, which you will lay top side down.
  • Apply a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze for about 10 minutes.
  • After the crumb coat is set, continue frosting and decorating the cake.
Cuisine Cake
Course Dessert
Keyword Black and White Cake, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, Vanilla Frosting

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

Get my free cake decorating guide
Everything you need to know about decorating a cake like a pro!

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Leave a Comment


  1. Please tell how you get the triangles to be that long- I tried cutting parchment cake liner triangles but they are not long enough.

    1. I used large parchment paper and measured my cake height and used a ruler to create my triangles on the parchment the same height as my cake.

    1. Correction to my previous reply. I meant 8.25 or 8.5 disks. I have no shrinkage so I am thinking 8.5 would be best.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for always putting out the best recipes Courtney!! I tried this one yesterday, and it’s super close to my normal go-to chocolate recipe, I just normally use coffee instead of hot water. But I wanted to say thanks, it turned out so good!! I think this will be my new go-to chocolate recipe 🙂

  3. Hi. I had a question about buttercream. Mine always turns grainy or greasy. Heavy cream doesn’t help. Doesn’t chilled butter cause graininess? How do you get it so smooth? Can you please do an in-depth buttercream video tutorial with all steps included? Thanks

    1. Depends on when you eat it after you finish frosting it. It can be refrigerated overnight in an airtight container or box, but anything longer than that, I would freeze it to stay fresh until you serve.

  4. Will Hershey’s special dark cocoa work with this recipe or should I just stick with regular Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder?

  5. 5 stars
    I followed this recipe exactly except i used coffee instead of the water, it was just a beautiful & delicious cake!! I have remade over several times & shared with friends! Great recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this for a friend’s New Year Eve party and it was phenomenal! I used black cocoa powder and replaced the hot water with coffee and it was such a hit! Not only did it look fantastic and striking with the contrast of the black cake against the white buttercream but it tasted delicious. It was so moist and the buttercream was to die for. I got so many compliments on the cake and one of the guests actually hugged me, lol! My only regret was I should have made it 4 layers like you did. I look forward to trying your other recipes!

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve experimented with dozens of chocolate cake recipes over the years and none have been great. I made this for my 4 year old’s birthday, with different decorating, of course. This cake was the absolute best, moistest chocolate cake I’ve ever made. Chocolate cake often dries out quickly, and I’m still eating a very moist cake 3 days after baking it. I did use a simple syrup in the 4 layers, but the recipe itself is just amazing. I also tried the trick of letting the frosting go for a full 5 minutes and it makes such a great difference. Thank you!!!

  8. 5 stars
    I make this cake all the time! It is fantastic!! My favorite cake hands down! I did substitute the hot water with coffee, but i always try to do that with chocolate.. so happy i found this recipe!!

  9. Wow!!! Thanks for sharing that parchment paper trick to get those beautiful triangles. I am going to do that in reverse to make them look like Christmas trees using red, green and white sprinkles. Love the black and white too!!! Your ultimate chocolate cake is the one I use on all my cakes. It is the BEST!!!

  10. This looks amazing! Can you please let me know the cake pan size for the 6 inch cake?
    What’s the depth of the 6′ pan? Is it 2 inches or 3?

      1. Thank you for replying to my earlier question about the pan size!
        I’m baking this for my daughter’s 21st b-day so want it to be perfect 🙂
        If I make and freeze the cake two days before, is it a good idea to leave it out for a couple of hours before frosting it the night before the event and leave in the refrigerator until ready to use?
        Thank you so much for your reply!

        1. Keep the cake layers in the freezer until about 20- 25 minutes before you are ready to assemble the cake!

  11. 5 stars
    I love this cake, and I have made it multiple times! I am, curious- have you ever tried making cupcakes with this recipe?

  12. I am completely lost! I have read and watched, but I don’t see anywhere that tells me how to get the sprinkles to stick to the parchment!

    1. The parchment goes on the buttercream where you don’t want sprinkles. Then you add sprinkles to the open areas.

  13. 5 stars
    Delicious! I used Courtney’s chocolate buttercream recipe for in the middle of the layers and the outside with the vanilla buttercream. This vanilla buttercream is literally the best. The cake came out so good, and I did the same design shown but with rose gold sprinkles. I used a 4 ounce bottle completely, but could’ve used a little bit more just to get full coverage on the top of the cake. Cutting out the parchment, placing it on the cake, and sticking the sprinkles on the sides was pretty time consuming, but overall worth it.