This mini chocolate cake is a small cake that serves two made in a round 6 inch cake pan. The recipe makes 4 small slices of cake, which is perfect for two people! The ganache glaze on top is so easy to make and is so pretty garnished with fresh fruit. Small chocolate cake for two people is the best way to celebrate.
The last time I made this mini chocolate cake for two, we ate it in the car on the way to dinner. And if I remember correctly, we had burgers and fries.
It's not that this cake is 'light' or 'not too sweet' or whatever it is that people say about dessert to make them feel less badly about eating it. It's a solid, rich chocolate cake.
The cake has a crumb that is one notch closer to pound cake than boxed cake mix, which I love. The ganache on top is my obsession. I almost never remember to put butter on the counter to soften for cake frosting, and a 2-minute chocolate ganache solves that problem.
If you're looking for a more standard frosting, try my Chocolate Buttercream recipe.
- Flour. All-purpose, bleached regular flour is what I used to develop this mini chocolate cake recipe. Do not use cake flour, sifted flour, whole wheat or pastry flour for this recipe. If you make changes such as this, the results will not be the same.
- Cocoa Powder. All-natural, unsweet cocoa powder from the box is what we need, which is not the same as hot cocoa mix.
- Baking Soda. This cake only calls for baking soda for its rise and lift; it does not require baking powder. The two are not interchangeable, by the way.
- Oil. The best cake recipes use oil as the base, instead of butter. This is because oil is fully liquid at room temperature, making for a soft, tender cake crumb. This allows you to refrigerate the cake before serving without any hardening, as well. Any type of neutral, flavorless oil works here: canola oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, or even safflower oil. Do not use unrefined coconut oil that smells of coconut, because it will alter the whole flavor of your cake.
- Sugar. Granulated sugar is what we need for this cake, not brown sugar or powdered sugar.
- Sour Cream. We're using sour cream for its rich, full flavor, also for the acidity to react with the baking soda and make the cake rise. Sour cream is 40% and it cannot be substituted with anything else. Do not use yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk or even low fat sour cream, if you want perfect results.
- Egg. While a lot of my small batch recipes call for part of an egg, we need the whole egg for this mini chocolate cake recipe.
- Vanilla Extract. The best flavor is found in real, pure vanilla extract. My preference is for one made with Bourbon.
- Coffee. This cake will not taste like coffee, though if you're looking for that, try my Mocha Cupcakes. The coffee here provides moisture and a flavor boost for the chocolate.
- Chocolate. We need chopped semisweet chocolate to melt for the chocolate ganache for this mini chocolate cake. I reach for a baking bar or my favorite bar of chocolate to chop up.
- Heavy Cream. We will melt the chocolate into a small amount of heavy cream.
- Optional: A small amount of light (clear) corn syrup makes the ganache super shiny, but it is entirely optional. I like to use fresh fruit for decorating.
How to Make a Mini Chocolate Cake
I'm going to help you out with all of your Valentine's Day dessert for two needs, but first: you're going to need a 6" cake pan to make this mini chocolate cake. They're adorable. And once you buy one, you can make all of my small cake recipes. (Plus, I even use it to make a small batch of fudge, too!).
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit, and have ready your 6 inch round cake pan with 2 inch sides. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, and lightly spray the sides with a non-flavored cooking spray.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together: the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda; set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, sour cream, egg, vanilla and coffee. It's not necessary to use an electric mixer, whisking by hand is totally fine.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until no streaks of flour remain.
- Pour the mini chocolate cake batter into the prepared pan, slide into the oven and bake for 29-32 minutes. Use a toothpick to ensure the cake is done before removing it from the oven.
- While the cake cools, make the chocolate ganache frosting: in a double boiler, or bowl fitted over a pan of simmering water, combine the chopped chocolate, cream, and corn syrup (if using). Stir over medium heat until melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and cream in the microwave in 25-second pulses on LOW power. Stir between each pulse.
- Pour the chocolate ganache over the cake on a cake stand, garnish with fresh fruit, and serve.
If you're looking for something even fancier, can I suggest my chocolate mousse cake?
If you're looking for the vanilla version of this cake, try my mini vanilla cake. It includes a tutorial for making buttercream roses, too!
Mini Chocolate Cake
A small chocolate cake that serves just two people.
For the cake:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup neutral oil (like canola or grapeseed)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon warm coffee
For the ganache:
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- splash of light corn syrup (to keep the frosting smooth, optional)
- pomegranate arils, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350, and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Line a 6" round cake pan (with 2" sides) with parchment paper on the bottom, and lightly grease the sides with oil.
- Next, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, sour cream, egg, vanilla and coffee.
- Combine the two bowls, mixing just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan, and bake for 29-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. If you under-bake the cake, it will slightly sink, so check it! It will also start to pull away from the sides when it's done.
- Remove the cake from the pan by carefully tilting it into one hand, peel off the parchment from the bottom, and then place it on a small cake stand.
- In a double boiler, or bowl fitted over a pan of simmering water, combine the chopped chocolate, cream, and corn syrup (if using). Stir over medium heat until melted and smooth. *Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and cream in the microwave in 25-second pulses on LOW power. Stir between each pulse.
- Pour the chocolate over the cake, and garnish with pomegranate arils.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 626Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 193mgCarbohydrates: 73gFiber: 6gSugar: 52gProtein: 7g
Marvellous! Thank you. It was moist and rose very well indeed, baking times spot on. I made this for my birthday today since I live alone and I happen to have exactly the right cake tin. I substituted the cream for the milk, I used slightly less oil and more espresso coffee. I used a tsp of baking powder instead of the baking soda. Instead of the ganache on top I made a coffee cream butter icing.
So you changed the whole recipe. Can’t give a review on that.
Hi Cristina! Love your blog. Just wanted to check can I use sunflower oil instead of canola oil? Thanks!
Christina Lane says
I was so happy to find this mini version of the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake. That cake is my family's go-to cake for family gatherings. I have had a 6" cake pan for a few years, but this was my first time using it. I needed a small cake for a small bday celebration and this was perfect. I did have to cook it about 15 minutes longer, my oven probably was not properly preheated. I used a scaled down version of the ganache that my sister uses for the full-size cake: 3⁄8 cup chocolate chips, 1 1⁄2 teaspoon light karo syrup, 4 1⁄2 teaspoon butter, 1⁄8 teaspoon vanilla extract. I also "floured" the greased pan with cocoa powder, which is something I do when I make the full-size cake. The birthday girl was very happy. The 3 of us had half the cake after our bday dinner, everyone got a small slice for later. Thank you so much for this great recipe.
Can this be made into a layer cake by dividing the dough between two pans? Or will it be too thin? I want to use this recipe to make a German Chocolate Cake, with the coconut pecan filling. I could double it? I only need to feed 2 adults and 1 child so don't want to go overboard.
Christina Lane says
It will be too thin. The best thing is to make the recipe as-is, and then cut it in half to make 2 layers.
I bought 6” cake pans so I could start baking your cakes!
I love to bake but it’s just the two of us, so we really don’t need huge cakes. This one is in the oven as we speak! Looking forward to making my way through all your 6” cake recipes! And your dinner recipes too!
Karen S says
Any chance I could substitute buttermilk for the sour cream?
Hi! Thanks so much for your recipe. I don’t have any canna oil and where I am it’s way to frigid to go outside and buy some. All I have is Olive Oil…Will it be fine if I use olive oil as a sub?
Christina Lane says
Sure, you can use olive oil. It has a strong flavor though. I'd really recommend something neutral and flavorless so the flavor of the chocolate shines.
I was craving chocolate and was about to make a batch of brownies when I saw this "just the right size cake." The smallest pan I own is a 7in springform. The oil I used was homemade ghee topped off with EVOO to meet the oil measurement. I made a white cream frosting to top it. The texture is nice, although the cake is not as sweet as the brownies, (which is a good thing). This is a quick, tasty cake that I will make again. Thanks, Christina!
For the metric users I made this and weighed as I went. There's always going to be small gram differences but the cake turned out beautifully with the following measurements:
2.5-3g baking soda (better to use 1/2 teaspoon though)
1 large egg
81g plain/greek yoghurt (I didn't have buttermilk, turned out fine)
Also measured the coffee (15ml) and vanilla (2-3ml) by volume so I don't have the weight for that unfortunately.
Thank you Clare, much appreciated. I'm French and I struggle baking with cups, spoons and ounces ! Christina: we loved this cake!
Is this recipe easy to double or triple? My girls love this chocolate cake and for the birthday party, I would like to make a larger cake. Looking at the ingredients, it looks possible, but just want to make sure. :-)