Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe

If you have spent any time around this blog, you know I love cake – especially chocolate cake.

Chocolate Birthday Cake | Bakers Royale

Think of it this way, chocolate cake is like the little black dress of desserts. It’s broad enough for most occasions – dress it up or down according to your needs, accessorize until your busy hands are content and your palate is satisfied.

Today’s chocolate cake is rippled with one of my favorite add-ons: M&M’S Pretzel for some sweet and savory hits, M&M’S Crispy for texture, and M&M’S Milk Chocolate for added richness.

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Bakers Royale

Okay, so that was more than a few. But trust me when I say, it’s worth it! And it’s also a great way to decorate a cake if you lack a few cake piping skills like me. Toss it on, crumb the sides, press it into the frosting or drape it on like the picture—whatever you do, don’t skip the M&M’S. It makes the cake in terms of adding flavor and texture, and most noticeably, a visual pop that makes this a show stopping cake.

Chocolate Birthday Cake from Bakers Royale

Want to make this holiday ready? Pick up the holiday theme colored M&M’S and you’re all set. Now get to it. Enjoy!

Looking for more delicious M&M’S recipes? Check out M&M’S Pinterest page for more recipe inspiration!

*This post is part of a sponsored partnership with M&M’S. All opinions are mine.

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this recipe

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Yield: Serves 10


Chocolate Cake

  • 5 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ buttermilk
  • ¾ cup brewed coffee, cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs

Chocolate Ganache

  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. semisweet chocolate (55% to 65% cacao), chopped (3 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream


  • 1 cup caramel popcorn
  • 1 cup crushed M&M’S Pretzel
  • ½ cup M&M’S Crispy
  • ½ cup M&M’S Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits
  • ½ cup pretzels


Preparation: Spray three 8-inch round pans with non-stick bake spray.

To make cake: In a heat-proof bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, coffee, and vanilla; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at time until fully incorporated. Turn mixer speed down to low, in 3 alternating batches beat in the dry ingredients and the wet mixture, scraping down the side down the bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out free of wet batter.  Let the cake cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove and transfer cake to a wire rack.

To make the ganache: Place butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, swirling every few seconds until melted and butter starts to smelly nutty, about 5 minutes. Immediately scrape the browned butter into a heat proof bowl. Add the chocolate and kosher salt.

Place cream in the same pot over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate and butter. Let stand 2 minutes, and then whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool at room temperature. Stir ganache every 15 minutes for an hour, or until ganache is thickened and spreadable.

To assemble the cake: Split each cake in half horizontally. Place a think layer of ganache on one side of cake layer. Place frosted side down onto cake plate and top with ganache, spreading it to the edge with an offset spatula. Repeat with five more times. Add the final layer and spread the remaining ganache over the top and side of the cake. Finish by adding on M&M’S Pretzel, M&M’S Crispy M&M’S Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits, caramel popcorn and pretzels.

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  1. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAnna says

    The cake looks magnificent, only 1 question, what size pans do you use. I couldn’t see it stated anywhere. Thanks :)

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi Robinson replied: — November 30th, 2015 @ 10:02 pm

      Hi Anna – I missed that in the recipe! It’s three 8-inch round pans. I’ve updated the recipe.

  2. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonDorothy @ Crazy for Crust says

    It totally is the little black dress of desserts!! Wow, this is gorgeous. Love that yummy topping!

  3. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAsha Shivakumar says

    That is a perfect gorgeous cake. I love chocolate and would love a cake for every birthday.

  4. Avatar for Naomi Robinsoncandi says

    what size cake pans and how many?

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi Robinson replied: — November 30th, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

      Hi Candi – I missed that in the recipe! It’s three 8-inch round pans. I’ve updated the recipe.

  5. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonMonique @ Ambitious Kitchen says

    Naomi! This is just gorgeous! I love M&Ms. Of course my favorite is in my Fro Yo but definitely need to try them on a birthday cake now for a colorful vibe!

  6. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonHannah Hossack-Lodge says

    What a stunning cake! And that’s such an effective(and delicious) decorating technique :)

  7. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonJune @ How to Philosophize with Cake says

    Wow what a beautiful birthday cake! That chocolate ganache frosting looks so rich and delicious! Love the sweet and salty toppings too :)

  8. Avatar for Naomi Robinsontanya says

    I too cannot pipe worth a darn, but honestly I’d rather have all those fun toppings on my cake instead of extra frosting! This is such a great cake!

  9. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAmy @ Amy's Healthy Baking says

    I definitely lack way more piping skills than you do! It’s taken me 3 years to learn how to pipe an acceptable looking frosting swirl on top of a regular cupcakes… There’s no way I could do that for a cake! But I think that the way you decorated this gorgeous dessert is more striking and stunning than lots of piping. I’d rather have extra M&Ms and candy than more frosting! PS Six layer chocolate cakes are my kryptonite — literally! I wouldn’t want to share this cake at all! :)

  10. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonTeri Olson says

    MM!MM! That’s all I can say! And.. Is Ganache essentially the same thing as icing or frosting? Thanks!

  11. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Oh my gosh Naomi, this is outstanding. I’m not a great cake decorator but I may try to tackle this for my daughter’s birthday this month. It’s such a cool cake. I’m not sure I can get my candies are perfect as yours but I’m sure going to try. Luckily I’m always stocked up on M&M’s so I’m good to go. Can’t wait to try this!!