Chocolate Sour Cream Snack Cake

DessertValentine's DayBakingChocolate Cake

This easy chocolate sour cream cake is made with sour cream, cocoa powder, and melted chocolate. It's the perfect balance of decadence and simplicity! Don't forget the chocolate frosting...

Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian

Fluffy Chocolate Cake

This isn’t one of those fudgey, intense, death-by-chocolate cakes, but something closer to a light afternoon snack cake in ingredients and character. It’s more cocoa-flavored than chocolate, and more light and airy than dense.

The chocolate frosting, however, is pure decadence. It perfectly balances more refined nature of the cake. Cover the whole pan with a thick layer of this frosting and serve slices right out of the pan.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting

How To Make Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

I love to make this cake! The main ingredients are unsweetened cocoa powder, bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, and sour cream. If you have those on hand, you’re good to go. You can bake it at the drop of a hat, though I often measure out the ingredients the night before I bake so that making the cake is even faster work.

The sour cream adds richness and moisture, but the dark brown and granulated sugars offset any sour flavor. This finished cake is chocolate, through and through!


Recipes for sour cream chocolate frosting have been around for ages and there are many slightly different variations. The one that I like best, and use here, is basically just melted chocolate, sour cream, and powdered sugar. The quality of your chocolate matters a great deal; use the best-quality chocolate you can find.

This produces such a thick, delicious, spreadable frosting, it almost seems like magic. You’ll have fun making swirls or stripes or whatever whimsical patterns your spoon or spatula leads you to. (Alternately, you might try making this cake with Cream Cheese Frosting instead!)

  • Note: Be sure to cool the cake completely before topping with the lustrous frosting. Otherwise, the frosting melts into the cake!


You can store the unfrosted, cake, wrapped in foil and kept in a cool place, for up a day before frosting. You can also freeze it for up to three months; thaw on the counter before frosting.


Updated October 15, 2018 : We spiffed up this post a little to make it sparkle! No changes to the recipe.

Chocolate Sour Cream Snack Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: one 9x13 cake (10 to 12 servings)

Be sure to let the cake cool completely before spreading the top with frosting.

I often measure out all the ingredients the night before I bake so that making the cake the next day is fast work.


For the cake:

  • Butter (for the cake pan)
  • Flour (for the cake pan)
  • 2 2/3 cups (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces (85 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken up
  • 3 tablespoons (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup (227 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup (193 g) dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (172 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (325 g) sour cream

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (227 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (225 g) sour cream, left at room temperature for 20 minutes
  • 3/4 cup (95 g) powdered sugar, sifted into a bowl
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


MAKE THE CAKE (Makes one 9-by-13-inch rectangle)     

1 Prepare the pan and preheat the oven: Heat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch cake pan, dust the pan with flour, and tap out the excess. (Or line the pan with parchment paper and butter the paper.)

2 Combine the dry ingredients: In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3 Melt the chocolate and cocoa powder: Put the bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and the cocoa in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over top. Let it sit for a minute, then stir. The chocolate might seem to seize at first, but you're adding enough liquid that it should thin out as you stir.

4 Begin making the batter: In a stand mixer a beater attachment or with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugar and beat for 2 minutes more.

Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the yolks and vanilla. Beat only until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. The mixture may look curdled; that’s OK.

5 Finish mixing the batter: With the mixer on low speed, blend in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Blend in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the sour cream. Blend in another third of the flour, followed by the remaining sour cream. Finish with the last third of the flour, blending just until the dry flour is no longer visible. The batter will be fairly thick.

7 Transfer the batter into the pan: Scoop the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Tap it once hard on the counter to settle any air pockets.

8 Bake the cake: Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean clean and the top springs back when pressed with a fingertip.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack for the cake to cool. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. (At this point, the cake can also be covered and stored at room temperature for 24 hours before frosting and serving.)

MAKE THE FROSTING (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 Melt the chocolate: Put the 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of hot but not boiling water. The bowl should not touch the water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Remove the bowl from the water and wipe the bottom dry. Cool, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

2 Add the sour cream gradually, stirring well with the rubber spatula.

3 Add the powdered sugar gradually, then the vanilla and salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and thickens like frosting.


1 Frost the cooled cake: When the cake is completely cool, use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the frosting on the cake, making a swirl or striped pattern, if you like.

To make “stripes” with frosting, as I have done, spread the frosting on the cake and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Wipe off the excess frosting on the spatula. Set the cake so one short side is closest to you. Holding the spatula at a 45-degree angle to the frosting, and working horizontally across the cake, start at the end farthest from you. Move the spatula from left to right across the cake. Immediately move the spatula down half an inch, and sweep it from right to left across the cake. Continue in this way – right to left, left to right, moving down half an inch – until the entire cake looks striped. The long sides will be scalloped with frosting.

To make frosting swirls, spread the frosting on the cake and use the back of a spoon to make slight indentations all over the cake, which will look swirled when you’re done.

2 Let the cake sit for 30 minutes before cutting into squares. 

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Chocolate Sour Cream Snack Cake on Simply Recipes. Thank you!


This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

Chocolate Frosted Sour Cream Cake

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

More from Sheryl

14 Comments / Reviews

No ImageChocolate Sour Cream Snack Cake

Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Nancy

    This is possibly the worst cake I have ever made! It was dry and tasteless despite the many ingredients, the frosting is awful. Too much work for such a poor result! So wish I’d read the other reviews!


  • Keri

    Cake came out too dry to eat and was very time consuming.

  • Vicki

    I made this cake and frosting and I have to say it was not good. I will not go into detail but I will say I wish I had read all of the comments before wasting all of my time and money on the ingredients. Could have used that money to do something good for someone. So all I can say is save your time and money if you are thinking of trying to use this recipe.

  • Linda

    I made the frosting , but did not make the cake. This frosting is delicious,. I’m tempted to eat it by he spoonful! But it is very soft at room temp. I think a frosted cake would have to be kept in the frig..

  • suzy

    Icing turned out great! However, the cake itself was a disappointment, it was very dry and dense. I enjoy many of the recipes from this blog, unfortunately, this was not one of them.

View More
Chocolate Sour Cream Snack Cake