Classic Vanilla and Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

"Growing up in the Midwest, no potluck was complete without a marbled Bundt cake. My mom made them all the time, one of only two desserts that she was known for, so when I hosted a dessert potluck at a local nonprofit community center with the theme “Like Mom used to make!” I knew I had to replicate her Bundt cake. The secret to this recipe is the homemade chocolate syrup, which you make on the stove before adding it to the batter. Made with coffee and cocoa powder (and a touch of honey), it lends a rich, deep chocolate flavor because the cocoa blooms in the hot coffee. You don’t necessarily taste the coffee or honey, but they both boost the chocolate goodness!" - Irvin

Text excerpted from MARBLED, SWIRLED, AND LAYERED © 2016 by Irvin Lin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Cooling time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 bundt cake, 10 to 12 servings


To grease the pan:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the chocolate syrup:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong hot coffee
  • 1/4 cup (85 g) mild-tasting honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake batter:

  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (225 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 3/4 cups (385 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup (210 g) semisweet chocolate chips

For the vanilla bean glaze:

  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups (230 g to 290 g) powdered sugar

For decoration:

  • Chocolate pearls, chocolate shavings, or chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Special equipment:


1 Grease the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the butter in a 12-cup Bundt pan and grease the pan with your fingers, making sure to grease all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the flour all over the pan and knock out the excess.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

2 Make the chocolate syrup: Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, and honey and in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup starts to boil. Bring to a simmer, whisking to make sure there are no lumps. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

3 Make the cake batter: Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter looks light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until the dry ingredients are absorbed.

Add the flour in three additions and the buttermilk in two, alternating between the flour and buttermilk and ending with the flour. Beat until incorporated and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

4 Spoon one-third of the batter into a medium bowl and add the chocolate syrup. Stir to incorporate completely and set aside.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

5 Layer the batter in the bundt: Spoon half of the remaining vanilla batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Scrape the chocolate batter on top. Spread the remaining vanilla batter on top of the chocolate batter.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

6 Swirl the vanilla and chocolate layers: Insert a butter knife or chopstick into the batter and make “figure eight” motions throughout the entire cake to marble the batter. You may want to sometimes dig deep to the bottom and sometimes lift up to make sure the batter really moves around. Just don’t overmix the batters, or else they will blend together instead of marbling.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

7 Bake the bundt cake: Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed down lightly, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate while still warm. If the cake doesn’t unmold, gently slip a very thin knife between the cake and the pan all the way around to loosen it and then try again.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake

9 Make the vanilla bean glaze: Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, if using, and scrape the seeds into the milk in a large bowl. Chop the bean in half and toss the pod in with the milk as well. Let steep in the refrigerator as the cake cools.

Once the cake has cooled completely (after about 2 hours), remove the vanilla bean from the milk and sift 2 cups powdered sugar into the milk. (If using the vanilla extract, add it to the milk right before sifting the powdered sugar; no need to steep it.) The glaze should be thin enough to pour, but thick enough to hold its shape on the cake, similar to honey in consistency. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired thickness.

10 Drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, making sure the glaze drips down the sides of the cake. [Emma's Tip: Tuck parchment paper under the cake while you drizzle to catch the drips, then remove once the icing is set.] If decorating with chocolate pearls, shavings, or sprinkles, sprinkle them randomly on the cake before the glaze dries.

Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake Vanilla Chocolate Marbled Bundt Cake