Naked Chocolate Cake

Naked Chocolate Cake is decadent and rich but not overloaded with frosting. Just a bit of buttercream frosting is sandwiched between three layers of soft, tender chocolate cake.

slice of naked chocolate cake on a plate.

We love cake, but usually, they have way too much frosting. We have had some cakes that seemed like they were more frosting than cake, in fact. This cake is one of our favorite recipes because each bite has the perfect ratio of frosting to cake.

slice of naked chocolate cake on a plate.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It only takes a few simple, basic baking ingredients.
  • It’s a from-scratch recipe that’s so easy to make.
  • The chocolate cake is soft and tender.
  • The buttercream frosting is rich and sweet.
  • Every bite has the perfect ratio of frosting to cake.


bowls of flour, brown sugar, water, butter, eggs, chocolate, vanilla, baking powder, cocoa powder, sour cream, heavy cream and powered sugar.

This recipe only requires a few simple baking ingredients to make. Most of them are in your kitchen right now, but anything you don’t have can be found in no time at your local grocery store.

Be sure to check the recipe card at the end of the post for exact quantities.

For the Cake

  • Brown sugar
  • Eggs
  • Butter – softened
  • Cocoa powder
  • Boiling water
  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Sour cream

For the Frosting

  • Butter – softened
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Milk
  • Hershey’s chocolate bar (optional topping)

🔪 How to Make Naked Chocolate Cake

Making this cake couldn’t be easier. Although it’s fully homemade, it only takes a few simple steps and a few minutes. The entire process only takes about an hour from start to finish – that includes baking!

Step 1: Prep

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and coat in a fine layer of flour. Set aside.

butter, brown sugar, and eggs being creamed together in a glass mixing.

Step 2: Combine the Wet Cake Ingredients

Combine the brown sugar, eggs, and butter with a hand mixer. Then, add the cocoa powder. Slowly add the boiling water while mixing, stirring until smooth.

flour and salt being added to a bowl of wet ingredients.

Step 3: Add the Dry Ingredients

Add the flour and baking soda and beat again until smooth.

Step 4: Add the Sour Cream

Add the sour cream and beat again until smooth.

three chocolate cakes still in the cake pans.

Step 5: Bake

Divide the batter between the 3 prepared cake pans. Then, bake for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Step 6: Cool

Cool the cakes for 15 minutes in the pans before flipping them out onto your work surface. Cool completely.

heavy cream, butter, and powdered sugar being mixed in a glass mixing bowl.

Step 7: Make the Frosting

Cream the butter and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and vanilla and beat well. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.

uncut naked chocolate cake on a plate.

Step 8: Construct the Cake

Place one of the cake layers on a serving dish. Cover with 1/3 of the frosting. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and frosting. Top with shaved Hershey’s chocolate if desired.


Do you want to change up this recipe and make it your own? Here are some ways that you can do that!

  • Extra Chocolaty – Try adding a teaspoon of instant coffee for a deeper chocolate flavor.
  • Chocolate Cake – Use your favorite cake recipe or boxed chocolate cake mix.
  • Frosting – If you choose another cake, use your favorite frosting.

If you love cakes with just the right amount of frosting, then you need to check out this homemade pumpkin chocolate cake, too!

🥄 Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Hand mixer
  • 3 8-inch round cake pans
uncut naked chocolate cake on a plate.

🥫 Storage

Store this cake at room temperature for up to 3 days in an air-tight container. For longer storage, wrap the cake tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, then freeze for up to 3 months.

💭 Tips

  • Bring your water to a rolling boil before adding it to the cake batter.
  • Be sure your butter is fully softened to avoid grainy frosting.
  • Be sure the entire interior surfaces of the cake pans are coated in nonstick spray and flour so the cakes come out easily.
  • If your cakes don’t want to release, run a knife around the outside edge.

⁉️ FAQ

Do you have questions about this recipe? Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions.

What is a naked cake?

Naked cakes are a type of cake that omits the bulk of the frosting normally found on a cake. The layers are stacked with frosting in between them, but the outer layer of frosting is left off.

Why is my frosting sliding off of my cake?

If your cake is even a little warm, the frosting will melt on contact and slide off of the cake.

Why do you add boiling water to chocolate cake?

Boiling water helps the sugar and cocoa dissolve, making a super smooth batter. The hot water also activates the leavening ingredients, helping the cake rise.

🍽 More Recipes

Do you enjoy chocolate cake? Then try these delicious recipes:

📌 PIN IT!!

slice of naked chocolate cake on a plate.

🧾Recipe Card

Want to make this recipe? Print the recipe card below, or pin this recipe, so you can find it later.

slice of naked chocolate cake on a plate.

Naked Chocolate Cake

Naked chocolate cake is rich, soft, and moist and features the perfect amount of frosting – just a bit between the layers.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Decorating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 Slices
Calories: 209kcal


  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • mixing bowls
  • Hand mixer
  • 3 8-inch round cake pans


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ cup sour cream

Frosting Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Hershey’s chocolate bar Optional Topping


  • Preheat oven to 350oF.
  • Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans by spraying them with cooking spray and coating them with
  • a fine layer of flour. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs, and butter with a hand mixer.
  • Add cocoa powder. Slowly add boiling water while mixing. Blend until smooth.
  • Add flour and baking soda. Beat again until smooth.
  • Add sour cream. Beat again until smooth.
  • Divide batter between the three prepared cake pans.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before flipping them out onto your work surface. It may help to
  • run a knife around the edges to release the cake.
  • Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.


Any nutritional data I provide is an approximation and actual dietary information can vary based on ingredients and proportion sizes.


Serving: 1Slice | Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 0.1g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 73mg | Sugar: 53g | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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