How many types of chocolate cake are there?

13 Jan 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

Most people are fans of chocolate cake, and it’s easy to see why! As a simple combination of two classic treats, chocolate and cake, what’s not to love? What you might not realise, however, is that there are actually lots of different types of chocolate cake, from indulgent chocolate truffle cake to velvety sachertorte. 

Had more chocolate cakes than hot dinners? Although you might think you know the ins and outs of this legendary dessert, there’s a whole world of intricate chocolate flavours and textures that you’re yet to discover.

While there are too many to cover in this article, we’ll do our best to present some of the key players. Hopefully we’ll introduce you to some new baked cocoa treats, so get ready! There are a huge number of chocolatey recipes out there, so there’s no excuse not to get baking these creations yourself. 

Sachertorte

Sacher torte on a plate with whipped cream

For those who are unacquainted with this velvety smooth torte, a sachertorte is a type of rich chocolate cake of Austrian origin with a great origin story.

Back in 1832, Austria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs ordered the court’s kitchen to invent a special dessert for an important dinner. But, when the cook fell ill, all the responsibility fell to 16-year-old Franz Sacher, a second-year apprentice. The result? The now-infamous dessert of chocolate-lovers’ dreams. Although the story may have been embellished throughout the years, the Sacher family have kept the recipe a closely guarded secret.

Tuck into this legendary torte and you’ll discover a dense chocolate sponge split in two. Between the layers lies a thin layer of sweet apricot jam, and the whole torte is drenched in dark chocolate icing. Order it in a restaurant and you might also be treated to a serving of unsweetened whipped cream, the traditional accompaniment.

If you’ve ever visited Austria, you’ll probably know that it’s one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties, and if you’re lucky, you might have tried it for yourself. Sachertorte is now known and loved by chocolate lovers all over the world. So much so, in fact, that the United States has even declared December 5th National Sachertorte Day!

Chocolate fudge cake

Put simply, a chocolate fudge cake contains fudge! Because chocolate and fudge are the only criteria, every restaurant, professional confectioner, or avid home baker can put their own unique spin on things. While some prefer a single layer of sponge and a thin spread of icing, others prefer to add some extravagance with multiple sponge layers. This can add extra deliciousness as each layer is separated by icing and a topping of chocolate chips or chunks of fudge.

Some chefs have even taken inspiration from other types of dessert to add a twist to the basic recipe. For instance, Mary Berry’s fudge cake recipe calls for an apricot filling — presumably drawing on the fruity decadence of the infamous sachertorte.

chocolate cake slice on a white plate with a strawberry on top

If you’re new to baking or need to whip up a last minute dessert for a party (without the risk of disaster!), a no-frills chocolate fudge cake is an easy option that’s still a tried and tested crowd pleaser. What’s more, as chocolate fudge cake recipes usually require little more than the standard cake ingredients (think egg, flour, butter — you know the drill), you’ll probably already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen. You’ll find loads of recipes online, or if you fancy having a flick through the cookbooks on your bookshelf they’ll likely be a fudge cake recipe or two in the mix!

Chocolate mug cake

Though some may claim that our next cake type isn’t actually a cake, it will certainly give any sweet tooth the same satisfaction! The chocolate mug cake is truly the lazy man or woman’s dessert. It provides cake lovers with abundant chocolatey goodness with no ‘real’ baking required.

So, what is a chocolate mug cake? Well, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin! It turns out you don’t actually need to go to the effort of setting aside hours of your evening to get a taste of that homemade cake indulgence. Simply mix some self raising flour, sugar, an egg, a dash of milk, and some cocoa together in your favourite mug, pop it in the microwave for a minute or two, and voila! You’ve got an instant single-serving cake for your late-night chocolate fix.

This is a great treat for hungry kids and can be a fun sleepover activity. As any parent will know, when children want something sweet, they don’t want to wait!

As the ‘mug cake’ premise is so simple, you’ll find that most online recipes are quite similar. This microwave mug cake recipe from BBC Good Food has great reviews, as does this moist chocolate mug cake from Julie Chiou. If you’re feeling creative, then you can even experiment with your own ingredient ratios. Why not see how your chocolate mug tastes with your favourite toppings? Remember, mug cakes are meant to be delicious chocolate hits, not perfect cakes! If it goes slightly ‘wrong’ or makes a bit of a mess, that’s all just part of the fun.

Chocolate lava cake

This show-stopping dessert combines the best elements of a classic chocolate cake and a soufflé. Chocolate lava cake (otherwise known as molten chocolate cake or chocolate moelleux) is unlike a traditional chocolate cake in that it has a soft liquid chocolate centre. Cut through the sponge exterior and a decadent filling oozes out, ready to be devoured! It is usually made from just five ingredients: sugar, flour, eggs, butter, and chocolate, though extracts and spices are sometimes added for that bit of extra flavour.

It’s often easier – and more fun – to bake chocolate lava cakes in ramekins. This means each diner has an individual portion and everyone gets to “break in” to the molten centre. You can serve them with fresh fruit, a drizzle of chocolate sauce or a scoop of ice cream. At fancier establishments, you might even receive your lava cake garnished with powdered sugar or a sprig of mint — very classy!

Chocolate truffle cake

While sponge cake lovers might always opt for aclassic chocolate cake, the more demanding among us will much prefer the oh-so-indulgent chocolate truffle cake. This is a type of chocolate layer cake with dense, moist sponge and a smooth chocolate truffle frosting. Just think of the infamous cake-eating scene in the film Matilda and you’re on the right track!

As they’re often baked to be a show stopping dessert or birthday cake, you’ll likely find them beautifully decorated with chocolate flakes or sprinkles.

This isn’t a cake for the faint hearted. So, if you prefer minimal chocolate and a light sponge we recommend looking into some other dessert options. That being said, if you live in a house of chocoholics, then baking a chocolate truffle cake is sure to earn you some brownie points!

Chocolate mud cake

Last but not least, we have the chocolate mud cake. While we usually think of standard soft and slightly crumbly sponge, this Mississipi-born delight is much denser. So dense, in fact, that it’s difficult to cut it into clean slices. Think of it as a cross between a chocolate cake, brownie, and fudge — certainly not the worst combination in the world.

There’s no doubt about it, if you prefer your desserts to be thick and rich, then this is the perfect chocolate cake for you. The word on the street is that mud cakes actually taste better when left for a few days after baking — so maybe try this for yourself.

Chocolate sponge on a cooling tray

Well, there you have it! When it comes to cooking with chocolate, there’s a lot more to this delicate art than meets the eye. Whatever cake you decide to bake, make sure you’re using the best cooking chocolate for fantastic results. The great thing about chocolate cakes is that they give you so much scope to experiment and try various flavour combinations. We’re all about including as much real chocolate in our baking as possible, so find your favourite flavour and see how you can incorporate it into your recipe of choice.

Nothing can put a twist on a classic cake or add an extra layer of irresistible richness quite like high quality chocolates. So, don’t be afraid to melt down a premium chocolate bar to mix into your batter, use some of your favourite truffles for decoration. If you’re trying to bake dairy free, substitute your milk chocolate with a vegan alternative.

What are you waiting for? Get baking!