Chocolate cake with a decadent cream cheese swirl throughout and then topped with a cream cheese frosting. If you’re looking for an amazing dessert to bring to an outdoor cook out, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting is it. It’s also a classic dessert for a Holiday meal or large gathering.
I developed the recipe for chocolate cream cheese cake while searching for a sheet cake that would be a show stopper to take to cook outs, or potlucks at the office or just when I’m having a crowd over and need a dessert I can just pull out of the fridge.
I’ve tried several and they have been a little underwhelming. However, I’ve finally come up with a sheet cake that is out of this world. Chocolate cake with cheesecake swirls is basically a devils food type chocolate cake but then I added a cheese cake filling with chocolate chips like I use in my chocolate cream cheese muffins and finally topped it with a cream cheese frosting.
Why you’ll love it
- It’s like eating chocolate cake with little bites of cheesecake throughout.
- It’s rich and decadent without being overly sweet.
- It will feed a lot of people so great to bring to a gathering, a graduation or potluck.
- Even if you’re not a chocolate lover the cheesecake and cream cheese frosting may win you over.
What you’ll need
- Cocoa powder – for this recipe, do not use Dutch processed cocoa because baking soda is in the recipe and it will interfere.
- Espresso powder – you’ll use boiling water to help this dissolve, coffee brings out the chocolate flavor without adding a coffee taste.
- Cream cheese – bring to room temperature
- Chocolate chips – mini chocolate chips are perfect in this already chocolatey dessert
- Pantry staples – butter, sugar, baking soda, eggs, milk, flour, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla
How do you make a chocolate cake with a cream cheese filling
Step 1: You start by creaming the butter and sugar and then adding the cocoa powder eggs and milk. To that you add espresso powder that has been dissolved in boiling water. This will give you a very runny batter that you’ll add the flour to. Pour the chocolate batter into your baking pan.
Step 2: Beat the cream cheese and egg and sugar until smooth and add chocolate chips. Then dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate batter and swirl it around with a knife. Bake and let cool before frosting.
The cream cheese creates pockets or swirls of cheesecake throughout each slice. But I thought it needed some texture so you don’t just have cake and cheesecake. Chocolate chips were just the thing. An unexpected bite of chocolate in an already amazing chocolate cake and cheesecake.
What kind of chocolate should you use to make the best chocolate cake recipe
This recipe uses cocoa powder and espresso powder. Since the recipe also uses baking soda, you want to use regular cocoa powder and not Dutch Processed cocoa Powder. For a full article on why, check out Sally’s Baking Addiction. The chocolate flavor is enhanced by adding boiling water which also helps dissolve the espresso and cocoa powder.
What type of frosting is best on a chocolate cream cheese cake
Cheesecake combined with chocolate cake is fabulous which is why Chocolate cheesecake cupcakes are the all time favorite cupcake in our house. But this is a sheet cake so you have to add frosting and I wanted one that would be stable.
Now this is where the battle in our house began. I had those that swore it should just be a butter frosting and those who insisted on cream cheese frosting. I tried a chocolate butter frosting, and while it was a delicious frosting, I didn’t like it on the cake. I instead went with a basic cream cheese frosting and thought it was perfect. It’s my kitchen after all, so I get to make the final decision. But trust me, I had several who thought a butter frosting was better. I don’t think you can go wrong either way.
I thought the chocolate frosting was just a bit too much chocolate; the cake itself already has a very rich chocolate flavor.
This sheet cake will feed a lot but not to worry, it freezes wonderfully! If you’re looking for a last minute cake to serve for Memorial Day you can’t go wrong with this one. It would be great for any summer event: pool party, cook out, birthday party. But what’s nice about this recipe is that people like chocolate all year long, so it’s great to take to a potluck or serve for the holidays.
While this cake might look complicated, it’s super easy to make, you only need three bowls, a mixer and a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
FAQ’s and tips
You can expect to serve 16-20 squares depending on the size you cut.
While a Texas sheet cake is known for its chocolate and nuts, my version does not use any. With everything else going on, it doesn’t need nuts.
Butter cream is light and easier to frost a cake with. Cream cheese frosting is thicker and has a tang to it that is delicious and rich. Since cream cheese frosting is heavier, it’s not as easy to frost a ‘decorated’ cake where you need time to frost the edges or layers. It’s perfect for a regular cake however.
The fat in the butter will help to make the cream cheese frosting smoother and easier to frost as well as give it a richer taste.
More CAKE recipes
Still in the mood for chocolate
- Chocolate pecan sheet pan cake
- Old fashioned fudge
- Rich brownies
- Dense chocolate cake
- Chocolate cobbler
- Chocolate cookie
Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup butter room temp
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- 2 egg
- ⅔ cups sugar
- 12 ounces chocolate chips
- ½ cup butter room temp
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temp
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a 9X13 inch metal baking pan.
- In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add cocoa powder, soda and eggs 1 at a time and mix until well combined.
- On low speed, slowly add the milk, be careful not to let it splash out of the bowl. Once combined, turn to high and beat until smooth.
- Add espresso powder to boiling water to dissolve, set aside.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour. With the mixer turned off, add and the boiling water with espresso powder and vanilla. Stir with a spatula to incorporate. Slowly turn on mixer, be especially careful as this will be very runny and it will easily splash out side of the bowl. Once combined, gradually increase the speed and mix until well combined. Pour into prepared pan.
- Wash the bowl or use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, egg, and sugar. Beat until smooth then add chocolate chips.
- Dollop the cream cheese on the top of the chocolate cake batter making sure that you get some on the edges and in the corners. Then take a knife and swirl it throughout.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. It should still be slightly jiggly in the center. Let cool to room temperature before frosting.
- Beat cream cheese, and butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until completely smooth. If it gets too thick, add a little milk. Frost cake and refrigerate to let it set before cutting.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- This cake freezes well with or without the frosting
- You can try a butter cream frosting instead of the cream cheese frosting.
- Let the cream cheese come to room temperature to make it easier to swirl.
- The chocolate chips are optional.
- Make sure you do not use Dutch processed cocoa in this recipe.