Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

Cakes, Chocolate, Desserts, Holiday

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

Tomorrow we’re headed to a Netflix-themed Halloween party with my friend, Cassie, who works at the company. This entire week has been spent working and recipe testing and shooting. And in addition to that, I’ve been worrying if my costume is going to hit the mark. Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday and I usually stay home like an old person and eat candy.

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

I really wanted to bring Amelia and dress her up like Eleven but we all know that she would never, ever tolerate a blond wig on her head. And seeing her in a bloody dress might genuinely creep me out! Check my Insta-stories for all of my costume details this weekend—it should be fun(ish).

In other more chocolate-y news, I have this fine dessert for you today. I teamed up with the most delicious, decadent, luscious chocolate maker: ScharffenBerger to create my chocolate ombre dreams in form of a cake.

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

I’m not going to lie, creating and developing this recipe hurt my brain. There was a lot of math! What I didn’t want was anyone (including myself) to have to make four separate batches of cake batter and frosting. I wanted to create one of each and then mix in the different amount of chocolate to make them different. After a few tries—success!

The frosting is maybe my favorite thing in the entire world because it is cinnamon-y and a little spicy and tastes SO much like Mexican chocolate.


Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

And surprisingly, the ombre frosting isn’t too difficult. You sort of just slap on the different colors and use a bench scraper to combine them!

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

I kept the topping super simple with a handful of ScharffenBerger cacao nibs and a sprinkling of pearl sugar.

Today is National Chocolate Day, so here’s to hoping you’re eating chocolate (and hopefully making this cake!).

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

(This post is sponsored by Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Maker! Scharffen Berger crafts the richest, most flavorful chocolate by sourcing the best cacao in the world, blending it in small batches, and gently processing it to maintain the subtle flavors in the beans. Be sure to check out their website,, where you can find a wide variety of baking chocolate as well as bars that need nothing more than a little unwrapping. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep A Cozy Kitchen cozy.)

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Serving Size: 10 TO 12


Frosting/Spice Mixture: 

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • Pinch of nutmeg 
  • Salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 6 ounces ScharffenBerger 62% semisweet chocolate chunks, melted

Cake batter: 

  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting 
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 5 large egg whites 

Chocolate layers: 

  • Scharffen-Berger unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil 
  • 1 tablespoon Scharffen-Berger cacao nibs, as garnish
  • 1 tablespoon Swedish pearl sugar, as garnish


To make the frosting:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Set aside. 
  • In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream or milk. Mix on low until combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. Divide the frosting amongst three bowls (eyeballing this measurement is ok!). 
  • To the first bowl of frosting (this will be the darkest and most chocolate-y), add 5 tablespoons of melted chocolate and 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture. Mix until smooth and until the chocolate is thoroughly combined. 
  • To the second bowl of frosting (this will be a medium color), add 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate and 3/4 teaspoon of the spice mixture. Mix until smooth and until the chocolate is thoroughly combined. If you have any extra spice mixture (you shouldn’t have too much), divide it amongst the two chocolate frostings and mix. 
  • The third bowl of frosting should be kept white. This will be the lightest and brightest that we’ll use toward the top of the cake. 

To make the cake layers:

  • To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Next, butter and flour 4 (six-inch) cake pans. If you don’t have 4 pans, don’t worry, we can do this in batches of two. Set them aside. 
  • In the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar and vanilla paste or extract. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. To a measuring cup, measure out the milk and whisk in the egg whites. 
  • To the stand-up mixer, add the flour and milk mixture, alternating between the two and ending with the milk. Beat until just mixed and combined, being sure not to over-mix! 
  • Divide the batter amongst four bowls (each will weigh 230 grams). To the first layer (the whitest and brightest), pour into the cake pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. 
  • To the second layer: mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons ScharffenBerger cocoa powder, along with 2 teaspoons of milk. Transfer to the cake pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Transfer to the oven to bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • To the third layer: mix in 1 tablespoon ScharffenBerger cocoa powder, along with 1 1/2 tablespoons milk. Transfer to a prepared cake pan and smooth out the top. 
  • For the fourth layer (the most chocolate-y): mix in 3 tablespoons ScharffenBerger cocoa powder, along with 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon oil. Whisk until just smooth. Transfer to a prepared cake pan and smooth out the top. Bake the third and fourth layer for 17 to 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • To assemble the cake, add the darkest layer to the base of a cake board or cutting board. Top with a few tablespoons of the most chocolatey frosting, smoothing it out to the edges. Repeat with the following layers, using the two lighter frostings. 
  • To make the ombre effect on the cake, add a few tablespoons of the super chocolate-y frosting to bottom half of the sides of the cake. And then, add a few tablespoons of lighter chocolate-y frosting to the middle part of the cake. Add the whitest to the top. Using a bench scraper, spin the cake at a medium speed and smooth out the sides. This could also be done with a big off-set spatula. 
  • Smooth out the top and sprinkle with a handful of cacao nibs and a sprinkling of pearl sugar. Slice and eat! 
Nutrition Facts
Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting
Amount Per Serving (10 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Lizzie October 28, 2016 at 2:50 am

    This looks incredible and I am very intrigued by mexican frosting, will have to give this a try!

  • Reply Vivian | stayaliveandcooking October 28, 2016 at 2:57 am

    I didn’t know national chocolate day was a thing, but I can definitely get into that! Your cake looks amazing, the layers are just perfect. Well done! And I can’t wait to see your costume on instagram, I’m sure you’ll look totally cool 😉

  • Reply Tori//Gringalicious October 28, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Such a gorgeous work of edible art! This cake has got to go on my to make list! I love everything about it!

  • Reply Erin@WellPlated October 28, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Every layer is more perfect than the last! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Have fun 🙂

  • Reply Ashley Nathalie October 28, 2016 at 7:22 am

    So pretty!! I need this in my life.

  • Reply Abby @ Heart of a Baker October 28, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Ohh dat ombre style is so good! I usually stay in for Halloween too, so I feel you girlfriend. I would be perfectly happy staying in and eating cake, ha!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 28, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Thanks girlfriend. I know. This year is a new for me!

  • Reply Rita October 28, 2016 at 9:54 am

    This looks fantastic! I think some ingredients are missing from the list, though (powdered sugar, heavy cream, and so forth).

  • Reply Sara @ Cake Over Steak October 28, 2016 at 9:56 am

    This is one of the prettiest cakes I’ve ever seen! And I love Mexican chocolate flavors, so this is just perfect. Where did you get your marble slab surface? It seems bigger than the one I have, but I’m having trouble finding a larger size.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 28, 2016 at 10:14 am

      I got it from a marble yard! It’s big and roomy!

      • Reply Sara @ Cake Over Steak October 28, 2016 at 11:26 am

        Sweet! Not sure if I have a marble yard around me, but I’ll look into it. Thanks!

        • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 28, 2016 at 12:20 pm

          There isn’t one near me either. I drove like an hour away to get it! Haha.

    • Reply Linze October 28, 2016 at 11:10 am

      fyi.. might also work for you. I asked at Home Depot who does their kitchens. I called that company who said that they would do what ever size I wanted from counter cut outs for free and only charged for the edge rounding and legs as long as I was not in a rush. They would also do it with any material I wanted so I have them in corian and marble in rounds and rectangles.

  • Reply Allison October 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Such a beautiful cake! I’ll definitely be giving this recipe a try!

    Also, I’m with you on Halloween. It’s not my favorite holiday to celebrate, but I do love it for all the candy 🙂

    xx Allison

  • Reply Carlos Leo October 28, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Hello – I just want to tell you that I LOVE your photos and beautiful food. Your photos are a piece of art.
    I’m wondering how you get to have the matte finish on those photos and so clear. Thank you,

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 28, 2016 at 10:16 am

      oh thank you! I don’t know how I get the matte finish haha though most of my plates are matte so maybe that helps? They’re mostly sharp I believe because of the lens I use (50mm 1.2/L) 🙂

  • Reply Celia Becker | October 28, 2016 at 10:19 am

    What an amazing cake! I’m not a huge fan of a lot of chocolate but this one looks light and delicious. The spicy frosting must really be interesting as well, cutting the sweetness with cayenne. Great to know about Scharffen-Berger Chocolate, a new source for me. Have a great weekend!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 28, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      I know a lot of people who don’t like chocolate (they like fruit desserts more) and I am not in that camp haha. The frosting isn’t too sweet and neither is the cake! 🙂

  • Reply Linze October 28, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Hi Adrianna. This cake is one of the hands down all time prettiest cakes I have seen.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe and it will soon be a snowy day project.

  • Reply Carlos Leo October 28, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Thank you Adrianna for your fast reply:). What is your standard camera setting?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 28, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Well it sort of depends on the light on any given day but I try to shoot at an ISO 100 or 400 (max) just so it’s not super grainy. If it is grainy I’ll usually sharpen it and pull down the grain in lightroom! Hope that helps!

  • Reply Carlos Leo October 28, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Big thank you for your help. One last question:) Do you use artificial or natural light?

  • Reply Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is October 29, 2016 at 3:45 am

    […] ombre chocolate cake! […]

  • Reply Angie October 29, 2016 at 4:40 am

    I want this cake, it’s beautiful!!

  • Reply Lisa October 29, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    The frosting ingredient list shows cayenne pepper, but the instructions show chili powder. Which is correct?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 30, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for catching that–it’s all fixed now. It should cayenne! 🙂

  • Reply Gabriella October 30, 2016 at 6:59 am

    This cake sounds AMAZING! Seriously though, it’s beautiful!

  • Reply Kate November 3, 2016 at 11:48 am

    That is one bad (h)ombre—I’m sorry, I just had too. But really, this cake is so beautiful!! And I’m sure tastes amazealicious.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme November 3, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      I can’t wait til this fucking election is over because I can’t with bad hombre dude ughhhhhh

  • Reply 5 Favorite Food Blogs of the Moment - Design Crush November 8, 2016 at 10:01 am

    […] Favorites: Cornbread Chicken + Dumplings, Ombre Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting, Pumpkin Chai Scones with Black Tea […]

  • Reply Jenny November 19, 2016 at 8:09 am

    This is such a beautiful creation. Absolutely love the ombre effect.

  • Reply Bethie November 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Looks delicious!!
    Where can I find vanilla paste/ can I substitute it with regular vanilla?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme November 20, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      you can use regular vanilla extract! I just added a measurement above in the recipe. 🙂

  • Reply Reem November 28, 2016 at 6:01 am

    I can’t get cake flour where I live. Could I substitute regular flour? I have locally produced (kind of organic) all-purpose at hand, would that work? What would the substitution ratio be?

    • Reply Laura July 13, 2017 at 9:00 am

      You can use regular flour; it’s one cup minus 2 Tablespoons of regular flour

  • Reply Chan December 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    I want to make this for my daughter’s 25th birthday on Christmas but need to make it bigger…like in 8″ pans. Would you suggest 1-1/2 ing the recipe or just making thinner layers?
    Thanks…this cake is stunning and I can’t wait to try it out!

    • Reply James July 12, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      I know Chan has probably already made theirs, but for those–like me–who searched the comments to see if someone had answered this question:
      According to the internet: 1 and 3/4 -ing the recipe is going to be closest
      Good luck!

  • Reply Teresa February 21, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Ok….I recently discovered your blog and saw this cake. I was intrigued! Well, I finished it this evening and even though it didn’t come out as pretty as yours, it was so good! Loved the cake flavors & frosting!! I hope to try it again! Thanks!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme February 21, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      AWESOME! I’m not sure if anyone has made this cake because admittedly it is so much work haha. But man, I loved the flavor of this cake too! So glad you loved it! YAY!

  • Reply Ashley April 15, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Oh. My. Lord. This is stunning. Making every other chocolate cake jealous!

  • Reply Megan May 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Hi! Plan on making this cake tonight. Intrigued as to why the recipe only calls for egg whites for the cake batter?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme May 4, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      because it’s a white cake and if you include the egg yolks, it’ll be yellow. it needs to be white so when we add the chocolate, it turns brown/chocolate-y!

  • Reply Kristi Tutt May 16, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I just stumbled across this beautiful cake…and I have to ask- were you originally going to do the top layer as white chocolate or was a vanilla top layer always the idea?

  • Reply Laura June 27, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Making this for my husband’s birthday. Was this cake made in 6″ cake pans?

  • Reply Laura June 27, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Sorry, skippedright over the part that said pour into 4, 6-inch cake pans!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 27, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      oh no worries, let me know how it turns out/if you have any other questions!

  • Reply Mehreen Khan July 24, 2017 at 11:03 am

    I’ve never tried cinnamon in a frosting mix,not a huge fan of it but i have had mexican chocolate and it is love <3 . Is the cinnamon flavour vibrant with it or does it just blend with the chocolate and all?

  • Reply Zee September 28, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I made this yesterday. Although it took quite a while to make (especially because I only have one cake pan) the end result was pretty enough and it tasted nice. I did not have a lot of people to feed so I cut down the recipe by 3/4 and only made three layers. The frosting I cut down to 1/2 and I still had quite a bit leftover (I don’t go overboard with frosting). If you’re trying to impress some people I do strongly recommend baking this in a smaller diameter cake pan. A 9″ works but the ombre layers will be hard to see.

  • Reply Alicia January 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Hello from ohio! Your cake is amazingly beautiful! I am definatrly going to give it a try, Baking is my passion as well. I am wondering if yoi have worked with the bitterwerrt bars from scharffenberger and how they worked out for you.

  • Reply Elise Miller March 1, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    i made this cake today and am so pleased with how it turned out. it looks so beautiful inside & out and the frosting has the PERFECT amount of kick! normally, chocolate cakes are too rich for me, but this was great. it’s going to be my new go to!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme March 1, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      AMAZING NEWS!!! This cake is definitely sort of labor-intensive so that’s so wonderful that it worked out! YAYYY!!

      • Reply Elise Miller March 1, 2018 at 5:10 pm

        oh yes it did! i was in charge of desserts for an event and had to make WAY too many cakes today (starting at like 4 am lol) and this one was my favorite to make because of the pretty color gradient!

  • Reply Emily April 13, 2018 at 3:59 am

    I just made this recipe last night. It took several hours (and lots of dishes) but turned out really well! I’ll definitely be making it again (and think it’ll be much faster the second time).

  • Reply Jensen Payne June 29, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    How much salt?? It just says to add salt for the frosting!

  • Reply Denise August 28, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    This looks SO good. I’m wondering if I want to make this into an 8″ 4 layer cake, how much should i scale up the recipe? Thanks!!

  • Reply Aubrey September 1, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    I really want to make this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday next weekend, but as a new college grad and a first time independent-out-of-my-parent’s-house-girl, I no longer have access to my mother’s Kitchenaid stand mixer. Do you think this recipe can be completed with just a hand mixer? Or would you recommend against that? Thanks! (also this is my favorite cooking/food blog, thanks for the amazing content and cute doggo photos!)

  • Reply Nadja Vielot October 21, 2018 at 6:11 am

    I decided to make this for bae after we discussed our favorite chocolate/vanilla cake combinations and decided that vanilla/vanilla and chocolate/chocolate were the best. Perfect fit, and like all of your recipes, it’s a huge win!! I didn’t find it to be labor-intensive so much as dish-intensive, and your girl doesn’t have a dishwasher 🙁

    The one part I found fiddly was making the three different frostings in three different bowls. I think you can just gradually add more chocolate and spice to the mixer, removing the light and medium portions as you go. Also, adding melted chocolate to the frosting makes it much softer than the vanilla, so I thinned it out with a little more milk so they were all the same consistency.

    Despite not splurging on SharfenBerger (I don’t have sponsors, yet!) the flavors were great and every layer was moist and delicious. You slay!

  • Reply Khola May 28, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Hey so I want to make this for my kid’s birthday can I make the Buttercream without the spices?