Our rich Chocolate Sponge Cake is an Italian genoise, a light and airy sponge cake featuring a sweet raspberry filling and a silky chocolate ganache. This chocolate sponge cake recipe can easily be adapted with your favorite syrup flavors, cake fillings, and frostings.
Genoise sponge cakes are incredibly light and airy and are served with a simple syrup that soaks into the cake and adds moisture to the relatively dry sponge (hence the name sponge cake!). They are dreamy and delicate when done right, and we’ll walk you through the entire process of perfecting this tasty chocolate sponge cake.
Why This Recipe Works
In the cake world, a Genoise sponge cake is considered to be a bit more complicated than your everyday Chocolate Cake (although we love those too and if you’re looking for something simple and delicious, start there or with our Intense Chocolate Cake recipe!).
There is a certain technique required to get that perfectly light cake batter, especially when the egg whites are the only ingredient responsible for giving the cake its rise.
This soft and light chocolate sponge cake is:
- deliciously rich and chocolatey
- easy to adapt with different flavor profiles
- airy and fluffy with a melt-in-your-mouth texture
- an elegant chocolate sponge cake
As for the fillings and cake toppings, your options are endless! This chocolate sponge cake works with a variety of mousse fillings, including our Raspberry mousse, Vanilla cake filling, Chocolate cake filling and our Chocolate amaretto mousse.
Your favorite buttercream or ganache is the final touch in this chocolate sponge cake recipe. We’ve included the steps for creating a simple dark chocolate ganache, but if you’d like to change it up, go for it!
Ingredients for Chocolate Sponge Cake
The ingredient list for the genoise is simple and you may have most of these in your pantry:
- cake flour
- Dutch processed cocoa powder
- eggs, at room temperature
- sugar (for both the cake and the simple syrup)
- liquor of choice (see recipe notes for non-alcoholic options)
- cake filling (see our recommendations above or in the full recipe card)
- bittersweet chocolate (for the optional ganache glaze)
- heavy cream (for the optional ganache glaze)
How to Make Chocolate Sponge Cake
This chocolate sponge cake recipe is multi-step, but worth every minute! Its fluffy, delicate crumb is insanely good soaked in a sweet simple syrup and paired with a mousse filling and chocolate ganache.
For the full, printable recipe card, scroll to the bottom of the page to
For the Chocolate Genoise Sponge Cake:
- Sift dry ingredients: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a small bowl. Set it aside.
- Melt the butter: Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the vanilla and set the bowl aside.
- Whip the eggs: Beat the eggs with the sugar until they are light and fluffy. They should triple in volume.
- Combine: Sift half of the flour mixture over the egg batter. Gently fold it in with a wide spatula and repeat with the remaining flour. Transfer 1 cup of the batter into the melted butter and whisk to combine. Pour it back into the bowl with the rest of the batter and use a spatula to fold it in.
- Bake: Pour the batter into two prepared cake pans and bake.
To Assemble the Cake
- Make the simple syrup.
- Make the chocolate ganache.
- Trim the cakes: Slice a thin layer off the top crust of each of the cakes. This will allow the syrup to drip into the sponge cakes. For a four-layer cake, slice each layer in half horizontally.
- Add the syrup: Place the cakes on parchment paper. Drizzle the simple syrup over each layer. Transfer them carefully by sliding a thin plastic cutting board under each layer.
- Spread the filling: Place one cake layer on a cake board and top it with your choice of cake filling. Set the next layer on top of the filling.
- Cover in ganache: Transfer the cake to a rack set over a baking tray. Pour the ganache over the cake, letting it cascade over the edges and fall into the tray beneath.
This simple syrup is easy to prepare and is a MUST! It will soak into the chocolate sponge cake. In fact, our cake easily holds up to 1 cup of syrup without making the cake soggy.
Tips for making Chocolate Genoise
- Cake flour will give you the best results for this chocolate sponge cake recipe but you can use all-purpose cake flour by replacing 3 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour with corn starch.
- Use eggs that are at room temperature or slightly warmer. Tip: warm eggs will whip to higher volumes. To get the chill off of cold eggs quickly and warm them a bit, place them in warm water for a few minutes.
- Do not let the batter sit for too long before baking the cakes. Make sure the oven is preheated before you start on the batter. Since the egg whites are the only leavening ingredient in this chocolate sponge cake, you’ll want to make sure the whipped egg whites don’t deflate.
- For a non-alcoholic substitute for liquor in the simple syrup, use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. You could also replace the liquor with grenadine or fruit juice. Store-bought simple syrups are also a nice and convenient option.
- The longer the ganache sits, the more firm it will get. If it is too thick to where you can’t pour it, simple microwave it in 2-second increments and it will thin down quickly. Alternatively, if it firms up too much, you can spread it as a frosting or use it as a filling.
Frequently Asked Questions
A sponge cake is much lighter and has a drier texture than traditional cakes, which is why they are drizzled with a simple syrup to add moisture. Also, most sponge cakes don’t require chemical leavening and rely solely on egg whites as the main leavening ingredient.
The name “sponge cake” is most likely due to the cake’s unique texture. They can soak up a good amount of syrup which adds a lot of flavor to the cake and makes it a very versatile type of cake to prepare.
Eggs are essential to the structure, height, texture, and airiness of this sponge cake. You can not get this result without the eggs.
This Chocolate Genoise Sponge Cake is chocolatey, soft, and tender, with a light mousse filling and a rich ganache to finish it all off!
Make this recipe your own by using your favorite mousse filling, frosting, or ganache- the options are endless. Happy baking!
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Chocolate Sponge Cake
- 1 cup cake flour (120 grams)
- 2/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa (50 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons butter (65 grams)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 8 eggs, room temperature** (400 grams)
- 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
- 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
- 3/4 cup water (177 grams)
- 1/4 cup liquor of choice (see notes for non-alcoholic choice)
Optional Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (284 grams)
- 1-1/4 cups heavy cream (284 grams)
Chocolate Genoise Sponge Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of two 9-inch (or 8-inch) cake pans with parchment paper, grease, and flour the sides.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
- Place the butter into a medium-sized bowl and zap it in the microwave until it melts. Stir in the vanilla. Set the melted butter aside while you whip the eggs.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar for 8 to 10 minutes until they are light and fluffy and tripled in volume. This is an important step to make sure the cake is tall and has a light texture. The whipped eggs act as the only leavening for the cake.
- Sift half of the flour mixture over the egg batter and gently fold it in with a wide spatula. Repeat with the other half of the flour mixture.
- Transfer 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the melted butter. Whisk to combine well then pour back into the large bowl of batter. Use a large spatula to gently fold the batter until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Don't open the door of the oven for the first 20 minutes of the baking time. The cake should start to shrink away from the sides of the pan when it is finished cooking.
- Let the cakes cool in the cake pans for 5 to 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes from the pans. Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper.
- Place the sugar, water, and liquor (or non-alcoholic choice) in a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Set aside and let the syrup cool down to room temperature.
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- Chop the chocolate finely and place it in a bowl. The finer you chop the chocolate, the quicker and easier it will melt.
- Place the cream in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer over medium heat or heat it in the microwave. Do not let the cream come to a hard boil.
- Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes to melt the chocolate.
- Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
To Assemble the Cake
- Trim the top crust off each of the cake layers. If you want to make a four-layer cake, slice each layer in half horizontally.
- Place the cakes on some parchment paper and drizzle the simple syrup over each layer. You can use up to 3/4 cup of syrup in each cake (6 tablespoons per layer if you slice the cakes in half).
- When you soak the sponge cakes, they tend to be prone to splitting when you transfer them. Slide a thin plastic cutting board under the cakes to transfer them easily.
- Place one cake layer on a cake board and top it with your choice of cake filling. Place the remaining layer on top of the filling.
- If you want to cover the cake in the chocolate ganache glaze, transfer the cake to a rack set over a baking tray.
- Pour the ganache over the cake, letting it cascade over the edges and fall off into the baking tray. If there are any areas that did not get covered by the ganache, scoop up the ganache that fell into the baking tray and use it again.
- If the ganache sits too long and gets too thick to pour, you can heat it very gently in the microwave in 2-second bursts. It will thin out very quickly.
- Cake flour makes a difference in this sponge cake. If you only have all-purpose cake flour you can replace 3 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour with corn starch. However, actual cake flour always works better than the substitute.
- Make sure your eggs are at room temperature or slightly warmer than room temperature. Warm eggs will whip to higher volumes. I like to place room-temperature eggs in warm water for a few minutes to warm them up.
- Don't let the cake batter sit out for too long before transferring it to the oven. Make sure you have the oven preheated before you begin mixing the batter.
- For the simple syrup: If you do not want to use alcohol, you can use 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar or replace the liquor with grenadine or fruit juice. You can also use store-bought simple syrup in any flavor you want.
- The longer the chocolate ganache sits, the firmer it will get. If you let it cool long enough, it will be thick enough to use as a filling or as a spreadable frosting.
- Nutrition information does not include the filling or ganache glaze.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 54mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 4gSugar: 34gProtein: 9g
Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.
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