Calling all chocolate lovers- this Chocolate Cannoli Cake is so moist and decadent, it is sure to become an instant favorite!
This recipe, which is the chocolate version of our popular Homemade Cannoli Cake recipe, consists of rich chocolate cake layers, chocolate mascarpone filling with chocolate chips, and chocolate whipped cream!
This delicious cake is perfectly chocolatey without being heavy or too sweet- it is just heavenly.
Why is it Called a Chocolate Cannoli Cake?
Cannoli is a popular Italian pastry which consists of a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a creamy filling of sweetened cheese. While we aren’t making cannoli, this delicious dessert is the inspiration for our layer cake.
Originally, ricotta cheese was used most often as the filling for cannoli but over the years, mascarpone has become a very popular option as well. There are a variety of popular add-ins for the cannoli filling, including chopped nuts, candied fruit, and chocolate chips.
Chocolate cannoli have also become a favorite dessert over the years– sometimes the cannoli shells are chocolate, and other times, dipped in a chocolate glaze. The filling may be chocolate or vanilla, often with chocolate chips.
This chocolatey version of cannoli was our inspiration for today’s layer cake recipe!
How to Make Chocolate Cannoli Cake
*You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post, but here is a quick rundown of our process!
For this layer cake, we used our Chocolate Sour Cream Cake recipe, one of our go-to scratch chocolate cakes. It never fails! The layers are rich, soft, and ultra moist, thanks in part to the sour cream in the recipe.
Today’s cake uses the reverse creaming method of mixing, which creates cakes with a fine, tender crumb and velvety texture. As you’ll see in the recipe, the reverse creaming method calls for ingredients to be added in a different order than you may be used to–but I promise, you will love the final result!
- First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans. (We grease, flour, and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper).
- Add dry ingredients to the bowl of your mixer and mix for one minute to blend. (This includes the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.)
- Next, add the butter a few slices at a time and mix until it takes on a crumbly, moistened sand-like consistency.
- In another bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Blend with a fork. (We’ll add the coffee a little later).
- Set a timer for 1 ½ minutes and gradually add half of your egg mixture to your butter/flour mixture while mixing. Start mixer on low speed then increase to medium for the remainder of the 1 ½ minutes. Be careful not to mix over medium speed.
- Next, stop the mixer, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, and add half of the remaining egg mixture. Mix on medium speed for 20 seconds.
- Stop mixer, scrape down the sides as needed, and add the last of the egg mixture. Mix for 20 more seconds on medium speed.
- Slowly add the very hot coffee and mix for 30 seconds to blend. After adding the hot coffee, the cake batter will be runny– don’t worry! That is how it should be.
Divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with rust a few moist crumbs attached.
Chocolate Mascarpone Filling
In researching chocolate cannoli recipes, some use a sweetened vanilla mascarpone or chocolate chip filling as we did in our Cannoli Layer Cake, while others use a chocolate filling. For today’s cake, we are going all out with a chocolate mascarpone filling and chocolate whipped cream frosting to go along with our chocolatey cake layers.
This filling is so simple- it is just a combination of softened mascarpone cheese, sifted cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract.
It’s best to let the mascarpone to soften for 20 minutes or so before working with it. You can either combine these ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula or with a hand mixer on low speed. Mix just until well incorporated and smooth. I folded in mini chocolate chips also!
Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
We wanted to use a light frosting to balance the richness of the cake, and decided that chocolate whipped cream would be perfect!
This is almost identical to our usual recipe for sweetened whipped cream but this time with a bit of sifted cocoa added to the mix-so good and super simple! (Just remember to freeze your bowl and beaters first for best (quickest) results) .
*I had originally planned to cover my chocolate whipped cream-frosted cake with pirouette cookies, but in the end used mini chocolate chips instead. However, pirouettes are a great option too- especially if you don’t want to worry with smoothing the frosting!
Assembling the Chocolate Cannoli Cake
Place the first chocolate layer layer on the cake stand or serving plate. Spread with the chocolate mascarpone filling. (I usually take my fillings to within about 1/4 inch of the edge of the cake.
Add the second layer of chocolate cake and repeat. Top with the third layer and frost as usual with chocolate whipped cream.
Whipped cream doesn’t spread as easily as chocolate buttercream or chocolate cream cheese frosting, but I still found it pretty easy to work with.
I’m always a fan of chilling the crumb coated cake for about 20 minutes in the freezer before applying the final coat of frosting. It helps to set things up and gently going over the frosting with a heated spatula helps to give a smooth look also.
Decorating the Chocolate Cannoli Cake
Finally, I added mini chocolate chips to the sides of the cake about halfway up. I love the contrast of dark and light shades of chocolate, and the mini chips tie in nicely with our chocolate-chocolate chip mascarpone filling as well!
I made a spiral in the frosting on top of the cake using a small offset spatula. I often create spirals on top of cakes because it’s an elegant, super easy look! Simply apply light pressure to the center top of your frosted cake with the tip of your spatula and rotate it (preferably on a turntable) as you spiral out a little more with each rotation.
Finally, I loaded the chocolate whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a 6B french tip (any large star piping tip will give you a similar look). I piped a border around the top edge of the cake, and topped each of the whipped cream stars with a chocolate chip.
Here is the finished cake!
More Chocolate Cakes to Love
We love chocolate cakes and have made so many favorites over the years! In addition to today’s Chocolate Cannoli Cake, here are just a few more for you to scroll through and add to your must-bake list! (You can find our full collection of chocolate favorites here: The Best Chocolate Cakes, Fillings, and Frostings)
Thanks so much for stopping by today! You can find our full, printable Chocolate Cannoli Cake Recipe below. We hope that you enjoy it!! If you make it, please leave a comment and photo below!
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For the Chocolate Cake Layers
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 2 3/4 cups (322g) All Purpose Flour
- 1 cup (82g) unsweetened cocoa
- 2 teaspoons (10g) Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Salt
- 1 stick + 5 Tablespoons (185g) Unsalted Butter (I sliced the butter into 1 inch pieces onto waxed paper leaving on the countertop for 8 to 10 minutes. It will still be quite cool when adding to the dry ingredients. You should be able to make a fingerprint when you press the butter. If it becomes too soft, just refrigerate for a few minutes.)
- 1 cup (242g) Sour Cream
- 1 c. (220g) Milk
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla
- 1 cup (220g) Hot Coffee
For the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Mascarpone Filling
- Two (8oz) Tubs Mascarpone Cheese, softened
- 3 Tablespoons (22g) Cocoa Powder, sifted
- 4 Tablespoons (29) Confectioners Sugar
- 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla
- 3/4 cups (128g) mini chocolate chips (adjust amount to your liking)
For the Chocolate Whipped Cream (for Frosting)
- 2 cups (480g) Heavy Cream
- 3 Tablespoons (22g) Cocoa Powder, sifted
- 4 Tablespoons (29g) Confectioners Sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8 round inch pans ( you could also use three 9 inch round pans).This recipe uses the Reverse Creaming Method of Mixing.
Add dry ingredients to the bowl of your mixer and mix for one minute to blend (sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt)
Add butter a few slices at a time and mix until it reaches a crumbly, sandy texture. Be careful not to over-mix beyond "sandy" consistency.
In another bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Using a fork, mix together. This is all of your wet ingredients except for the coffee, it will be added to the batter later.
Set a timer for 1 ½ minutes and SLOWLY add half of your egg mixture to your butter/flour mixture while mixing. Start mixer on low speed then increase to medium for the remainder of the 1 ½ minutes. Do Not Mix Above Medium Speed.
Stop mixer, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, and add half of the remaining egg mixture. Mix on medium speed for 20 seconds.
Stop mixer, scrape down the sides if necessary, and add the last of the egg mixture. Mix for 20 more seconds on medium speed.
Slowly add HOT coffee and mixing for 30 seconds to blend. Batter will be runny but that is okay!
This recipe makes about 9 1/2 cups of batter. Pour into 3 prepared 8" or 9" pans and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
For the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Mascarpone Filling
Using a spatula or a hand mixer on low speed, slowly mix the mascarpone, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla just until smooth. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Chocolate Whipped Cream
Chill the mixing bowl and beaters/whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. (If you have a metal bowl, it will hold the cold temperature even better).
Pour the heavy cream, sifted powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder and vanilla into the chilled mixing bowl, begin beating on low speed gradually increasing to medium high speed.
The cream begins to thicken (approx. 1 1/2 minutes). Beat until thickened, fluffy, and peaks hold their shape when the beaters are removed.
Assembling the Cake
Place chocolate cake layer on a cake pedestal or cake plate.
Spread chocolate mascarpone filling on top. Top with the second chocolate cake layer and repeat. Top with the final cake layer and frost cake with chocolate whipped cream.
I pressed mini chocolate chips around the sides of the cake, and added a french tip border around the top edge using a piping tip 6B. I topped the stars with mini chips. *As a side note, you may also like to decorate with pirouettes around the sides as I did with my vanilla Cannoli Cake recipe. I opted to go with mini chips instead this time.