Rocky Road Cake (Cake Mix)
Today's ice cream-inspired Rocky Road Cake is fantastically flavorful. You will love its moist chocolate cake layers filled with chocolate buttercream, ganache, chocolate chips, almonds, and marshmallows!
This memorable dessert is sure to become an instant favorite of family and friends- and it is easy to make!
While we are featuring a rich chocolate doctored cake mix recipe (as used in our Candy Bar Cake), you can substitute one of our scratch chocolate cakes if you'd like! Our Chocolate Sour Cream Cake, Milk Chocolate Cake, or Chocolate Velvet Cake would all be great choices.
Table of Contents
Origin of Rocky Road Ice Cream
There are a few different stories about the origins of Rocky Road Ice Cream . One popular version is that it was created in the 1920s by ice cream maker William Dreyer.
He took inspiration from Joseph Edy's candy creation, and incorporated chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts into chocolate ice cream.
Not long after, the stock market crashed in 1929, and the ice cream was called Rocky Road, "to give consumers something to smile about".
How to Make Rocky Road Cake
You can find our full, printable cake recipe further down in this post, but here is a quick rundown of our steps.
For the Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, Grease and flour three (8x2 inch) round cake pans.
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, combine the Devil's Food cake mix, all purpose flour, and chocolate instant pudding mix. Whisk to blend.
- Eggs & Wet Ingredients: Add the eggs, sour cream, water, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
- Time to Mix! Mix on low speed to blend, increasing to medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix another minute.
- Fill the Pans! This recipe makes approximately 6- 6 ½ cups of cake batter.
Time to Bake! Bake at 325 degrees for about 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. It should also spring back when the center of the cake layer is lightly touched.
For the Chocolate Frosting
We are going with our tried and true Chocolate Buttercream Frosting for this recipe. We've used it on many of our chocolate cakes- it pipes perfectly, works great as a filling or a frosting (We will use it for both today)!
This "American Buttercream" recipe is a simple combination of butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and a bit of milk. It is creamy, dreamy, and delicious! *Some powdered sugars do not work as well as others in frosting recipes.
*Some brands of confectioners sugar work better with buttercream recipes than others. If your frosting is grainy, switch brands. We like Dominos and have good results with US Sugar Brand (Costco) as well. I'm sure there are others!
For the Chocolate Ganache
Ganache is an optional step for this cake but I love the additional rich chocolate flavor that it gives us. Chocolate ganache is a simple mixture of chocolate and heavy cream that can be melted in the microwave in small increments.
We are using our chocolate ganache not only to drizzle between the cake layers but also for a topping and ganache drip.
Melt the combined chocolate and heavy cream, stirring in between, until the chocolate chips are almost completely melted. Then stir to finish melting the remaining bits of chocolate. Doing it this way will prevent the chocolate from burning. That's it!
After that, allow the ganache to cool to the desired consistency and thickness. (You can speed up the cooling process by transferring the ganache to a larger bowl or baking dish- it is fine to refrigerate it also- but don't leave it for long- it firms up quickly when chilled.)
**For more details on making ganache or applying a ganache drip, check out this post: Ganache Drip.
Rocky Road Cake Filling
Our filling consists of a slathering of chocolate frosting, sliced almonds, mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, and a ganache drizzle. There's a lot of deliciousness happening here!
Some versions of Rocky Road Ice Cream have peanuts or walnuts and so if you are not a fan of almonds, you have options!
You can adjust the amount of almonds, marshmallows, and chocolate chips to you liking- and you can also snip the marshmallows even smaller with kitchen scissors if you'd like!
Assembling the Cake
- Place the first cooled chocolate cake layer on the cake plate or pedestal.
- Next, spread with chocolate buttercream, and scatter with the nuts, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and then a drizzle of chocolate ganache. I also piped additional chocolate frosting on top just because ;0)
- Next, add the second layer and repeat the above steps for filling. Top with the third chocolate cake layer and give it a gentle press down a time or two. Fill in any gaps between the cake layers with chocolate frosting.
- Next, frost the cake with chocolate buttercream. I like to start with a crumb coat (thin coat) of chocolate frosting and then I chill the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up the buttercream before adding the second layer of frosting. This helps to keep the cake from shifting around as you apply the second coat of frosting.
Decorating the Rocky Road Cake
Smooth around the sides of the cake with a metal bench scraper (I heat my bench scraper under hot water, and smooth over the frosting). I like to do this step while rotating the cake on a turntable.
I added the chocolate ganache to a piping bag with a small bit of the tip snipped away and applied a ganache drip around the top edge of the cake. (The drip is optional- it's pretty just on top as well.
The ganache is ready when it easily flows from the piping bag but is not so warm that it travels all the way down the side of the cake (unless that's the look you are going for!) ;0)
Then I added additional ganache to the top of the cake, easing it with an offset spatula just to the edge of the cake where the drip begins.
I briefly chilled the cake at this point in the freezer for 5 minutes so that I could more easily pipe a buttercream border of shells (star tip 21) around the top edge of the cake. (We have a great video for the basics of star tip piping if you need it!)
Top with marshmallows, almonds, and more chocolate drizzles.
Here are a few more delicious cakes to try:
Enjoy the Recipe!
Thanks so much for stopping by! We hope that you enjoy our Rocky Road Cake! It would make a wonderful birthday cake recipe for the chocolate lovers in your life.
Rocky Road Cake (Cake Mix Recipe)
For the Chocolate Cake (See Notes below)
- 1 box 15.25oz (432g) Devil's Food or Chocolate Cake Mix ( I used Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Devil's Food Cake Mix)
- ⅓ cup (40g) all purpose flour (If you are not measuring with a scale, gently spoon into measuring cup and level off with a table knife)
- 1 box (3.9oz)Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix (Do not prepare the pudding)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup (242g) sour cream (We do not use reduced fat.)
- 1 cup (242g) water
- ½ cup (108g) vegetable oil (we use canola oil)
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Buttercream
- 3 sticks (339g total) unsalted butter, softened. (It should still hold its shape but dent when pressed.)
- 7 cups (805g) confectioners' sugar Adjust slightly up or down to your liking.
- 1 cup (82g) unsweeteded cocoa powder
- ¾ cup (180g) milk plus 2 Tablespoons (Adjust to your consistency preferences)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (12g)
- 1 teaspoon salt (6g)
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 5 oz Dark Chocolate Chips we used Ghirardelli or Semi-Sweet. If using semi-sweet, I like to use closer to 6oz.
- 5 oz. Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream
- Approximate total amounts used for two layers of filling- Adjust to your liking
- ½ cup Sliced Almonds (48g)
- 1 cup Mini Marshmallows (56g)
- ¼ cup Mini Chocolate Chips (60g) If you prefer regular size chips, that is fine also!
- *You will use additional for the top of the cake
For the Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, Grease and flour three (8x2 inch) round cake pans. (You can also bake two 8 or 9 inch cake layers and bake a bit longer as needed).
- In the mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: cake mix, flour, and pudding mix. Whisk to blend. Add the eggs, sour cream, water, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed to blend increasing to medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix another minute.
- Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Makes about 6-6.5 cups of batter.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. It should also spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Add butter and mix on low to medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and blend into the butter. Add powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder.
- Add most of the milk. Begin mixing at low speed so you won't have a cloud of powdered sugar in your kitchen.
- Continue to mix adding remaining milk as needed. It may take 5 to 6 minutes to reach the smoothness and consistency you like. It will take longer if using a hand mixer. As you mix the frosting will become very smooth. You can add additional milk (1 Tablespoon at a time) if the frosting is too thick or additional powdered sugar if too soft.
For the Chocolate Ganache
- Place the 5 oz. dark chocolate or 6 oz semi sweet chocolate into a microwave safe bowl.
- Pour 5 oz. heavy cream over the chocolate and place in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Remove and stir. Microwave for 15 seconds more and stir. Repeat if necessary. When the chocolate has melted almost completely with just a few small soft pieces remaining, allow it to sit for a few minutes. The remaining pieces should melt away.
- The ganache will thicken as it cools. Cool for about 15 minutes or until you can pipe drips along the inside of your bowl and get the look that you are going for. (If the ganache is too warm, the drips will run all the way down. If they only drip part of the way down the bowl, it is ready. Some of this comes down to personal preference.)
- You will be using this in between cake layers as a drizzle as well as a ganache drip around the sides of the cake and a glaze for the top of the cake.
- Place first layer on cake plate or pedestal. Spread with chocolate buttercream and top with sprinkling of almonds, chocolate chips, ganache drizzle, and mini marshmallows. We used about ¼ cup almonds per layer, a few tablespoons chips, and about ½ cup marshmallows per layer. Adjust to your liking!
- Top with the next cake layer, spread with frosting, and add on the toppings. Top with third cake layer, fill in any gaps in between layers with frosting. Frost as usual. I like to crumb coat (thin layer of frosting) and place in freezer for 15 minutes to firm things up before moving on to the second coat of frosting. It makes things easier as the layers are less likely to shift while you work.
- I smoothed around the sides of the cake with my bench scraper, piped a ganache drip around the top edge, applied additional ganache on top of the cake, sprinkled with nuts and marshmallows, and drizzled additional ganache.
- As an optional step, you can pipe a top border as we did. I chilled the cake briefly to firm up the ganache a bit before applying the border so it will pipe on more easily. I used a star tip 21 to apply a border of piped shells.
- Decorate the cake however you like! If you aren't comfortable with applying a ganache drip, simply glaze the top with ganache and sprinkle with toppings- you can't go wrong ;0)