Small Chocolate Cake Recipe (6 Inch)
This homemade Small Chocolate Cake recipe is a moist and delicious one layer 6 inch chocolate cake for two from scratch without cake mix. Top it with strawberry cream cheese frosting or chocolate ganache.
Of course hers was from a box mix, but she always made sure my dad, brother, and I had birthday cakes with our names written on top with cake writing gel.
Nowadays I make everyone’s birthday cakes from scratch. But since my mom can’t eat sugar anymore and I’m being more mindful of what I eat as I get older, we always have too much cake leftover.
That’s why I usually opt to bake my Small Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s a moist and delicious one layer 6 inch chocolate cake recipe.
You certainly don’t need to wait for someone’s birthday to make it. Homemade chocolate cake is always a classic go-to and sometimes you’re craving chocolate. Hard.
Maybe you’re having a bad day. Maybe you’re having a great day. Maybe you need a chocolate cake for two for Valentine’s Day or a romantic dessert for date night.
Whatever the occasion, this small chocolate cake recipe will be your new favorite dessert for two.
Buying A 6 Inch Cake Pan
In order to make this small chocolate cake, you need to buy a 6 inch cake pan. Easy enough, right?
A 6 x 2 inch round cake pan has a volume of 3 cups and holds about 2 cups batter (leaving room at the top for the cake rising). You can buy one online from Amazon (affiliate link) or from your local craft store in the cake decorating aisle.
If all you have are ramekins, check out my Mini Lava Cakes instead.
How To Convert Chocolate Cake Into Chocolate Cupcakes
Don’t have a 6 inch cake pan? I also turned this recipe into small batch chocolate cupcakes and a small Bundt cake.
I also scaled it up slightly to bake in an 8 inch pan with one layer chocolate cake.
Ingredients For Small Chocolate Cake
To make the best 6 inch chocolate cake recipe ever, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Semisweet chocolate: Baking chocolate is made from ground cocoa nibs containing both cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Look for semisweet chocolate that is around 55% cacao.
- All-purpose flour: I make all of my cakes with all-purpose flour, the standard flour in almost every pantry. Make sure you’re spooning it into your cup. Using the scoop and pack method means you’ll end up with more flour than directed.
- Cocoa powder: Adds a deep chocolate flavor you cannot accomplish with baking chocolate alone. Make sure it says unsweetened.
- Baking soda: This leavening agent is what makes your cake rise.
- Espresso powder: Adding coffee to chocolate really brings out the chocolate flavor. Don’t worry – adding a small amount won’t make your cake taste like coffee. It’s only noticeable if you leave it out.
- Salt: Nobody wants a bland cake! Salt makes sure you get as much flavor as possible out of your cake.
- Butter: Not only does fat add flavor, butter helps the cake rise from its steam when it melts, trapping carbon dioxide in the batter as it bakes. This creates a tender crumb texture. Do not substitute margarine.
- Granulated sugar: Sugar helps sweeten the cake.
- Brown sugar: Because brown sugar includes molasses, it helps make the cake a little more moist than using all granulated.
- Egg: Use 1 standard large egg that’s been brought to room temperature. Using a cold egg means the batter won’t rise as much.
- Vanilla: Much like salt and coffee, vanilla enhances the chocolate flavor.
- Buttermilk: The acidity from the buttermilk is needed to activate the baking soda. If you don’t have any, substitute whole milk plus lemon juice or vinegar. I highly recommend whole milk and not low fat or skim because the extra fat helps keep the chocolate cake moist.
- Hot coffee: As mentioned, coffee enhances the chocolate flavor. If you don’t want to use coffee, substitute hot water.
What is espresso powder?
The key to the best small chocolate cake recipe is espresso powder.
Espresso powder is concentrated instant coffee crystals that can be dissolved quickly in liquid, similar to instant coffee but stronger in flavor.
It doesn’t add any coffee flavor. Rather it enhances the chocolate to taste more chocolately, similar to adding salt to otherwise bland baked goods.
You can buy espresso powder at an Italian grocery store or the Italian section of your grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can use instant coffee (although the flavor isn’t as intense).
Some readers ask to leave espresso powder out of their chocolate cake. Although the recipe will work fine without it, please note it won’t be as chocolatey as it should be.
How To Make Small Chocolate Cake
Here’s how to make your chocolate cake for two from scratch:
- Sift together your flour and cocoa powder then stir in your baking soda, espresso powder, and salt.
- Cream together your butter and both sugars until smooth. The airiness will help your cake rise with a tender crumb.
- Beat in your egg, vanilla, and melted chocolate, scraping down your bowl if necessary.
- Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and coffee, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
- Pour the batter into your 6 inch cake pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs (but not wet batter).
How many servings will does a 6 inch cake make?
Serving sizes for small cakes are subjective, especially if you only want a small bite. Generally 6 inch cakes can be sliced into 4-6 slices, making it about 4-6 servings.
However, if you slice your small chocolate cake small enough, you can push for 8 slices, equaling 8 servings.
Ultimately serving size is up to you depending on how small you cut your 6 inch chocolate cake.
How To Decorate A Small Chocolate Cake
As you can see from the photos, there’s more than one way to frost chocolate cake for two.
You can dress it up for Valentine’s Day with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting, or Strawberry Buttercream.
Looking for double chocolate? Make my chocolate frosting, chocolate cream cheese frosting, chocolate whipped cream, or chocolate ganache (which you can learn how to make ganache complete with step by step photos!).
Love peanut butter cups? Decorate it with my peanut butter frosting, peanut butter cream cheese frosting, or a dollop of peanut butter whipped cream.
Want another flavor? Check out my full list of small batch frosting recipes.
How To Freeze A Chocolate Cake
Although a 6 inch chocolate cake only makes a few slices, sometimes you want to bake it ahead of time then freeze for freshness.
To freeze a whole cake, first make sure it’s completely cooled to room temperature.
If your cake is already frosted, place it on a baking tray or plate lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap then freeze uncovered for 1 hour or until firm. This will prevent the plastic wrap from sticking to your frosting and ruining it.
Next, wrap the cake in plastic wrap then stick in a freeze-safe plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
Write the date on your plastic bag then freeze for up to 3 months.
How To Thaw A Chocolate Cake
When you’re ready to serve your small chocolate cake recipe, place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Then let it sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before serving so it’s not cold.
It’s harder to taste the flavors if you eat the cake straight from the fridge without warming up first.
More Small Cake Recipes
Looking for more small cake recipes? I wrote a 6 Inch Cake Recipes guide with every flavor I’ve made.
Some popular recipes are:
Small Chocolate Cake Recipe
This homemade Small Chocolate Cake recipe is a moist and delicious one layer 6 inch chocolate cake for two from scratch without cake mix.
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (when measuring, use the spoon and level method)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (soft and moist, not dry and crumbly)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature (or substitute whole milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar added. Do not use skim or low fat.)
- 2 tablespoons hot coffee (or substitute beer or hot water)
Pick One To Decorate
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease one 6-inch round cake pan then line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Add about an inch of water to a pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and place a heatproof bowl over top. Add the chopped chocolate and melt until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
Alternatively, add chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl then microwave for 30 seconds. Stir then continue microwaving in 15 second increments until melted and smooth.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa then stir in the baking soda, espresso powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl on medium-high speed (with paddle attachment if using stand mixer), beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and creamy, about 1 minute.
- Scrape down the bowl then beat in the egg, vanilla, and melted chocolate.
- On the lowest speed possible, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk and coffee, adding the flour in 3 additions and the liquid in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
When the flour is about 90% incorporated, stop the mixer and switch to a rubber spatula. Finish adding the flour by hand as you don't want to overmix the batter.
- Transfer the batter to the pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs (no wet batter). Cool for about 15 minutes, run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen, and invert onto a cooling rack. Cool right-side-up.
- Decorate with frosting of choice.
Cover and store the frosted cake at room temperature for up to 2 days (buttercream only) or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (buttercream, cream cheese, and ganache). For best results, let the refrigerated cake sit at room temperature 15-30 minutes before serving.
- Love this recipe? Check out my full list of 6 Inch Cake recipes including yellow cake, strawberry cake, and more.
- Don't have a 6 inch pan? Check out my recipe for Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes and 8 Inch One Layer Chocolate Cake.
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I really loved reading your blog. I also found your posts very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show it to my friend and he ejoyed it as well!
Thank you so much!
Thanks on your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
you might be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back later.
So in love with 6 inch cakes :-) Thank you so much !
Glad to hear! I have plans for more 6 inch cakes in the future. Stay tuned!
Inspirational, as always! Much love and respect to you. Please do keep it up – I love these small batch recipes of yours. You can not imagine what a joy it is to receive your emails. It is not easy having recipes serving 6 or more when you are by yourself. At least this way, I can bake or cook small portions, eat a portion, save another and if it is a bake, invite a friend over for tea – problem solved! :-) :-)
Thank you so much for your kind words! When I read this over the weekend, I couldn’t stop smiling. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I’m going in the right direction with my recipes, so I’m glad they are working out for you. If you have any requests, please let me know!
Would love to try this recipe but I have one query.
I am using instant coffee powder instead of espresso powder so can I add it directly to the batter or I have to dilute it before adding?
Yes, you can add it to the batter much like you would with the espresso powder.
Thank you so much for reverting back to me. I tried this recipe and it turned out absolutely delicious. Adding it to my list of favorite chocolate cake recipes. Muchas gracias????
Oh wonderful! Glad you loved it.
Again, so so glad you moved back to Pitt! And omg girl this cake is perfect, I’m not huuuge on cake so I can never do a whole regular sized one-this is perfect!
You need to come back to Pittsburgh soon!
I know, I do!!!
do you think i could safely double the recipe for a 2 layer 6 inch cake?
I don’t see why not!
I’m making the cake and the batter is so thick. Should we add some water to it?
How thick are you talking? Assuming your measurements are accurate using the proper measuring tools, no you don’t want to add extra liquid. The extra liquid will cause the cake to wrinkle on top.
Thanks a million for this small cake recipe. I’ve made it twice for my husband and I and we think it’s delish!
Glad you both enjoyed it!
1. I loved the story…brings to heart.
2. I am about to try the recipe…sounds yummy.
3. Thank you sincerely for sharing…a piece about you and life.
Blessings to you
Thank you so much! Hope you enjoy the recipe :D
Made this today for my little one who loves chocolate cake. Sliced it in half & filled it with strawberry preserves. So delicious. Thank you!
Yum! Love your idea of filling it with strawberry preserves.
I’m excited to try this! Would 2% milk be ok to use?
Great name, btw ;)
For best results I’d use whole milk. However, if it’s all you have, it can work in a pinch.
What if you don’t have espresso powder?
Great question! You can either use instant coffee (not coffee grounds but coffee you dissolve in water) or leave it out altogether. The coffee flavor helps enhance the cocoa and make it more chocolatey. However, it won’t be a total loss if you didn’t add it.
My first small cake. Made it for a birthday. Frosted with your vanilla buttercream frosting and the comment was “delicious!” Thank you.
Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your feedback with me.
I love this recipe!! I’ve adapted it by placing the batter in small ramekins and adding a dollop of the ganache on top before baking— it gets swallowed up by the expanding batter and boom! Lava cakes!! It makes about four. I got heart shaped ramekins for my birthday this year and in celebration, I’m doing a cake decorating party with this recipe as the base cake!! I love how fluffy the cake is and how perfectly moist it is, even without lava :D thank you for coming up with this!
Love the lava cake idea! I’ll have to try that for myself.
Made this over the weekend. It was quite good and super cute! Just sweet enough, even with the ganache on top. I will definitely make this again, and will also do a deep dive into the other modestly portioned treats on your website. I also have to say that I love your vibe as well.
Happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your experience with me. Glad it was a hit.
Hi, thanks for sharing your story. I am in similar boat, so I can totally relate to you.
Your story touches my heart and it’s very inspiring. It takes lots of courage and perseverance to turn loneliness into passion! Your blog oozes positivity – keep up with creating these wonderful yumminess!
Can’t wait to try out your recipe – looks absolutely delicious!
Thank you for your kind words! Let me know how the cake turns out.
I’m going to make the cake. I love that you have recipes for two or a few. Thanks for sharing your story. Please keep me posted for more recipes for two or a few.
Happy to help! If you haven’t already, you can sign up for email alerts: https://chocolatemoosey.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=e2c0b2342ae1f0547d094e678&id=e52f30dbd6
It came out delicious! I used it for an Ice cream cake. I doubled the recipe. I would like to use this recipe for cup cakes will it work?
Yes it should be fine! It’s been on my list to make as cupcakes but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m not sure how many you’ll get, but it shouldn’t be a ton. Love how you made it an ice cream cake! Great idea.
Hi I saw your post ,this recipe is just perfect for two but we don’t like eggs so is there any alternative for that ? Anything to substitute eggs?
I’ve only ever made this recipe with eggs, but I know you can usually substitute applesauce, banana, or even avocado. I highly recommend doing some research on how to substitute for eggs in baking for the proper ratios. Let me know what worked for this recipe so others can make it too.
Carla, so glad you posted this recipe. I have been looking for a small chocolate cake, this looks perfect! Would I be able to bake it in a three cup Pyrex dish? Obviously the shape would be completely different, but I hesitate to invest in a six inch pan, because I have so much bake/cookware. Thanks for your consideration.
I haven’t baked it in anything similar to a Pyrex dish, so I honestly don’t know. It’ll probably work, but my main concerns would be how long to bake it and will the center be done before the edges burn. What I’d do is keep an eye on the bake time. Check on it at 15 minutes then go from there. If the edges start to burn, you can probably cover the top loosely with foil, like you would with banana bread.
Love you recipes for two. I’ve gone from a household of seven down to just my husband and me. Desserts are especially tough. LiIke most women I feel guilty throwing out too much dessert but even more guilty eating it all. Your recipes have been perfect. Just enough delicious dessert. Just enough delicious food.
Thanks for doing all the homework and presenting these recipes for us to enjoy.
Going from 7 to 2 is definitely an adjustment! Happy to help with my small batch recipes.
Wanted a small cake for my little one’s half birthday..followed your recipe exactly and the result was one of the best chocolate cakes I have tasted..thank u so much for this recipe … it’s a keeper
Oh wonderful! Happy Half Birthday to your little one!
Looks amazing! I have a 6″ pan with much higher sides – will it work the same as a 6×2 inch pan?
I think it’ll be ok, but I haven’t tried it in anything other than the 6×2 pan. Let me know how it goes!
Oh my god this cake is friggin perfect!!
Also I’d suggest not to skip the coffee or the ganache part because that makes this cake almost magical.
This shit is like crack! Fucking love it!
Glad you loved it! Yes, the coffee really makes a difference!
Heyyy!!! I just tried your cake recipe yesterday without chocolate melted. It turned out AMAZING with super texture and with a great taste. I have a doubt can i make it double the recipe to get my second layer done??
Yes, you can double the recipe to make two layers.
If I double the batter and make two 6 inch cakes and bake them at the same time in the oven, would the baking time and temperature be different?
The temperature stays the same. Time should be roughly the same but depending on your oven, you may or may not need some extra time. Bake as instructed then check with a toothpick.
Would you suggest natural cocoa or dutch-processed cocoa? I read that natural cocoa tends to be more bitter in flavor.
This recipe has been tested with natural cocoa only. Natural cocoa still has its acidity, so if it’s not balanced properly with the other ingredients (such as baking soda), then yes it could have a bitter taste. That’s not the case with this cake.
This is just what I am looking for, a small moist cake. I live in the UK so is it possible you can convert ingredients into grams.
For gram measurements, you can use a baking conversion tool, such as this one: https://www.weekendbakery.com/cooking-conversions/
Can I quadruple this recipe for a four layered cake? If yes will baking soda needs to be increased too?
Yes, all ingredients will need to be quadrupled in order to keep the proportions the same.
Hi Carla , can the brow3 sugar be sustainable with granulated sugar in recipe ?
I’m not sure what you mean by sustainable. Could you clarify your question?
I apologise for the question asked . I meant was , the recipe requires 1/4 cup of brown sugar , can that be substituted with the same quantity of granulated sugar ?
The brown sugar helps add more moisture to the cake. Although you can use all granulated, I can’t promise the results will be the same.
Hi, Such a wonderful recipe. One of the best chocolate cake I have ever made. Thanks for the recipe.
Oh good glad you loved the cake!
Thank you for this recipe…. Finally a 6 inch cake with a good even rise that didn’t burn in my oven (it’s very tiny and most cakes rise and touch the heating coil above).. Made 3 of them, layered with your strawberry cream cheese frosting and choc ganache. . For my baby’s 1st bday. Can’t wait to dig in. The crumbs were yum n moist
Glad the cake worked for you! My cake recipes don’t/shouldn’t rise above the cake rim (I don’t have a window to watch, but if they rise too much they collapse in the middle), so that sounds like it’s perfect for your oven (side note – if you end up making my 6 inch cheesecakes, those may rise too much because they fill to the very top). ANYWAY. Happy birthday to your baby!
Thank you for your wishes. And the thoughtful note on the cheesecake. The cake was beautiful and delicious.
Just made this for our Valentine’s Day dessert and it was incredible! Probably the best homemade chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Super moist and the espresso/coffee added a lot to the flavor. I made it in 2 heart shaped ramekins. Thanks so much for sharing!
Oh wonderful! Also love how you made them in ramekins for the holiday.
I have a history of bad luck with birthday cakes, so I was nervous going into this one. But I made a two-layer six-inch chocolate cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting. It served eight quite generously. it was DELICIOUS and won rave reviews all around! It’s my new go-to–I’m so excited to have found this lovely recipe!
Oh wonderful! Glad you were successful with this recipe.
Hi, I loved your RedVelvet cake recipe. So moist. Want to try this chocolate cake recipe tomorrow. I’m struggling to find semisweet chocolate. I’m from Australia . Just wondering whether I can use more coco powder to replace this. I can find milk chocolate chips/bars too. But will that be too sweet. Please help . Really appreciate.
Thank you in advanced
I haven’t tried it with all cocoa powder. I do know you’d need to make some adjustments. Here’s what I found: “To replace one ounce of semisweet chocolate, use 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus only 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter, shortening or oil and 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.” I’ve done that sub for other recipes but not this cake.
Do you have dark chocolate? You can probably use half dark, half milk but I agree – I wouldn’t do all milk chocolate.
Thank you so much for taking time to reply. I’ll try this method. Hope it will work. Love your small cake recipes. Thank you again
It was delicious definitely my go to for a special dinner
Oh good glad you enjoyed the cake!
Can i substitute the egg with yougurt?
I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure. Let me know how it goes!
This recipe is a family favorite. I sliced the cake to make two layers and then proceeded to turn it into a delicious black forest cherry cake for my husbands birthday. It was the bast.
Oh my that sounds amazing! Glad you both loved it.
Hi, Love your website! I just made the cake, and it was dense, any reason why? what did I do wrong? Please help. Thank you
I need more info. Did you make any changes to the ingredients or directions? What did you use for the chocolate and how many squares? How did you measure your flour (spoon it into the cup? Dip the cup into the flour bin)? Did you use a hand mixer or stand mixer? How long did you beat it and on what speed when you added the dry ingredients?
Carla, I am sorry no i didn’t change the recipe at all, followed it as written. I weight out chocolate and I spooned the flour into the cup. used a stand mixer, beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
Are you saying you beat it 2 minutes while alternating with the wet ingredients or 2 minutes after everything was incorporated? Also did you use baking soda (not powder) that wasn’t expired? Did you use buttermilk or milk with lemon/vinegar added?
yes, alternating the wet & dry., I used baking soda, & I used buttermilk with white vinegar added. No worries I will be making it again. I am a newbie at baking! Thank you for all your time
Ok. Dense cake can come from overbeating, so keep an eye on that. Also make sure you’re using an oven thermometer for an accurate reading so you’re not baking your cake too hot or too cold.
Thank you so much. I will give it a try tomorrow. Thanks again for all your help
Hi me again! What brand of butter are you using? It has come to my attention with the butter shortage, a lot of the cheaper store brand butters are having quality issues and may be discreetly changing the moisture content. And funny thing is a dense cake could mean having too much liquid, so I’m wondering if extra moisture in your butter is causing issues. I personally use store brand butter (either ALDI or Walmart), but I haven’t made my chocolate cake recently with the butter changes. I also read even Land O Lakes butter is causing issues.
Hi Carla, I use Land O lakes in the first one. I will be making it again this weekend, but without Land O lakes, as of shortage, I will use store bought. Thanks again for letting me know
We loved this little cake! It was made for my husband’s birthday, which is the day after Christmas (!) It was all we needed to celebrate. I sliced it in half and filled it with whipped chocolate ganache (1/2 cup cream, 2 ozs. dark chocolate) and frosted it with chocolate sauce that firmed up when refrigerated. Delightful! Keep up the good work! We need small recipes!!
Oh I love the idea of filling it with the ganache! Happy birthday to your husband and happy to hear both of you enjoyed it.
Hi Carla, I’m making this cake tomorrow and only have 8-inch pans. If I increase the ingredients to maintain the proportions by 1.5 as you mentioned in another post, how many eggs should I use? Stick with one or increase to two?
You’re probably better off with this recipe instead. If you cut it in half, use 1 egg + 1 egg yolk https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/devils-food-layer-cake-with-whipped-chocolate-buttercream-frosting/
Hi Carla, your 6 inch Chocolate Cake calls for express power do you mean instant coffee and if I leave it out will it change the taste?
I addressed these questions under the section “What is espresso powder?”