Chocolate Marble Cake

Whoever said basic had to be boring has not tried this cake.

Chocolate Marble Cake
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
30 mins
Bake Time:
30 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins

Don't be fooled by the ingredients. What appears to be a basic vanilla cake is actually a towering, two-layer creation swirled with rich chocolate batter. To ensure your layers are nice and even, try using a kitchen scale, which is an essential tool that belongs in every kitchen. If you don't have one, use a measuring cup to divide the batter into the pans for best results. The frosting is a thick, indulgent chocolate concoction, helped along by the two pounds of powdered sugar, which is mellowed by the tang of the cream cheese and the bitterness of the unsweetened cocoa. There's plenty to coat every inch of this cake, but for a presentation that lends relaxed elegance, opt for a naked cake—that is, don't frost the sides (or if you do, coat it with an extremely thin, nearly translucent layer of frosting). However you choose to decorate, this cake will dazzle wherever it is served: from the after school snack sideboard with a big glass of milk to the tea-time table amidst the finger sandwiches and petit-fours. Whoever said basic is boring hasn't yet met this Chocolate Marble Cake recipe.


Cake Layers

  • Baking spray with flour

  • ½ cup chopped semisweet chocolate baking bar (from 1 [4-oz.] bar)

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon table salt

  • 1 cup half-and-half

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

  • ½ cup salted butter, softened

  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 (32-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar

  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons half-and-half, as needed


  1. Prepare the Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray; set aside. Microwave chopped chocolate in a small microwavable bowl on MEDIUM (50%) power until melted and smooth, 1 ½ to 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Set melted chocolate aside.

  2. Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition.

  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating on low speed just until combined after each addition, about 2 minutes total. Beat in vanilla on low speed.

  4. Transfer 1 cup of the cake batter to a small bowl; stir in melted chocolate until fully combined, and set aside. Spoon half of the remaining cake batter evenly into prepared cake pans (about 1 ⅓ cups per pan); dollop pans evenly with chocolate batter. Spoon remaining cake batter evenly over top of chocolate batter dollops, and gently smooth over dollops using a small offset spatula. Swirl batters together using a small paring knife.

  5. Bake Cake Layers on middle rack in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted into centers of cakes comes out clean, 26 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven; transfer pans to a wire rack, and let cool 10 minutes. Remove Cake Layers from pans, and place directly on wire rack; let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  6. Prepare the Frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and salt with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa in a large bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar mixture to butter mixture alternately with 4 tablespoons half-and-half, beating on low speed until combined after each addition. (If needed, beat in up to 1 additional tablespoon half-and-half, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency.) Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

  7. Spread 1 cup Frosting in between Cake Layers. Use remaining Frosting to evenly coat top and sides of cake.

Related Articles