Death By Chocolate: The 24-layer Chocolate Cake Of Your Dreams
Image Credit: Strip House/Facebook

Who doesn’t like cake? Who doesn’t like chocolates? But to have so much of it at once might cause fear in the mind of some, but not to the real ones; not to the uninhibited dessert people. Liked by NBA legend Michael Jordan and former President of USA, George W. Bush just to name a few, this abomination of opulence has garnered much following over the years and coming into the age of Instagram, that fanfare has only gotten more widespread and stronger.  

12 layers of decadent chocolate sponge cake, with 11 alternating layers of chocolate swiss meringue buttercream frosting topped with a semi-sweetened dark chocolate ganache, this towering monstrosity stands a foot tall and weighs close to 10 kilograms along with the bragging rights of being bigger than a normal-sized human head. Talk about proportions all you want, but it takes over half a day to bake, cool, slice, frost and repeat till you’ve assembled the Insta-worthy cake. It would most certainly set you back a fortune to have a slice and even then, chances are you and a couple of our friends won’t be able to finish it. But what a slice it would be, almost heavenly in its extravagance, unparalleled to anything you’ve ever had before. That is why it was adjudged the number 1 chocolate dessert in America by the Food Network. 

Having originated in steakhouses in New York City, or more generally speaking, in the United States of America, the cross section of this cake looked so alluring that it quickly caught on. Amateur to pro, home cooks and bakers alike, tried their hand at making this giant cake and it spread like wildfire to other parts of the world, as well. Today, in India we have locations in Delhi and mostly in Mumbai where you could find and indulge in this larger-than-life creation. And for the uninitiated, if you want to try your hand at baking this for yourself (we won’t judge) or for a special occasion involving your friends and family, here’s how you would go about it. 

For the Chocolate Sponge Cake- 


  • 2 ¼ Cups (177g) Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder, 
  • 2 Cups (456g) Boiling Hot Water, 
  • 3 Cups (639g) Brown Sugar, either Light or Dark 
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons (4g) Kosher Salt 
  • 1 ½ Cups (297g) Sunflower Oil (or any other Neutral Oil) 
  • 3 Egg Yolks (45g) 
  • 6 Whole Eggs (300g) 
  • 2 ¼ Cups (270g) All-purpose Flour 
  • 3 Teaspoons (12g) Baking Powder


  1. Move your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius. 
  2. Butter the insides of three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Dust a very light coating of flour inside the pans. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl add the Dutch-process cocoa and pour boiling water over the cocoa. Use a whisk to stir; you'll get a steaming hot bowl of thick chocolate paste, let that sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the chocolate flavor to bloom. 
  4. Add the brown sugar, salt, and oil. Whisk until it forms a thick runny chocolate sauce. The brown sugar granules may not dissolve all the way, but when you stop stirring, the chocolate sauce will settle down in the bowl and look super smooth. 
  5. Add your egg yolk(s) and eggs all at once and whisk for at least 1 minute by hand. It should be completely homogenous and you should see no steaks of egg yolk or whites at the end. You may see some slight bubbles - that's a good sign. 
  6. Sift in your all-purpose flour and baking powder. Use a spatula to stir it in until you see no flour remaining on the sides of the bowl. 
  7. Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pans. 
  8. Bake for about 40 mins or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. (Start around 35 mins.) If you do not have three pans, you can bake them one after another.
  9. Move the pans to a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool in the pans completely. 
  10. Loosen the edges of the cakes using an offset spatula or butter knife, and flip the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Peel off the parchment bottom thereafter and make sure they are completely cool before assembling and/or frosting. 

For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting- 


  • ½ Cup (42g) Cocoa Powder 
  • 6 Tablespoons (84g) Boiling Hot Water 
  • 1 ½ Cups (363g) Fresh Egg Whites 
  • 3 Cups (600g) Granulated Sugar 
  • ½ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar 
  • 3 ¾ Cups (849g) Unsalted Butter, softened to cool room temp 
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons (3g) Kosher Salt


  1. In a small bowl stir together the cocoa powder and boiling hot water to create a paste. Set it aside. 
  2. Prepare your double boiler. Make sure you can fit your heatproof bowl on the top so that the bottom is exposed to steam but not directly touching the water. Bring the water beneath to a gentle boil. 
  3. Add egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar to the bowl. Mix with a spatula. It will be viscous and thick in consistency. Place on top of the double boiler and check to make sure that the steam is getting to the bottom of the bowl properly. 
  4. Continuously stir with the spatula. The eggs will thin out, all the sugar will melt, and the mixture will become more opaque. Use a thermometer to make sure you reach 74 degrees Celsius. Remove the bowl from double boiler thereafter. 
  5. Place the contents of the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Whisk on high speed for 10 minutes until the bowl has cooled to the touch, the meringue has more than tripled in volume, and starts to ball up around the whisk. Set aside to cool completely. 
  6. Add in the butter, one tablespoon chunk at a time. The frosting will lose volume at first, and then start to come together and look and feel a little like firm freshly whipped cream, leaving tracks in the frosting. 
  7. Add your salt and chocolate paste that has been prepared earlier. Stir on low speed until the frosting is uniform in color and texture. 

Assembling the cake: 

  1. Cut off the tops of cakes to make a flat surface. 
  2. Next cut each cake into six even layers. 
  3. Place the thickest layer on the plate. Place a ring from an 8-inch springform pan around the cake. 
  4. Spread a thin, even layer of chocolate frosting, then place next cake layer. Continue with the following layers. Chill the cake in the freezer for an hour and then stack the layers on top of one another. 
  5. Chill the cake so that the decadent meringue frosting remains firm and doesn’t get too hot while assembling the cake. Repeat the process until all 12 layers are stacked together in perfect alignment. Keep it in the refrigerator until the ganache is ready. 

For the Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate Ganache- 


  • 566g Of Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate, chopped 
  • 2 ½ Cups (595g) Heavy Cream 
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons (35g) Unsalted Butter


  1. Chop the semi-sweet dark chocolate block and set that aside. 
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the heavy cream to just under a boil gradually. Once it starts to see a bit of steam rising, remove it from the heat entirely. 
  3. Add in all the chopped chocolate and unsalted butter and let that sit for about 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Use a whisk to stir until the ganache is smooth and uniform in color. 

Finally, drizzle the ganache in a controlled manner over the layered cake, so that every part of the cake gets covered. Let it set for a while and put it back in the refrigerator. Once cooled, take it out very carefully and slice it to reveal the holy cross-section of all cross-sections. Get out your forks and knives, set out the plates, pull up your sleeves, and invite your entire neighbourhood to enjoy the fruits of your day-long labour! Cut yourself a slice, you’ve deserved it!