The ultimate chocolate cake, reimagined as a fun-to-decorate Springtime centerpiece! A sunflower cake is easy to make with yellow marshmallow Peeps and chocolate chips.
Forget for a moment about how awesome this cake looks. I want to talk about how it tastes! My chocolate layer cake recipe is decadent, moist, and super chocolatey. It’s made from scratch, so you can feel really proud of the end result, and everyone who eats it will be raving and begging you to make it again.
This sunflower cake, decorated with peeps chicks, is perfect for Easter, but feel free to serve it whenever you have the need for a delicious chocolate cake. A sunflower cake is welcome any time of the year, or you can change up the decorations for the occasion.
This easter cake is very similar to my other chocolate Easter cake that’s topped with toasted coconut and Cadbury eggs.
You should also take a look at my other Easter Peep Cake. That one features vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and lots of bunny shaped Peeps.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The BEST Chocolate Cake – I’ve been making this chocolate cake recipe for years, and made some tweaks over time to perfect it. It comes out perfectly moist, dense, and delicious every single time.
- Peeps! yellow chick peeps make me smile the biggest smile. They are so cute, and they make a really cute sunflower cake too.
- Step by Step Recipe – This isn’t the most simple cake recipe out there, but it works. I’ll give you step by step instructions with photos so you can get the best results.
Ingredients In Chocolate Sunflower Cake
Here’s what you need to make this amazing chocolate Sunflower cake.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Sugar, Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder, and Salt: I consider all of these ingredients “the dry ingredients” for this chocolate cake recipe. We will mix these up first and then add them to the wet ingredients.
- Eggs: Two large eggs, at room temperature, are needed for this cake.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk in cake recipes makes them extra moist and soft. You can use regular milk if you like.
- Oil: Fat is needed to make this cake tasty! Canola or vegetable oil is what I normally grab for baking cakes.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract makes chocolate taste better.
- Espresso Powder: To make a chocolate cake taste extra chocolately, coffee is the secret ingredient! You can leave this out if you like. It’s optional, but I highly recommend that you try it. Either espresso powder or instant coffee will work.
- Boiling Water: Mix the coffee with boiling water and add it to the batter. Boiling water helps to dissolve the cocoa powder, making the batter extra smooth.
- Chocolate Buttercream: You’ll need softened unsalted butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.
- Peeps: Yellow peeps chicks are the petals of this sunflower cake.
- Chocolate Chips: Milk chocolate chips create the center of the sunflower. You can also use semisweet chips if that’s what you have.
- Green Frosting: A small amount of canned cake frosting or a quick homemade butter cream tinted green will help you to create grass or leaf details.
How To Make a Chocolate Sunflower Cake
Start by preheating the oven to 375°F/190°C (170°C for a fan oven). Then prep cake pans by greasing them with butter and lining the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt). Add in the sugar, and set the bowl of dry ingredients aside.
- Make Batter: In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Avoid overmixing to keep the cake moist and soft.
- Stir in Boiling water and coffee powder. This thins the batter and helps to dissolve the cocoa powder.
- Bake: Divide the batter between the two 8-inch cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool: Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in cake pans for 10 minutes. Gently turn out on a cooling rack upside down, and leave them to cool completely.
- Make Chocolate Buttercream: In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 3 minutes until creamy. Add the cocoa powder, and beat at medium speed for two minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and then the milk and vanilla extract. Beat for 1 minute until creamy.
- Fill and Frost: Fill the cake with buttercream between the 2 cake layers, and cover the outside with a thin layer of frosting. This crumb coat will lock in all of the crumbs and make the cake easier to frost. Place the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes to harden.
- Decorate: Cover the cake with the remaining chocolate buttercream. Then place Peeps yellow chicks around the outside edge of the top of the cake with their tails facing out. Place chocoalte chips in the center of the cake in a circular pattern. If desired, add green frosting stars to the base of the cake.
Pick up a can of vanilla frosting and use food coloring to tint it green. You only need about a half cup, so there’s no need to make a big batch of white buttercream unless you want to.
- Add a filling: If you’d like, a filling other than chocolate frosting can be used in your layer cake. Try a raspberry jam!
- Watch out for a sugar storm: When you add the powdered sugar to the frosting, only add a small amount at a time, or it will fly everywhere!
- Don’t use springform pans. The batter for this ultra rich and moist chocolate cake is thinner than some other cake batters, so it might leak from a springform pan.
- Save the peeps! Try not to let the peeps hang too far over the side of the cake, or there is a potential for them to fall or slide off. Press them securely into the chocolate frosting so they stay put.
You can bake the cake and wrap it in parchment paper followed by plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to 2 days before frosting it. Frosted cakes keep perfectly for 4-5 days covered at room temperature. If it’s hot where you are, store it in the fridge but take it out of the fridge 1 hour before serving so that it can soften a bit.
What To Serve With
Make a sunflower cake to serve with your Easter Dinner this year! I have tons of Easter recipes for you to browse, but here are some of my favorites to get you started:
I think it’s fine to use a can of frosting for this cake, especially since you’re doing everything else from scratch! You can also mix together 4 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 or two teaspoons of milk to make a small batch of buttercream. Use food coloring to tint it green.
You can use any kind of chocolate to make the center of the sunflower or even small chocolate cookies. Try using various sizes of chocolate chips to make things interesting. If you prefer, skip the chocolate altogether, and instead pipe stars with chocolate frosting.
You can use whatever type of cake you love with this easy cake decorating idea!
This bright yellow sunflower made from Peeps is the perfect decoration for a delicious chocolate Easter Cake. Pin the recipe for later if you need to, and have fun with this recipe!
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs 2oz each
- 1 cup buttermilk or milk
- ½ cup oil vegetable or canola
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 cup (236ml) boiling water
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ¾ cups cocoa powder
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk you might need a little more
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 15 Peeps Yellow Marshmallow Chicks
- ½ cup milk chocolate chips
- ½ cup green frosting
Prepare and bake the cake
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C (170°C for fan oven).
- Prep 2 x 8-inch/20cm cake pans by greasing them with butter and lining them with parchment paper.
- In a bowl sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt), add the sugar, whisk and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with the buttermilk or milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to just combine (do not overmix, you don't want to work the gluten for a moist cake).
- Add coffee powder to boiling water, and stir in. This will thin out the batter.
- Pour the batter into the cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in cake pans for 10 minutes. Gently turn out on a cool rack upside down, and leave them to cool completely.
Make the chocolate buttercream
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy for 3 minutes.
- Add the cocoa powder, and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat for 2 more minutes at medium speed.
- Add milk and vanilla extract and beat again for 1 minute.
Frost and decorate
- Fill the cake with buttercream between the 2 cake layers, cover the outside of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. This will lock in all of the crumbs and make the cake easier to frost neatly.
- Place the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes, this will harden the butter in the frosting and give it a solid shape. Frost again with the remaining frosting so the cake is fully covered with buttercream.
- To decorate the cake, arrange 15 peeps around the outer edge of the cake with their tails pointing outward. Arrange chocolate chips in the center. Use green frosting to pipe stars around the bottom edge of the cake.
- If you’d rather not use espresso powder in this recipe, simply leave it out, and use just boiling water in the batter instead.
- Use cake pans instead of springform pans as the batter of this cake is thin and might cause leakage.
- Before you start, make sure that your baking powder is active and not past its expiry date. To check, add half a teaspoon of baking powder to a bowl with 2 teaspoons of hot water. If the baking powder bubbles, then it’s good to go. If not, then it’s dead and you need to get a new one.
- This cake makes 8 to 10 servings.
- Be careful not to let the peeps hang over the edge of the cake too far, or they risk falling off.
- To Store: You can bake the cake and wrap it in parchment paper followed by plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to 2 days before frosting it. Frosted cakes keep perfectly for 4-5 days covered at room temperature. If it’s hot where you are, store it in the fridge but take it out 1 hour before serving.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen