The Best Small Dark Chocolate Snack Cake

Amy Manes
by Amy Manes
4 slices
50 min

Do you ever have a craving for a little bit of chocolate cake, but don’t want to commit to the full 9×13 inch deal? Well, do I have the thing for you! This small 6-inch dark chocolate snack cake is tiny enough to satisfy your chocolate craving while packing in all of the chocolatey goodness that you want! It is the perfect size for two to four people, as it makes 4 small slices of dark chocolate cake heaven! Double the frosting recipe if you’d like to frost both the top and sides of the cake, but I prefer to frost just the top! This is one cake you’ll want to make again and again.

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Do you ever just have a craving for chocolate cake, but don’t want a ton of tempting leftovers? This happens to me on almost a daily basis! Sometimes you just need a little chocolate to get you through. Well chocolate lovers, do I have the treat for you!

This dark chocolate snack cake is a 6-inch round cake that makes about 4-6 small pieces of cake – perfect for any of you who want a little sweet treat every now and then, but don’t want to bake a full layer cake or sheet cake!

Read on for how to make the best dark chocolate snack cake!

Items Needed to Make a Small Cake

You really won’t need much to make this small, yummy cake! It comes together fairly quickly.

Here are a few things you will want to gather up before you begin making your small chocolate cake:

  • One 6-inch round pan – I really like this one here, but any brand will do!
  • Mixing bowls – no mixer is required for the cake portion – yipee!! Simply mix your wet ingredients in one bowl, and your dry in the other. Combine and bake. Super simple! You will need a mixer for the frosting. If that’s too much effort, feel free to simply dust with powdered sugar or top with your favorite store bought frosting even! This cake is truly customizable.
  • Unsweetened natural cocoa powder – since this recipe calls for only baking soda, you’ll want to use natural cocoa powder rather than dutch processed. I really liked how the Hershey’s Dark Cocoa Powder turned out in this cake.
  • Buttermilk – if you don’t have any on hand, simply substitute a mixture of 1/4 cup of regular milk and 3/4 teaspoon of white vinegar, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes and BOOM. You have buttermilk!
  • Espresso powder – this is totally optional, but espresso powder really enhances the chocolate flavor, making this cake oh-so rich!
  • Flaky Sea Salt – I loooove to top my chocolate desserts with some flaky sea salt. It just makes them taste so much better and really brings out the richness of the chocolate flavors! I like the Maldon Sea Salt Flakes best.

High Altitude Adjustments for Cakes

For reference, I live at 5,800 feet. These adjustments would likely give you the result that you are looking for if you live within a few hundred feet of where I am at. But high altitude baking can be a lot of trial and error! This should give you a starting point to go off of to experiment with your own ingredients at whatever elevation you live at! I would also recommend checking out this guide here.

High Altitude Adjustments for Dark Chocolate Snack Cake

  • Flour – increase by 1/2 tbsp. Additional flour helps to strengthen the structure of the baked good so that it will rise correctly.
  • Baking Soda– decrease to 1/8 tsp. You can see this table on King Arthur’s website for how to adjust leavening agents for higher elevations (scroll down a ways to the “Leavening” section on their site). For my elevation, I typically cut all leavening agents in half. This allows for the right chemical reactions to happen between the other ingredients for the perfect rise. If there is too much leavening within the batter, not all of it gets used up (not all of it reacts with the other ingredients). You are then left over with a soapy bitter-tasting baked good due to the excess baking soda or baking powder in the batter.
  • Eggs – use 2 eggs instead of 1. This will keep the baked good from drying out at a higher baking temperature and evaporation rate. If I am baking a cake or cupcakes, I like to add one more egg to increase the liquids in the recipe. This should hold true at most higher elevations, but experiment with it, of course!
  • Increase oven temperature to 360° F. Since rising and evaporation proceed more quickly at higher elevations, you will want to use a higher baking temperature to set the structure of the baked goods so that they don’t sink in the middle and dry out on the edges. I recommend starting with increasing the baking temperature stated in the recipe by 10° F – 15° F and go up from there in small increments (all the way up to 25° F increase if needed).
  • Decrease baking time by 5 or more minutes. This is because you will be baking at a higher temperature. You don’t want your cake to burn! I usually decrease by 5-8 minutes per 30 minutes of baking time and adjust from there. Keep a close eye on your dessert in the oven while you are experimenting with time and baking temps.

I hope that you enjoy this little dark chocolate snack cake! Scroll down for more yummy, chocolatey recipes on my website. Happy baking!

More Chocolate Recipes

  • Peanut Butter Sheet Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting
  • Dark Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Dark Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
  • Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
The Best Small Dark Chocolate Snack Cake
Recipe details
  • 4  slices
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 50 min
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For the 6-Inch Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (I like Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional – but it really helps bring out the chocolate flavor!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (homemade buttermilk recipe in "Notes" section)
For the Dark Chocolate Buttercream
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp heavy whipping cream (use more or less depending on how thick you want your frosting)
For the Dark Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 6-inch round pan and line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. I like to grease my pans with Pam for Baking.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and buttermilk together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not overmix.
Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack before frosting.
For the Dark Chocolate Buttercream
In a small pan over low heat, melt the chopped dark chocolate. Stir frequently and watch the chocolate so that it does not burn. Once melted remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, or until it becomes very pale and fluffy.
Reduce mixer to low speed and gradually add the powdered sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat the powdered sugar and butter together until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the cooled, melted chocolate to the mixing bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Add in 1 tbsp. of heavy cream at a time if frosting is too thick. Frost cooled cake and enjoy!
  • Espresso powder is not required, but it does bring out the chocolate flavor in this cake. It does not make the cake taste like coffee. Use an equal amount of instant coffee as a substitute if desired.
  • Cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 days. Cake can also be frozen and then thawed and frosted later if desired. Simply wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store in the freezer for up to one month
  • Buttermilk substitute – if you don’t have any on hand, simply substitute a mixture of 1/4 cup of regular milk and 3/4 teaspoon of white vinegar, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes to curdle and make buttermilk. Magic!
  • If you’d like to make additional frosting to frost the sides of the cake as well as the top (rather than just the top like I did), simply double the chocolate buttercream recipe.
  • *Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
  • High Altitude Adjustments
  • Flour – increase by 1/2 tbsp.
  • Baking Soda– decrease to 1/8 tsp. or use a scant 1/4 tsp.
  • Eggs – use 2 eggs instead of 1
  • Increase oven temperature to 360° F
  • Decrease baking time by 5 or more minutes
Amy Manes
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
  • Veronica Atha Veronica Atha on Apr 05, 2022

    Question- for the buttermilk sub, do you mean regular milk and vinegar, etc?

    • Amy Manes Amy Manes on Apr 06, 2022

      Yes, that was a typo mistake on my end! I apologize for that, thank you for asking! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  • Diceprincess Diceprincess on Apr 05, 2022

    In your notes for substitution of the buttermilk, you state to use 1/4 cup buttermilk and 3/4 tsp white vinegar, lemon juice….can you please correct the buutermilk part to read milk? Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Amy Manes Amy Manes on Apr 06, 2022

      Yes, that was a typo mistake on my end! I apologize for that, thank you for asking! Hope you enjoy 🙂