This single layer date night chocolate cake is the most perfect scaled-down dessert to make for any occasion or celebration for a small crowd. So easy and made complete with a luscious chocolate cream cheese frosting!

chocolate cake with strawberries on marble cake platter

I am, admittedly, a big fan of annual *love* day, y’all. You already know, Valentine’s Day…yup I ain’t even gonna lie to you. Give me all the cheesiness, all the flowers, and all the chocolatey tings! Listen, I’m a huge tomboy 24/7 but a total sucker for all the V-day shenanigans, ha! It’s a super capitalistic driven holiday, I know. However, a special holiday that centers showing yourself, a significant other, or family/friends a little extra love is just the cutest to me >> idc idc, fight me! So yeah, that’s some context behind this newness lol.

Now don’t let the name fool you. I’m calling this chocolate cake date night chocolate cake not because it’s aimed specifically at lovers; but because it is the coziest little situation for a small crowd. Whether you’re looking for something tasty to whip up for yourself, you + bae, hang night with friends, or whatever, this chocolate cake is it. Peeps, I love me some chocolate cake and seriously hoping that I’m not alone on this.

slice of chocolate cake with strawberry on small speckled plate

Date Night Chocolate Cake Ingredients

One thing about this recipe is that it comes together with just a few ingredients you guys!

  • All-purpose flour: This standard flour is what I’m using for this chocolate cake recipe. Please note that I *have not* tested this recipe using any alternative flour except for cake flour. That is the only substitute flour that I recommend, so please play around and experiment at your own risk.
  • Granulated sugar: Every cake needs some suga suga- regular white granulated sugar!
  • Cocoa powder: Duhh, to keep things chocolate-y…dutch process cocoa powder also works.
  • Baking soda + powder: Classic leavening agents that help baked goods rise.
  • Salt: Needed to assist in bringing out flavors.
  • Egg: Just one is needed to give some structure.
  • Vegetable oil: Helps to keep this chocolate cake nice and moist << yes, I said it!
  • Buttermilk: Another moisture helper here, it’s a must.
  • Black coffee: The use of coffee in chocolate cake deepens the chocolate flavor and makes it more pronounced. In addition, no, you cannot taste the coffee in your cake.
  • Butter: Needed for the chocolate cream cheese frosting.
  • Cream cheese: Again for the frosting- please use block-style cream cheese and not the spreadable cream cheese. There is a huge difference in texture!
  • Powdered sugar: This sweetness is used for the frosting.
  • Vanilla extract: Nice flavor enhancer here!

The Best Small Scale Chocolate Cake

Y’all, this chocolate cake is so simple to make with no heavy work involved. It’s baked in an 8-inch round cake pan but you can also use a square cake pan as well. This cake is supremely moist to the max from the help of the oil and buttermilk. Black coffee elevates and enhances the overall chocolate flavor too!

In addition, the chocolate cream cheese frosting is the most perfect topping to slather this cake in! The buttercream is smooth and flavorful yet not overly sweet because of the tang from the cream cheese.

chocolate frosting piled on top of chocolate cake

Ways To Decorate This Cake

One of them gems about this chocolate cake is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of fuss. I like to think of this cake as a super simple, easy, and rustic kind of vibe. However, if you wanna be extra you know I got you:

  • Chocolate covered strawberries: love this super fun and really really extra garnish.
  • Sprinkles: rainbow or chocolate, keep it nice and simple.
  • Chocolate shavings: as pictured in photos, do this with a chocolate bar and sharp utensil.
  • Fresh fruit: add some of your favorite fresh fruit on top like berries, yum.
  • Edible flowers: go floral and add some gorgeous edible beauties on top.
  • Piping: grab a piping bag + tip and go crazy with some piping work!

Other Variations To Make This Recipe

This recipe can accommodate other scenarios like being made in a square 8-inch cake pan (makes 9 equal slices!), make it into cupcakes (makes about 8 or more!), or you can slice the cake in half to make a layered cake situation! Just be extra careful when cutting the cake if doing so as it can break easily.

Cozy-Inspired Meals For Date Night And Beyond:

sliced chocolate cake with red roses on beige surface

Make Ahead Chocolate Cake

Do you wanna make this recipe ahead of time? Cool, you can surely do that! To do so, prepare the chocolate cake as directed and allow it to cool completely. If you plan to use it within three days, cover the cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. I do not recommend refrigerating the cake for longer than that to maintain freshness. Otherwise, you can freeze the cake layer for up to three months when stored in the freezer. Be sure to allow the cake to sit out to come back up to room temperature before frosting.

Storing the frosted cake: Make sure the cake is stored in an airtight container and transfer the cake into the refrigerator or freezer. The frosted chocolate cake will last for the same time in either area!

We are all obsessed over here with this date night chocolate cake, y’all. It’s seriously just the best dessert for a small group! Hope you enjoy this one and if you’re looking for more sweet treats to get into, check out:

frosted chocolate cake with strawberries on marble cake platter




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frosted chocolate cake with strawberries on marble cake platter

Date Night Chocolate Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 8 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Desserts & Sweets
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This ONE BOWL chocolate cake is the most perfect scaled-down dessert to make for any occasion needed for a small crowd. Finished with a lusciously decadent chocolate cream cheese frosting!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup warm black coffee
  • Optional: sprinkles, strawberries, chocolate shavings- for garnish

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 4 ounces block-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon (small pinch) kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray an 8-inch round baking pan (note: 8-inch square baking pan works too!) with baking spray and line baking pan with fitted parchment paper for extra measure. Then spray parchment paper again with baking spray and set pan aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Whisk everything together very well to fully incorporate.
  3. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, oil, buttermilk, and black coffee. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, careful not to over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  4. Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Once the cake is done, allow the cake to rest in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool down completely before frosting.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Using a stand or handheld electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add in the powdered sugar and continue beating until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Then add in the cocoa powder and continue beating until fully incorporated. Lastly, add in vanilla and salt and mix once more to combine.
  3. Frost the cooled cake and garnish as desired, then slice and serve, enjoy!


  1. To make ahead: Wrap cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Cake can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. Frosting can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Please note: frosting will harden so allow it to come back up to room temperature before using.
  2. Storing frosted cake: Store cake in an airtight container- cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and up to three months in the freezer.
  3. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.