Ho Ho Layer Cake

From-scratch chocolate cake layered together with a homemade cream filling. This Ho Ho Layer Cake topped with chocolate ganache is a stunning dessert!

Who knows and {still} loves those classic Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls from your school lunchroom days? We do!!

We took that classic childhood snack and turned it into a grown-up, stunning layer cake.

ho ho cake on a plate

What is in a ho ho?

A hoho cake is a school lunch snack that is sometimes called a swiss cake roll. It is chocolate cake with a creamy white sweet filling. The outside of the cake roll is covered in chocolate.

Ho Ho Cake with Chocolate Ganache

This ho ho layer cake has three layers of from-scratch chocolate cake and a homemade milk & flour cooked frosting that tastes just like the original cream filling. And to make this ho ho layer cake over-the-top, we added a thick layer of chocolate ganache that gently drips (or oozes) over the sides of the cake. Extra richness in each bite.

chocolate cake with ho hos with one slice missing

Chocolate Cake

Because we wanted to have a tall cake, we baked this cake in 3 9″ round cake pans. You can bake it in two if you’d like, but you’ll have to bake them for longer since they’ll be thicker. For a shortcut, use a chocolate cake mix.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 round 9-inch cake pans. We like to use cake release. Our cakes come out beautifully every time!
  • For the cake, put flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix well.
  • In a stand mixer, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla together. Slowly add in the mix of dry ingredients while the mixer is on low. Add the coffee and make sure everything is combined. Batter will be very thin.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the three prepared pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. 

Note about the coffee…the cake itself will not taste like coffee. Coffee simply enhances the flavor of chocolate. You can use water or milk if you’d like, but we highly recommend coffee for the best flavor.

Cream Filling

The frosting for this cake is unique because it is a cooked flour frosting. It’s easy to make, but does take an extra step of cooking a flour mixture before making the frosting.

  • Combine the milk and flour in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It should get to be the consistency of runny pudding, which could take around 10-15 minutes.
making cooked flour frosting in saucepan
  • Remove the mixture from the heat. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Press plastic wrap down on top of the flour mixture while it is cooling so it does not form a “crust” on top. Cool to room temperature.
  • While this is cooling, cream together the rest of the filling ingredients: the sugar, butter and shortening, on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the cooled flour & milk mixture and beat on high for about 7 minutes.
creamed butter in a mixing bowl

This cream filling is wonderfully smooth and not to sweet. I think you’ll love it!

Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache might seem like a hard thing to make, but it is super easy. You just need chocolate chips, heavy cream, a bowl and a whisk.

  • Put your chocolate chips in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl until it barely comes to a boil. Once it is very hot and near boiling, immediately pour it over the chocolate chips.
  • Cover the bowl with a lid or plate and let the it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. It may seem like it isn’t coming together, but it will eventually. Just keep stirring!

The ganache will thicken as it sits to allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before you frost the cake.

pouring heavy cream over chocolate chips

How to Assemble Ho Ho Cake

One think I love about this cake is that you don’t have to frost it perfectly! It’s a naked style cake with frosting dolloped between cake layers. Easiest ever.

Here’s how the layers go:

  • cake
  • cream filling
  • cake
  • cream filling
  • cake
  • chocolate ganache
  • ho hos for topping

Use a pretty cake plate as the base. And a rubber spatula or offset spatula will spread the cream filling beautifully.

spreading ganache on a cake

How to Store Cake

This cake is safe to store at room temperature for a few hours, but then you’ll want to put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze cake?

Yes! You can freeze cake fairy easily. Place the slices in a freezer safe storage container and freeze for up to 3 months. Or, wrap each slice separately in plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil or place the slice sin a storage bag or container.

When you defrost the cake, leave the cake wrapped until it is fully defrosted. This will help the cake stay fresh.

A close up of a piece of chocolate cake on a plate, with Cream and Ganache
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Tools to Make Cake

Other Chocolate Cake Recipes

ho ho cake
ho ho cake

Ho Ho Layer Cake

4.84 from 6 votes
From-scratch chocolate cake layered together with a homemade cream filling. This Ho Ho Layer Cake topped with chocolate ganache is a stunning dessert!
Servings 15
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients
 

Chocolate Layer Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong hot coffee

Cream Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

To decorate:

  • hohos (swiss cake rolls)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 round 9-inch cake pans.
  • For the cake, put flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix well.
  • In a stand mixer, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla together. Slowly add in the mix of dry ingredients while the mixer is on low. Add the coffee and make sure everything is combined. Batter will be very thin.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the three prepared pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. While the cakes are cooling, make your filling.
  • For the creme filling,combine the milk and flour in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It should get to be the consistency of runny pudding, which will take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Press plastic wrap down on top of the flour mixture while it is cooling so it does not form a "crust" on top. Cool to room temperature.
  • While this is cooling, cream together the rest of the filling ingredients: the sugar, butter and shortening, on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the cooled flour & milk mixture and beat on high for 7 minutes.
  • Spread this filling between the cooled three layers of cake.
  • Now it is time to add your chocolate ganache! Put your chocolate chips in a bowl. Set aside. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan on medium/high until it comes to a boil. Watch it closely and stir often so it does not scald. Once it is very hot and near boiling, remove it from the heat and immediately pour it over the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with a lid or plate and let the it sit for 3 minutes. Then, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes until the ganache thickens a bit.
  • Once your ganache is ready, pour it over the top of your layer cake. Use a spoon to spread it out towards the sides of your cake so it runs down a bit on the sides.
  • Decorate the top with Swiss Cake Rolls, if desired!
  • Store this cake in the refrigerator.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.

Nutrition

Calories: 609kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 425mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 613IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 609
Keyword chocolate birthday cake, homemade chocolate cake, layered chocolate cake

Other Chocolate Cake Recipes

You can never go wrong with a slice of chocolate cake!

About Julie Clark

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This cake looks wonderful! I’m debating whether to make my granddaughter the Ho–Ho Cake or Dark Chocolate Cake for her 6th birthday next week! I know that she would love both!!!

I am frantically looking for your Italian chocolate cake with ricotta filling. It has a pudding, cool whip topping. Where might I find that?
Many thanks for your help.
Madalean

What is the brand of the cocoa powder in the Chocolate cake recipe.

what is “vanilla paste” (i saw it in the Italian cake recipe)

For the cream filling, is it OK to use confectioner’s sugar? I am afraid granulated would leave it gritty.