As author Trisha Yearwood says of this cake, you may take a look at the layers and think, “There is no way I’m making this at home!” “But,” she continues to explain, “the recipe is both simple and savvy, baking several skinny cakes in 9-inch cake pans. It sure beats making a plain ole double layer chocolate cake and slicing both of those suckers into six with that inevitable and maddening mess of crumbs that comes from hacking away at the cake with a bread knife.” Impressive in stature as well as taste.–Trisha Yearwood


Yes, we understand, you don’t always have the time or patience for tradition–or lots and lots of layers. So sure, why not, go ahead, bake the batter in two standard 9-inch round cake pans and then stack and frost the two layers as is, as you would any layer cake. Then call it a day–a darn good day.

Trisha Yearwood's chocolate torte on a cake stand with a section cut from it to display 12 layers.

Trisha Yearwood’s Chocolate Torte

4.77 / 34 votes
Trisha Yearwood’s chocolate torte is essentially a 12-layer vanilla cake that’s smothered with chocolate glaze. A sophisticated dessert that’s surprisingly simple to make.
David Leite
Servings15 servings
Calories816 kcal
Prep Time1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time2 hours


For the chocolate glaze

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules, preferably French roast

For the cake

  • 2 sticks (8 oz) butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4 cups self-rising flour, plus more for the pans


Make the glaze

  • [Editor’s Note: Be sure to make the glaze before you bake the cakes.] In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. 
  • Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Then stir in the evaporated milk, vanilla, and the instant coffee, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring it to a boil. 
  • Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a glaze, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove the glaze from the heat.

Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter and flour at least four 9-inch cake pans.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. 
  • In a small bowl, mix the vanilla with the milk. Add the flour to the egg mixture alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
  • Pour a very thin layer of batter—about 7 tablespoons—into each pan, shaking the pans to distribute the batter to the edges. Bake the layers for 11 to 13 minutes. 
  • While the first cake layers bake, return the glaze to low heat as the glaze must be warm to spread on the cake layers.
  • When the cake layers are done, immediately remove the layers from the pans and, working one at a time, place the layers on a cake stand and immediately slather with some of the warm glaze.
  • Bake all of the remaining batter in this manner and continue to stack and glaze in this fashion. You should be able to get 12 layers from this recipe. Reserve the last of the glaze to dribble over the top of the cake.
Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

Adapted From

Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 816 kcalCarbohydrates: 126 gProtein: 12 gFat: 32 gSaturated Fat: 19 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 144 mgSodium: 90 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 99 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Trisha Yearwood. Photo © 2010 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

An impressive cake. The thin layers of both cake and icing were visually appealing as well as delicious. The icing has a taste similar to brigadeiros, or Brazilian chocolate fudge balls, with an almost caramel-like quality to the chocolate and coffee flavor.

The recipe calls for an interesting technique of layering the cake while still hot, and it worked. It’s labor-intensive, but the extra time in baking thin layers of batter is definitely offset by not having to cut standard-size cakes into layers and deal with all the crumbs while spreading the icing and assembling them.

I halved the recipe and got 8 layers from it, although I needed more than the amount of icing specified to effectively cover each layer. I also made the cake gluten-free, and the recipe adapted perfectly. The finished cake is not really rich, but is very sweet. I might be inclined to reduce the sugar next time I make this, but it’s otherwise a wonderful dessert.

I must admit that when I first read the recipe, I was a bit overwhelmed, but I was quite surprised at how easy this cake is to make and how beautiful and tasteful it is.

I follow a gluten-free diet, so I had to switch the self-rising flour for the exact same amount of all-purpose GF flour ( Bob’s Red Mill) and did what the site Art of Gluten-Free Baking says with regard to adding the baking powder and salt. Worked beautifully. I was able to divide the batter into 3 pans and divided each cake into 2 layers, so I had 6 layers altogether. I’m sure I could have cut each into 3 layers, but I was too scared of breaking them. We had friends over for dinner and this was an absolutely HUGE success.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I want to outline this cake with a chocolate icing in a pipe bag. Do you have a good recipe for this?

    1. Reem, we’ve never used a cake mix for this, so we have no idea how it would work here. If you make it, do let us know!

    2. 5 stars
      Yes you can, you will use Duncan Hines yellow cake mix, we use 1/2 cup veg oil, 4 large eggs room temp, and substitute sour cream for the water now we do this because we make a 14 layer cake this way. We grease 14 9” disposable pans and bake 5 minutes then assemble with a rich cooked chocolate pour over icing. If the batter is to thick as some sour creams have less moisture or liquid we will add a little buttermilk to get the right consistency. Spread about 3 -3 1/2 tablespoons per cake pan.

  2. I make custom decorated cakes as an occasional side job, but every December I make my husband a birthday cake that’s too delicious (too moist, too tender, too chocolaty, etc.) to be decorated since both of us tire of the plain white cake and buttercream frosting I use for most other cakes. This was perfect. It was impressive on the inside, but kind of a mess on the outside. And so, so moist. Everyone loved it.
    Here are some tips to make it MUCH easier:

    1. Buy disposable pans. I paid $5 for 12 pans and was able to evenly distribute all the batter at once. I actually could have made more than 12 layers from the batter if I’d had more pans.

    2. Ignore the part about the glaze thickening. Mine never got much thicker than it started and I cooked it for a long time because I was nervous. The thin consistency was great for pouring on the cake and still solidified at room temp.

    3. Put a cardboard cake circle (available at craft stores) a little bigger than your cake layers under the first layer. Cover a sheet pan with foil. Place a cooling rack on the sheet pan. Place the cake circle on the cooling rack. This allows the excess glaze (and there will be lots) to drip into the pan. If you’re running low on glaze you can scrape the excess off the foil. After the cake has set for a bit, slide a spatula under the cake circle and move to a cake plate. My cake circle was completely covered in glaze so no one knew it was there.

    4. Let the glaze cool to nearly room temp before doing one last coat around the side. It still won’t leave the cake smooth, but covers some bumps.