Chocolate Genoise, Chocolate Sponge Cake

Chocolate Genoise (chocolate sponge cake) is light as a feather.  This cake will absorb lots of syrup for an extra layer of flavor and moisture.

a slice of Chocolate Genoise filled with chocolate cream

How many chocolate cake recipes could a person possibly need? I’ve already posted a recipe for Chocolate Butter Cake, if that cake is so good, why would we need another recipe?

Well, different types of cakes are good in different ways.

I love chocolate butter cake because it’s soft and buttery with a very tender cake crumb. It’s perfect filled and iced with Italian Meringue Buttercream.

When I want a lighter cake that I can douse with a flavorful syrup, it’s time to make a classic Chocolate Genoise.

What is Chocolate Genoise? 

Chocolate Genoise is, basically, a chocolate sponge cake. Sponge cakes get most of their structure from whipped eggs. 

Like every sponge cake recipe, Chocolate Genoise is balanced more towards structure builders than tenderizers. This mean the cake is not only light and airy from the whipped eggs, it’s also strong and resilient.

Strong and resilient? Hmmm, that is not a very tempting description of a cake. Bear with me though, because we’re not done making a great Genoise once it’s baked.

The next step is to add another layer of flavor and moisture with a generous dose of sugar syrup.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter 
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dutch process cocoa powder
  • Boiling water
  • Large eggs
  • Granulated sugar 
  • Cake flour 
  • Simple syrup

The Secret to making a great Chocolate Genoise (chocolate sponge cake)

  • As the name chocolate sponge cake implies, thanks to that strong and resilient texture, this cake can take in a lot of moisture. 
  • If you add too much syrup to a tender butter cake it could become soggy and pasty. But Chocolate Genoise can absorb a whole bunch of syrup and maintain it’s lovely, light crumb.
  • Whatever you do, don’t try to make this cake without the syrup. For a Genoise, the syrup is integral to the flavor and texture of the cake.
  • I’m partial to rum with chocolate cake – remember, alcohol enhances other flavors! But if you don’t want to use alcohol, vanilla or coffee syrup would be wonderful as well.
  • Whether you add the alcohol or not, make the syrup very flavorful so you can really taste it when you eat the cake.

Watch the recipe video to see how to make Chocolate Genoise.

Because Chocolate Genoise is so light and airy, I particularly like it filled and iced with Chocolate Whipped Cream or Chocolate Mousse.

It’s also really good filled with Chocolate and/or Vanilla  Pastry Cream for a version of Italian Rum Cake and it is the base for a classic Black Forest Cake.

Looking for another classic chocolate cake? How about a perfect Chocolate Sacher Torte a spectacular Marjolaine cake or a lovely White Chocolate Sacher Torte?

If you love this cake, I’m sure you’ll love my Vanilla Genoise too!

a partially eaten slice of chocolate genoise filled with chocolate cream

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider giving it a 5-star review.

***RECIPE NOTE*** You will see in the video that I sift the cocoa with the flour. I have changed the recipe to add the cocoa with boiling water for extra moisture and a deeper chocolate flavor. The entire process is the same as you see in the video except for the addition of the cocoa

chocolate genoise filled with chocolate cream
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4.47 from 81 reviews

Chocolate Genoise, Chocolate Sponge Cake

Light as a feather Chocolate Genoise (chocolate sponge cake). This cake will absorb lots of syrup for an extra layer of flavor and moisture. I like to add a bit of rum to the syrup, but you can use vanilla or coffee, whatever flavor you’d like. This classic cake is especially delicious with whipped cream or mousse.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
12 servings
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  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces Dutch process cocoa powder (½ cup)
  • 4 ounces boiling water (½ cup)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 5 ounces cake flour (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, see note)


  • 1 ½ cups simple syrup (a double batch flavored with liquor or extract of your choice.)
  • Filling & icing of your choice


  • Line the bottom of two 8" cake pans with a parchment round, or butter and flour the bottom of the pan only. Preheat the oven to 350°F350 °F (don't use the convection setting).
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan, cook until the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and become brown. Drain the butter into a small bowl, leaving the milk solids in the pan. Stir the vanilla into the browned butter and set aside.
    4 ounces unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Place the cocoa into a small heat proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool.
    2 ounces Dutch process cocoa powder, 4 ounces boiling water
  • Put the eggs & sugar in a mixer bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) and whisk until the eggs are lukewarm. Put the bowl onto the mixer and whisk until the eggs are tripled in volume.
    8 large eggs, 8 ounces granulated sugar
  • Sift half the flour over the egg mixture and use a balloon whisk to fold, repeat with the remaining flour. Pour the cocoa into the browned butter and whisk until smooth. Whisk 2 cups of the egg batter into the cocoa/butter mixture and whisk to combine. Use the whisk to fold the cocoa/butter mixture into the batter just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
    5 ounces cake flour
  • Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before filling and frosting.


  • Trim the top of the cake to level, if desired, split each cake into two layers.
  • Brush the layers generously with syrup before filling & icing.
    1 ½ cups simple syrup, Filling & icing of your choice

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If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.


Serving: 12slice | Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 3mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!


  1. Hi Eileen… I’d like to use your recipe, as mini cupcakes, as part of our 4th of July feasting and, my question to you is how long will the bake time be for these mini cupcakes? And, what are your thoughts on brushing the tops of them, fresh from the oven, with the simple syrup?

    1. Mini cupcakes will bake very fast, I’d say start checking at 7-8 minutes. Yes to the syrup. Genoise needs syrup.

  2. Hi, I’m wondering if this recipe would work using black cocoa powder instead of Dutch process cocoa?


  3. I tried this, and it didn’t work sadly. I baked it in a 9″ pan so maybe that was the problem? I baked it longer than 30 minutes, around 45-50 maybe and it still wasn’t done. It was gummy, tough, and sunken after I took it out of the oven. Maybe I didn’t whip the eggs enough?

    1. Hi River, did you bake it in one 9″ pan or two pans? The recipe is sized to be baked in two 8″ pans. Baking the batter in 9″ pans would work, the cakes would just be a bit shorter. If you baked the full batch in one 9″ pan that would explain why it didn’t bake properly.

  4. hello!! do i have to use dutch process cocoa powder or can i use any kind of cocoa powder?? what difference would it make?

    1. You can use any kind of cocoa. I use dutch processed cocoa. “Natural”, or non dutch processed cocoa, will make a cake that is lighter in color than the one in the photo. But it will still taste just fine.

  5. Delicious. I made half the recipe and used it as a base for a chocolate coffee mousse cake, and it turned out wonderfully.

  6. What liqueurs would gp well with a chocolate genoise cake. Having a option, but ao much to choose from. I am making a 11yo a bday cake 🙂

    1. Rum goes well with chocolate. If it’s for a child and you want it alcohol free you can flavor the syrup with vanilla.

  7. Hi, I want to make this a three layer genoise cake and then layer/cover it with cream cheese and heavy cream icing. Is this sponge too heavy for using this kind of icing?

    1. What is cream cheese and heavy cream icing? Is that one icing or two different icings? I have ice this cake with buttercream.

  8. Hi Eileen, I baked this genoise but the bottom portion of both the cakes turned out to be very chewy could you please tell the reason for that. I halved the recipe and baked it in two 6 inch pans

    1. I couldn’t say for sure without seeing your batter. My guess is that maybe the browned butter wasn’t folded in all the way. Did you follow the instructions to first whisk some of the batter into the browned butter and then add that to the batter?

  9. Hi, would this recipe be rich enough to use as a base for Black Forest cake (I like mine rich and dark)?

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