Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little Chocolate Cake

“The little black dress is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a "rule of fashion" that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion: for example, worn with a jacket and pumps for daytime business wear or with more ornate jewelry and accessories for evening. Because it is meant to be a staple of the wardrobe for a number of years, the style of the little black dress ideally should be as simple as possible: a short black dress that is too clearly part of a trend would not qualify because it would soon appear dated.” (Wikipedia)

A little chocolate cake is the baker’s equivalent of the little black dress. It is a rule of baking that every cook should possess a simple, elegant chocolate cake recipe that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion: for example decorated with toasted chopped pecans for taking to work, or with more ornate raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar for an evening dinner party. Because it is meant to be a staple of the bakers repertoire, the little chocolate cake ideally should be as simple as possible: a fussy complicated cake with unusual ingredients that requires hours in the kitchen would never get made.

Here is my recipe for A Little Chocolate Cake adapted from a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law 25 years ago. It has made an appearance at Scott’s birthday every year since. We prefer our chocolate cake dressed down with nothing but the frosting to accentuate the moistness.

A Little Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 16 ½ x 12 baking sheet.

In a microwave safe bowl heat the following until melted:
1 cup water
½ cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

Sift together then add to melted chocolate mixture:
2 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Stir until smooth then beat in:
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream

Pour into prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, being careful to not over bake. Immediately pour frosting over warm cake and allow to set before eating.


In a microwave safe bowl heat the following until butter and chocolate are melted:
½ cup butter
6 tablespoons milk
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

Stir in 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.


  1. You were so reading my mind, Lynnette! This has become my all time favorite chocolate cake, and I have been looking for your recipe for several days. Thanks for perfect timing! Mary Jane

  2. Still looking for that LITTLE black dress. While depressingly looking I can enjoy a big piece of "a little chocolate cake". The little black dress can wait.

    It's what's INSIDE that counts, right?

  3. So i was craving something sweet today and when i saw that this recipe contained items usually kept in ones kitchen i was really excited (it beings sunday and all). alas, this apparently does not apply to a college kid's kitchen so sadly i'm going to need to find an alternative way of meeting my chocolate need today.

    but i do plan on going to pick up some unsweetened chocolate so i can make this delicious looking cake this week!

  4. I have no need for a little black dress (for which my wife is eminently grateful), but I did need a good chocolate sheet cake recipe. We brought this to a church function last week and it was a hit (admittedly, the main dish was fried pepper-jack brats, so the bar wasn’t very high…). We bought a few pounds of unsweetened chocolate disks at Trader Joes, and we’ve been trying to find ways to use them – this was perfect, especially for a gathering (or Scott’s birthday…of course). The wife has deemed the recipe one of her new favorites.

    I hope scoop dinner went well! It is the ONLY potluck I have ever willingly attended, or enjoyed - and quite likely the last.

    Nate W.