Chocolate Cake

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake


Chocolate Cake

I am, quite possibly, the world’s worst daughter. See, it’s my dad’s birthday on Saturday, and I said I’d make him a chocolate cake with caramel frosting like his mom used to make. Well, I got sick yesterday, and I’m still feeling rather awful. And to make matters worse, I don’t actually have that caramel frosting recipe. My dad and all his brothers received a homemade recipe book from my grandmother one year for Christmas. It’s full of typed up family recipes. Sadly, I don’t have one. I wish I did. I’d make everything in it. I think this might be a tragedy.

So, I didn’t make a chocolate cake with caramel frosting, but I do have something just as good to share with you that actually reminds me a lot of the kind of cake my dad would make. It’s super simple, ridiculously chocolaty, and blow your mind delicious. My dad would have a big slice of it with some melting vanilla ice cream and call it breakfast.

In addition to all the other awesome stuff my dad taught me, I also learned to appreciate good, simple, down home food. I remember my dad coming home from work and sitting on the couch with a block of Tillamook cheddar and a paring knife. He’d pass ’round slices of cheese to everybody for half an hour. That was how we snacked in my house.

Chocolate cake2

There are actually two secret ingredients in this chocolate cake which starts with a box mix, but you don’t have to tell anybody about that either. The first is mayonnaise. Mayo is basically eggs and oil anyway, so it’s not that big of a stretch. It doesn’t make your cake taste like a ham sandwich. On the contrary, it makes it incredibly moist.

The second secret ingredient is a bit of cinnamon. I love the warmth it adds to the chocolate. I’m not sure I’d be able to identify it as cinnamon if I didn’t know it was there. It just makes everything richer and more interesting. 

And obviously you have to cover the whole thing in chocolate frosting. This one reminds me of the chocolate frosting my dad used to make using Nestle’s Quik. It was awesome! Who cares? I’ve been doing this no money thing my whole life. 

Chocolate cake3

Happy birthday, dad! I owe you a cake.

Photos by Monica Szczupider

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake
Serves 10
A moist chocolate cake with a hint of cinnamon, covered in chocolate frosting to make it extra awesome
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the cake
  1. 1 box chocolate cake mix
  2. 1 cup mayonnaise
  3. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1 cup water
For the frosting
  1. 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  2. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  3. 2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together all the cake ingredients until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Evenly pour batter into your two pans and bake according to time on the box. If you hoard the cake batter left behind in the bowl, I won't judge you.
  4. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about five minutes, then turn out to cool on a wire rack. Allow the layers to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it's smooth and creamy.
  2. Sift in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and beat on medium speed.
  3. Slowly add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add more milk if needed to reach a spreadable consistency.
  4. Place your first cake layer on it's final destination and spread about a third of the frosting on top.
  5. Carefully place the second layer on top. Frost the side and top of the cake. You can swirl it, stripe it, spike it. Whatever you like. Just don't skimp.
  6. Don't wait for someone's birthday to put this in your face.
  1. This can also be made in a 13x9 inch pan, which is what my dad would do.
Adapted from 1001 Fast Easy Recipes
How to be Awesome on $20 a day
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