Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jul 6, 2013 11:01 AM

Simple Dark Chocolate icing, no glaze

I have probably romanticized and embellished, as most childhood memories (food memories in this case) tend to be, my first taste of the best chocolate cake I ever ate.
Middle school picnics, my classmate always brought in a plain chocolate cake that her mom baked...deep dark brown with no icing, glaze, fruits or nuts that marred or masked its appearance or taste. It held well in the 90 plus degree temperatures but left enough sticky chocolate on our fingers to be licked after we had eaten a piece. Cakey not fudgy...not really a sponge cake but not a pound cake either, sweet but not cloyingly so... Bitter sweet chocolatey but without the acidity...all wrapped up in heavenly piece of airy fluffy cake. I could eat it all in one sitting and ask for more, yes it was that good!
Its been 25 years since I have tasted something so simple and yet so so good! I still crave it...every few months and have forever been searching for the right recipe. Please share if you have something similar in your repertoire of recipe books and I promise if I find the 'one' I'll share my secret and most asked for walnut fudge recipe with you :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Lots of your descriptions bring to mind Nigella Lawson's Guiness Chocolate Cake - we never make the frosting, it's that good plain.
    Hope you find what you are looking for, if that one doesn't do the trick.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tacosandbeer

      Thank you for your response T....I have tried that one. It actually comes up every time I google Dark Chocolate Cake or a minor variation of it ...a search which I do atleast once a year..and somehow expecting different results each time, but alas, without much success :)
      Nigella's had a tangy-ness that I didn't really care for...and I really think, though not 100% sure, that my childhood version was made with mix of chocolate bar and cocoa pwdr not all cocoa...and I am way too inexperienced (read coward) to mess with and replace the ingredients in most recipes.

      1. re: Pakistanicook

        Yeah, I understand the 'tangy-ness" thing with that recipe.

        What about Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake? It's got the same hot-liquid technique as Nigella's cake, without the beer or sour cream. Maybe try Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder instead of regular?

    2. I also thought of the Hershey Bar Cake, my Mama used to make. It's a very delicious plain chocolate cake that sticks to your fingers. Also, you might try Beatty's Chocolate Cake that Ina Garten makes. I have made that one as well, but I have not served it without the icing. It is a delicious cake though. Good luck finding that cake experience again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rouxqueen

        Unfortunately Hershey Bar Cake wasn't it .. too sweet (the recipe from Hershey's official website) not my fav brand but despite replacing the brand on second try it was an expensive failure. And I love Ina Garten's Beatty's cake and (but) it does taste best with the icing.
        Thank you though :) I do need good luck

      2. Was it a round or square cake? It's possible it was a Wacky Cake. We made that all the time and never served with frosting. It's very sticky like you describe. Basically a snack cake that you mix in the pan and bake. No eggs or dairy. It may be what you are looking for. Google it, lots of recipes. It's made with cocoa and oil not butter.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Jpan99

          Here's a link with the recipe and a picture so you can see if it looks familiar.

          1. re: Jpan99

            One more variation. This is how we made it, all in the pan. The other recipe I posted mixes in a bowl first. We never did it that way, just put the ingredients in ungreased square pan, mix and bake! Very moist.


            1. re: Jpan99

              It was a round cake. It's funny now that I remember, I have made the wacky cake you mention, not sure if thats what it was called, but I know it was Cooks Illustrated recipe made with Vinegar and oil instead of butter and eggs. The only cake that I never tasted myself as I made it for my then 8 year old's (who has dairy allergies) camping trip. It was a hit I was told but a snob me brushed it aside thinking that kids would love anything with chocolate and sugar :)
              I'll check the links you have posted...thankyou so much. I will give it a try for sure

              1. re: Pakistanicook

                Yes, try it out. Even if it's not what you're looking for, I think you will like it. We always made it when I was a kid and I still crave it as you describe. I went to check my recipe and it's basically the same as the ones above except we used 1/4 cup cocoa instead of 3 tablespoons and 6 tablespoons of oil. Otherwise, the rest is the same. Hmmm... I may have to make one now as well!

                1. re: Jpan99

                  I do like the recipe...especially as one of the comments had a suggestion to use melted butter instead of oil. I usually have tough time with the idea of a cake without butter and eggs. But along with additions you have here, I am very tempted to bake it soon. Will let you know how it turns out.

                  1. re: Pakistanicook

                    I would suggest not using butter. If this does turn out to be the cake you are thinking of, you will never know if you use butter. It will not taste the same. Please try the recipe as is first, then experiment later. It really is delicious, honest! Yes, it's different from a regular cake texture but it's airy and chocolatey and yummy as is. I have a good feeling it's what you are looking for.

                    1. re: Jpan99

                      You are right. I will try it as is and experiment, if at all, the second time. Thank you :) I needed to hear that, what with my usual lack of any patience in this case.

            2. Maybe I need to search for a sponge cake that uses melted chocolate? Or a pound cake thats tweaked with a good quality chocolate? Maybe my palate has changed. I just wish someone who has tried, tested and tasted something similar will be kind enough to share their best version of it....just a plain dark chocolate cake

              6 Replies
              1. re: Pakistanicook

                You might try the Hershey black magic cake - it's dark and chocolatey but with a fluffy, light crumb. Similar recipe to the perfectly chocolate cake you already tried, but with coffee and buttermilk to cut the sweetness. It goes well with frosting but it's definitely good plain. It's also an easy, "vintage" recipe, which might make it a likely contender for a childhood favorite.

                1. re: biondanonima

                  The OP mentioned above having made Ina Garten's Beatty's chocolate cake, however, and that's just an exact copy of the Black Magic recipe.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Yes the Black Magic Cake and Beatty's Chocolate cake are same.

                  2. re: biondanonima

                    I am glad you brought up the 'vintage' bit ...considering where I grew up was once a British Colony and this was pre Internet times..the cookbooks available then were mostly British and Australian...
                    most baking that I saw my mom and aunts do involved lot of creaming butter/margarine and sugar, beating up eggs (together and sometimes separated) what then seemed like forever. I perhaps should look in UK websites as well

                  3. re: Pakistanicook

                    Texas Sheet Cake is a plain cake but your description of 'left enough sticky chocolate on our fingers to be licked after we had eaten a piece' sounds even better!
                    I hope someone has your cake recipe to share with us.




                  4. Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

                    This looks like it might fit the bill.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Oh this one does look great in the picture! It seems the right height and the same dark chocolate colour :) and I am fascinated with the boiling hot water part..I bet it helps bloom the cocoa and makes the cake more chocolate-y instead of ashy.
                      Thank you, I will definitely give this a try

                      1. re: Pakistanicook

                        Well, let us know how it is, OK? Wasn't sure if you could get Hershey's but I'll be the cake is good.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Will do. Hershey's is not exactly one of my fav brands but I am sure a replacement won't hurt the results. :) And I have been in States for last 16 years