If you’re craving an old fashioned chocolate snack cake, this one is a classic. It’s my husband’s grandmother’s recipe (Grandma Marie) and it always gets topped with a simple boiled icing of brown sugar, maple syrup and a few spoonfuls of evaporated milk. Grandma’s chocolate cake with maple glaze is my husband’s childhood favorite. If you want a tried and true chocolate buttermilk cake recipe, this one has been around for more than 50 years and it’s always moist and tender. Recipe can be doubled.
I didn’t get the chance to meet Scott’s Grandma Marie before she passed, but her chocolate buttermilk cake has stood the test of time and carries a bit of nostalgia with it. Not only is this one of my husband’s favorite desserts, just mentioning “Grandma’s chocolate cake” evokes childhood memories that you can see on the faces of all of her now adult grandchildren. Best of all, her chocolate snack cake is a quick and easy, one-bowl recipe.
Chocolate snack cake ingredients
- Shortening (Crisco)
- Baking Soda
- Cocoa Powder
- Hot Coffee
The secret ingredient for Grandma’s chocolate cake…
The way you can tell this is a Grandma’s chocolate cake, is that it calls for Crisco shortening. Back in the day — all cakes called for Crisco. My grandmother’s yellow cake with chocolate icing used it because it gave the cake a moist, light crumb. I’m here to tell you, it still does. Grandma Marie’s boiled icing calls for shortening too, but I’m partial to butter in icing and it’s what I used for the maple glaze. You can use whichever you prefer.
Assembling chocolate buttermilk cake in one bowl.
- Combine the buttermilk and baking soda and stir or whisk together in a large mixing bowl. The mixture will expand as the base (baking soda) reacts with the acid (buttermilk).
- Cream together the sugar and shortening with a hand mixer.
- Add the buttermilk and eggs the creamed mixture and beat to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix just until they’re incorporated.
- Finally, beat in the vanilla extract and hot coffee. The coffee intensifies the chocolatey flavor of the cake.
- Bake until a cake tester poked into the center comes out clean (usually about 45 minutes or so, but I start testing around 40.)
Best baking dish to use
I actually prefer a glass baking pan for this recipe. The glass insulates a little more rather than conducts and it helps to keep this chocolate buttermilk cake moist all the way through.
Can I double the recipe?
Yes, this recipe is easily doubled. If you do, bake it in a 9×13″ baking dish (glass if available) or 2 – 8×8″ square or round cake pans. You’ll definitely want to double (if not triple) the maple glaze recipe.
Memories of maple glaze
Now for the maple glaze… This is the part that my husband recalls so vividly. He said Grandma Marie’s glaze was just a thin layer on top of the chocolate snack cake, he remembers it being very sweet and very maple-y, so that the cake didn’t need a lot of glaze.
How to get deep maple flavor
To achieve that rich maple flavor, this simple boiled icing gets a double hit from real maple syrup and natural maple flavoring (I sourced mine from Southern Flavorings, who has an AMAZING array of extracts in their catalog). Incidentally, it’s what gives my maple walnut muffins their intense flavor and aroma.
This boiled icing doesn’t make a lot and it should be assembled right after you take the chocolate buttermilk cake out of the oven because it comes together quickly and sets FAST.
Maple boiled icing ingredients:
- Shortening or butter
- Brown Sugar
- Evaporated Milk
- Vanilla Extract
- Maple Flavoring
- Maple Syrup
- Powdered Sugar
How to make the maple glaze
- In a small saucepan combine all the ingredients EXCEPT THE POWDERED SUGAR.
- Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves, but don’t go too long otherwise it will re-crystallize. (Not the end of the world, but the glaze might have a sugary consistency).
- Remove the pan from the stove and add the powdered sugar. Use a hand mixer to thoroughly blend it into the boiled icing.
- Immediately pour the maple glaze over the chocolate buttermilk snack cake and spread it evenly over the top with an offset spatula.
- Pro-Tip – If the icing hardens up before you can pour it over the cake, add another 1-2 teaspoons of evaporated milk and whisk it over medium high heat for a few seconds… It will become pourable.
The aromas are intense with this amazing glaze. In fact, as I was making the boiled icing, Scott came into the kitchen to supervise my efforts (and to claim the pan when I was finished).
You’re going to LOVE this easy chocolate snack cake with maple glaze. It goes great with a cold glass of milk and makes a great treat for kids (and grandkids).
More easy snack cake recipes:
Grandma Marie’s Chocolate Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze
- 8 x 8" glass baking dish
FOR CHOCOLATE CAKE
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup shortening or butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup strong hot coffee
FOR MAPLE CARAMEL GLAZE:
- 2 tablespoons shortening or butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
- 1 drop vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon maple flavoring
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE:
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray an 8 x 8" square glass baking dish with vegetable spray. Line with parchment paper cut to the size of the bottom of the baking dish and press it into the pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the sugar and shortening (or butter) until light and fluffy.
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and baking soda and whisk together well. The mixture will rise to about 3/4 cup. Beat the buttermilk mixture into the sugar mixture, then add the eggs and beat until smooth.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and beat until smooth. Pour in the vanilla and hot coffee, beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside. While the cake rests, assemble the maple caramel glaze.
MAKE THE MAPLE CARAMEL GLAZE:
- In a small saucepan, combine the shortening, brown sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla, maple flavoring, salt and maple syrup. Place over medium high heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and using a hand mixer, beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. (For thicker frosting, add an additional tablespoon of powdered sugar).
- While the glaze is hot, immediately pour it over the cake. Use a spatula and spread the glaze evenly over the cake. Let the maple glaze set before slicing the cake.