Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

Chocolate frosting and cake; This chocolate frosting cake is dense but not too rich, with a mild chocolate flavor.

Grandma's Chocolate Cake from - not too rich!  This cake and frosting both have a mild chocolate flavor.I can’t believe I’ve never blogged this cake recipe before.  We make it all the time.

Robb just celebrated his 40th birthday, and try as I might, I had trouble making it into a big deal.  The man is just hard to celebrate with.  It didn’t help that we were out of town and the birthday gift I ordered arrived late.

The one thing I got right was this cake.  It’s the one he always requests for his birthday, the one he grew up on, the one his Grandma always made.

Of course, she made it with fudge frosting, a creation that no one else in the family has ever managed to perfect.  This stuff cooks so fast, it turns from ooze to frosting to candy in about 15 seconds.  I opted for a simpler buttercream instead.

The reason Robb loves this cake, beyond the fond childhood memories, is that it is not too rich.  It actually has quite a mild chocolate flavor.  He is not a big fan of dessert foods in general, so this cake is just his speed.

Grandma's Chocolate Cake from - not too rich!  This cake and frosting both have a mild chocolate flavor.

I turned to the family cookbook for the recipe, and found, to my dismay, that the ingredient list was a touch incomplete.  “Mix with hot water,” it said.  How much hot water it neglected to say.

This cookbook is sort of famous for these types of instructions and omissions.  Grandma mostly cooked from habit, and so in order to have written recipes, the daughters stood next to her as she cooked, and measured stuff as she put it in.  It wasn’t really an exact science.

But, since we don’t have Grandma here anymore, her a-pinch-of-this-and-a-spoonful-of-that recipes will have to suffice.

Grandma's Chocolate Cake from - not too rich!  This cake and frosting both have a mild chocolate flavor.Grandma's Chocolate Cake from - not too rich!  This cake and frosting both have a mild chocolate flavor.

Robb is aging gracefully, by the way.  I think he looks better and has more confidence at 40 than he did at 20.  It’s a glorious thing, to watch the man you love come into himself.  It makes me proud to be his wife.

I always tell my kids, “I’m a good picker!,” meaning that I did an awesome job of choosing a man to be their father.

I like to give myself credit for how amazing he is.  It makes me feel better about myself.

Grandma's Chocolate Cake from - not too rich!  This cake and frosting both have a mild chocolate flavor.

I did something at Robb’s 40th birthday party that I have never done before.  I broke out the china for dinner.  I literally took the plastic wrapping and stickers off the china we have owned for 18 years, and we used it for the first time ever at this party.

In an attempt to not be TOO uppity, though, I paired the fine china with canning jars as drinking glasses, because we never did get any stemware for our wedding, and those jars are the closest thing I have to a matched set.

It’s all good, though.  Because the parties, the dishes, this cake and Robb all seem to get sweeter each year.  Happy birthday, my love.


Want more?  Here are some more recipes I made just for Robb!

chocolate-pudding-7Chocolate Pudding bread-pudding-7Bread Pudding Cherries-jubilee-cookies-13-6Cherries Jubilee Cookies


4.5 from 2 reviews
Grandma's Chocolate Cake
Cook time
Total time
A mild chocolate cake with mild chocolate buttercream.
Recipe type: Cake
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon milk (more or less for consistency)
  1. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  2. In a small bowl or cup, mix hot water with cocoa powder, soda and salt. Add chocolate mixture to shortening mixture, and mix well.
  3. Add milk and flour alternately, scraping down sides as needed, mixing until smooth and consistent.
  4. Pour equal amounts of batter into two greased 9-inch rounds (or one 9x13). Bake at 350F for 28-35 minutes. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out clean. Let cool.
  5. For frosting, combine all ingredients, using a mixer to beat mixture well, until smooth and fluffy. Frost cooled layers.


8 thoughts on “Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

  1. Liz

    Happy birthday to your hubby! My daughter doesn’t like too chocolaty of desserts…so the whole family would approve of this cake 🙂

  2. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    Jen, this is a really lovely, touching and humourous tribute to your husband! Happy belated birthday to him. This cake looks divine, even without the scary fudge frosting (I’m always partial to a good buttercream). Glad you finally broke out the fine China! Your hubs sounds like he deserved a swanky affair for his birthday this year!

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  4. Mishi

    I made this cake for my daughters 2nd birthday and it turned out awesome!! It was soft and light with mild chocolate flavor as stated in this blog. I am so thankful for this recipe, I crave for it every day Thank tou sooo much


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