THE Chocolate Cola cake

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I was just introduced to the southern delicacy that is Chocolate Cola cake (aka coca-cola cake) while visiting Charleston, SC early this spring. It was a spiritual experience. It is all that is good and that I hold dear. I’d marry it if I wasn’t already married… seriously. amazing stuff. I loved the piece I had (pictured above) at Jestine’s so much, that I bought and carried a small one home (via airplanes and much hassle) to my husband to share so he could know the glory of it.

then I scoured the internet for a good recipe… but none seemed right.

Then I was using my home-made binder ‘o recipes from various magazines over the years and I discovered that years ago I cut out a recipe for this very cake… and the recipe listed looked exactly like the cake I wanted to replicate.

Naturally, when we had our first BBQ of the season I simply HAD to make one. I’m gonna tell y’all how I did it:

preheat oven to 350, and grease up (I like Crisco) a 9×13 (or so) pan.

mix:
2cups flour
2cups sugar
1/2tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp cinnamon

in a saucepan over medium high heat stir this up good until it boils:
1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coca-cola (from bottle is my preference!)
1/2 cup buttermilk

now take off heat and add that to the flour mix & whisk until combined.

Then add:
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

mix, put in pan, bake it for about 30minutes. Yes, it’s a quick bake. Don’t over-bake it!

when cake is nearly done make the glaze by mixing in saucepan:
1/2cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coca cola

once that boils, remove and slowly stir in 4cups of confectioners’ sugar until nice and smooth. Then add in about a cup of chopped pecans, and give it a stir.

once cake is done and out of oven (toothpick should come out clean), pour this warm glaze right over the top of the hot cake!

wait.

let it set… let it cool for a few minutes at least…

enjoy warm or cold. (next day/etc. feel free to microwave for a few seconds to warm it up… so good)

How did mine come out? Let’s just say, it was PERFECT!!! Not quite the same as Jestine’s, but close… and sooo good. I strongly recommend it. Plus? it’s an EASY cake. Truly. Nothing complex, no mixer needed. Just a bowl, wisk, and medium sauce pan…

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77 responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us, I love trying new things and thanks May for the info on Savannah. We might hit Charleston up too still in planning stages.

    • I made this cake last night and it has to be the best cake I’ve ever tasted!!! And you’re right – it is a very easy cake to stir up. I didn’t have buttermilk – so I did the old trick of adding one tablespoon of white vinegar to one cup of milk (I used skim and the glaze was still very rich tasting); so I used 1 1/2 tsps. of the vinegar to the 1/2 cup of milk, stirred it, and let it stand for five minutes. Delicious!!! Thanks for sharing. I’m sending this recipe to my family!! 🙂

    • I read this recipe and immediatly made this cake! SOOOOO delicious! Even my boy, who does not like chocolate cake, inhaled more than one piece. A family of five, ate 1/3 of this recipe in one sitting! Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have been looking for a cake recipe using root beer. I used Hansen’s all natural cane soda (creamy root beer) for a twist instead of coca cola. Thanks again.

  2. OMG May — this was one of my fav cakes when we were newly married. Lots of love goes into it — and the results are awesome! Raving delicious!

    I would marry it, too, if I weren’t already married for almost 50 years!!!

  3. This reminds me of a recipe I lost a long time ago…for pistachio cake and it used 7-up. I miss that cake, ya know.

  4. Really craving chocolate here, and if it were not 94 degrees outside, I believe I would try out this recipe. I have seen cola recipes before but have never tried to make one. I would say it is about time.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  5. OH MY DEAR FRIEND MAY -if I had known you had NEVER experience a cola cake; i would have sent one down. I downloaded a recipe a few yrs ago when Faith Hill took one to Matt Lauer on TODAY – I thought what the heck is THAT…downloaded the recipe, made it that weekend and the rest as the say….

      • If by bad you mean awesome, yes. It’s an incredible dessert. And it’s in that post – so yes. Definitely still have recipe.

        May

  6. I made these today and they are SO delicious! And super easy! I’m thinking next time I will add some mini marshmallows and it will be just like Mississippi Mud cake! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Great dessert. It’s a lot like Texas sheet cake, but more gooey. I loved the glaze. The coke gave it a subtly different flavor, but not sweeter as I suspected. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I doubled this recipe for my daughter Quinby’s third birthday. We actually had two parties, so ate the first cake on a Wednesday. It was SO delicious. I’m from the South, but live in Portland now and I’d completely forgotten about this cake until I found this post through pinterest.com. This cake totally took me back to my roots!

    Anyway, we ate the first cake on Wednesday and I froze the other. I brought it out Friday night and thawed it, used a biscuit cutter on it to make cupcake-like shapes, put them in the refrigerator, and served it Saturday morning to 7 fairy princesses and their mamas. It was just as good as the first time! thanks so much! You can see how the cupcake-like cakes came out here http://emilyflippinmaruna.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/fairy-princess-party-or-quinbys-birthday-party-2/

    Emily

  9. about 12 years ago I took my first trip to Alexandria, LA and had a slice of heaven (at least that is what I told my husband)…over the years I have tried several times to make this and was disappointed each time….I saw this on Pinetrest and thought I’d give it a try…THANK YOU!!! it is exactly as delish as I remember it…my non-chocolate loving son ate 3 pieces(he is 15 after all) and my 7 year old said “Mommy, I think this is what happiness tastes like”!! It is a keeper for us!!!!

    • All-purpose.

      General rule on recipes (as I’ve been taught) is that it’s all purpose unless it says otherwise. 🙂

      Enjoy

  10. I made this cake tonight and it was amazing, however my icing didnt thicken or set, what could I have done wrong? It all just ran off the sides of the cake and soaked into the bottom, but nonetheless it was great!! Will definantly make it again!

    • hmm… how did it get off the sides if you put it in the pan when cake was hot/fresh from oven?! NO clue here… sounds like something went funky…

  11. i really want to try this cake- i grew up in the south, and i’d love to share this with my midwestern friends! my friend has asked me to bring a round chocolate cake to her wedding reception- do you think it would work standing alone, or should i save this recipe for a regular rectangular pan?

    • I don’t see how pan shape matters. I wouldn’t try layering it (it is kind of soft for that), but I see no reason why circle vs rectangle would matter. Maybe just line sides + bottom with parchment so it’ll slide out? use a springform?

    • Hi Rachel! I baked this recipe twice today. First time I used the rectangular pan, but the second time I used two 8×8 pans, and it still worked!

  12. Just discovered your recipe via pinterest. I also just discovered that I have all the ingredients in my cupboards. Soooo…I will be baking it up as soon as my fingers are done typing this message!

  13. Either I did something way wrong or I don’t know….my cake never did rise! It stayed like cooking a brownie would and was just a thick clunk. I really did not like that! So I researched some and figured with that much flour in order to make it rise with everyon cup of flour you need 1 1/2tsp of baking powder….and the recipe only calls for a small amount. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be but I was looking for more of a cake taste rather than the clump of everything just smushed together and not rising! I did like the icing but if I try it again I will probably add more baking powder for it to rise. So did I do it wrong or is it supposed to be like that? Because the picture looks way better than mine turned out!

    • This cake is supposed to be incredibly moist, fairly dense and have a more brownie or fudge-like feel vs traditional cake. It’s somewhere in the middle, and it’s not supposed to rise as much as a traditional cake. The recipe as listed is the exact amounts to use. I’m not sure if something went differently with your process, or if you just didn’t like the texture of the cake? If your pictures don’t look like mine maybe something different went down. hard to say.

  14. I agree with the previous post. My cake also did not rise. I too wondered if I did something wrong. Mine definitely didn’t look like the photo. My glaze didn’t set or look like that either. Other recipes that I have seen include Marshmallows? Either way – this cake was wonderful – but I too was expecting it to be a bit more like cake vs. fudge. Did we do something wrong?

    • again – if you read my post you’ll see that it *IS* indeed somewhere between cake and fudgy brownie in texture. It’s not like traditional cake exactly.

      Maybe it’s not for you? maybe you did something different? without joining you in your kitchen I have no way of knowing…

  15. I made this earlier in the week and… omg. I’m going to have to use major restraint to not make another one immediately. It was so delicious! I did notice that mine didn’t look exactly like yours either. It did rise, but it was rather dense and lighter colored than your image. The icing was perfection. Perfect flavor, consistency, etc. Regarding the cake, I was in a hurry when I made it and just scooped the 2 cups of flour out of the bag instead spooning it into the measuring cup, as my grandmother taught me. This may have caused me to have a higher flour content. My mother and I enjoyed this cake so much, though, if the next one is better, I may be in real trouble, because there’s definitely going to be a next one… soon!

    • lighter color… maybe due to cocoa used? or more flour? who knows. SO glad you liked it – it’s a favorite of mine for sure. LOVE it’s fudgy goodness…

  16. I love the way you write your recipes (Instructions + ingredients for those instructions). I always hate reading instructions and having to refer back up to the ingredient list for amounts over and over. Makes me lost. 🙂 So I’m doubly excited to try this delicious looking cake! Thanks!

  17. Hi! Thanks for the recipe! I tried it today and there is only one thing I can say: YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was a bit sceptical at first when I saw the consistency of the dough, but it is the yummiest chocolate cake I have ever baked!

  18. May, this was a heavenly post, and so glad you love our Southern delicacies (have you tried Better Than Sex cake? Google that! winkwink) If I may, one addition to this post: CoCola Cake is how it is pronounced. Guess we drawl so slowly that we have to leave out a syllable here and there…xoxo

  19. Wondering if this recipe would translate well to cupcakes? I’d like to make some to donate to my daughters school Harvest Festival. Any advice?

  20. Making it right now and I can tell the batter is WAY better than any sheet cake I’ve tried before, it’s gotta be the cola and buttermilk! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!!!

  21. im making your cake right now, however my husband left one egg in the fridge so he has left to the store to get another… is it going to matter if the batter cools before i put it in the oven? its been about 30 minutes or so… i hope it doesnt ruin it!

  22. GREAT RECIPE! Saw a few comments about people’s cake not being quite “cakey” enough and although I loved the texture of the first batch, I added another tsp of baking powder the second time around and got more of a cake feel to it. Just a little FYI! 🙂 This recipe is to die for and DELICIOUS any way its made!

  23. This is the cake my mother made for me every year for my birthday growing up in Arkansas. Love it! She puts walnuts in hers some of the time as well, which I prefer. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I’ve loved this since I was in high school! I was a waitress at Cracker Barrel, and they have been serving this for years. Sometimes it’s not on their menu, so you have to ask, but usually they have it. So GOOD! But I’ve never seen a recipe for it, so thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to make it!

  25. Hi…dieing to try…I’m planning a fairly large Christmas brunch and would like to freeze ahead? Any suggestions?? Enjoy your BLOG!!

    • Sure – I’ve frozen cupcakes, cakes, all kinds of cookies… I think as long as you have it sealed up good, and give it plenty of time to thaw out to room temp – why not?

  26. Found this recipe via Pinterest and just made this cake for a cake auction tomorrow. I didn’t get to try it, but if the batter is any indication, this cake is DELICIOUS! Thanks for posting 🙂

  27. Yum! I’ve been making Coca Cola cake my entire married life, 44 years, and it is still a requested favorite. My recipe calls for 2 cups mini marshmallows. They melt and float to the top. Ummmm.

  28. I used to make a similar recipe many years ago. Wanting to come up with some Pepsi recipes for my local New Bern blog (birthplace of Pepsi), I hit on the Coke cake, but my tastes have changed. I’m cringing at the sugar in this recipe. As if the cake isn’t sweet enough, then that overly sweet frosting…ugh. But I’m going to make it. Your version has cinnamon and no marshmallows. I was already determined to leave the marshmallows out and cut the sugar down, but haven’t decided what to do with the frosting to make it less sweet. Enjoyed your post.

  29. I think I can see what Meagan meant in her comment about the glaze running down the sides. My cake is still in the pan, but because of greasing the pan, the cake does not stick to the sides. The cake rose more in the center, so when the glaze was poured onto it, it ran towards the edges and in between the cake and the pan. Mine didn’t do it that bad. Just a little. Otherwise, it still looks AWESOME! I am letting it cool right now so I have not tasted it yet. It smells soooo good though!

  30. I just made this cake from your recipe and oh my goodness, it is so yummy! Thank you for sharing this with is. P.S. I found your recipe on Pinterest.

  31. This seems to be the same as cake called..cookie sheet cake..but no coke in it.and it has a very good frosting recipe that u cook..delis

  32. I’ve been making Coca-Cola cake for years. A friend gave me the recipe which is a little different from the one you used. Mine uses bakingn soda, not powder and does not use cinnamon. I also add a cup of marshmallows to the batter after pouring it in the pan (before baking). I made this cake so much for so many years that I got tired of it and haven’t made it in a long time. May make it for Christmas this year. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  33. Wow. I don’t usually leave comments very often but I just had to come back. This recipe is AMAZING.
    Thank you so,so much for sharing this. We all loved it.

  34. I made the cake today for my son’s 2nd birthday. It’s delicious! I didn’t have a problem with my cake not rising. Also I just used a taller pan so that when I poured the frosting it was mostly still contained to the cake. Then I ran a quick cover of sprinkles. So good. Thank you!

  35. Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe! Found it on Pinterest. Hubby was over the moon that this tasted so similar to Don Pablo’s Chocolate Volcano cake when it was fresh out of the oven. We topped it with a big ole’ scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Insanely delicious! Can’t wait to see how it sets up when the frosting cools a little bit. I’ve always been a fan of CB’s Coca-Cola Cake and always wondered how it was made. Thanks again!!

    • I’ve never done that so I don’t know how much it would change flavor profile, texture, etc… but I do know I’ve regretted subbing nonfat milk into recipes that call for cream or buttermilk in past. I’ve also had recipes where I really didn’t notice.

      If you do, please share how it turns out!

  36. Hi May, I made this recipe last night for my husband’s birthday and it turned out great. (Only change was I used soy milk mixed with vinegar instead of buttermilk). I used two round pans to make a traditional round birthday cake. Then, I had to wait for the cakes to cool before I could ice them. You can see the result on my blog at http://womaninreallife.blogspot.com/2011/12/its-beginning-to-look.html if you get a chance!
    Thanks!

  37. I have a recipe for this too, the Cracker Barrell makes this cake, and it’s great! I have a recipe for this as well, but mine calls for marshmellows in the batter

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