Easy Chocolate Mini Cake

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Call it a Wacky Cake, Depression Cake, or Easy Chocolate Mini Cake  – whichever you choose, the cake is super moist and rich in chocolate flavor. This is a great ‘pantry cake’ because it only requires ingredients you have in your pantry – no butter, milk, or eggs required!  

Easy Chocolate Depression Cake

What is a Wacky Cake

Here is the answer, straight from Wikipedia.  And if you don’t want to go to the link: these cakes are a result of WWII when eggs and milk were hard to come by.  So the baking guru’s back then realized you could sub in oil and vinegar to mimic the effect dairy has on cakes.  The result – go make it and find out 🙂 … but seriously, one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had.  These dairy-free cakes have also been referred to as Depression Cake or War Cake.

Needless to say, I was skeptical about this cake.  I mean, no butter?  Goes against everything I stand for – or at least what the blog is named after … But, I forged ahead and took a shot at making this cake, but as a mini cake.  The results?  Dee-licious!

What does a Wacky Cake taste like

This one is easy.  

  1. Super moist – Noting is worse than a dry chocolate cake.  Am I right!?  The oil and the vinegar ensure the cake is moist.
  2. Chocolatey – Because that is a word, and because it is true.  This is probably because I used a little more than expected cocoa powder in the recipe.  And trust me – it is the perfect amount.

Butter-Free Chocolate Buttercream

Now, just because the frosting on Easy Chocolate Mini Cake is butter-free, I’m not going to refer to it as healthy.  However, it tastes just like a butter buttercream.  And I’ll stand behind that statement.  🙂

And I realize the irony of creating a pantry ingredient cake frosted with this frosting – because the frosting is made with coconut oil and unsweetened canned coconut milk.  Not necessarily ingredients I would say are in every baker’s pantry on a regular basis.  However, I would highly recommend trying the butter-free frosting at least once.   And if you want a vanilla version, I’ve got you covered with our Vanilla Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting.

Slice of Frosted Chocolate Cake

How To Make The Easiest Chocolate Mini Cake

Truly, it couldn’t be easier to make this cake. 

Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  Some recipes don’t even have you prepare the cake pan by lightly greasing and lining with parchment paper.  But, because I wanted to remove the cake from the pan, I added these couple extra steps.  Certainly, if you want to serve the cake directly from the pan, you can! 

And yes, this is a 6-inch, small batch cake.  So if you eat it all in one day, have no fear because it is so easy to make another!

  1. Make the frosting first.  I like the frosting to be refrigerated because it sets up even more when chilled.
  2. Preheat the oven.  Baking is always best when the oven is nice and hot.
  3. Gather your ingredients.  It seems obvi, but makes it a whole lot easier when you have everything ready to go!
  4. Prepare the cake pan.  See comments above …
  5. Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.  I always like to sift dry ingredients, and especially when using cocoa powder.  Eliminates the worry for clumps of cocoa.  
  6. Make three ‘wells’ in the dry ingredients.  To pour your wet ingredients into.
  7. Pour the water all over the top.  Stir it all together.
  8. Pour into the cake pan.  And bake!

More Easy Cake Recipes

Easy Mini Chocolate Cake
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The Easiest Chocolate Mini Cake

Yield: 1 6-Inch Cake
Call it a Wacky Cake, Depression Cake, or The Easiest Chocolate Mini Cake  – whichever you choose, the cake is super moist and rich in chocolate flavor. This is a great 'pantry cake' because it only requires ingredients you have in your pantry – no butter, milk, or eggs required!  
Prep5 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Total25 minutes


Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream

  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened canned coconut milk, full fat (only using the solids from the can of coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons chocolate chips (dark chocolate, semi-sweet, or bittersweet)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate Wacky Cake

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process ()
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup hot water


Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream

  • I like to make the frosting first and refrigerate it until ready to use.
  • Refrigerate the can of coconut milk at least overnight. This causes the liquid and coconut solids to separate – we are only using the coconut solids to make the frosting. You will have extra coconut milk solids and liquid which can be used in smoothies, or to make more frosting!
  • In a small saucepan, add the coconut milk solids, coconut oil, and chocolate chips. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture has melted and completely blended together.
  • Transfer the mix to a small mixing bowl and cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture. Using a handheld mixer, beat until soft peaks form and the frosting is light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Do not overmix! Beating the frosting past soft peaks make cause it to separate. At this point, you can use the frosting right away, or refrigerate. It will set even more when refrigerated.
  • If refrigerating, transfer to an airtight container and the frosting can be kept for up to a week. When ready to use, allow the frosting to come to room temperature to loosen up.

Chocolate Wacky Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the cake pan, and lightly grease the pan.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the sugar. Then, make 3 small wells in the dry ingredients.
  • Add the oil in one well, the vanilla extract in the second, and the vinegar in the third. Then pour the hot water over the top and whisk together until all ingredients are combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 18 -20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake onto the cake pan to cool completely before frosting.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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