This post is sponsored by FAGE; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What do you need for a really great dessert?
For me, it’s three things:
That said, how many times have you looked at a really beautiful wedding cake and then taken a disappointing bite, realizing it definitely didn’t taste as good as it looked?
Give me a fresh chocolate cake right out of the oven ANYDAY over one that has been frozen and frosted to look like it belongs in an art museum.
We have been making this simple chocolate cake in our family for decades and it has never led me wrong. I’ve served at Christmas parties, at baby showers, and at engagement celebrations. We’ve had it for birthdays, rainy days, and just because days. I’ve baked it in high altitude Utah mountain cabins and on beach vacation rentals. You really cannot mess this one up.
People ask what bakery I bought it from. They want to know the special recipe. They do not believe me when I tell them it took 4 minutes to put together and uses a cake mix from a box.
It all comes down to the secret ingredient.
It might sound a little odd if you haven’t baked with sour cream before but, bear with me.
The sour cream is a GAME CHANGER in this cake.
Why Use Sour Cream in Cake:
There are a few reasons sour cream is a great addition to cake batter.
First, sour cream gives your cake a richer flavor. Made from cream, sour cream contains a decent amount of fat. Cakes without any fat trend toward light + delicate + dry (angel food cake) while those with fat trend thicker, richer, and creamier (pound cake).
As you try to get this creamier rich flavor, sour cream also does great things for your cake’s texture. Sour cream is thicker than milk so it gives your cake a spongier taste (a great thing). If your batter is too thin (if you try to add milk to add moisture and creaminess), the batter won’t be strong enough to hold onto the air molecules that make the cake light and spongy. The sour cream is about the same thickness as the batter so it folds in nicely, adding creaminess without sacrificing sponginess.
The acidity in the sour cream also helps activate the baking soda in the cake mix and, along the lines of why you need a tiny bit of salt in sweet cookies, the acidity provides some depth to the flavor. All you’ll notice is that the chocolate cake is delicious.
I love how the FAGE Sour Cream steps up the creaminess factor. You DO NOT want to use a low fat sour cream. If you’re going to be particular about one of the ingredients, choose whatever cake mix is on sale and buy the FAGE Sour Cream. The high quality ingredients and full fat thickness of the FAGE Sour Cream really shine in this recipe. I grabbed mine at Hannaford (you can check which grocery store near you carries FAGE Sour Cream here).
I love this recipe because it’s as easy as making something from a box but SO much richer and more moist than chocolate cake mix.
Ingredients for Chocolate Cake:
- 1 Yellow Cake Mix (I buy whatever is on sale and have never noticed a difference)
- 1 Box of Instant Chocolate Pudding (3.9 oz)
- 1/2 C Sugar (optional, sometimes I forget this and it still turns out delicious, but if you want it perfectly sweet, keep it in)
- 3/4 C Water
- 3/4 C Vegetable Oil
- 4 Eggs
- 1 C FAGE Sour Cream (a full 8 oz package or half of the larger 16 oz package)
- 1 C Milk Chocolate Chips (optional)
How to make it:
- Combine all dry ingredients. Add in all wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. (Easy, right?)
- Bake at 350 for one hour (check at 45 minutes).
You can make these as cupcakes, in a bundt pan, or as traditional cake layers. I usually stick with a bundt pan, drizzle a simple frosting of milk and powdered sugar, and serve warm with cups of cold milk.
If you like serving warm dessert when hosting something, this is great because you can whip up the batter beforehand, and pop it in the oven when people arrive. By the time dinner is over it is ready to come out and it will take you less than 2 minutes to plate it, frost it, and serve.