The Chocolate Cake Debate

I am in love with this new book I splurged on recently – Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever With More Than 400 Easy to Make Recipes by Diane Philips. I’ve made several dinner recipes from it that have been amazing. So imagine my excitement when I was thumbing through it and stumbled across a recipe for chocolate upside down cake. Crockpot and chocolate and cake!? Well…

You’re probably familiar with the upside down cakes. They’re also referred to as “self icing” cakes. They’re the weird recipes that call for putting batter into a pan, maybe a crumbly topping sprinkled over it and then pouring boiling water over the whole mess, and not stirring it in. Odd, but a simple concept. So simple, I got to wondering if it might be too good to be true. When the cake is done baking, it’s cakey on top and has “icing” on the bottom. You spoon it up, flip it onto a plate and voila – chocolate cake with icing.

Currently, the chocolate cake recipe we adore is the old fashioned tunnel of fudge. Simply put, it’s a major pain in the ass to make because the quantity of ingredients barely fits into my largest bowl, it’s baked in a bundt pan (which looks great but is annoying to clean) and it has to cool for two hours. Which of course, is the hardest part of baking the cake. I pull it out of the oven, I want that cake NOW! At any rate, it’s still our house cake, if you will. It’s gorgeous – it’s a classy looking cake. It’s so pretty it doesn’t even need icing. But you could, if you wanted to. Or a delicate sprinkling of powdered sugar. And my god is it good – cakey on the perimeter, fudgey in the center. And the chocolate flavor is intense!. Impressive, since it’s only made with cocoa. The crockpot cake also called for only cocoa, so could this crockpot chocolate cake give the tunnel of fudge a run for it’s money?

I’ll just cut straight to the chase and get your (and my) disappointment out of the way. No. No it cannot. First of all, it’s got nothing going on in the looks department –


Being baked in a crockpot, I didn’t expect it to be a real looker. But I thought it might taste decent… but sadly, it’s just no good. The cake itself isn’t dense enough – the texture was more like a steamed pudding. In my opinion steamed puddings are a bit of acquired textural experience, and I just haven’t acquired it. And the whole thing, especially the “icing” tasted really watered down. It was the blandest chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Meh. Perhaps if one used actual chocolate squares or chips to boost the flavor, it would be good. Or if I didn’t have an oven – if the crockpot were the only cooking device at my disposal and I needed a chocolate cake, I might make it again. But since tunnel of fudge has a loving place in our home already, it looks like this crockpot cake will be falling by the wayside. But it’s always fun to experiment anyway!