How To Make Chocolate Brownie Cake


This cake is perfect for people who would rather be eating fudge brownies, but someone won’t let them put candles in and call it a birthday cake. (And why not? I’ve seen cupcakes with candles.) It’s denser than regular chocolate cake, more chocolaty and less sweet. Ooh, I just realized I have some lemon drops left. I’m going to go melt some and pour it on like frosting.

Hmm … Last week blondies, this week brownie cake. I guess next week I have to do something red and call it a Charlie’s Angels theme.


1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting baking dish)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup milk


Melt the butter in a large-ish sauce pan. (large-ish: adj Big enough to hold all the ingredients, not just the butter and sugar. Bigger than the small-ish sauce pan in the photo below.) Melt the butter at least halfway before adding the sugar and cocoa, then stir constantly over medium-low heat until everything is melted.

You can just add it all at once, like I did, but then you have to start stirring immediately to keep the sugar from burning. Once it’s smooth and you don’t see any graininess from the sugar, remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda and whisk together. If you don’t get the dry ingredients well mixed — especially the baking soda — you’ll end up with flat spots and huge bubbles in the finished product.

Make sure the butter / sugar / chocolate mixture is cool enough that you can dip a finger in without burning yourself. (“And how am I supposed to do that?” Very carefully.) Mix in the vanilla, eggs and salt.

Add the dry ingredients and the milk to the chocolate in alternating amounts. A little dry, a little milk, etc., stirring after each addition. How much is a little? About a quarter cup.

Last month when I showed what it means to flour a pan, a couple of people mentioned in the comments that you can do this with cocoa powder when you’re doing a chocolate cake. That’s what I did here.

Pour the batter into the “floured” 9 x 13 baking dish.

Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick stuck into the tallest part comes out clean.

If you’re in a hurry to get it cut and served, you can pop it out of the dish right away. If you leave it in the dish, as it cools it will pull away from the edges, making it easier to remove.

Put a cutting board on top of the dish and flip it over. This took a little persuasion to pop out, bit it all came out without breaking.

The one way this is slightly better than brownies — aside from being allowed to use it as a birthday cake — is that it doesn’t stick to the knife as you’re cutting it. And it’s better than cake, because you can cut really small pieces without having it crumble on you.

In fact, I cut it so small that after we took out the two dozen we needed to provide for Ana’s kindergarten graduation, there were still a few left.

You can frost it if you want. I’d prefer to add nuts. And I’m going down right now to try the lemon glaze. Let’s see how that goes …

UPDATE: And now I’ve done the glaze.

Chocolate and citrus are … ummm … I’ve got no words for this. All I can say is … mmmmmmmmnnnnnnn.

And that’s it.


  1. onlinepastrychef says:

    Large-ish is an adjective. 😉

    You are very good about taking photos. I need to do better with the step-by-steps. Yours are always so well done and explicit (but not in any sort of lewd way. Except for that whole Daniel Craig's hands are in a Questionable Location thing a few days ago).

    The brownie/cake looks good–the kindergartners get naked cake, but I'm all about the frosting! Congratulations to Ana on her graduation! Yay, Ana!

  2. Noun, adjective, picky aren't you? (Thanks, fixed it.)

    You think that Daniel Craig thing was bad, were you here for my bruschetta pizza?

  3. pd_THOR says:

    Red, eh? I'm thinking Red Velvet … something? Not cake; surprise us!

  4. This looks delicious! did the lemon drops work out?

  5. onlinepastrychef says:

    I just went to look at the bruschetta post. Scandalous! 😉

    Sorry about the whole part of speech thing. I just can't help myself sometimes. Perhaps not one of my most pleasant traits, but there you have it. Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

  6. onlinepastrychef, I'm with you! My nieces and nephews are always correcting their grammar in my presence! They know I refuse to let it slide!

    Great recipe, Drew. I've been in the mood for something like this… maybe tomorrow if I can get off this darn computer..

  7. Claudia says:

    The instructions and photos are fabulous. I am lazy and would wait for the brown-cake to pull away from the side! This looks absolutely luscious.

  8. Thor, red velvet … hmm …

    Tony, check out the update.

    Jenni, I struggle each day to not correct someone's grammar. I feel you're pain.

    Barb, isn't it uncomfortable? Being on the computer, I mean.

    Caludia, it's not laziness. it's enlightened self-interest. (At least that's what I tell myself.)

  9. Funny, Drew… I'm not sitting on the tower balancing the keyboard! but, yes, it IS uncomfortable! Too much sitting!

  10. Red Velvet cake, eh? Skip the carmine food coloring. I prefer my desserts without ground up beetles. 😉

  11. It does look delicious, but I feel your name for it is slightly inaccurate.

    A chocolate brownie cake is when you bake of brownies (with chocolate chips) in two 9" rounds, layer them and frost them with chocolate frosting like a cake. You may then add candles. You may not tell your cardiologist. You are also recommended to take only a small slice, so as to avoid a twitchy, chocolate doom.


  12. Hmmm … Twitchy Chocolate Doom. That sounds like either a new dessert at T.G.I.Fridays, or a college band.

  13. Yumm…looks good! I wanted to ask; do you ever use baking parchment when doing cakes?


  14. Ali, I just used wax paper — parchment would have been better, but I ran out — when I did blondies. My wife has used the pre-cut rounds in the bottom of cake pans before. Definitely worth the few seconds it takes to toss one in there.

  15. arin hyuk says:


    i like it ..^_^

  16. marie kualistin says:

    i feel that you have a fantasticoo sight and i loved the cake!!! i am going to try a round pan to bake instead but thanks for the wonderful recipe:).

  17. lil miss pastry chef says:

    Nice cake…I was searching for a brownie cake that would work for me…I’m a professional…and of course I altered this to fit my needs (I made it into a chocolate brownie stoudt cake for a beer fusion display) Nice moist crumb…just what I was looking for. I’d be glad to share my alterations if you’re interested :)

    My #1 question though, exactly how long did you stir/melt the suger/butter/coco combo before it became a smooth consistancy? (no grit?) I couldn’t get there…not even with a double boiler…I actually destroyed a batch…waiting for it to get smooth.

    The good news is (i went wit my gut) my final product was beautiful. Thank god I have enough exsperience to understand the chemistry of baking. (I was getting worried tho) Thank you for the recipie…Did your’s really get smooth? Tell me your secret…seized up suger/coco/butter is no fun.

  18. I just checked the timestamps on the photos. From the one where I’m adding the cocoa to the one where I’m adding the vanilla is less than 5 minutes. I didn’t taste it to ensure it was totally smooth, just mixed until it looked smooth.

    Sorry about the wasted batch, glad it finally came out.

    And yes, of course I want your modifications. 😀

  19. THANKS REALLY! this is the first recipe that worked with me and it really tasted great so thank you

  20. Hi. I realize this chocolate brownie cake post is several years old, but I just came upon it.

    Would you please answer this question? Would this recipe work using a silicone mold, baba shaped, 1.7 oz wells? Adjusting baking time, of course. (But how long?)

    Thank you.

    • Should work just fine, but that sounds like awfully small portions. I’d start checking probably at about 5 minutes.

      • Thank you, Drew. Small portions, yes, but there will be other desserts. Just wanted to make sure there was a bit of chocolate on the menu. I will embellish with candied kumquats. (What a boast — I’ve never made such a thing before.)

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