Dark Chocolate Pound Cake: If You Think Pound Cake is "Too Vanilla," Have I Got a Cake for You.

chocolate pound cake

Have some dignity, people. I can see you drooling from here.

If you watched Ye Olde Premiere Episode of PMAT Live, you know that my mom is famous for her chocolate pound cake.  If you haven't watched it, you know now.  Anyway, just to give you an idea of how Beloved this pound cake is, consider the case of Aunt Charlotte.  We aren't related by blood, but like Auntie Ev, Uncle Ray and Auntie 'Leenie, we are relatives of the heart.  Her birthday is on December 31, and every year my mom bakes her a chocolate pound cake.  She's been doing this for Decades.  Even so, Aunt Charlotte will Drop Hints starting in October, just to make sure that mom Won't Forget.

Aunt Charlotte is one of the most selfless people I've ever met.  She is a dear, dear woman and would (and does) do anything for anyone.  She is practically a saint.  The one facet of her Make Up, aside from her still being alive, that keeps her from being canonized is her Very Selfish Streak when it comes to mom's chocolate pound cake.  She is very proud of the fact that she can hoard each cake for weeks.  If a neighbor or family member is lucky enough to be offered a piece, she makes certain that it is so thin that you can read through it.  I know this because this near-sainted woman actually brags to my mom about how thin she can cut the cake when forced to share.  Any cake that can turn an otherwise generous and loving woman into Mrs. Scrooge is One Powerful Baked Good.

This is the very cake that I tried, and failed, to make for my friend in college.  This is the cake whose batter is so tasty that my brother and I were thrilled that mom's Bundt pan wouldn't hold all of it, so we could eat it like pudding.  This is the batter that, when I bought mom a Big Enough pan, we all mourned for ourselves, just a little bit.  This is the cake that I decided to make for Friend Susan's birthday during the Great Blizzard of '10.  Yes, I am Just.  That.  Nice.

So, I called mom, and if you want to hear how the conversation went, I'm afraid you'll just have to watch the video.  My fingers are tired, and I still have Much to Write.

It turns out that the Basic Ingredients for the Magical and Storied chocolate pound cake are almost identical, both in kind and in quantity, to the ingredients for any iteration of my Famous-in-my-own-mind Van Halen Pound Cake.  I did do some tweaking.  I mean, did you really think that I could just Leave It Alone?  No, I didn't think so.  I immediately quadrupled the salt, increased the baking powder by a smidge, added a bit of soda to balance out the sour cream that I felt was necessary and added just a hint of heat with a sprinkle of cayenne.

And now, without further Ado, here it is:

Dark Chocolate Pound Cake
Recipe type: Pound Cake
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cake
This is the only chocolate pound cake recipe you need. Trust me on this.
What You Need
  • 12 oz. butter, soft-ish
  • 6 oz. brown sugar
  • 13 oz. sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • splash o' vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 10.5 oz. cake flour
  • 2.5 oz cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 6 oz. half and half
  • 4 oz. sour cream
What To Do
  1. This cake is made using The Creaming Method. If you don't know how to do that, please learn. Then you will be able to make any cake you want to make as long as you have a list of ingredients. Here's how it goes:
  2. Prepare a 12-cup Bundt pan with oil and flour or with a flour spray such as Baker's Joy. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325F and set a rack in the center of the oven.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla, increase speed to medium-high and beat until lightened in color and fluffy, about 7-10 minutes. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
  5. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl, and with the mixer on medium low, drizzle them into the creamed butter and sugar mixture a bit at a time over about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
  6. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and optional cayenne.
  7. Whisk together the half and half and sour cream.
  8. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions alternating with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with dry. Mix for only a few seconds between additions.
  9. Once the last amount of dry ingredients are in the bowl, mix until barely combined and then finish by hand, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
  10. The batter will be thick and billowy.
  11. Scrape the batter evenly into your prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until done, about 1 hour to 1 hour and ten minutes.
  12. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
  13. Glaze and garnish as desired.


chocolate pound cakeOh, you like that glaze?  Thanks.  The white layer is just my regular old glaze--powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, vanilla and half and half.  After just using the vanilla glaze, I decided that the cake wasn't Festive Enough for a birthday, so I rummaged around and came up with some chocolate chips.  I melted them along with a wee squirt of corn syrup (for shininess) and some half and half.  Then, being Rather Lazy and not wanting to walk up our Sixteen Steps, I put the glaze in a plastic bag and snipped off a wee corner.

The Beloved and I wandered the cake over on Saturday evening, and we got back a clean plate on Tuesday.  I think it went over Pretty Well.

Yes, we did get to Enjoy a Slice.  Mostly because we said we wouldn't leave unless they shared.  It was Very, Very good.  A little fudge-y, very chocolate-y and with a tight-ish, meltingly fine crumb.  From Prior Experience, I can tell you that if you can stand to wait, this cake is even better a few days after baking.  It just gets fudgier and fudgier.  Eat it with a tall glass of whole milk.  Come back and tell me all about how it has Changed Your Life and made you Occasionally Selfish.  That way Aunt Charlotte won't feel so isolated in her Chocolate Pound Cake Scrooge-dom.


  1. Donna says

    My birthday is on Sunday, and I think I just may have to bake myself this cake! Unless you want to bake one for me and drive it down? I’ll cook you dinner…or get Donald to do so. 😀

  2. says

    Love the way the black-and-white is so festive, yet sophisticated. How is it that you always make me crave cake?

    Oh, well, I’m baking up a brownie extravaganza this weekend. I guess that will have to do. 🙂

  3. Jane Field says

    Hi, Jenni, after reading your blog about MY chocolate pound cake, I immediately printed a copy and will take it to Aunt Charlotte so she can see that she is a very important character and an inspiration for your chef-writing. She’ll be flattered and humbled….Love, Mom

    • Tracey in Aus says

      Oh Jane you are such a gem! 😆 I hope Aunt Charlotte won’t mind the “Scrooge” comments from her “used to be favourite” niece. 😆

      That cake looks absolutely amazing! I think I might just pass out, seriously! 😆

  4. says

    That looks great! And I’m not really a chocolate person…hehe, I would have added a lot more salt and some spice, too. I can’t have chocolate without salt and/or spice!

    • says

      The cool thing about this cake is that you can leave out the cocoa powder, increase the flour by one ounce and have a ridiculously good non-chocolate pound cake. Anna, you and I are cut from the same spicy-salty cloth, I think!

  5. says

    It’s my birthday soon(ish), I might need to make this cake (and slice it verrrrry thinly). I also need to get a suitable bundt-type tin, because, shockingly enough, I do not own such a thing (and how am I ever going to make your pound cakes if that’s the case!)

  6. says

    umm…I don’t even like chocolate cake, and I still want to eat this! It looks incredible. I think my husband would die of happiness if I made this for him. Maybe a good valentine’s dessert?

  7. Jeremy says

    I just made this last night. While the texture is flawless, I found that it was seriously lacking flavor. I’m trying it again tonight with the addition of 2 oz finely chopped unsweetened chocolate, 1 tsp of espresso powder, and some orange zest to try to kick it up a little. I’ll post my results when it’s done, let you know how I fared. BTW, your presentation is awesome! I’m going to make it a layer cake with heart-shaped cake pans and a strawberry filling for Valentine’s Day, but I think you’ll still have me beat!

    • says

      Hi, Jeremy, I’m glad you tried it; sorry you found it lacking in flavor. It could be that you like things more chocolatey than I do (but I doubt that 😉 ), but maybe it could be the type of cocoa powder, as well. Or your brand of vanilla. Maybe you had a stuffy nose! 😉 Even with a straightforward “recipe,” there are still a lot of variables. It’s hard to say.

      If you have a food processor, pulse your unsweetened chocolate to get a nice fine grind. Don’t go too far, though, or you’ll end up with paste as the chocolate heats up due to the friction of the machine.

      I think your additions sound fabulous. Your chocolate-orange-coffee trifecta should be a big hit for Valentine’s Day! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out. I’ll be looking for your update. Your Valentine is Very Lucky! 🙂

  8. linda c. says

    Coincidentally, I was just thinking about chocolate pound cake today! This looks like a winner. And watching your video makes me feel like I’m there with you (I wish!). My only suggestion would be to heat the half and half to make the cocoa really explode with delight. I always use hot liquids with cocoa. And the description of projectile vomiting pregnant cats really whetted my appetite. 🙂

    • says

      You have a point, Linda. I think I might consider using 1/2 cup of hot water to dissolve the cocoa and then using 3/4 c. heavy cream and losing the baking soda. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

      And, the vomiting cat really whetted my appetite, too! 🙂

      You will be here soon enough, right? Maybe we could do a fun video together, and you can post it on your blog, too!

  9. says

    I made this very cake this morning! My glaze is pathetic next to yours. But my chocolate stripies are beautimous. I will make a fun video with you but insist on being clothed at all times.

  10. says

    I’m dizzy ms. lizzy with the thoughts of fudgier fudgier fudgier spinning in my head!

    Come live next door to me, I will do all the other cooking 🙂

  11. Molly says

    Hi, I was just wondering if there is any trick in how to put this cake together. You give all of the ingredients, but no directions on the order. I’m hoping to make this for our b-day celebration tomorrow. Thanks!

  12. Lorraine says

    I am wondering how you got your white glaze so white and thick? Mine came out thinner and not as pretty. Thanks

    • says

      It’s really all about consistency. Start with a bunch of powdered sugar and add less liquid (milk, 1/1&1/2, whatever) that you think you’ll need. Whisk and whisk. If it’s too thick and not all the sugar is incorporated, add literally just a 1/2 teaspoon (a wee dribble) of extra liquid at a time, whisking thoroughly between.

      Believe me, I’ve made some thin, kinda ugly glazes in my time. It’s all about the amount of liquid you use. If your glaze seems too thin, whisk in more sugar until it thickens up. For me, a perfect glaze oozes very slowly off the whisk and once it’s on the cake, it should stop running before it hits the plate. By that standard, this particular glaze was just a shade too thin. Hope that helps, and I hope that you at least enjoyed the cake. 🙂

  13. Kymmie73 says

    I really appreciate this website. Thanks for teaching me different mixing methods and offering your wealth of knowledge on your website. I have made two of your recipes. I made the blueberry muffins and this chocolate pound cake. I followed directions to the tee (as much I am able, that is), and both products had great flavor, rose well, and looked fantastic, however they were both dry inside. What causes a baked good to end up this way…could it be oven temp, or the brand of  ingredients I used, or am I just an ungifted baker? Please help… 

    • says

      Thanks for writing, Kym, and I’m glad that you enjoy the site and find it useful.  I doubt that it’s because you’re an “ungifted” baker, but it could be just that you’re inexperienced. And sometimes it takes experience to know when to pull something from the oven or if something is baking too quickly.  Since the two recipes you made are made w/different mixing methods, I would bet that the issue is oven temperature.  Check your oven w/an oven thermometer just to make sure that it’s accurate.  Make sure your measurements are correct. If you’re not using a scale, or if the recipe is written in cups and tablespoons, etc, make sure you’re using dry measures (flat top) for dry ingredients and spouted measures for wet ingredients.  I hope these tips help, and please let me know if you have any more questions. Happy baking:)

  14. sianli says

    Our friends came over yesterday. So, I baked one.
    I didn’t have half and half or sour cream, so I used light cooking cream and Greek yogurt. I don’t know how they’ll make it different in taste, but we’re loving it. We’re having a big slice each for dinner tonight. 😀
    Love the addition of cayenne pepper. I didn’t realize I had pepper dust on my finger until I rubbed my eye. Lol!
    It’s a shame I didn’t make the glaze. (I prefer plain cake, DH loves glaze. I’ll make with glaze next time, just to be fair. ;))
    Thank you for this wonderful cakey, Chef Jenni. xox


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