Mud Cake Recipe

There are a lot of mud cake recipes out there. What they all have in common is the addition of melted bar chocolate to the batter. This one fits nicely into the tradition. In the world of mud cakes I’ll say that it leans European, being a bit richer and denser than most of its New World and Australia-New Zealand cousins. I doubt there will be many complaints!

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
8 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate
5 1/2 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 ounces (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
14 ounces (2 cups) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
4 ounces (1/2 cup) buttermilk

Prepare a 9″ springform pan for baking and preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and zap on high heat in bursts of 10 seconds, stirring between each, until the chocolate is almost melted. Stir the warm mixture until it’s completely smooth.

Sift the flour, espresso powder, cocoa powder and baking soda into a bowl, or into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle. Stir in the sugar and salt. Combine the eggs and buttermilk and whisk together and add to the dry ingredients. Scrape in the chocolate and butter mixture and stir until just combined (a few streaks are OK). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with ice cream.

21 thoughts on “Mud Cake Recipe”

  1. Joe, thank you for answering the call! Since I requested this, I’d be damned if I didn’t try your recipe and report back. So this is what I’ll bake next. The only part I’m worried about is where the skewer comes out clean. Where’s the mud, then?

    1. Interesting point, Nokanen. I’ll consider that as I bake today. My feeling is that it will be plenty muddy with all the butter can chocolate, but you never can be too careful. I’ll keep it in mind!

      – Joe

      1. It took me some months to actually get to bake this one but now it’s baked. Not tasted yet though, which brings me to a tip: you can bake the cake a day or three before you’re planning to eat it and refrigerate it. It you’re going to do the Swiss meringue topping, leave the cake just a bit rawer than you’d prefer eating. Let it cool to room temp, cover the pan with cling wrap and refrigerate. On the day you’re going to eat the cake, take it out of the fridge about an hour before you start preparing your meringue. Then after the meringue topping is baked, the cake under it will be nicely hot and not too raw anymore.

        So we’re having meringue topped mud cake with family not today but tomorrow. (It’s my birthday!) I’ll report how it came out.

          1. The verdict? My three-year-old son smiled and said: “Good!” My wife had a bite and said: “Wow, it’s dense!” and devoured a large chunk in minutes. I say: I like this a lot! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Also quick and simple to prepare, which is a big plus.

            The espresso powder was an addition I wouldn’t have thought by myself. It gave a great depth to the taste. And buttermilk! Nice idea! I have previously used just milk and heavy cream for this sorts of cakes. Now buttermilk makes perfect sense! It’s acidity compliments chocolate perfectly. (Probably also helps to activate soda.)

            I baked the cake for 80 minutes and found it to be a bit too long for my taste. My cake came out much more firm than I had hoped for. I wanted a gooey center. Maybe my oven is running hotter than yours. (Luckily I am now able to measure my temps better, since I just got a new digital kitchen thermometer as a present today.)

            Thanks again for the recipe and keep up the good work!

          2. Great. Thanks for the full debrief, Nokanen. I appreciate it all. And please pass further thanks on to your 3-year-old for being an official tester!


            – Joe

  2. …as soon as it comes out of the oven, top with a bag of mini-marshmallows. When completely cooled, top with chocolate frosting .

    I’m from Texas. It’s just the way we roll.

    1. I have family in Texas, James, I know exactly what you mean. I am flirting with the idea of some sort of topping, though. I’ll let you know! 😉


      – Joe

  3. Hi, Joe!
    I have a friend among whose favorites is Mississippi Mud pie. Since her birthday is next week, I was thinking of making your mud cake as a riff on her usual.
    But I was wondering. How different is this from a brownie? More cake like rather than fudgy or chewy?
    Your answer is irrelevant because I’m making this for her anyway! But I was just curious. This looks simple enough even for me to make.
    Thanks. And keep ’em coming.

    1. Hey Charm!

      I have another one in the oven now, but based on what I’ve seen so far it’s very moist. Neither chewy nor fudgy-dense, but very, very nice!

      – Joe

  4. Just wondering – is there a special reason why so many chocolate cake recipes call for espresso powder? My apologies if this has already been asked. I did a quick google search and couldn’t find anything on your site!

    1. Hey Lonely Noodle!

      The espresso powder is in there because it heightens the bitterness and overall intensity of the chocolate. Coffee of course has a very similar flavor profile relative to chocolate, so the two work very well together. Does that answer your question?


      – Joe

  5. Most mud cake recipes I have seen have created a “mud” of sorts with some process that leaves a chocolate sauce in the bottom or maybe on top of the cake. Similar to a lot of pudding cakes I see that create a sauce of sorts from the baking (i.e. lemon is prominent). I say a loose ganache would work for me. 🙂 Gonna try this one soon, Joe. Thanks!!

  6. Hi, Joe,
    (I thought I posted this earlier, but my computer must have burped somewhere between my hitting ‘post’ and the server capturing it.)
    How different is this from a brownie? Is this more cake than a fudgy or chewy brownie?
    A friend likes Mississippi mud pie for her birthday, but I thought I could riff off that with this cake this year.
    Thanks. And keep ’em coming.

  7. Hi Joe,
    My husband is a chocolate fanatic, but it really tears his stomach up–cruel affliction!
    I am going to try this recipe with carob chips and powder, which sounds criminal, but we are a bit desperate over here.
    Anyway, carob powder is sweeter and denser than cocoa powder, and carob chips are not made with cocoa butter. Any thoughts? Do you have any experience with carob?

  8. My mother just made this for my birthday and the cake is amazing!!! It’s very nice to have a rich cake that’s almost a brownie but lighter. I think I have found a replacement for my favourite Dutch Chocolate cake. Thank you Joe for another reliable and excellent recipe.

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