Chocolate Crazy Cake

by Ala
1 cake
50 min

I know that I’ve been gone for forever, but before I apologize, I have BIG NEWS to share with all of you that I think you’ll love…

It’s hard to even begin describing these crazy past three months. Back in February, I still had a full chapter, an introduction, and a conclusion to write–not to mention tons of revisions to wrap up and a lot of theoretical reframing to slough through. (In other words: LOTS to do!) Days were spent hunkering down in my woman-cave, a bowl of half-eaten instant ramen on one side and a steaming pit of deep despair on the other. My friends and fam–bless their souls–were absolute troopers during these whirlwind months, bringing the party to me when I couldn’t go out on a Friday night and surprising me by stocking my pantry with essentials whenever I forgot to eat. I could go on and on here about how these amazing folks saved my sanity, but I’m dedicating an entire post to that later (so stay tuned!).

Speaking of sanity, it has been in short supply for the past six years a few months now, because a lot has been happening apart from pursuing this prodigal PhD! Since February, I have:

  • Been to two weddings,
  • Baked a wedding cake,
  • Started seeing someone new,
  • Done live social media coverage for the second time at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards,
  • Completed my first sprint triathlon,
  • Hosted our first ever murder mystery party,
  • Seen six musicals/plays (The Lion, Amelie, Fun Home, Finding Neverland, Book of Mormon, Icebergs),
  • Stopped seeing someone,
  • Been to more grad bar events than I can count,
  • Traveled to Portland,
  • Hiked behind the Hollywood sign,
  • Attended my first-ever Meetup, and
  • Read a book for fun (omg it’s been SO long…the book is Frederick Crews’s The Pooh Perplex!).

With so much happening, it’s no wonder that the first recipe that I decided to whip up the moment I finished was this amazing chocolate crazy cake–which, it turns out, is the perfect way to celebrate the end of one crazy ride!

This cake gets its name from the fact that its ingredient list is, well, just a little bit crazy…but in a great way! It contains no eggs and no butter: just a vegan-friendly ingredient list and five minutes of prep in a single bowl. A version of this became wildly popular during the Great Depression, when rations were low and folks had to make do in their kitchen with what they had laying around. A crazy easy cake for crazy times!

Well, when I emerged from my hidey-hole last Friday, I realized that I had next to nothing left in my fridge except a wilted stalk of celery and a jug of soy milk. Never one to be deterred by a lack of resources, however–I am still a starving grad student, after all!–I quickly gathered my rations and decided to make this three-layer chocolate crazy cake. I also decided to throw in my own favorite chocolate cream cheese frosting, which is tangy, rich, and intensely satisfying (trust me, you definitely don’t want to skimp on it!). I slathered it generously in between my cake layers, crumbled some Oreos over the top, and bam! Instant celebration mode.

And damn good thing, too–because you bet this crazy gal is going to be doing some crazy celebrating in the coming weeks.

Cheers, y’all! It’s good to be back.

Recipe details
  • 1  cake
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 50 min
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For the cake:
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee (may sub warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
For the chocolate cream cheese frosting:
  • - 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, room temperature
  • - 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • - 2 cups powdered sugar
  • - 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease three 8-inch round springform pans, then line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Lightly grease paper and set pans aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add coffee, vanilla, oil, and vinegar. Mix until no lumps remain.
Divide batter evenly between three prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of each cake comes out mostly clean, with moist crumbs clinging to it. Allow cakes to cool completely before transferring to a plate.
Cover each cake layer tightly with cling wrap and place in freezer for at least two hours before assembling cake.
For the chocolate cream cheese frosting:
- Beat together cream cheese and butter until completely smooth.
- Add in powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, until completely incorporated.
- Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 20-second intervals, stopping between each to stir chocolate vigorously. Continue until chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Dump melted chocolate into cream cheese mixture. Beat until smooth.
For assembly:
- Remove cake layers from freezer and carefully remove cling wrap and parchment paper. Place first layer onto an 8-inch cake round, then spread 1/4 frosting evenly across the top. Top with second cake layer, then frost and repeat with third layer. Use remaining frosting to ice the entire cake.
- Slice, serve, and celebrate!
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
  • Phil Phil on Apr 21, 2022

    Just curious as to why you have to freeze the cake layers before you ice them? Also when you have a topping on your cake that looks incredible but it doesn’t say what it is in the recipe. Thanks it really looks delicious. Can’t wait to make it

    • See 1 previous
    • Ala Ala on Apr 21, 2022

      Hey Phil! Freezing the cake layers makes them much easier to work with and prevents crumbling when you're trying to assemble everything. And yes, it's crumbled Oreos! Happy baking!!

  • Joan Joan on Apr 21, 2022

    Do you think this could be done in a 9x13 baking pan?

    • Ala Ala on Apr 24, 2022

      Yep! Just increase your baking time accordingly and check for doneness with a toothpick. You'll obviously get a thicker single-layer cake with a big pan. Happy baking!