Portland, Maine – The backdoor of Mamawa’s house led right to the heart of our family: the kitchen. There waiting for you on any given day was Mamawa’s Best Ever Chocolate Cake. You couldn’t help but gasp or smile or make a bee-line to the kitchen counter the moment you smelled the sugar.
All it takes for me to go back there… is to bake this cake myself. I know now why she smiled as we devoured it. Because I smile, too, when my children and husband lose their minds the minute that chocolatey smell wafts through the house.
When I was first a reporter in Utica, New York, I was invited to a cook out. I had no idea what to bring, but I knew I’d bring something because as my Memphis-born grandmother always said, “Anna, you don’t ever show up to someone’s house with your arms swinging!” I called Mamawa immediately for help. She dictated this recipe to me over the phone. I attentively and carefully wrote down every ingredient, every instruction.
It was one of the last conversations we had.
And so every time I grab that same sheet of paper to read the recipe, I find myself standing in one of my first apartments listening carefully to my grandmother. I hear her voice teaching me how to make a cake that will bring her great grandchildren so much joy many years later.
Mamawa was a chocolate lover. Valentine’s Day is Mamawa’s day.
Happy Valentine’s Day to Mamawa and may all of you bless your families with some of her cooking.
Mamawa’s Best Ever Chocolate Cake
- 2 Cups of Sugar
- 2 Cups of Flour
- 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda
- 1 Stick of Butter
- 3 Tablespoons of powered cocoa
- 1/2 Cup of oil
- 1 Cup of water
- 2 eggs (or egg replacer)
- 1 Teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 Cup of Buttermilk
- 1 Stick of Butter
- 3 Tablespoons of powdered cocoa
- 1/3 Cup of milk
- 1 box of powdered sugar (16 oz)
- 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
- 1 Cup of chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Mix sugar, flour, and baking soda and set aside
- Put butter, cocoa, and water in sauce pan and bring to a boil
- Pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients
- Add eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla
- Pour into greased 9 x 13 cake pan or casserole dish
- Bake in oven at 375 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
Instructions for Frosting
- Place butter, cocoa, and milk into a sauce pan and boil
- Turn down heat
- Add confectioner’s sugar and mix
- Add vanilla
- Stir in nuts
- Pour over hot cake
This recipe can be easily customized. Over the holidays, we added thin mints to the frosting for a peppermint flavor. It was delicious.