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| August 29, 2016


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birthday celebrations: chocolate miracle whip cake.

I'd like to take a moment to boast about my hometown. Kendallville, Indiana is home to a Kraft Foods factory... the factory that makes the delicious marshmallows you find on your grocer's shelves. Next time you roast mallows over an open fire (or gas oven, if you're me) - remember me and the humble little town that I call home!

This was my grandmother's recipe, though it originated from the Kraft Miracle Whip Co. At first thought, mayonnaise (miracle whip) cake does sound peculiar. It's mayonnaise, for crying out loud. A good number of people don't even like the dressing to begin with, let alone the idea of using it in a dessert.

But if you look into the components of mayonnaise, it makes sense that it would work well in a cake. Its purpose is to utilize fat and add moisture, not necessarily flavor. The key ingredients are oil, egg yolks, and vinegar (or lemon juice). Sound so terrible?

It's my dad's 60th birthday, and according to his lovely lady, chocolate mayonnaise cake is the favorite. I've been dying for an excuse to practice layered cakes and learn crumb coating. I'm still not an incredibly excited fan of chocolate cake -- the thought used to be entirely revolting -- but if I'm going to be spending time in a bakery, I want to seem at least a little knowledgeable in the kitchen.

We kicked Dad out of the kitchen early yesterday morning (good excuse - still helping the new pastors move in), and while the cake cooled I set out with a friend to our local monthly antique-type market to scout out the finds. For starters, I snagged a gorgeous cake stand for $10 - and happily used it for the what I'd pulled out of the oven not an hour earlier. Talk about perfect timing!

When I first walked in the door, I immediately fell in love with this dining set. It had been recently reupholstered and the asking price was $150. Called Dad, waited a few hours, and hauled it away in the truck for $125. Good day for this girl!

He left again to continue helping with the move and I frantically whipped up the chocolate frosting and went to work assembling and covering the cake. I would have liked to spend more time perfecting it, but I was afraid the birthday boy would walk in on his surprise.

It almost happened. I had just carried the covered cake to the dining room to photograph when I heard his voice booming in the kitchen. This, my friends, is why you wash your dishes as you go. Eliminate the evidence. :)

Dessert was a hit. The cake is incredibly moist and dense - a nice change to the light, last-minute birthday cakes you grab from the supermarket on your way home from work. I can happily say that my first attempt at throwing together a layered cake was a success - though if you would have told me a year ago that the first real cake that I'd create would be chocolate, our friendship would have ended. Thankfully, times change. In another month, I have the privilege to practice again for my mother's birthday... and she's already put in her request.

One tip for baking level, even cakes: use a cool, damp rag wrapped around the pans. Or Wilton's Bake Even strips. Either does wonders for a cake, and makes assembly so much simpler.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did - yes, even I found it tasty! I'll make it again for dear old Dad if he asks, but in the meantime the next few cakes I prepare will hopefully not be filled, slathered, and topped with cocoa. Bon appetit!

Chocolate Miracle Whip Cake

1½ cups Miracle Whip
1½ cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
¾ cup cocoa
1½ teaspoons baking soda
Dash of salt
1 cup water

Creamy Cocoa Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
5 cups sifted powdered sugar
½ cup cocoa
2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine mayonnaise, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, alternating with water. Mix well after each addition.

2. Pour into two greased, wax paper-lined 8-inch layer pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and crumb-free. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans. Cool completely before frosting.

3. For creamy cocoa frosting, combine cream cheese, vanilla, and salt until well blended. In a separate bowl combine sugar and cocoa, then add to cream cheese mixture, alternating with milk. Beat until light and fluffy.

Tip: Do not use cold frosting or attempt to frost a still-warm cake. Let both come to room temperature prior to frosting.


  1. this must be like the chocolate mayonnaise cake. i've never had it but it looks good!

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