Coca-Cola is one of the world’s favorite drinks, but it’s also a surprisingly versatile cooking ingredient. In my mom’s family, Thanksgiving was not complete without Coke Salad, a concoction of cherry Jell-O, canned cherries, canned pineapple, pecans, cream cheese, and Coca-Cola. Don’t knock it ’til you try it – it’s actually pretty good. A few months ago I fell in love with a recipe for French dip sandwiches that uses Coca-Cola as a secret ingredient. But my absolute favorite Coca-Cola recipe is this Coca-Cola cake with chocolate fudge frosting.
This cake is chocolatey, rich and super sweet, with a dense, fudgy texture. It’s similar to Texas sheet cake, but the Coca-Cola adds subtle notes of vanilla, spice and citrus. My family adores this cake, and even though it’s not the most beautiful, it’s common for them to request it for birthdays.
Coca-Cola cake with chocolate fudge frosting is simple to make, with basic pantry ingredients and basic cooking equipment. You don’t need an electric mixer of any kind. The recipe does call for buttermilk, the magic ingredient that makes cakes, pancakes, waffles and biscuits extra tender. I don’t always have buttermilk on hand, but when I decided to make this cake, I had some stashed in the freezer.
I store leftover buttermilk in the freezer so I don’t have to throw it away. Freezing changes the texture of buttermilk a tiny bit, but that doesn’t matter at all for baking.
Start your Coca-Cola cake with chocolate fudge frosting by preheating the oven and greasing a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Next, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
Bring the Coca-Cola, butter and cocoa powder to a boil on the stovetop in a medium saucepan, whisking to blend. Pour the cola mixture into the flour mixture, and stir to combine, using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla, then add that to the batter. Stir until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes. This is one cake you don’t want to underbake, because it’s so moist. With my oven, I find that 35 minutes is perfect.
After the cake has baked for 20 minutes, start the frosting. The timing of cake and frosting is a little tricky, because you want both cake and frosting to be warm, but not hot, when you pour the frosting over the cake. This will allow the frosting to develop a beautiful, fudge-like texture. If the cake is too hot, the frosting will melt right into it.
For the frosting, boil one can of Coca-Cola in a medium saucepan until it is reduced to 1/2 cup. This usually takes about 15 minutes. Pour the reduced Coca-Cola in a glass measuring cup to check the volume, and if it’s more than 1/2 cup, return it to the pan to boil some more.
Add butter and cocoa powder to the Coca-Cola reduction, and stir until the butter is melted. Whisk in 4 cups of powdered sugar, one at a time. Keep whisking until all the little lumps are gone.
Pour the warm frosting over the warm cake, and spread with a spatula.
A lot of cakes are best served either warm or chilled, but this one tastes best at room temperature. It’s absolute perfection with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
If you love chocolate cake, you will love this Coca-Cola cake with chocolate fudge frosting. Even my friends who don’t like Coca-Cola love this cake. Try it and comment below to tell me what you think!
Coca-Cola Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting
For the Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 12 oz. can Coca-Cola (regular)
- 1 cup salted butter cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk or substitute sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
- 1 12 oz. can Coca-Cola (regular)
- ½ cup salted butter cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (use baking spray, cooking spray or shortening).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the cola, butter and cocoa powder to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to combine. Pour the cola mixture into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add this mixture to the cake batter and stir until well blended.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Do not underbake.
- 15-20 minutes before the end of bake time, start the frosting. You want to finish cooking the frosting at approximately the same time the cake is done baking.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cola to a boil. Continue boiling over medium high heat until the cola has reduced to ½ cup. This usually takes 15-20 minutes.
- Add the butter and cocoa powder, to the cola reduction, and stir until the butter is melted. Remove from heat.
- Whisk in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Keep whisking until the frosting is completely smooth.
- Let both the cake and the frosting cool for 5-10 minutes. Pour the warm frosting over the warm cake, and spread with a spatula.
- Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. Store the cake at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.