Granny’s Chocolate Bar Cake

 This cake is my Grandmother’s recipe and we always had it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s Easter and it’s also my man’s birthday and I needed to bake a cake for the party.  He’s a chocoholic and I knew this cake would fit the bill.   I’ve never made it before, but I know all too well just how wonderful and chocolaty this cake is!
(Originally published 4/4/10, but this is so decadently good, it deserves another go!)

Fair warning: it doesn’t qualify on any level as “healthy”, though I used organic ingredients where I could.  It calls for 7 Hershey bars in the cake alone, but the size of Hershey bars has shrunk since my Grandmother made this, so I added another one to the mix.  Also, her recipe calls for “plain Hershey bars”, but they didn’t have Hershey’s Special Dark bars back then, and we are fans of dark chocolate, so I made that substitution too.  (Also, see my comment below about Fair Trade Chocolate).  One other thing I added was the chocolate ganache icing (another 8 Hershey bars + 1 for the chocolate curls).  Birthday cakes just need icing….don’t you think?   I found this ganache recipe in my favorite French cookbook.  I’ve never made ganache before, and I thought “who would know better how to make a ganache than the French”, but this one turned out too runny.   I tried a few tricks to make it thicker and it did finally thicken up enough for me to get it on the cake, but as you can see in the photo there is a little puddling of icing around the bottom of the cake.  But it still looks good and I can’t imagine that it won’t taste good.   I suspect it was because I used Hershey bars to make the icing instead of baking chocolate, but I had extra and I didn’t have any other baking chocolate.  Note to self….. “plain chocolate” isn’t the same as Hershey Bars!

This cake, like most, does require some advanced planning and patience.  It takes an hour and 15 minutes to bake and then must cool completely before you ice it.   Cooling can take from 1 – 2 hours or more…. so give yourself plenty of time.   It will be soooo worth it!

One last tip: Don’t worry if it looks like the cake has fallen after removing it from the oven.   You will flip it upside down on a plate, so no one will see the bottom side.   But you have to make absolutely certain that it’s cooled completely before attempting that!

I hope this version would make Granny proud!!

Granny’s Chocolate Bar Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter (at room temp)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Dark Chocolate Bars (1.45 oz each)
  • 1 cup Chocolate Syrup


  1. Set the butter out to soften at least 30 minute prior to starting.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt together the chocolate bars and chocolate syrup and let cool.
  4. In a mixing bowl (and using a stand mixer if possible), cream together the sugar and butter.   Add eggs one at the time, mixing well after adding each one.
  5. Mix together the buttermilk, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture to the butter/sugar – slowly mixing in the flour and buttermilk alternately.   A little flour, a little buttermilk, a little flour, a little buttermilk…… you get the idea.  If you add the flour too fast you’ll find yourself in a flour cloud!
  7. Add the melted chocolate into the batter and mix well.
  8. Pour batter into a greased 10 ” tube pan.
  9. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.  A knife or bamboo skewer should come out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  10. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.   Expect this to take an hour or more.   Then carefully flip it upside down onto a serving plate and ice with the Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. plain chocolate chopped (use your favorite chocolate, dark or milk)
  • 2 tblsp brandy or rum (optional)
  • 2 tblsp unsalted butter, softened


  1. Wait until the cake is completely cooled before starting the icing.
  2. Bring the cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate all at once, stirring until melted and smooth.
  4. Stir in the brandy or rum, and beat in the softened butter.
  5. Set aside for about 5 minutes to thicken slightly.  Ganache should coat the back of a spoon in a smooth thick layer.  Note: It never thickened for me like this because I used Hershey bars instead of “plain chocolate”.  I beat it with my mixer and then put it in the refrigerator to thicken and that helped a lot, but I’ll use baking chocolate next time.
  6. Pour the warm ganache over the cake all at once, tilting the cake plate or rack to help the icing spread evenly.  Use a palette knife to smooth the sides.  Decorate the top with chocolate swirls and then leave it to set.
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