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Chocolate Earthquake Cake

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This Chocolate Earthquake Cake is a rich, tasty cake that is supposed to sink in the middle! Topped with ganache, whipped cream, and berries, it’s as picture-perfect as delicious.

I created this recipe with a group of blogger friends under the theme of hometown favorites. For those of you who know I grew up in Iowa, this may puzzle you. I couldn’t come up with a dessert featuring corn, soybeans or beef, so I took a little liberty…

Chocolate Earthquake Cake on a white plate topped with chocolate, cream and berries

Chocolate Earthquake Cake

Wondering why this Chocolate Earthquake Cake is a hometown favorite? My dad was a physics professor at Iowa State University, often referred to as Moo U. An idyllic little university town, we lived just blocks away from the campus. But my father had wanderlust. He grew up on the near north side of Chicago and loved nothing better than our summer vacations hiking in Aspen or camping in the National Parks out west.

When I was a junior in high school, he thought we should pack up our worldly possessions and spend a sabbatical year at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Oh, the drama this caused with his 4 daughters—a lot of estrogen in play. But it was like a dream vacation–sailing on English Bay in the summer, skiing on Grouse Mountain in the winter. And learning how to say about properly and punctuate sentences with “eh.

And here comes my logic. Being on the west coast of the continent, Vancouver does experience tremors—and so my Chocolate Earthquake Cake now fit the hometown theme. Granted, I never felt an earthquake in Vancouver, though I have in Iowa, but work with me here!!!

Overhead view of Chocolate Earthquake Cake

A Retro Chocolate Cake Recipe

My mom baked up the first chocolate earthquake cake I ever sampled. Eggs were separated and the whites were beaten till light and fluffy. When the whites were folded into the chocolate batter and baked, they provided the lift to the otherwise non-leavened cake. But as it cooled, it was destined to crack and fall, thus becoming evidence of the fallout from a natural disaster! I figured this recipe from Ina Garten would work well. She talks about the sunken area in the middle of the cake to be filled with chocolate ganache.

In actuality, mine barely sank, but the ganache, and then whipped cream and raspberry topping really played well off the dense, rich cake whether needed to disguise any malformations or not! I took this cake to a holiday luncheon and my hostess, who is gluten-free, loved that this chocolate earthquake cake recipe only had a tablespoon of flour. Using a gluten-free substitute, like Cup4Cup, would turn this into a wonderful gluten-free dessert. You might also like this Chocolate Souffle Cake.

Chocolate Earthquake Cake on a white cake plate with a mint garnish


Chocolate Earthquake Cake | That Skinny Chick Can Bake

The Recipe: Chocolate Earthquake Cake

Rich, dense, chocolate cake inspired from Ina Garten's new cookbook, Make It Ahead.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 10 servings


  • 19 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 10 tablespoons butter cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, sweetened and whipped and fresh berries for serving, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Grease an 8-inch spring-form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Place the one pound of chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.
  4. Off the heat, immediately stir in the butter, flour, sugar, and salt with a rubber spatula.
  5. Whisk in the egg yolks until smooth.
  6. Put egg whites in mixer and beat until they form soft peaks.
  7. Scrape the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and fold them in very carefully with a rubber spatula, just until combined.
  8. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 15 minutes exactly. (Make sure oven is accurate-next time I will bake it 13 minutes!)
  9. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven, cracking the door open a bit.
  10. Let cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
  11. The cake will sink in the middle.
  12. Remove sides of pan and place cake on your cake stand.
  13. Put 3 ounces of chocolate and the 1/4 cup heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat gently until it is melted and smooth.
  14. Pour this into the center of the cake.
  15. Allow to cool. To serve, topped with whipped cream and berries if desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 473Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 144mgSodium: 163mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 33gProtein: 6g


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42 comments on “Chocolate Earthquake Cake”

  1. Like all your cake creations, Liz, this is absolutely gorgeous! And such a lovely story behind it – my Dad sounds a lot like yours with all the adventures he dragged us on as kids!

  2. Hey Liz, I was waiting to read this post about earthquakes in either Iowa or Indiana! Now I get it! What a great vacation and sabbatical experience with your family! Your words about Ames takes me back to such a fun time! I love this cake and anything chocolate; it sounds perfect for Valentine’s Day or Bill’s February birthday cake! PS: I’ve been in 2 earthquakes now: 1 in Los Angeles when I lived there and now 1 last year here in SC that is surprisingly one of the main fault-lines in the U.S. I’ll take your delicious cake over a real earthquake anyday!
    xo sweetie!

  3. Oh, wow, Liz, this looks so good! And I always love your pretty pictures, too. 🙂

  4. Liz!!! an earthquake cake in Iowa. . makes perfect sense to me!!! Plus, your mom baked the first earthquake cake you ever had. .. that’s special!!! and dude, this cake is stunning!!!! love love love!! happy to be back at Sunday supper with you all today!!

  5. I can only imagine the noise level in your home when four daughters were protesting … anything! 🙂

    I have no trouble stretching your hometown roots that brought you to this gorgeous Chocolate Earthquake Cake. I’m just glad you made it!

  6. What a gorgeous cake! And a fun way to tie it in with your childhood memories.

  7. I love the Iowa story. I always get some made when the middle sinks in. Of course the idea of filling it in with chocolate is perfection. This cake looks so good.

  8. I’ve been to Vancouver. It’s gorgeous there! We visited Butchart Gardens one summer when Mom lived in Seatle. Amazing. And this cake looks amazing, too!! My MILs SIL has the severe gluten allergy. You bet I’ll be sharing this with them.

  9. I’ve never heard of Earthquake Cake before, yours looks great:@)

  10. Nice Sunday treat.. really necessary before new week 😀

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