That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cocoa Fudge Cake featured image

Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge Cake

Home Β» 250+ Best Cake Recipes Β» Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge Cake

There’s nothing more comforting than an old fashioned Cocoa Fudge Cake topped with creamy chocolate icing. SO easy to make (and eat)!

Created over half a century ago, this rich chocolate cake has definitely stood the test of time. Treat your family to this marvelous fudge cake ASAP!

Cocoa Fudge Cake on a square white plate with a glass of milk

Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

Classic Cocoa Fudge Cake

From a Betty Crocker recipe first published in 1965, this dreamy chocolate cake is the kind of dessert we zeroed in on at those pitch in picnics of my childhood. The moist, tender cake, iced with the creamiest of cocoa buttercream frosting, is baked in a 9 x 13 pan.

This cocoa fudge cake is perfect for a casual family dessert, yet scrumptious enough for company. It was inhaled by my family and disappeared as fast as those I remember from the summer potlucks of yesteryear.

Cocoa Fudge Cake on a white dessert plate with a glass of milk

Party Like a Mad Man

You’ve probably all heard the hype about the final season of Mad Men this year. Season 7 is split into two parts, and the last series of episodes,”The End of an Era,” premieres on Sunday, April 5th.

This cocoa fudge cake recipe comes from the cookbook, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. All the dishes in this collection have a connection to one of the Mad Men episodes.

For example, an iced chocolate cake like this beauty was whipped up by Don and Betty Draper’s daughter, Sally, after she received a frosting machine. The Sterlings had invited themselves over for dinner at the Drapers, and an inebriated Roger Sterling cornered Betty in the kitchen where she rebuked his advances. Much alcohol was flowing at this impromptu dinner party for four in Season 1, Episode 7.Old fashioned Cocoa Fudge Cake pinterest collage

Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Cake:

There are a few general rules that help with making a delicious chocolate cake like this old-fashioned Cocoa Fudge Cake. Check out my best baking tips post for more tips and tricks. Making sure your oven temperature is accurate is key. Newer ovens can be calibrated after you check the temperature with an oven thermometer. Compare the temperature you set your oven to the temperature on the thermometer.

  • Use quality ingredients, especially your chocolate and cocoa powder when making a chocolate cake.
  • Use room temperature eggs and butter unless directed otherwise. They will incorporate into the batter better than if they were cold.
  • Baking is a science so measure carefully. Weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale gives the most consistent results, but if that’s not an option, scoop out ingredients like flour and sugar, and scrape off the top with a bench scraper or similar utensil.
  • An ingredient like buttermilk is a cue that the cake will be moist. Yogurt and even mayonnaise offer a similar effect.
  • I like to whisk together my dry ingredients so the cocoa powder, soda, salt and flour will incorporate evenly when added to the wet ingredients.
  • Do not over mix when the dry ingredients are added to prevent over stimulating the gluten and making a less tender cake. There are exceptions, so if the recipe calls beating in the dry ingredients for a certain amount of time, follow the instructions.
  • Start checking your cake about 5 minutes before you think it might be done. Insert a toothpick into the middle. It should come out clean or with a moist crumb or two. Tapping the center of the cake with your index finger and watching for the cake to bounce back without leaving an imprint will also signal the cake is done.
  • Over baking can make your cake dry.
  • When you start smelling your cake, that’s a clue that it’s almost fully baked.
  • Wait until the cake is fully cooled before frosting. Buttercream frostings will melt if the cake is still warm.
Cocoa Fudge Cake on a white plate with a red handled fork

If you’re a chocoholic, like all members of my family, you might enjoy this Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Bundt Cake, this Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake, or this Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake! And this One Layer Fudge Cake is another chocolate winner! Check out my Cake Recipes and Chocolate Dessert Recipes, too.

Yield: 20 servings

Cocoa Fudge Cake

Cocoa Fudge Cake

A scrumptious chocolate cake from Betty Crocker circa 1965.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

For Frosting::

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350ΒΊ. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan (or spray with Baker's Joy). Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add butter, buttermilk and vanilla and beat for a couple minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Add eggs and beat for 2 more minutes, scraping sides of bowl often.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or till center of cake bounces back when pressed with your finger.. Cool pan on wire rack.
  5. When cake is almost fully cooled, make frosting.
  6. Mix sugar and cocoa in a saucepan. Add butter, milk and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and place pan in cold water (I fill my sink with ice and water).
  7. When mixture is cooled, stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. You may thin frosting with a little milk if desired.
  8. Frost cake.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 207 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 247mg Carbohydrates: 46g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 36g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 3g
By the way, my post won one of the photography awards at this Virtual Mad Men Finale Party!


A Cookbook Giveaway (Closed)

Even though I was barely a tot at the end of this Mad Men era, I don’t recall these sorts of shenanigans when my parents entertained. There were plenty of martinis and old fashioneds, though.

This cookbook highlights the foods of the era, whether eaten at one of the legendary Manhattan restaurants frequented for business rendezvous or dishes cooked up when one of the characters threw a party. They’re all a blast from the past and highlights include Mint Juleps, Oysters Rockefeller, a variety of canapes, hearts of palm salad, chicken Kiev, and pineapple upside-down cake. I cannot wait to cook my way through this cookbook.

Along with this scrumptious cake recipe, I’m giving away a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Dine Like Draper and Drink Like Sterling with More Than 70 Recipes from the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants Seen on Mad Men. Just follow the Rafflecopter prompts below to to enter. Open to those with a US or Canadian mailing address only.


Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

47 comments on “Old Fashioned Cocoa Fudge Cake”

  1. Now I’m craving for a slice of this ! Looks gorgeous Liz !

  2. Hello Liz! I love The Original Frosted Ronrico West Indies. I found it on a web 2 years ago and keep preparing it once in a while!

  3. When I make Sweet and Sour Chicken/Pork I use an old recipe from the 50’s from Better Homes and Gardens:@) Your cake looks really good… sharing the recipe?
    Have a great week Liz!

  4. So perfectly frosted!

  5. I love television and literary inspired dishes. I’m not nearly caught up on Mad Men (there are so many seasons), but I could totally celebrate it’s return with this cake. πŸ˜€

  6. This cake is perfect. Just what I like for chocolate cake, nothing too fancy. My mom makes an old school tater tot casserole I inherited. If I told her it was retro I am not sure if she would be proud or offended.

  7. What a beautiful cake! I have fond memories of those old-fashioned cakes my mom used to make, and yours looks so much like that style.

  8. This looks like the perfect any time cake.

  9. One of our progressive dinners was a Mad Men theme, boy I could have used this cookbook back then! None-the-less I would love it now because those retro recipes bring back such fond memories.

  10. So glad to have you also participate in this virtual dinner and amazing cocoa fudge cake. Enjoy the end of the season!

  11. That looks like the perfect chocolate cake. My dad would love it. Favorite retro recipe? Sure love my Grandma’s Zucchini Cookies.

  12. My favorite retro recipe is for chicken pot pie from my mother’s old betty crocker cookbook.

  13. how cool that there’s a mad men cookbook! This cake is the perfect thing!

  14. The idea that a vintage recipe is relevant today just blows my mind. And first of all is chocolate cake of course! That thick buttercream is amazing! And so is mad men…

  15. Be still my heart, that frosting looks dreamy! I’d love a nice big square of this cake πŸ™‚

  16. Wow! Liz! that looks so scrumptious.
    It’s late at night in my area and I just need a slice right now!

  17. I don’t really know any retro recipes except maybe jello?

  18. I never really got into mad men but this cake looks ah-mazing!

  19. This fudge cake is OUT OF CONTROL, Liz! I am loving every moist crumb of it and wish I had a plate in my face right now!

  20. That cake looks dreamy and then some. I think the recipes from the 60s are fantastic.

    I hope we get to meet in person one of these days.

  21. Love this cake. If it was in front of me, i would totally devour it! I do remember those foods from my parents generation. I remember all the cocktail parties and fun they used to have. What I don’t remember is this cake! My mother must have kept it all for her! Hope you are doing well, Liz.

  22. It looks so chocolatey and divine!

  23. This is soooooo exciting, I didn’t know there was a Mad Men cookbook. Love it!
    I have a 5 day weekend starting Thursday, going to get my bake on, adding this beauty to the list. Mmmm! I really dig that you’ve almost got a 50/50 split with the base & the icing.

  24. My favorite retro recipe is Beef Wellington. I never tire of it.

  25. Haha! I love the Mad Men description you gave–classic. As is this cocoa fudge cake! Holy cripes, Liz, this is exactly what I needed to inspire me this week πŸ˜‰

  26. This cake looks amazing! I love Pinapple Upside Down cake πŸ™‚

  27. I still make a chicken soup that my grandma found in her mothers cook book. Its a recipe over 80 years old!

  28. i simply love all your chocolate desserts, All look divine.

  29. Don’t know if it’s retro or not but a classic chocolate sheet cake – like the one my Nona – used to make might be a fave…FUN looking cookbook. Hope I win!

  30. I really need to get a hold of this book as it sounds fantastic! I also loved that show. It’s only morning here but I’d love a big slice of this cake πŸ˜€

  31. I love cakes that bake and are iced all in one pan because they are indeed perfect to bring along for a potluck! Yours looks divine, Liz. My favorite retro recipe is probably meatloaf, or perhaps Salisbury steak. I’m apparently all about the ground beef. πŸ™‚

  32. Corn syrup is not an ingredient readily available in Australia. Is there a good substitute? Thanks.

  33. My favorite retro recipe is a Jello recipe that my mom made very often because we loved it so much. It was called Lemon Bisque, and I haven’t made it in ages! I think I may just have to take a trip down memory lane and mix some up! πŸ™‚

  34. Always much alcohol flowing in MM. They could have used more cake and milk.

  35. This chocolatey cake looks delicious, I wouldn’t mind a bit bite πŸ˜€

    Happy Easter!
    Choc Chip Uru

  36. Curt me a bigger piece please!!! YUM!

  37. wow this sounds fabulous and with that cold glass of milk a bonus! Everyone would gobble this up!

  38. That is one perfect square of chocolate cake!

  39. Looks delicious but that frosting really stands out! Love a great “old fashioned” recipe that stands the test of time.

  40. This is one of the best cake recipes around. Β Super fudgie!

  41. I used to cook this from my Mum’s childhood Betty Crocker cookbook, but our copy has been missing for years. Sooooo happy to have rediscovered this recipe to cook with my son!

  42. This is the chocolate cake of my dreams! Scrumptious!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.