There before you is the ultimate in birthday confections, a rich and luxurious chocolate cake with rich strawberry filling, you know it’s going to be a good day. Maybe you’re just coming into work, and some thoughtful soul has laid out a tray of chocolate cupcakes, each with their own design and one waiting for your mouth to wrap lovingly around it and fade away on a cocoa fueled holiday. However you like your chocolate cake, National Chocolate Cake Day gives you an excuse to indulge as deeply as you’d like!
History of National Chocolate Cake Day
Chocolate cake has been with us just over 150 years, having first come on the scene in 1764, when it was discovered that grinding cocoa beans between heavy stones produced cocoa powder, which could then become chocolate. 60 years would pass before Conrad Van Houten discovered a method by which he could mechanically extract fat from the cacao liquor which produced cacao butter. Long story short, this man is the reason that chocolate is actually affordable, and we all have him to thank for it!
From this point forward the types of cake and techniques involved in making them just kept expanding, so there are dozens of kinds of cake on top of the original ‘traditional’ chocolate cake. From the Black Forest cake with its cherries to the German Chocolate Cake with its rich coconut pecan frosting, new types are being invented all the time, and chocolate still reigns as King.
In the early days, people didn’t consume chocolate as a solid snack we do today in the form of bars or cakes. During the era of the 1830s and 1840s, it was primarily a drink that you mixed with water. Furthermore, it wasn’t even sweet. The original chocolate drinkers would often make up a savory, almost bitter beverage that they would typically consume early in the morning.
The first verifiable recipe for chocolate cake appeared in Eliza Leslie’s 1847 cookbook. The actual formula, however, wasn’t quite what we’d recognize as a chocolate cake today. Leslie’s recipe called for chopped pieces of chocolate inserted into a plain sponge, instead of adding cocoa powder to the mix itself. You can imagine, though, how delicious this thing would have tasted. There would have been tiny chunks of melted chocolate throughout its core, providing a melt-in-the-mouth experience people would still very much enjoy today.
Over the years, authors and cooks such as Maria Parloa added their own twists on the chocolate cake. They began incorporating all of the trappings of the modern version we’d recognize today. First came the frosting, followed by the inclusion of de-fatted cocoa powder into the batter mix. After that came a range of chocolatey fillings, designed to make the dessert even more delightful.
By the 1920s, the humble chocolate cake had become mainstream, and manufacturers began to sell the recipe outright. O. Duff and Sons released the first boxed chocolate cake, ready to eat – no baking required. And in 1947, Betty Crocker released a pre-made chocolate cake mix. Ultimately, making chocolate cake became more straightforward. Almost anyone could do it, even if they lacked experience in the kitchen.
Chocolate cake became a part of the culture increasingly throughout the late twentieth century and early 21st, leading to the development of National Chocolate Cake Day. This particular day was designed as an opportunity for chocolate and cake lovers to pay homage to this chance invention. Remember, it was only with the discovery that sweetening chocolate created a delicious dish that we even have this most beloved of desserts.
National Chocolate Cake Day Timeline
Cocoa beans are ground between stones to make chocolate
Dr. James Baker financially backs the production of grinding cocoa beans to make chocolate, which would eventually become an important ingredient in chocolate cake. This is the beginning of the company still known as Baker’s chocolate.
First recipe for chocolate cake is printed
The Ladies Receipt Book by Eliza Leslie (of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) is the first to print a recipe for chocolate cake. While other cakes containing chocolate were referred to or known of previously, this is the first recorded recipe for the public.
Pilsbury launches first boxed chocolate cake mix
Motivated by making life easier for women in the kitchen, the idea for a powdered cake mix comes in the 1930s, but is set aside for a time due to WWII. It is picked up again after the war and Pilsbury is one of many companies trying to market the product.
First published recipe for German Chocolate Cake appears
Created in the United States using the “German’s” brand of chocolate, this cake covered in coconut-caramel frosting is featured in the Dallas Morning Star newspaper.
First Ding Dongs are produced
Making little chocolate cakes accessible to just about anyone, even on the go, Hostess Brands supplies North America with these little cream filled, chocolate covered cakes. About the size of hockey pucks (but a bit taller), in Canada they are known as King Dons.
How to celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day
The way to celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day is deliciously simple and perfect.
Throughout your day, incorporate as many types of chocolate cake as you can! Take chocolate cake batter and use it to make chocolate pancakes in the morning, topped with caramel syrup and whipped cream. Use the rest of the batter to produce chocolate cupcakes, place a strawberry in the center of each one and take them to work to share with your workmates.
Then when you get home, go ahead and go all out and serve yourself up a big old slice of chocolate cake for dessert, and then eat it first. After all, when it comes to dessert you really shouldn’t wait, who knows what could happen during dinner! National Chocolate Cake Day is all about this delicious treat, so don’t make yourself shirk one opportunity to wrap your lips around another delectable bite of these cocoa-rich concoctions!
Don’t forget, though; National Chocolate Cake Day is an opportunity for you to be adventurous. You don’t have to stick with today’s boxed cakes or even modern recipes. What about digging out Eliza Leslie’s original 1847 cookbook and trying the very first official chocolate cake for yourself? You can relive the experience of the early pioneers of the art, experiencing the cakes that they enjoyed at the dawn of the chocolate cake era.
Another idea is to make a super contemporary chocolate cake that includes state-of-the-art flavor fusions. You could try all sorts of combinations, everything from matcha to pistachio. National Chocolate Cake Day is a chance for you to experiment with exciting chocolate twists. Then, once you’re finished in the kitchen, you can serve your creations to your friends to see what they think. Just be prepared for some honest feedback! Everyone has their own idea of how the perfect chocolate cake should taste.