Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

| July 4, 2021 | 5 Comments

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn  how to make this truly old fashioned Chocolate layer cake. This is the cake Mama always made me for my birthday when I was younger. Printable recipe included.


Birthday Cake, enjoy!
Yellow layer cake with a cooked, old fashioned Chocolate icing. This one was Mama’s specialty and all the family loved it. I hope you will too.


Birthday Cake, slider.

From as far back as I can remember, up until she was no longer able to do so, Mama made one of these yellow layered cakes with Chocolate icing for my birthday. I absolutely loved them.

In the early years, Mama made her cake layers from scratch. Then, when we moved from the country to the city, she did like most other modern day homemakers and made her layers from a boxed cake mix. They were still awesome though.

She never changed the icing she placed on the cakes. She knew it was my favorite, so she always cooked the chocolate icing that covered the cake.

I use to say that Mama never made pretty cakes, just really good cakes. Looking back, I realize just how beautiful those homemade cakes were and how much love she put into making each one. Even the one’s with the boxed cake mix.

I’m using my Basic Cake Layers recipe for the layers. I don’t include those steps below, but you can easily click the link for that recipe if you want to make the cake entirely from scratch. Or, if you decide to use a boxed cake mix, just make the icing as described below. It’s pretty simple to make, you just have to stay with it for the 15 minutes or so that it’s cooking.

The recipe for the icing is courtesy of my Cousin Aleane. She listed it as one of her favorites in our Stewart Family Cookbook that was printed years ago for our family reunions. It’s just like the recipe Mama always used.

Birthday or not, this is a very special cake for me. I do hope you’ll like it should you make it.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!


Birthday Cake, icing ingredients.
Old Fashioned Chocolate Icing – You’ll need these ingredients.

This post will show you how to make the Chocolate Icing for our favorite Birthday Cake.

You can make a cake from scratch using our Basic Cake Layers recipe, or you could just make layers from boxed Yellow Cake Mix. Totally up to you.


Birthday Cake, old hand mixer.
I wanted to show you the old hand mixer that I used to mix my batter with. Mama used one very similar during my much younger years, before she acquired an electric one.

This one worked pretty good and did a great job for some parts of the recipe. Smile


Birthday Cake, add-sugar.
Let’s make that icing.  Start by placing 2 cups granulated Sugar in a medium sized sauce pot. The taller the pot the better.


Birthday Cake, add butter.
Add 1 stick of Butter.


Birthday Cake, add cocoa.
Add 6 Tablespoons of Cocoa powder.


Birthday Cake, add vanilla.
Add 2 teaspoons of Vanilla flavoring.


Birthday Cake, add milk.
Add 1 can of Evaporated Milk. 12 ounce size.


Birthday Cake, cook the icing.
Now, lets cook the chocolate icing. Please observe the following.


Place the sauce pot over Medium heat on your stove top. Stir the pot continuously while the sugar and butter dissolve. Once it starts to heat up, do NOT walkaway. If you do, you’ll be mad at me and you both. Smile.

I had to remove my pot from heat about 5 times while it was boiling. It will continue to try to rise and overflow the pot for a short while, but then it will calm down.

It probably took about 12 to 15 minutes to cook.

Keep stirring it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and until it thickens. The syrup needs to thicken to the point of about applesauce or apple butter. Not runny, but not real thick either.

Remove from heat when done. Cook it too long and you’ll end up making candy. Smile.


Birthday Cake, first layer.
Place a dab of the warm chocolate in the middle of the plate you intend to build your cake on. Then, place the first layer on top of that. The frosting will keep the layer from sliding around.

I used a plate with a bit of a raised outer edge to catch any icing that might flow off the cake as we make it.


Birthday Cake, add icing.
Spoon a layer of icing on top of the layer. Spread it out to the edge.


Birthday Cake, add second layer.
Place the second layer on top of the first layer. I usually place the layers top side down.


Birthday Cake, icing on second layer.
Spread icing on this layer.


Birthday Cake, add third layer.
Add the third layer. Normally, I would place the top layer down so it would have a flat surface to frost. But, I placed this one top side up because it had a bit of a dome shape, more like the way Mama always made her cakes.


Birthday Cake, add icing to the cake.
Spread a layer of the icing over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides. Then, use a spatula to smooth out the sides of the cake as best you can.

This may not be a pretty cake, but they were sure pretty to me every time I received one on my birthday.

Mama wasn’t into making pretty cakes… just really GOOD cakes. Smile.


Birthday Cake, enjoy.


clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
birthday cake, printbox.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Icing

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Varies
  • Category: Desserts, Cakes
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Southern


This cooked chocolate icing was always on the cakes Mama made me for my birthday. Icing is thin, whereas a frosting is thicker and creamy. Takes about 15 minutes to cook, and you have to stir it constantly, but well worth the effort.



2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 stick Butter
6 Tablespoons Cocoa powder
2 teaspoons Vanilla Flavoring
1 can (12oz) Evaporated Milk


Place sugar in a medium sauce pot. The taller the pot the better.
Add butter.
Add cocoa.
Add vanilla flavoring.
Add milk.
Place saucepot over Medium heat on stove top.
Constantly stir the mixture as the sugar and butter dissolve. Do NOT walkaway.
As pot tries to boil over, remove from heat and let mixture settle down.
Mixture will soon settle, but you must constantly keep stirring the pot.
Let mixture cook for 12 – 15 minutes until it thickens. Something about like applesauce or apple butter.
Remove from heat when thickened and spread warm icing over cake layers.


Mixture should thicken slightly. Not runny, not to thick. Overcooking it will turn the syrup more like a candy consistency. Practice makes perfect as they say.

Keywords: Old fashioned, cooked icing, chocolate icing, cocoa, butter, evaporated milk, vanilla flavoring, granulated sugar, easy icing


Your Comments:

Have you tried our Old Fashioned Chocolate Icing recipe? How did you like it?

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You might also like: Southern Peach Cobbler

Or, maybe this: Southern Blueberry Cobbler

Or this: Old Fashioned Carrot Cake Recipe


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Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (5)

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  1. Eunice Butts says:

    Thanks a million for this recipe I have searched many times for it Thanks

  2. Phyllis Ivey says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Steve! I’m going to try this recipe soon, your cake looks beautiful!

  3. Kathy Newman says:

    This recipe reminded me so much of my grandmother. It’s the same icing she always made-just a bit different method- She boiled the sugar,cocoa & milk.Then she poured it in a big platter with the butter and vanilla.Then you had to beat the heck out of it with a flat whisk-that was always my job and I thought it was such an honor.After she passed away, so many people asked my mother if she had the recipe, but my grandmother had never written it down.I finally figured out how to make something very close to it, but I’ve never been brave enough to use it on a layer cake- I just pour it over a sheet cake. Everyone should try this recipe.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for the icing recipe – I always wondered how that special kind of icing was made – my grandmothers and my mom all made it – just never realized it was cooked – but always loved it. Your baking lessons are making me look pretty good!

  5. Walt Caudle says:

    I love cake with chocolate icing. Happy Birthday Steve, I wish you many more!

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