Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake – a 1940s Recipe

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.  

The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes.  There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts.  The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era.  This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo” rather than margarine in most recipes and the attention given to oven temperatures.  I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.

The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake.  That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions.  I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.

This is a good, family-style cake – soft and moist, but not too rich.  Normally, I use a reduced-fat, olive oil based mayonnaise but since the mayonnaise is replacing eggs and shortening in this recipe, I went with the full-fat version (Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise).


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup regular mayonnaise (not low fat)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F for a glass pan, 350 degrees F for a metal pan
Grease and flour a 9 inch baking pan

In the large bowl of a mixer, beat together the sugar, water and mayonnaise.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and cocoa.

Add the dry ingredients to the mayonnaise mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into prepared pan …

…and bake in preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until cake tests done when a tester is inserted in the center of the cake.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Keep cake in pan and when cool, frost with:


  • 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 Tblsp. cream (or evaporated milk)

Place 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, butter and vanilla in mixer bowl.  Beat for one minute.  Gradually add remaining cup of powdered sugar alternately with cream until of desired consistency.

Frost top of cake.

Makes 9 servings

German Chocolate Cake (A Smaller Version)

My youngest daughter is the only one in the family who loves coconut, so I rarely make her favorite German Chocolate Cake.  She didn’t want a big cake to eat all by herself, so I tried to think of smaller pans I had that would make a layer cake.  I decided to try some 7-1/2 inch loaf pans to make a half-recipe of the original version.  It worked out just right for her to have several generous helpings of delicious cake.  I’m not a big fan of coconut but I did enjoy a small piece of this.


  • 2 oz. Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate*
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup buttermilk**

*To substitute for German’s Sweet Chocolate, add 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar for each ounce of unsweetened chocolate.

**To substitute for buttermilk, place 1 Tblsp. white vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough milk to reach one cup (8 oz.).  Let stand 5 minutes before using.

Cover bottoms of three 7-1/2 inch loaf pans with waxed paper.  Spray sides with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate and water on high for 1-½ to 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until chocolate is almost melted.  Remove from microwave and continue stirring until the chocolate is completely melted.

Beat egg whites in mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.

In the large bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition – beginning and ending with flour mixture.

By hand, gently fold in egg whites.

Divide batter among the three loaf pans.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.   Immediately loosen the sides of the cakes and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes.

Remove from pans to wire racks.  Remove waxed paper.  Let cool completely.

To Make Coconut Pecan Filling/Frosting


  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk, undiluted
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1-1/3 cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut
  • ¾ cup chopped toasted pecans

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, milk and vanilla until well blended.  Add sugar and butter….

…and cook on medium heat for 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Add coconut and pecans; mix well.

Cool to desired spreading consistency.

Spread 1/3 of the Coconut Pecan Filling/Frosting on top of one layer of the cooled cakes…

…top with a second layer and spread its top with 1/3 of the filling/frosting.   Repeat with the final layer and 1/3 of frosting.

This is a wonderfully soft, delicious cake but I had a little of trouble handling the layers even in this smaller size.  The cake isn’t picture-perfect-looking, but it sure tastes great.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Cider Sauce

This is my take on a two-ingredient pumpkin/cake mix cake that is making the rounds of food blogs.  I didn’t have yellow cake mix and used chocolate fudge instead with the addition of some pumpkin pie spices.  The sauce is a simple confectioners’ sugar mixture using apple cider or apple juice.

This is a really nice dessert and 5 Weight Watchers Points/Plus based on 15 servings.


For the Cake:

  • 18.25 box of chocolate cake mix (Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge)
  • 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger

For the Sauce:

  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. apple cider*
  • Approx. 1 Tblsp. warm water

Preheat oven @ 350 degrees F

Grease a 9×13 baking pan

To make the cake:

Place the contents of the boxed cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger into a large mixer bowl and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Spoon batter into a greased  9×13 baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the Glaze:

Combine powdered sugar, apple cider*, and warm water to make a smooth sauce.

*If you are lucky enough to have Boiled Cider on hand, it makes a tangy, full flavored sauce.  I bought mine online at King Arthur Flour.

While still warm, cut cake into 15 squares.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a tablespoon of the Cider Sauce.

Servings:  15

For 15 pieces with 1 Tblsp sauce:

Diet Power:  189 calories, 2.5 g fat, 41.3 g carbs, 2.0 g fiber, 2.1 g protein.
Weight Watchers Points/Plus:  5

Brown Velvet Cake

I’ve been going through my big collection of cookbooks and recipes to find any that might have been enjoyed years ago and then forgotten.  This one is a good example.

In December of 1988, I had clipped a recipe for Brown Velvet Cake but didn’t get around to making it until the summer of 1990.  The family enjoyed the cake so I made it again to enter in our local Harvest Home Festival, an annual Labor Day event.  There were always a lot of wonderful entries and I felt lucky to win a third place ribbon.  Then, I forgot all about the cake until the recipe surfaced last week in one of my binders.  I have a note, “My favorite chocolate cake”.


The Cake:

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2  cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tblsp. white vinegar in a standard measuring cup with milk to equal one cup)

To Make the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease well and lightly flour two 9″ round cake pans.

Combine the chocolate chips and boiling water.  Let stand, stir and cool.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter.  Gradually add brown sugar and granulated sugar, creaming well.

Add 2 unbeaten eggs and 2 unbeaten egg whites, plus vanilla and cooled chocolate mixture, mixing well.

Add dry ingredients to this batter alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Blend well after each addition.

Turn into the two greased and floured 9″ cake pans.  Bake @ 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until a tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.

Let cakes rest in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool on the rack.

The  Filling:

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup undiluted evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 Tblsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

To Make the Filling:

In a medium pan, combine the brown sugar and cornstarch.  Add evaporated milk, water and egg yolks.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and mixture begins to bubble.  Remove from heat, stir in all but 2 Tblsp. of the chopped peanuts, the peanut butter and the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.

The Frosting:

  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 2 Tblsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4-5 Tblsp. evaporated milk, undiluted

To Make the Frosting:

Cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the melted chocolate chips and vanilla.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar alternately with the evaporated milk to spreading consistency.

To Assemble the Cake

Place one cooled cake layer on a plate and spread the top with the filling.

Place the second layer on top of the filling and frost the top and sides of the cake.

Sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts over the top of the frosted cake.

This makes a tall (3-1/2 inches) impressive cake …. and it’s delicious.