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Chocolate Snack Cake, sometimes called “Wacky Cake”, is a simple, dairy-free, cake made from scratch that is perfect for the kids to help with! This rich dessert is made from pantry staples and makes a small cake perfect for those chocolate cravings.

slice of chocolate cake topped with powdered sugar

Whipping this chocolate snack cake up is a breeze – all you need is one bowl & a spoon!

It makes the perfect small size, when you’re wanting a sweet snack, but don’t need want to make a full size cake.

It happens to be vegan, like my chocolate chip snack cake, zucchini brownies or cinnamon sugar pumpkin donuts, but you’d never guess it.

This vintage recipe originated in the Depression-era when dairy products were scarce.

slice of chocolate cake on a white plate

I promised myself I wouldn’t neglect Persnickety Plates after Baby #2 arrived, which was silly, because I kinda knew it wasn’t a promise I could keep. Rosie is 7 weeks old already and I’m just now introducing her to you.

Despite being busier than ever, I haven’t lost the urge to bake. I’ll be doing three other things and thinking about whipping something up. That’s how this cake came about.

Why you’ll love this easy chocolate cake

It’s simple! You only need one bowl, one spoon, and pantry staples.

It’s dairy free – depending on which chocolate chips you use, it can easily be vegan/dairy free.

Dress it up – Top it with powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, etc.

Equipment you’ll need


Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • Flour – I use all-purpose white flour.
  • Brown Sugar – Using brown sugar instead of white sugar makes the cake extra moist.
  • Cocoa Powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder. You can even use dark chocolate cocoa powder, if you like.
  • Baking Soda – For rise.
  • Salt – For balance.
  • Water
  • Vegetable Oil – I’ve also tested this cake using applesauce, either will work, but I prefer the fluffiness the oil gives.
  • Vinegar – White vinegar reacts with the baking soda to give rise.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Chocolate Chips – Optional, but a good idea.
  • Powdered Sugar – Again, optional, but it adds a nice touch & sweetness to to the top.
chocolate cake in glass baking dish with center piece missing

Luckily, this cake is really simple to make – you just need one bowl and a spoon, which means Julia was able to help and it was done while Rosie was napping.

How to make a Chocolate Snack Cake

Making this cake is so easy!

  1. STEP ONE: To a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. STEP TWO: Add in the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. STEP THREE: Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. STEP FOUR: Pour the batter into an 8×8 baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve!
slice of chocolate cake with a bite taken out of it

Tips & Suggestions

  • You can swap out the oil for applesauce, if you want. I tried it both ways. It makes for a denser cake that has really good flavor. I preferred the texture of the vegetable oil version – it’s a bit fluffier.
  • The powdered sugar on top adds just the right amount of sweetness.
  • Serve this cake under some vanilla ice cream for a real treat!

Need more chocolate recipes? Try these:

Click here for my entire collection of dessert recipes.

Easy Chocolate Snack Cake

collage of chocolate snack cake pictures
slice of chocolate cake topped with powdered sugar
5 from 7 votes

Chocolate Snack Cake

Servings: 9 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Chocolate Snack Cake, also called "Wacky Cake", is a simple, dairy-free, cake made from scratch that is perfect for the kids to help with!



  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and set out an 8 x 8 baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.
    1 2/3 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Add in the wet ingredients and again stir to combine.
    1 cup water, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
    1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • Pour into the 8 x 8 baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    powdered sugar
  • Once cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.


Applesauce can be used in place of the vegetable oil but it makes for a denser cake. 
Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 264mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published July 17, 2017

Now, onto my girl.

Olivia Rose Birth Announcement from Minted |

Olivia Rose (“Rosie”) joined us on May 27th via c-section. I had cholestasis with Rosie, just like I did with Julia so it was scheduled this time.

She has stolen all of our hearts and despite her small start, she’s turning into quite the chunk. The squishier the better in my eyes.

Olivia Rose Birth Announcement from Minted |

I had so much fun designing our birth announcements with Minted so I thought I’d share them with you!

They have so many pretty options. I opted for one of their new foil pressed announcements and it adds such a nice touch. We’ve gotten tons of compliments on them.

I can’t wait to design our first “family of four” Christmas card =)

Olivia Rose Birth Announcement from Minted |

Thank you to Minted for providing me a credit to make our announcements!

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  1. 5 stars
    Great Recipe! A very long time ago I have tried this recipe from a different website and you are 100 percent correct, this cake is delicious and easy to make and if you are craving chocolate try it and you will love it.

    Your daughter is very cute. She is now about 6 years old. They grow up very fast.