Named for my great aunt Lizzie Trollinger, this rich, old-fashioned chocolate cake has made a regular appearance at special family gatherings for over 75 years. Garnish the top layer with chocolate curls or a very light dusting of cocoa.

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Ingredients

16
Original recipe yields 16 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour four 8-inch round cake pans.

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  • Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk until smooth.

  • Place unsweetened chocolate in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate, and stir until melted. Mix chocolate, vanilla, and lemon juice into the buttermilk batter. Divide batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.

  • Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

  • Caramel Filling: Mix the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, superfine sugar, and milk in a heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil, and cook until temperature reaches 225 degrees F (110 degrees C) on a candy thermometer. Remove saucepan from heat, and set in a large bowl filled with ice water. Beat filling with an electric mixer until spreadable. At first this seems to be just hot, hard work, but the filling will suddenly start to thicken as it begins to cool. Transfer filling to a clean bowl, and it will continue to cool as you frost the top of each cake layer. Stack the frosted layers atop each other.

Nutrition Facts

641.7 calories; 5.9 g protein; 91.3 g carbohydrates; 113.2 mg cholesterol; 331.3 mg sodium. Full Nutrition

Reviews (8)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
04/01/2010
This is my recipe and I'm sorry a couple of people have had trouble with it. This isn't a beginner's recipe because you have to be careful not to overheat the frosting and you have to beat it soooo long for it to get thick enough to spread. If you don't beat it long enough it will be gritty. If you cook it too long it will get too thick and be hard to spread. The frosting is temperamental but well worth it. It isn't a rich buttery-looking caramel; it's more creamy and beige-colored. I've been making this cake every Christmas for more than 20 years and I know it's difficult to make--I've had a few instances where the frosting was too runny or thick as a brick! But when I take the time and pay attention to the details it is absolutely fabulous. I hope the other reviews don't dissuade you from giving it a try! Read More
(12)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 1 stars
01/27/2009
Very disappointing 'cause it soundes so delicious. The cake was very yummy I might make that part again. The caramel filling was just way over the top. I don't know if there was maybe a misprint. 5 cups total sugar (and I did us confectioners suger and superfine as directed)? It was SUPER-sweet & very heavy. Once cooled it was not at all smooth like you'd expect caramel filling to be but very gritty. Trying to spread it tore apart the top of the cake. I actually had to heat it up again so I could pour it over instead. Not worth making again. Read More
(5)
8 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 3
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 2
Rating: 5 stars
04/01/2010
This is my recipe and I'm sorry a couple of people have had trouble with it. This isn't a beginner's recipe because you have to be careful not to overheat the frosting and you have to beat it soooo long for it to get thick enough to spread. If you don't beat it long enough it will be gritty. If you cook it too long it will get too thick and be hard to spread. The frosting is temperamental but well worth it. It isn't a rich buttery-looking caramel; it's more creamy and beige-colored. I've been making this cake every Christmas for more than 20 years and I know it's difficult to make--I've had a few instances where the frosting was too runny or thick as a brick! But when I take the time and pay attention to the details it is absolutely fabulous. I hope the other reviews don't dissuade you from giving it a try! Read More
(12)
Rating: 4 stars
11/26/2007
I am wondering if the reviewer that thought the caramel filling was too sweet used regular sugar. Powdered sugar makes it fine. Read More
(10)
Rating: 1 stars
01/27/2009
Very disappointing 'cause it soundes so delicious. The cake was very yummy I might make that part again. The caramel filling was just way over the top. I don't know if there was maybe a misprint. 5 cups total sugar (and I did us confectioners suger and superfine as directed)? It was SUPER-sweet & very heavy. Once cooled it was not at all smooth like you'd expect caramel filling to be but very gritty. Trying to spread it tore apart the top of the cake. I actually had to heat it up again so I could pour it over instead. Not worth making again. Read More
(5)
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Rating: 5 stars
08/07/2011
I just made this cake over the weekend. At first I was a bit apprehensive because of the reviews I read-several people stated they had trouble with it particularly the caramel filling-and since I've never made anything with a caramel filling before I wasn't sure how it would turn out. It DOES take a lot of patience and time but it IS worth it!! What I did was after I transferred the saucepan to the bowl of ice water and used the electric mixer for several minutes I then transferred it into another bowl and placed that bowl in ice water and continued to beat w/the mixer. I kept adding ice cubes to the water and after a bit the filling thickened and was PERFECT. I will make this again!!:) Read More
(4)
Rating: 3 stars
10/27/2008
This was delicious but the texture was not quite right. I think that if cooked to the soft ball stage it may have a better chance of sucess. I used it with a yellow butter recipe cake mix it was good with chocolate icecream but it would have been better with chocolate cake too. Read More
(4)
Rating: 1 stars
06/01/2008
My sugar wasn't carmalized at 225f. Is it not supposed to be like caramel? Read More
(3)
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Rating: 3 stars
12/03/2010
i can see this is a difficult receipe im struggling to get my caramel to thicken enough Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
08/04/2019
Holy cow yum!!!!!!! This review is of the caramel filling I needed a caramel filling for a birthday cake for my girlfriend. She does not like chocolate but love love loves caramel. So after reading some whiney reviews and the original posters remarks I decided to tackle this evil caramel recipe;) I followed the directions to the "T" except instead of an ice bowl i filled my kitchen sink....I have a small kitchen it was easier lol......so I was concerned at first because in the ice bath it wasnt setting up.....BE PATIENT!......I took a deep breath because i was happy with the somewhat gooey results it didnt run off the cake so yay.....let me tell you about 10 min of the mixture cooling after the hot hard work i came back to put it in a container a BAM low and behold I have caramel "margarine" (that was the consistency) PERFECTION for cake filling!!!!! I put it between the layers of the white chocolate cream cake recipe from this site and it was heaven!!! We had some left over and used it as waffle topping lol!!! I will keep this and use it again and again!!! Thank you for such an amazing recipe and thanks great aunt Lizzie!!! Read More