This is an old Italian family recipe for a cake we make at every big holiday. We actually lost the recipe for a while, and holidays just weren't the same. Then were overjoyed to recover it after a friend reminded us we had given it to her! We call it 'The Cake That Saved Christmas.' A chocolate delight any gangster would love.

Recipe Summary

prep:
30 mins
cook:
50 mins
total:
1 hr 20 mins
Servings:
18
Yield:
1 - 9 x 13 inch cake
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Ingredients

18
Original recipe yields 18 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup cocoa and 3/4 cup boiling water; set aside.

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  • In another small bowl, dissolve baking soda in the sour cream by stirring them together.

  • In a large bowl, cream the 1/2 cup butter and 2 cups sugar. Gradually mix in the sour cream mixture and cocoa mixture alternately with the dry ingredients. Beat until fluffy. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in the egg whites and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.

  • Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan and pour the batter into it. Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 50 minutes. Frost with La Famiglia Chocolate Frosting (below).

  • To Make La Famiglia Chocolate Frosting: Cream 6 tablespoons butter or margarine in a small bowl. Add 3/4 cup cocoa and confectioner's sugar alternately with milk; beat until spreading consistency. More or less milk can be used depending on the texture you want. Blend in the vanilla. This yields about 2 cups of frosting.

Nutrition Facts

340 calories; protein 3.7g 7% DV; carbohydrates 56.6g 18% DV; fat 12.7g 20% DV; cholesterol 29.9mg 10% DV; sodium 119mg 5% DV. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (75)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
08/07/2003
I usually make a chocolate cake using a box and adding pudding but decided to try to make one from scratch this year. I have dear friends that just love a good chocolate cake. I tried this recipe and and WOW! It was melt in your mouth delicious. The frosting was nice and thick and easy to spread. I have never had frosting turn out so well. I made a two layer quarter sheet cake because the single layer looked a bit small. The two layer was a giant and perfect for Christmas dinner! It was a little time consuming to make but well worth it. I made it a day ahead and it was perfect! I can not say enough good things about this cake! Read More
(18)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
08/29/2002
I didn't like the way this cake tasted at all. The frosting was too cocoa tasting and the cake was a dry texture. Read More
(6)
84 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 53
  • 4 star values: 17
  • 3 star values: 9
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: 5 stars
08/07/2003
I usually make a chocolate cake using a box and adding pudding but decided to try to make one from scratch this year. I have dear friends that just love a good chocolate cake. I tried this recipe and and WOW! It was melt in your mouth delicious. The frosting was nice and thick and easy to spread. I have never had frosting turn out so well. I made a two layer quarter sheet cake because the single layer looked a bit small. The two layer was a giant and perfect for Christmas dinner! It was a little time consuming to make but well worth it. I made it a day ahead and it was perfect! I can not say enough good things about this cake! Read More
(18)
Rating: 5 stars
03/14/2008
I really loved this recipe and so did my boyfriend his coworkers and my clients. Yesterday a client to whom I gave a cupcake version two weeks ago came back and raved! A couple of notes- the texture of this cake was interesting..very fine with concentrated flavor without being heavy. It was not the fluffy cake you'd get from a box...more refined and substantial like all the good things of an old fashioned cake combined with the moist denseness that hinted at a flourless cake (but again not heavy like that and not thick...like a silk texture). I followed the recipe to a tee except that I substituted hot very strong coffee for the water and used ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa with baking soda to substitute for the dutch process cocoa (the baking soda comps for the alkali in dutch process) The use of the coffee and gourmet cocoa most likely enhanced the flavor of the cake greatly. I used the recipe to make cupcakes baked for 39-40 minutes at the prescribed temperature. They came out perfectly..nice and springy-light. The frosting was a lovely recipe...not too sweet but still quite decadent. I am not much for super sweet frostings so that affects my assessment. There was frosting left over and my bf threatened to eat it with a spoon. This will be one of my "secret weapon" chocolate cake recipes for sure! Read More
(17)
Rating: 5 stars
09/13/2003
BOY HOWDY! Was this ever one of the best KNOCK-YOUR-SOX-OFF chocolate cakes. Yum Yum! Light fluffy moist and soooo chocolatey (I used 2/3c cocoa in cake). Many thanks to the Pellettieres for a great cake! It WOULD be a shame to lose this one! Read More
(15)
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Rating: 5 stars
09/23/2003
I have made this cake a few times now it is always a success!!! Read More
(13)
Rating: 5 stars
11/15/2003
OH MY. What a delicious special dessert. I added about 1/2 tsp almond to both the cake batter and the frosting. Very similar to Molten Choc Cakes in taste and texture but easier to do in a 9x13" pan. A perfect addition to our Italian "dinner and a movie" night - Shrimp Scampi fresh pasta and "The Godfather". Read More
(11)
Rating: 4 stars
09/23/2003
This cake took a long time to make but was well received by a crowd. I thought it was too dense. Read More
(11)
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Rating: 5 stars
11/07/2003
This cake was absolutely fantastic! I added slightly more cocoa than the recipe called for and the result was a rich dense smooth melt in your mouth cake. WARNING: THIS CAKE IS FOR VERY SERIOUS CHOCOLATE LOVERS. The frosting was great too but this cake is so wonderful a light dusting with powdered sugar would be just fine. I will make this again. Thank you so much for such a great recipe. Read More
(9)
Rating: 4 stars
02/14/2004
The first time I made this cake I used all-purpose flour (because I didn't have cake flour) and I made a LAYER cake out of it. It was really dense...My chocoholic mom LOVED it. The second time I made it I followed directions carefully using cake flour and a 9x13" pan. My chocoholic father-in-law loved it. Both times my hubby loved it. I guess it's foolproof! Read More
(9)
Rating: 4 stars
08/20/2006
Since we share the same name as the submitters of this recipe- we had to try it! Wondering if there is some relation too! The cake was great. Very dark and very rich. Not too hard to make. We used 2 8 1/2 inch round pans. Wonderful! Read More
(8)
Rating: 2 stars
08/29/2002
I didn't like the way this cake tasted at all. The frosting was too cocoa tasting and the cake was a dry texture. Read More
(6)
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