Chocolate Back-to-School Cake

Yield: 8 servings Active time: 40 minutes Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes August 21, 2017

Our son started Kindergarten this year, and I was excited to adopt a tradition of Joanna Goddard’s – celebrating the beginning of the school year with a cake.

This single-layer 8-inch square cake serves a small family a treat the night before school starts with enough leftover for the next night as well. It’s an easy recipe to make on a weeknight and is absolutely delicious. Rainbow sprinkles add a sweet touch of celebration.

For a non-chocolate option, try Buttermilk Back-to-School Cake.

Recipe from i am a baker.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. McCormick vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water or coffee


  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. McCormick vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with parchment paper and spray sides and bottom. If you're using a metal baking pan, heat the oven to 325º.

Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add in the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla and mix on low until incorporated. Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes.

Add in boiling water or coffee and gently stir – the batter will be very thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then continue cooling on a rack until room temperature.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power, 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until they are fully melted.

Add the sour cream and vanilla and stir by hand until frosting is well combined and fluffier.

Spread over the cooled cake. Decorate with sprinkles.

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