Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

This chocolate fudge cake originated from the students at Wellesley College, who were prohibited from eating sweets. They formed secret groups to bake, and thus this chocolate fudge cake was born!

Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

Our local library re-opened! Since we are good friends with the librarians in the kids section, we knew about the opening before the general public. We made sure to go to the library to say hello to our favorite people. Of course, we followed the appropriate protocol and took all precautions.

Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

Addie was thrilled to return to the library and checked out something like 15 books that first day. She loaded up on the latest books by Chris Colfer and Grace Lin. I went to the new releases section and this Everything Chocolate cookbook immediately caught my eye. I was excited to flip through it once I got home.

Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

I must have bookmarked the entire cookbook because everything in it looked incredible. This chocolate fudge cake had a really interesting story. According to America’s Test Kitchen, the students at Wellesley College (an all-female school) were prohibited from eating sweets. In fact, it states that “pies, lies, and doughnuts should never have a place in Wellesley College.” Well, those girls showed the administrators who was boss because they secretly got together and started baking and experimenting with desserts. Fudge parties were held in secret, and this chocolate fudge cake was born.

Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

This cake is dense, thick and isn’t too sweet. The frosting is rich and grainy like homemade fudge. It’s sandwiched between the two cake layers and on the outside of the cake. The frosting-to-cake ratio on this cake is just about perfect.

I imagine that you could make this into a round cake, but I stuck with the original instructions and kept this a square cake. I didn’t have a square cake plate so my plating is a little funny. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

Husband’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

Wellesley chocolate fudge cake

This chocolate cake originated from Wellesley College, where the students created this recipe. The school prohibited the girls from eating sweets, so they formed secret groups to develop fudge. Hence, this cake was born.
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Chilling time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time4 hours 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake
Author: Eva Bakes



  • 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into 16 pieces and softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 and ½ cups light brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup evaporated milk divided (I did not have evaporated milk so I substituted with soy milk)
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces and softened
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


Make the cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 8-inch square pans and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the hot water and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and the sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Turn the mixer to low. Alternatively add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Finally, add the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
  • Evenly divide the batter into your two prepared baking pans. Bake in your preheated oven for 12 minutes. Then rotate the pans and bake for another 13-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (you may have a few crumbs attached, and that's OK).
  • Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Then unmold them and place them on a wire rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Make the frosting

  • While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, mix the brown sugar, ½ cup of the evaporated milk, 4 Tablespoons of the butter and salt together. Allow the mixture to form small bubbles (this will take about 4-8 minutes).
  • Reduce the temperature to low and allow the mixture to keep simmering. You will see large bubbles forming and your mixture will thicken and start to turn a deep golden color (this will take about 6 minutes or so).
  • Transfer your mixture to a large bowl and add in the remaining ½ cup evaporated milk and 4 Tablespoons of butter. Then add the chocolate and vanilla and mix well. Finally, add in the powdered sugar and stir vigorously until no lumps remain. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour, making sure to stir every 15-20 minutes. The frosting should be thick enough to spread. If it's still too runny, keep it in the refrigerator to set.

Assemble the cake

  • Line a cake plate or serving platter with 4 strips of parchment paper. Lay 1 layer of cake on top. Top with about 1 cup of the frosting and spread to the edges of the cake.
  • Top with the remaining layer of cake. Put about 1-2 cups of frosting on top of the cake the spread it on the tops and sides of the cake. At this point, we are sealing the cake in a crumb coat.
  • Place the cake in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for about 30 minutes. Then cover the cake with the remaining frosting. Place the cake back into the refrigerator to chill, about another 30-60 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper before serving.


Leftover cake should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will last several days.
Source: Everything Chocolate by America's Test Kitchen

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