My Favorite Dessert of All Time: Chocolate Date Cake

Every time we go to a library book sale, Peter makes a beeline for the cookbook section. A few years ago, he discovered this James Beard Award-winning cookbook by master-chef Marcel Desaulniers. He bought it specifically for ONE recipe: the chocolate date cake.

Variations of this recipe — some very old — have circulated around the Internet many times. I can see why. One bite of this date-sweetened chocolate cake had me baking a second batch within days (dates?).

Since then, I’ve made versions of this dessert more times than I’ve sneaked Maddies “just a taste” of something at the dinner table. And that’s saying something. The version below is my favorite.







(As a side note, I wanted to serve the chocolate date cake with scoops of ice cream shaped with a spoon in the fancy way they do at nice restaurants. It’s supposed to look like an ovoid with two points. Sadly, my ice cream ended up looking like melty spleens. You’re welcome for that image.)

You can find other variations of this recipe here, here, here, here, and here.

The Most Popular Chocolate Date Cake

  Prep Time: 10 minutes

  Cook Time: 45 minutes

  Keywords: bake dates dessert chocolate birthday Christmas cake

Ingredients (16 servings)

  • 2 cups chopped dates (1 8-ounce package)
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking soda, divided into 1 tsp and 3/4 tsp
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 pound butter, softened (I use about half as much)
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided into 1 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease & flour a 9×13 inch pan.

Bring the water to a boil. Chop the dates, then sprinkle them with 1 tsp of baking soda. Pour the boiling water over them and set them aside to soften.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, remaining 3/4 tsp baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter & 1 cup sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla and sifted flour mixture. Stir in the date and water mixture.

Pout the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

If the cake is cold and you like it warm, microwave a piece for about 15 seconds until it becomes gooey and delicious.

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Q: What’s your favorite dessert of all time?


    1. That’s a great question! I decreased the butter, salt, and sugar (the recipe didn’t miss them) and gave a range for the chocolate chips. I use the higher end of the range, but some people may not be as much of a “I like my desserts coated in chocolate” person as I am, so they probably want a light scattering of chips instead. I also omitted the nuts (Peter doesn’t like them), but many variations have every kind of nut you could ever want.

  1. I’ve never tried dates with chocolate before, how did I miss out on this? Once again, my nose is almost hitting the computer screen as I inspect these photos – delicious decadence! 🙂 Oh, and the more chocolate chips the better!

    1. We’re definitely on the same page re: chocolate! 😉

  2. Melty spleens..Jessie you are hilarious 🙂 I love that you are posting regularly again, it’s always a bright spot in my day to read about your adventures! Happy *almost* Friday!

    1. You are so sweet, Min! Happy almost Friday to you, too! 🙂

  3. You had me at date!!
    I love dates so much. I can only imagine the deliciousness it brings when combined in this cake with all sorts of other yummy items!
    Chocolate souflee is up on my list of fav desserts!

  4. Very nice little website you got here.Mine ain’t that big, i just love to blog about my own cake recipes, check it out if you like.Ciao

  5. Bonnie Newman says:

    I have been making this for many years. My Mom used to make it too. I always put some chocolate chips in the cake batter, as well as those on top. I love this cake!

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