Thursday, January 31, 2013

Aunt Rhoda's Famous Chocolate Chip Cake

Trust me on this one.  (I am talking about you Nancy Sinkoff.)  I rarely use convenience foods and I don't know if I have ever baked with a cake mix before I  made this cake.    But this is delicious.  It is not a pareve cake since it contains a pint of sour cream, but it calls for oil rather than melted butter, probably because it is easier.  I was tempted to make it with butter but didn't -- why mess with perfection?

Don't believe me?  Amy brought a selection of leftover desserts from our Hanukah party into work:  great homemade rugelach, teiglach, cookies, pecan bars, and this cake.  This cake is what disappeared, and they all insisted on getting the recipe.

Why famous?  In Daniel Mendelssohn's book, The Lost, he explains that in Jewish America, someone was  famous for something if they achieved renown in a circle of the same 10 or 20 people they usually socialized with.  His grandfather was famous for his stories.  My Aunt Rhoda was famous for this cake.  This  was one of the ubiquitous flavors of my childhood.  There was always some at my aunt's house, she brought it almost everywhere, and it was always available to cap off a day of overeating.  I hadn't eaten this since my aunt died nearly 20 years ago,  until my cousin Barbara (Rhoda's daughter-in-law) brought it to a Hanukah party.  At the insistence of Amy's colleagues, we got the recipe from her, and it tried it out and it worked like a charm.

And this is easy.  When I say a recipe is easy you have to take it with a grain of salt since I have my own standards for these things.  But this is REALLY easy.   You can get it into the oven in about 10 minutes.

Happiness is three or four pieces of chocolate chip cake and a quart of milk.  Don't mess with it,  just enjoy it. 

Aunt Rhoda's Famous Chocolate Chip Cake


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly.
  3. Mix in sour cream and oil
  4. Mix in the cake mix and the pudding.
  5. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  6. Grease a 9X13 inch baking pan lightly with oil, butter or margarine. Add half the cake batter.  Sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar and half the chips.  Spread the remaining cake batter over this and top with the remaining cinnamon sugar and chips.  
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove and cool before eating.  Cut into about 20 pieces. Amy likes if just after it cools but when the chocolate is still soft.  I prefer it the next day when the chocolate sets a bit.  There will be more than enough that you can enjoy it both ways.  
  9. This cake is so moist that it lasts a long time, and also freezes well.  
The chips:  The recipe calls for 12 ounces, but most packages nowadays have either 10.5 or 11 ounces. One of these packages is fine, and throw in a few extras if you have.  The better the chips the better the cake.


  1. Comment posted on behalf of Nancy Sinkoff: ""Alan, I adore your cooking and trust you 100%, but there will never be a box of cake mix on my shelves, let alone the vanilla pudding. So, I task you to find a great homemade cake recipe that is as moist as you boast this one to be. The sour cream is what does it and the oil can't hurt. The cinnamon is a nice touch."

  2. really dying to see a photo of this cake...