Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Emily's Uncooked Chocolate Cake

No eggs, no milk, no bake, no fuss!

Happy VE Day, everyone! Did you know VE Day and Christmas are the only two holidays I’ve always done posts for on this blog? Hopefully now that I’m finished with grad school I can add a few others to the list of “I need to do this post every year.” 

That’s right, I’m officially done with grad school! It was quite the experience, and my friends and I were all kind of desperate for a way to let off some steam and take our minds off our final projects. I also wanted to dive back in with a weird, historical recipe for this VE Day, so I did some digging around and discovered one that’s easy to make and can be thrown together from ingredients that are probably already in your pantry! Win, win, right? Read on to find out more.

There’s something a little different about the recipe I chose to feature this VE Day: it’s 100% something Emily Bennett could have made herself with zero adult assistance, and the same can be said for any modern ten year olds who are looking for a sweet treat. That being said, you should still ask your parent or guardian for permission before using the stove! 

It’s also unique in although it does require a stove top (or at least a microwave) it’s a no bake dessert. As you all know, I love to bake, and as interesting as some no bake desserts are, I haven’t given many of them a shot. The modern trend towards no bake I think comes from a desire to create recipes for people who are either looking for something simple or intimidated by baking, as they’re usually billed as easy, no fail, and even one pan, which is nice! 

The wartime desire for this came more from a desire to conserve fuel, but also because firing up an oven does make your house hotter. In a time before air conditioning, that could make homes stuffy and uncomfortable. Considering we seem to have passed right by spring and headed right for muggy, hot summer, this is okay with me. 

I’m borrowing this recipe from the 1940’s Experiment, one of my favorite World War II era food blogs. I’ve used a few of her recipes on this blog before and I want to make much more. She got it from Marguerite Patten’s We’ll Eat Again, another source I’ve used before on the blog. Rationing in Britain was a lot stricter than it was in the United States, so this recipe features no eggs, flour, and comparatively little sugar and fat. Although people liked to treat themselves a little more extravagantly at their VE Day parties (like this trifle I tried out a few years ago…), I feel like this would be a good recipe for families that had already used their more precious rationed ingredients for the month, or for a kid who wanted to make their own contribution to family or neighborhood festivities. 

To start off, combine two ounces of margarine, two ounces of sugar, and three American tablespoons of either golden syrup or corn syrup. Golden syrup is a sweet, sticky product that can be difficult to find in American grocery stories, but you can make your own by mixing corn syrup and a little molasses together. Since this was such a small measurement, I decided to save my molasses and just use corn syrup, since I don’t bake with it as often and wanted to finish up the rest of my bottle. 

These get heated on the stove and mixed until the margarine is completely melted and everything is combined. Make sure the heat is low enough that it doesn’t start boiling.

Remove it from the heat and add in a few drops of vanilla extract before mixing in two ounces of cocoa powder. 

Mine made a really lovely looking dark chocolate sticky mess.

Finally, combine six ounces of crispy breadcrumbs and mix everything together well. I used the rest of a container of panko breadcrumbs and plain breadcrumbs from the grocery store, but you can make your own if you have stale bread. That’s probably what people would have actually done in 1945, and it makes this dish a good way to get rid of leftovers while conserving more precious ingredients like flour. This was still sort of true for me, as I had bought the breadcrumbs for different dishes and needed to use the rest of the containers up anyway!

Once the mixture is well combined, press it into a greased tin. I used a glass baking dish with parchment paper on the bottom. The texture of the “batter” reminded me a lot of the D-Ration chocolate bars I made after visiting the National World War II Museum, although it was a little drier and initially harder to form into a solid mass.

Place the “cake” in a cool place for a few hours to firm up. I left mine in the fridge for about three hours before taking it out, but it probably could have come out sooner. I was just tidying up for company and got distracted. 

Using a knife, cut it into squares, and you’ve got uncooked chocolate cake!

Now, this definitely isn’t as decadent as some of the other VE Day treats we’ve made in the past, but I still enjoyed these a lot more than I thought I would in some ways. I mean, let’s be honest, uncooked chocolate cake made with crispy breadcrumbs doesn’t exactly sound like the most appealing of desserts, right?

The 1940’s Experiment says right off the bat that the texture of this “cake” makes it more like a square than a cake, and she’s not wrong. It’s kind of crispy and chewy, and did sort of remind me of a candy bar. The wet ingredients rehydrate the breadcrumbs enough to make them seem sort of like a Crunch Bar or similar treat, and honestly I found myself snacking on a few more pieces than I meant to while I waited for my friends to come over. One of my friends said the texture reminded her of an energy bar, and I think that’s pretty close to the truth too. 

The chocolate flavor is definitely the most present thing about this, and I felt like they were sweet without being too sweet. They were easy to eat more than you planned on, but also chocolatey enough to be satisfied with just one square. Considering how easy they were to make and how few ingredients they required, I definitely think this is a decent option for a sweet treat in a pinch. It also makes a great, kid friendly last minute addition to any VE Day festivities you might have planned, so if you really want to try out something Emily Bennett might have made, this is the perfect recipe!

Another piece of cake, Molly?


  1. This sounds surprisingly tasty! I wonder what it would be like with ritz crackers? I like your pictures.

    1. Ooh, I bet that would make them really yummy! Will have to give that a shot next time I make them.