Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Earthquake Cake

I made this for dessert last week, when my son was having a sleep-over. It was a big hit. My husband took what was left to work the next day and it got rave reviews. So much so, that he asked me to bake another one today and bring to the station. Things are a little tight lately, because of the government shutdown, but I do have one more cake mix and the little mix-ins that are required. So, the second one is in the oven right now and I hope it's as big of a hit as the first one was.
   If you've never had earthquake cake before, it's kind of like an upside down German chocolate cake. It's called earthquake cake because the top gets cracked, like the ground in an earthquake. It's a very simple cake with few ingredients, so it's great for a weeknight, but impressive enough for a crowd. This recipe is my take on my friend Kim's recipe that was published in our church cook book. The original recipe calls for German chocolate cake mix (I used Devil's Food, because that is what I had) and it has no chocolate. (Gasp! Most every dessert is improved with chocolate, so of course I added some.) I hope you and your family likes it as much as we do.

Here are the main characters:
1 box cake mix (and ingredients to make it), chocolate chips, pecans, flaked coconut, butter and cream cheese

The butter and cream cheese go into a small sauce pan to heat together on the stove.

The pecans get toasted in a dry saute pan (or spread out on a cookie sheet in a 350F oven)

When the nuts are fragrant, and slightly browned (be careful - they burn quickly), chop them and sprinkle them into an even layer on the bottom of a greased 9x13 dish. (If your family is allergic, you can omit the nuts. - You can also substitute any nut of choice, if you prefer.)

Next, sprinkle on some chocolate chips. (This is to taste. I did about 2 handfuls which is probably a little more than 1 cup.)

Next comes the coconut. Again, this is to taste, but I probably used about 1 cup.

When the butter and cream cheese have melted together, add 3 cups of powdered sugar. (I buy mine in bulk, so I did 3 cups. If you buy the little 1 pound boxes, then just add a whole one of those.) And don't worry about any lumps of sugar, they will melt out in the oven.

Prepare the cake mix per the box directions and then pour the batter evenly over the nuts/chocolate/coconut.

When the cake batter is evenly spread out, drizzle on the cream cheese/butter/sugar mixture. (This is basically cream cheese frosting, so you don't frost this cake at the end. The frosting is baked in.)

The whole thing goes into the oven @ 350F for 50-60 minutes. (Mine took 55 - until it's no longer giggly.)

This is what it looks like when it's all done.

When it's cut into, it holds it's shape pretty well. The chocolate is all melted, the frosting has seeped down through the cracks of the cake and made the coconut layer all gooey and delicious. It really is an awesome cake.
You could have fun with this recipe and use different flavors of cake mix. My mom would appreciate a vanilla cake with white chocolate chips. There are no limits. Have fun with it. And if you try any new and delicious combinations, be sure to drop me a comment and let me know! :)

Here's the recipe:
adapted from Kim's Earthquake Cake

Earthquake Cake

1 box cake mix, and ingredients to make it (I used Devil's Food)
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (to taste)
1 cup chocolate chips (to taste)
1 cup flaked coconut (to taste)
non-stick cooking spray 
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups (or 1 lb) powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Melt together the butter and cream cheese in a sauce pan over low heat on the stove. While those are melting, spray a 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle the nuts on the bottom, in a single layer. Then evenly sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Do the same with the coconut. Prepare the cake mix according to the box directions, and the pour the batter evenly over the nuts/chocolate/coconut. Spread the batter out into an even layer. 
  When the butter and cream cheese are melted, take them off the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth (don't worry if there are any sugar lumps, they will melt in the oven). Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Bake @ 350F for 50-60 minutes (until the chocolate cake is set). Cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

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