Maryland Black Walnut Fudge Cake

October 27, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by Posie Harwood
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes one 9" round cake
Author Notes

This cake is so wildly simple to make, with a brief and uncomplicated ingredient list, that it's hard to believe how sophisticated the result is. With a delicate top layer that shatters like a brownie and a moist, chewy interior studded with black walnuts, it's just as good without the frosting or with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. It comes from a vintage cookbook of historical Maryland recipes. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped black walnuts (or regular walnuts)
  • For the frosting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons hot brewed coffee (use hot water or warm milk if you don't want coffee flavor)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9" round cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until very pale in color and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each to incorporate it fully.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix well. Fold in the cooled chocolate and mix.
  5. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat the batter here. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  6. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the top is very puffy and a tester inserted into the center only has a few crumbs clinging to it, not wet batter.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen it, then let the cake cool fully before turning it out of the pan and frosting it.
  8. For the frosting: Beat together the butter and sugar, then add the cocoa and hot coffee and beat until fluffy. Make sure you've FULLY incorporated the butter into the sugar before adding the cocoa and coffee. If it's too thick, add a bit more coffee (or hot water), one teaspoon at a time. PRO TIP: This makes just a very thin layer of frosting, so you can double the amounts of everything if you want a thicker layer.
  9. Spread the frosting over the cake, slice, and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Debbie
  • Linda
  • Regine
  • Jenny Maria
    Jenny Maria
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien

19 Reviews

Debbie December 29, 2019
Made this today. 2 oz of chocolate didn't look right, I increased it to 6 and I’m pretty sure it should actually be 7 or 8 to make it a fudge cake. Is 2 really correct?
LULULAND November 12, 2018
Looks good, and easy. What cookbook did it come from? Are there a lot of good recipes in it? thanks
Efratsho January 13, 2018
Awesome very good cake. though the frosting turned out to be runny and bitter. what cocoa powder do you use?
Peggy G. January 13, 2018
Just made this delicious cake for the second time today. My frosting had to be altered as well, the first time. So I've been using a simple chocolate buttercream with the addition of some espresso powder for my frosting now. I used melted Guittard baking wafers and added them to the buttercream. I agree. Awesome, easy cake, but had issues with the frosting listed.
Beth November 13, 2017
Looks delicious! About how many will it serve?
Linda November 12, 2017
Does the parchment paper go on the bottom of the pan only? Not sure what you mean by "turning it out of the pan". Looks like it would break apart if I tried to flip it out like a regular cake onto a cooling rack..
Posie (. November 12, 2017
Yup you just want to line the pan with parchment on the bottom and I suggest greasing the sides. It is a more delicate cake so just flip it out very carefully. You can also serve it directly from the pan!
Maria November 11, 2017
Oops, my frosting came out runny - I used amounts called for in recipe.
Help please.
sraymond54 November 12, 2017
Just add some more confectioners sugar until you get the consistency you want.
Rachel G. November 9, 2017
If I am not able to acquire black walnuts, are english walnuts or pecans acceptable substitutes?
Posie (. November 9, 2017
Definitely! Any nuts should work.
Regine November 9, 2017
Paula, maybe you can replace the nuts with toasted (and cooled) rice krispies?
Paula November 8, 2017
This looks like just the thing to take to a dinner we are going to this week. Alas, a nut allergy needs to be addressed. Normally, I'd just leave them out, but they look to be a substantial amount of the cake. Thoughts on how that might work?
Posie (. November 9, 2017
Great question. What about trying a combination of seeds (pumpkin or sunflower) and rolled oats? That could work to mimic the texture and bulk and help support the batter since its so light.
Peggy G. November 7, 2017
I'd like to make this fantastic looking Fudge Cake this weekend. The frosting calls for 2 teaspoons unsalted butter. Is this correct? Doesn't seem like enough for addition of 1 cup of confectioner's sugar. Thanks.
Posie (. November 7, 2017
It’s correct! It doesn’t seem like much but it’s right. Start there and if you feel you need more butter you can always add more. I’d suggest doubling the frosting overall :)
Peggy G. November 7, 2017
Thanks for your prompt response, Posie!!
Jenny M. October 29, 2017
Where does to chocolate go in?
Posie (. October 29, 2017
Whoops, updated! You add it in after the eggs (make sure to let the chocolate cool slightly after melting).