Great Grandma’s Old Fashioned Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

 My husband, Max, Larry, Tim, Del, Marybelle, tiny Sean in front, Tom, the dad and Keith

L-R My husband, Max, Larry, Tim, Del, Marybelle, tiny Sean in front, Tom, the dad and Keith


My mother-in-law turned ninety this year and she had perfected this cake before any of you were even a gleam in your daddy’s eye.

That’s a picture of my husband’s family.

A lot of my book Calico Canyon was inspired by tales told me by my mother-in-law.

 My husband is the tiny blonde one on the far left.

Wow he was cute.


 Grandma Connealy’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

2 C. sour cream (I use a boughten container of sour cream)

1 t. vanilla

4 eggs

Beat well and add:

2 ½ C. sifted flour

2 C. sugar

½ C. cocoa

2 t. soda

pinch salt

Beat well. Bake in 9 X 13 pan at 3500 about 45 minutes.

I never use real sour cream because I can’t bear to eat the cake after I’ve used the disgusting stuff in the recipe so I use boughten or I ‘sour’ the cream by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to 2 C. of fresh cream and let it sit until it curdles. It takes just a few minutes. BUT I don’t think my cake is as good as Grandma’s when she uses that real sour cream. I still can’t stand to do it. RATS!

Do not bother with layers it’s so delicious all that labor isn’t worth it!


Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Delicious but tricky. Easy to overcook.

1 C. sugar

1 heaping T. cocoa

1/3 C. milk

Boil nearly to soft ball stage. That means a candy thermometer which I don’t own. That might be why I always over cook it. Then it turns to a solid, unspreadable chunk of frosting. Add:

1 t. vanilla

1 T. butter

Cool partially. Add:

Powdered sugar to the right consistency.

I always add too much! The only reason I’m including this recipe is because it’s the one my husband’s mother always uses on her Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and, done correctly, it’s about the best in the world. Good luck.


If you’re SCARED, here’s a delicious no fail recipe. Not as good, but still wildly good.




 Chocolate Chip Frosting

The best simple chocolate frosting on the planet! This covers top and sides of 9 x 13 cake. ½ recipe for just top of 9 x 13 cake.

1 ½  C. sugar

6 T. milk

6 T. butter

Bring to boil. Add:

1 C. chocolate chips (don’t use artificial ones)

Spread immediately

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17 thoughts on “Great Grandma’s Old Fashioned Sour Cream Chocolate Cake”

  1. Hi Mary, this cake is already to die-for. I love sour cream (I think it’s the Russian in me) and anything chocolate.

    What a lovely heritage from your mil. And what a cutie your hubby was, and likely still is. oxoxox

  2. Mary, thanks for sharing this mouth-watering recipe. I happen to love the taste of sour cream. I use it on baked potatoes and also have some chicken recipes that use it. This would be great at Christmas when I do all my baking. My kids will love it.

    P.S. Your husband was such a cute little boy. Bet he’s still quite handsome.

  3. Oh man, now I think I’m going to have to try this sometime. I’m pretty sure Jon would be excited about his grandma’s cake! It’ll never be quite the same, but at least I know that already.
    Thanks Mary!

    (and old pictures crack me up. If you find any more, you should definitely let me know!)

  4. One of my favorite recipes from Grandma and I love the picture too. Hard to believe **** and Sean were that little. LOL Thanks for sharing it with me Mary.

  5. How decadent! Family recipes are real treasures. I have many from my grandmother, and I also have her pastry bowl. I never use it without feeling a strong sense of connection to the past. These posts are a wonderful idea.

  6. Mary, your husband was a doll baby. You can tell him I said so. With that brood of males to mother and feed, I’ve got to admire your mother-in-law. She’s made of strong stuff.

    The cake sounds delicious. I hate to be an ignorant city girl, but what is real sour cream, if not the what we buy in the grocery store?


  7. Wow, Janet. Let me hold your hand here. Sour cream is cream…that’s gotten sour.

    We were dairy farmers for years. We’d bring milk into the house, raw milk. Let the cream rise overnight. Skim it off and use the cream to whip or pour on cereal or thin our coffee. You cannot believe how delicious real whipped cream made from raw milk is. It’s beyond amazing.

    The whole idea of sour cream in recipes came about from people trying to save cream that had gone sour. Rather than let it go to waste. So sour cream chocolate cake was born.

    When I make it using Marybelle’s recipe it is just almost black the chocolate is so dark. It’s a completely different color with sour cream out of one of those little cartons in the store.

    It’s better to buy a carton of whipping cream and ‘sour’ it by pouring in a tablespoon of lemon juice then letting it sit for an hour or so. Definitely more like the real sour cream cake. But still not as wonderful.

    But like I said, I just couldn’t deal with sour cream. Not the REAL stuff, so bad smelling and icky to look at. I couldn’t eat the cake knowing I’d used it.

    I could eat MARYBELLE’s cake, knowing she used it. But not my own. All mental. 😀

  8. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff I couldn’t have eaten back then if I’d had to do the “real” thing.

    Like my mom wringing the chicken’s neck for dinner.

    But the cake looks and sounds scrumptious, even with boughten sour cream! LOL

    And your husband is adorable. That picture looks similar to some of our family photos from the 50’s and 60’s.

  9. The cake sounds yummmm. I don’t dare make it. LOL
    Ivan is a cutie. STill is. smile. Your characters in Calico Canyon were too real to be made up. I figured there were some role models. smile

  10. I believe I could eat that complete chocolate cake, it would put me in the hospital but susre would taste good. I am dibetic and get so hungry for some really really googy but know I can’t so I just eat sugar free chocolate pudding.


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