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mississippi mud cake

Ramona King

Mississippi Mud Cake

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26 Southern ways to bake chocolate into cakes, pies, puddings and more

No matter the time of year or the approaching holiday, there's one ingredient that always means dessert — chocolate. Whether it is sandwiched between paper thin cake layers, baked into a buttery pie crust or churned into ice cream, chocolate is always delicious.

To honor this best-of-all-worlds ingredient, here are 26 recipes that make the most of it.

Mississippi Mud Cake
A take on the gooier and much messier Mississippi mud pie, this mud cake is an easy chocolate sheet cake topped with marshmallows and a loose chocolate icing. We decided to leave out the optional pecans so we don’t veer too far into rocky road territory. Any chocolate cake recipe will work as a base, but we like a Coca-Cola cake for its ease. And Coca-Cola is delicious, after all!
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Neiman Marcus $250 Cookies
Before the internet, this cookie recipe made its rounds via chain letters and by word of mouth. It was called the Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie, but in spite of the fancy name it was just an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. A wonderful chocolate chip cookie, by the way — distinctive because it contained not only semisweet but milk chocolate as well as chopped pecans.
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Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Baklava
Inspired by the pie named after that famous horse race at Churchill Downs, this dessert takes all the elements of a chocolate pecan pie, but re-imagines them in the form of Greek baklava. Not just a fun gimmick, this preparation allows you to turn pecan pie into a handheld dessert. When hosting a crowd, you can serve the individual baklava squares on cupcake wrappers.
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Bourbon Chocolate Pots de Crème
A pot de crème is a loose, baked custard — adding chocolate before baking yields a decadent, pudding-like dessert. Baking the pots de crème in a water bath allows them to cook more slowly, giving the final dessert a beautifully silky texture. And the bourbon, well, that just brings the whole dessert into Southern territory.
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Rocky Road Ice Cream
If you’re a fan of chocolate ice cream, you’ll love this recipe for homemade rocky road. The chocolate comes in two forms: bitter cocoa powder and melted semi-sweet chocolate, while the nuts and marshmallows give the ice cream its distinct texture.
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Easy Chocolate Cobbler
When you can’t decide which fruit you want to use in your cobbler, bake this ultra-easy chocolate version instead. The order of the ingredients may seem odd at first, but the crust will rise to the top during the baking process, leaving a decadent, gooey filling below. This is best served warm with vanilla ice cream.
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Chocolate Gravy
More like a rich ganache than an actual gravy, this chocolatey sauce is delicious when spooned over biscuits, cookies or pound cake. Once the chocolate gravy has thickened, you can always tweak the chocolate level to your liking by adding additional dark or milk chocolate. (We always add more.)
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Anne Byrn's Devil's Food Cake
Because chocolate cake can be deeply personal, you may have your favorite garnish and frosting, and Anne Byrn has her's. But on the off chance that you have similar tastes to us — I'm guessing you do — here's her go-to chocolate layer cake recipe, a Southern Kitchen favorite.
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Chocolate Chess Pie
This chocolate-filled and cream-topped twist on classic chess pie is a decadent addition to any dinner table. It comes to us courtesy of blogger Kate Wood, of the blog Wood and Spoonwhere the recipe first appeared. She adapted her recipe from her husband's grandmother's recipe card, amping up the cocoa content here and decreasing the sugar there. But her truly genius move was to top the whole thing with a billowing mound of lightly sweetened chocolate whipped cream.
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Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies
There are few cookies more visually stunning than pinwheels, and this classic recipe is no different. Its chocolate half gets its oomph from unsweetened chocolate, which complements the traditional sugar cookie layer. Baked up snappy and crisp, these cookies are a great year-round treat.
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Coca-Cola Cake
For a Coca-Cola cake that truly tastes like the soda, we've cut back (just a bit) on the sugar by eliminating the traditional marshmallows. We also toast the pecans for the top, and instead of stirring them into the frosting, as is traditional, we sprinkle them on top. Leaving a good quarter cup of the nuts barely chopped also gives the cake a bit of texture, counteracts some of the sweetness, and helps to bring out the inherent bitterness of the soda. Finally, pour in just a touch more Coke into the frosting than is typical, giving it a drizzleable consistency and bold cola flavor. 
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Chocolate and Nut Kentucky Pie
The original name of this pie, which is often associated with the Kentucky Derby, is strictly copyrighted by Kern's Kitchen, a pie company based in Louisville. For our version, we've used equal parts chocolate and walnuts, and spiced up the filling with a generous splash of bourbon. Its sturdy, almost cookie-like filling makes this a great dessert to eat out of hand at any outdoor event.
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German Chocolate Cake
German chocolate cake uses canned evaporated milk to make its cooked filling and frosting velvety in texture. Added to the eggs, butter and sugar, along with the chopped pecans and coconut, the filling is cooked slowly over low heat and thickens almost into a pudding. After cooling, it is spread between three layers of German chocolate cake and piled generously on top, with, hopefully, just enough left over to sneak a big, spoon-filled taste. Honest-to-goodness and unapologetically rich, it is a cake that smacks of the late 1950s.
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Chocolate Meringue Tarts
Meringue pies are a crucial part of Southern baking tradition, and these chocolate filled miniature stunners fit right in. Their bittersweet chocolate custard filling is an ideal match for the billowy sweet meringue, and their buttery crusts? Well those are just the icing on the, er, pie.
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Chocolate Fudge Little Layer Cake
Little layer cakes have an air of austerity, like the stack cake, with a bit of sweet flair from the chocolate frosting. This recipe calls for a classic yellow butter cake batter, studded with pecans, and stretched with a bit of Crisco. The thick, fudgy frosting gets its color from a touch of cocoa — just enough so that you know its there.
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Chocolate Mousse Pie
Rich and decadent, this pie is about as easy to make as it gets. For a fun twist on s’mores, you can skip the final dollop of whipped cream and garnish the pie with toasted marshmallows.
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Virginia Willis' Chocolate Snowcap Cookies
The double whammy of cocoa and bittersweet chocolate make these cookies a chocolate lover's dream. Bake the cookies immediately after rolling them in powdered sugar; if they sit, the sugar absorbs into the dough and the rich chocolaty cookies lose their snowcapped look.
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Anne Byrn's Red Velvet Cake
Maybe it's the eye-popping red color, but something about red velvet cake creates excitement on the plate. Here's a traditional recipe for the cake, complete with cream cheese frosting. You can always forgo the food coloring and let the natural chemical reaction of the acidic and basic ingredients determine the color of the cake, but then, you might be disappointed that it isn't red enough.
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Even more chocolate recipes, right this way:
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Butterfinger Lush
Chocolate Dream Pudding Cake
Chocolate Fried Pies
Decadent Chocolate Brownies
Dark Chocolate Hello Dolly Bars
Very Good Chocolate Cake from Watershed Restaurant
White Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Photos (Neiman Marcus cookies, chocolate pinwheel cookies): Tina Rupp
Photos (baklava, pots de creme, ice cream, cobbler, gravy, little layer cake, mousse pie): Ramona King
Photos (devil's food cake, meringue tarts): Danielle Atkins
Photos (chess pie, Coca-Cola cake, Kentucky pie): Kate Williams
Photos (German chocolate cake, red velvet cake): Mitch Mandel
Photo (snowcap cookies): Virginia Willis


Author image

Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.

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