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Gluten Free "Chocolate Explosion" Cake – A "Winning" Recipe

IMG_1471Something unique happened at our son Ryan's Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts this past weekend. 

For those of you who don't know, the Blue and Gold Banquet celebrates the anniversary of scouting, and most packs celebrate with a dinner and entertainment for the scouts and their families. This year, our son and the other scouts in his den were being honored for earning their "Arrow of Light," the highest honor in Cub Scouts. They will be crossing over into a Boy Scout Troop next month, so this was the last gathering as part of the Cub Scout pack. 

For the past few years, the pack has had a Cake Contest as part of the festivities at the Blue and Gold dinner. There are various categories (most creative, most patriotic, most chocolate, and many more...sometimes  they even include best "allergy free" cake). The idea is to have the boys help in the preparation and decoration of the cakes. 

In past years we've made a penguin-shaped cake (Ryan loves penguins) and a flag cake (a sheet cake decorated with vanilla buttercream icing and with strawberries and blueberries for the stars and stripes). The flag cake won for Best Allergy-Free Cake, since we'd labeled it as such (and it was a very tasty cake!). This year, however, Ryan wanted to go for the MOST CHOCOLATE award, so we set out to make a "Chocolate Explosion" Cake. Ryan had a blast decorating it with anything and everything chocolate, as you can see above...

IMG_1279We had some good competition, including some of our best friends...but in the end, Ryan's entry won in the category of -- of all things -- YUMMIEST LOOKING CAKE. 

He was SO happy. 

And I'll tell you why...

I hadn't made a big deal about it being "gluten free." I'd just put a little "GF" in the corner of the card with the label "Chocolate Explosion." That way, people who knew what that meant -- or needed to choose something gluten free -- would know, but it wouldn't broadcast the fact that it was a "different" sort of cake. (We all know all too well how sometimes people assume things won't be as good if they're gluten free!)

And as it turned out, when it came time for people to get in line for their cake of choice, ours had the longest line (and there were probably over 30 cakes available). People were literally salivating, and it was the first time we served up every last crumb. (I even had to cut a slice to set aside for my husband and me before we ran out!) You could tell Ryan was really proud of decorating the cake and having it win something other than the "allergy free" category. You can't get much better than the "Yummiest" was a footnote that it happened to be gluten free, too!

So I thought I'd share the very easy recipe with you so that you and your family can whip it up for your next special occasion. I think you'll agree it's as yummy tasting as it is looking

Chocolate Explosion Cake

Cake Instructions:

Bake a two layer round chocolate cake. You can use a mix like Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix or King Arthur's Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix. If you prefer, you can, of course, follow a from-scratch recipe. In the interest of time and convenience, I typically use Betty Crocker's mix, but they no longer seem to stock it in the two grocery stores in our neighborhood, so this time I tried King Arthur's GF Chocolate Cake Mix. The great thing is, one box of mix makes TWO 9" round cakes, so you have all you need for a layer cake with one box of mix

Homemade Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (this is a tried-and-true, all-natural, decadent chocolate buttercream frosting I've been using for years) :


12 Tbsp butter or margarine (softened)

1 cup Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa (you can use sweetened cocoa if you prefer a sweeter taste)

5  1/3 cups unsifted confectioner's sugar

2/3 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla


Using an electric mixer, cream the butter or margarine in a bowl. Add cocoa and confectioner's sugar alternately with milk. Beat to spreading consistency (additional Tbsp of milk may be needed). Blend in vanilla. Makes about 4 cups frosting, which will probably give you more than you need for the cake -- great for spreading on simple gluten free sugar cookies!

Decorate with the gluten free chocolate candies of your choosing (let your kids have fun with this part!)