Alayne's Grandmother Isabelle's Bon Appetit Chocolate Cake

My grown son is now in his own condo and this collection of recipes I called, Dearest Michael were written when he was younger as you will see by my references, as a gift to him for this very moment. 

Whether you read them for the story or the recipe, know that they were written as a tribute to the many people who have influenced my kitchen, my cooking and my notion of family.


Dearest Michael,
Before the internet, getting a cooking magazine was the most wonderful way to learn new recipes monthly. Gourmet Magazine was an entrance into high-end cooking and Bon Appetit was a little less fancy. I learned a lot of my cooking skills from Bon Appetit in my early years of marriage.

This recipe was handed to me by your Great Grandmother Isabelle. She was always interested in recipes that both saved time and felt like they were made from scratch.

Chocolate and all things sweet were some of the foundations of our lives with food. All of your grandmothers and great-grandmothers you have known were excellent bakers. Cooking without using a mix used to be called baking from scratch. With so many people running to and from life these days, I am fairly certain that even using a boxed mix would constitute the label of baking from scratch.

Shortcuts are part of the baking experience, especially as we age and cooking and baking aren’t necessarily as new and fresh as they once were in our starry-eyed youth of experimenting.

There are so many recipes that blend both a box of something with additional ingredients that result in something delicious. This recipe is/was one of the family staples. It is a trifecta of perfection- easy, moist, and delicious.
It can be eaten as a slice with coffee in the morning, an afternoon snack when you get home from school or work, or a lovely dessert in the evening with a cup of tea after a great meal.

Though I have never tried it as cupcakes, I am guessing it would work this way too.
This cake has always been a big hit and it is one of those recipes that make the recipients always ask, How did you make this? thinking that you baked for hours to come up with the deliciousness.  

I have brought this cake when I have been in charge of dessert for a house party, made it as a celebration cake or brought to someone in their darkest hours. It is a no fail cake because it has sour cream in it and this is always a reliable ingredient.

If you are not sure about serving cake with alcohol especially these days when so many people are choosing sobriety, substitute coffee syrup, regular coffee or espresso for the liquor. I have tried this too and it tastes just fine. If you do decide to use the alcohol, always let the guests know.

Bon Appetit Chocolate Cake

One of the staple chocolate cake recipes, easy, delicious, moist and versatile, this recipe made so often by my Grandmother Isabelle, holds a special place in my family heart.

THE chocolate cake after being baked before the confectionary sugar sprinkle


  • 1 18 oz package of Chocolate Cake Mix This can be any brand but make sure it is one that doesn’t have pudding in the mix built in.
  • 1 ½  cups sour cream (I always use Breakstone)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (I seldom have this on hand so I have used olive oil and have never noticed a difference)
  • ½ cup of either Amaretto, OR Kalua OR Rum
  • 1 4 oz  package of instant chocolate pudding
  • Confectionary sugar for sprinkling


  • Your Favorite Mixer
  • A Bundt Pan
  • Small sifter
  • Nice plate to turn the cake over on and serve the cake on.


  1. Preheat oven to 350
    mix together with a mixer....
  2. Mix and pour into greased bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes. 
  3. Check with a toothpick- when a toothpick comes out clean, that means it is done. I like it to be a little tiny bit before this though to assume some additional cooking time as it sits cooling in the hot pan.
  4. When it comes out of the oven gently go around the perimeter of the cake with a rounded knife to loosen it a bit from the pan.
  5. Cool completely (waiting is the worst part)
  6. Turn over on to a large plate and dust with confection sugar by placing 1 generous Tablespoon in a small mesh strainer and shake back and forth over cooled inverted cake. (Cake must be cooled or the sugar will melt).

*Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate and or an Amazon affiliate. Anything I recommend I personally use. I want to make it easier to shop for items you may not have, need to replace-- or if you are a lover of all things kitchen like me, just want to add to your collection.


This chocolate cake requires a bundt pan. Non stick is my preference and this Nordic Ware bundt pan does the trick.

picture of bundt pan by nordic ware

Any knife and cake server will work. I have so many from my Great Grandmother, but I spotted this beautiful Kate Spade set and I love the modern lines to it. This is one of those sets that make a great wedding or housewarming gift, to me these kinds of sets should all be in everyone's kitchen at least once in their cooking life.

elegant knife and serving spatula with the saying how sweet it is on them by kate spade

The contrast between the dark chocolate and this vintage vibe turquoise covered cake plate makes me so happy. Feel free to just use whatever plate you want, but if you want to give a great gift, tuck the recipe in with one of these great recommendations.

vinatage metal cake stand with glass dome

I usually use my Kitchen Aid mixer, but this mini Kitchen Aid hand held is great for a cake mix like this that only requires a short mixing. Hand held happiness.


I love Kitchen Aid silicone spatulas and even better when I can find them in my favorite kitchen color. They come in all colors, but turquoise is always my fave.

11 inch silicone spatula from kitchen aid


This works perfectly fine with Coffee syrup or espresso too if you don't want to use anything with alcohol as an ingredient. My 

Grandmother always used Kalua or Baileys, though, usually because she had this on hand. I prefer Dark Rum as a flavor.

Serve with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or just a slice with nothing added except a glass of cold milk or a glass of red wine.


Purchase the dry ingredients. print the recipe and buy a few of the items recommended in this blog post. Package together and give as a housewarming, birthday or engagement gift.


My kitchen tools are plentiful and I use these OXO strainers frequently. The Oxo brand is indestructible and are some of the best to have for cooking.

3 sizes of oxo handheld strainers

I love these Great Jones mixing bowls.  They have such a great vibe and are so fun.

set of 3 mixing bowls with pink swirly vintage design
1/2 chocolate cake sprinkled with confectionary sugar on a plate with crumbs around it and a knift resting next to it

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