Surprise Cake Recipe -
Surprise Cake Recipe

Surprise Cake

Recipe by  

"We make this all the time, company can never guess what is in it!"

+ Recipe Box + Shopping List + Menu Print

Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 1 - 9x13 inch pan Change Servings


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup butter, water and 3 tablespoons cocoa to a boil. Remove from heat. Add to flour mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, Mix sour cream, eggs, baking soda and cayenne pepper. Add to the cake batter. Blend well. Pour batter into 9x13 inch pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  6. For the Frosting: Melt 1/4 cup butter, add 1/3 cup cocoa. Add confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla. Mix until smooth and free of lumps.
  7. Spread frosting on the cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve. Ask your company if they can guess what is in it, they never will.
Kitchen-Friendly View

Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Sep 07, 2006

Very good cake like brownies. The only thing I would change is instead of adding water, I would add cold coffee and instead of 1 tsp of cayenne pepper I would decrease it to just 1/2 tsp. The coffee flavor adds just enough mocha that turns this into a terrific authentic mexican chocolate flavor

Most Helpful Critical Review
Jun 23, 2010

I don't know what to think about this cake. The texture seems undercooked yet my toothpicks came out clean in two different areas of the cake. It's beyond moist and I don't know if I like that. However, it didn't stop me from getting up in the middle of the night to sneak a bite;) I like the cayenne pepper addition a lot, the aftertaste had a little mysterious heat to it. It's almost as if you don't know where it came from. I like that and will take it with me to the next chocolate cake recipe. **UPDATE** 24 hours later~~ Much much better the next day and even better than that once chilled in the fridge. The consistency of the cake was more tolerable after some time had passed.


81 Ratings

Nov 28, 2009

I was hosting Thanksgiving this year, and found out pretty last-minute that there was a pumpkin shortage, and was really disappointed... until I found this awesome recipe! I was thinking to myself "Self, how great could a cake really be?" and preceded to make and put this thin, none-too-special-looking cake in the over... and, not expecting too much, I took a bite, and melted. This cake is amazing, and everyone LOVED it. (I even had to hide it when my fiance's band members came over, because darn it, I want awesome chocolate cake for breakfast tomorrow!)

Jun 18, 2008

Very moist, very tasty chocolate cake that has a warmth but there is no way it has any hint of pepper taste. This is a really fantastic cake. The frosting though was runny and I had too add another cup or more of powdered sugar and another Tbl of cocoa and a couple more T of margarine to get it to spreading consistency. Thanks this was a great cake!

Oct 26, 2009

I made this cake for my husband's birthday, and it turned out amazing. It was extremely moist. I even let it cook about 35-40 minutes, checking it every 5 minutes over 30. Also, I added a cup of coffee instead of the water, and used a different icing recipe. I used the half tsp of cayenne, and it is not noticeable at all except in the most complimentary way. In some gourmet stores you can buy a chili cocoa powder from South America. I plan on using this next time in place of the cocoa and omitting the cayenne. This will definitely become one of my staple cakes.

May 18, 2009

Awesome cake. I used Ancho chili powder and instead of the icing listed made cream cheese icing and topped with pieces of a lindt chili dark chocolate bar (one square of chocolate per piece of cake). My cream cheese icing was made with i container of room temp cream cheese mixed with 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add a little milk if this is too thick for you. Stored in the fridge and stayed fresh for a week- everyone said it was the most delicious chocolate cake they ever had!

Oct 01, 2008

What an amazing chocolatey flavor! Everybody loved this cake and nobody guessed the secret ingredient (one of the guests thought it had Pepsi in it!) I used the recipe without making any changes. It was easier than I thought from my first read-through and I'll definitely be making it again. I didn't make the frosting but I'll try it next time. Great cake!

Jun 10, 2010

My 2 year old wanted to make cake last night. I "helped" her make this one, it is an instant family favourite. The consistency is awesome, and the little bite from cayenne (we used 1 tsp) is great. Going to make it for the block party this weekend. So easy a 2 year old can do it! (sorta)


Rate This Recipe

Glad you liked it! Your friends will, too:


  • Calories
  • 248 kcal
  • 12%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 36 g
  • 12%
  • Cholesterol
  • 43 mg
  • 14%
  • Fat
  • 11.4 g
  • 18%
  • Fiber
  • 0.9 g
  • 4%
  • Protein
  • 2.3 g
  • 5%
  • Sodium
  • 179 mg
  • 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

See More
Subscribe Today!

In Season

Mealtime Money-Savers
Mealtime Money-Savers

Browse through over 500 recipes for delicious, budget-friendly meals.

Can What You Can't
Can What You Can't

The old saying goes, "Eat what you can, and can what you can't!" We have the know-how.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

Related Videos

Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cake

See how to make moist, rich chocolate cake.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake III

This quick-and-easy chocolate cake is so moist and rich.

Better than Sex Cake II

See how to make a 5-star cake that's better than almost anything.

Recently Viewed Recipes

Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States