ma’s famous chocolate cake recipe

ma’s famous chocolate cake recipe

Ma is 91 years young and makes an amazing chocolate cake.  She is my husband’s grandmother and she has so kindly been feeding me this cake for the past 11 years. The recipe has been in an old family cookbook for decades, but no one has ever been able to truly master her secret icing technique!  I was visiting Ma in Nashville earlier this month and she baked the cake with me step by step for the first time.  I documented with photos and got her permission to share with you.  She is already known for this cake, and I told her now she was going to be an internet star! 🙂

Isn’t Ma the cutest.  My grandmothers both passed away when I was younger and she scooped me up as her own granddaughter shortly after my husband and I started dating.  I just love her!

Ma and Me

Alright, let’s bake a cake!

So, the cake part really isn’t a secret.  Just use the easy boxed stuff!  You can use yellow, white or chocolate cake mix.  Follow the directions on the box to bake the cake.  Ma suggests Crisco for greasing the pans before adding the cake mix to bake.

yellow cake mix

Yellow Cake Mix Baking

Once the cakes have baked, then let cool on a cooling rack.  You can slice each of these in half if you would like to make more layers of the cake.

Ma Cutting Cake

Now, to the famous chocolate frosting.

STEP ONE: Mix all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. (Scroll to the bottom for recipe)

Chocolate Frosting Recipe Step By Step

Mix Ingredients Together


STEP TWO: Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring.  Cook until soft ball forms in cold water (or 234 degrees on candy thermometer). We didn’t use a thermometer – Ma uses the old fashion trick.

Boiling Chocolate Frosting


Chocolate Frosting Tip

STEP THREE:  Remove saucepan from heat.  Place saucepan in pan of cold water.  (We used Ma’s sink).  Stir frosting until creamy.

Cooling Chocolate Frosting

STEP FOUR: Place parchment paper on cake plate or cake container bottom.  This will help so much with clean up! Spread between layers and on top of sides of cake. Frost two layers or four if you cut your bakes cakes in half.  (I only cut one in half, so I had three layers)

Frosting a Cake

(Don’t you love the minion paper towels! I felt like that little guy was judging my frosting technique!)

Layers of Cake

Chocolate Frosting on Cake

And there you have it!  The frosting was definitely tricky.  I think I need to make this a few more (dozen) times to even come close to Ma’s perfect version. It’s all about timing with the frosting during boiling/cooling/icing.

Choclate Frosting Cake Recipe

Please don’t judge my lopsided cake!  I love to cook, but I don’t bake very often.  My first cake in quite some time and I didn’t line the layers up just right.  You can use toothpicks if you need to hold it together.

As you can see this is messy!  But a delicious clean up.  Once you have it all iced, slide your cake knife under the cake to lift a tad so you can pull out the parchment paper.

Lopsided Chocolate Cake

Let cool and then enjoy! YUMMY!


Ma’s Famous Secret Chocolate Cake


  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa
  • 1 pinch of baking soda


Mix all ingredients in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring. Cook until soft ball forms in cold water (or 234 degrees on candy thermometer). Remove from heat. Place saucepan in pan (or sink) of cold water. Stir frosting until creamy.  Spread between layers and on top of sides of cake. Frost two layers or four if you cut in half.  Cool and enjoy!

Tips for this recipe – see photos and text above
Lower fat alternative – you must be kidding!

Heather made Ma's Chocolate Cake

I was so proud of myself and my little lopsided cake.  I will do better next time.  Practice makes perfect, right?

Chocolate Frosted Cake Cut


A big thank you to MA for sharing her kitchen and cooking expertise with me and her recipe with all of us!


Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

falling for fall

falling for fall

It may be that this week in the Queen City temperatures are only reaching the low 80s, but there is a crisp in the air and I am the first to admit that I am pretty excited about the upcoming fall season.

world with fall

photo credit


To get us all in the mood, I have found a few recipes that make me think of sweaters, bonfires, football and crisp air in the mornings!


1.  Thank you Crazy for Crust for sharing this recipe!  This is definitely going on our list of things to try this fall!

pumpkin toffee bar



2.  Fall can still be refreshing with this caramel apple sangria I saw on Family Food Finds.  I can almost taste it now!

caramel apple sangria


e.  I love figs.  Have you ever tried figs on pizza rather than tomato base?  It is amazing!  Well, here I found a Fig Bruchetta by Style Me Pretty.  JACKPOT!

fig bruchetta


4. And now for soup.  Who doesn’t love soup and who doesn’t love lasagna.  I mean, here we have both together by Cooking with Ruthie.

lasagna soup

For other fall recipes previously on Sunny Slide Up – check these out!

And we can’t forget Heather’s Football Party ideas!  Here and Here

Anyone else ready for the colder weather?

falling for fall


Mandi Heilig - Dry Ink Designs

fantasy football draft party – take 2

fantasy football draft party – take 2

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!  I hope you are out enjoying a fabulous long weekend vacation somewhere…and are just as happy as me to see football season back!   Go Dawgs!

You might remember this football party post I did last year about setting up for my husband’s fantasy football draft party.  Well this year I took that challenge on again and it was a huge success.  I hope you find these recipes and party tips helpful for your next football gathering.

The guys were coming over at 11:00am to start setting up for the draft, so I wanted a “brunch” dish to start off with….


5 Minute Chicken Waffle Sliders


These were super quick and easy to make.  Plus, a huge hit to start off the party.

Five Minute Chicken Waffle Sliders

Buy already cooked prepared nuggets.   I purchased a nugget tray at Chick-Fil-A knowing I could serve up the extra nuggets later as a snack.  Heat up nuggets appropriately.   Pop Eggo Waffle Minis in your toaster to crisp up.  Stick on a skewer and drizzle with syrup. I served them up on a football party tray.  See, I told you that was easy!


Football Party Food Chicken and Waffle Sliders


Notice the “Challenge Flags” bucket in the background?  I decided to switch up my penalty flags from last year.  I bought some lollipops to tie up in napkins to act as challenge flags for the party.  Super cute, huh?

DIY Challenge Flags For Football Party


Another fun find were these koozies made just for football draft parties.  One of the guys got these and the giant draft board at

Football Draft Party Koozies


Once the draft got started, I brought in some lunch time food….. Mini Baked Ham Sandwiches, Chips and French Onion Dip, Antipasto Kabobs….

Football Party Food Ideas


Antipasto Kabob Appetizer Skewers

What you will need:

  • Sliced Genoa Salami
  • Fresh Mozzarella Balls
  • Roasted Red Peppers (jar of)
  • Olives of your choice (I had kalamata olives)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Package of spring lettuce mix

Simply stick all of the ingredients onto skewer and serve right away, or refrigerate until ready to serve.   It’s like a salad on a stick!


Antipasto Kabobs Appetizer


I also served up these cute little football cookies I found a local Charlotte bakery (Kai’s Kookies) to make for me…

Football Cookies From Kais Kookies Charlotte NC


These live football draft parties can take like 4 hours, so I like to space the snacks out. About half way into the draft, I brought in some more bite size treats…

Turkey Meatball Subs On A Stick

Find recipe over at Cookies and Cups

(I couldn’t find “breadsticks”, so I used Pillsbury “pizza dough” which worked fine.  And mine don’t look quite as pretty as the original recipe, but they were delicious!)

Meatball Subs On A Stick


And, I HAD to make those Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes that were the hit from last year’s party!

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes


I hope your favorite football team has a successful season….or at least you have fun planning some football party gatherings!

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

super easy quick pasta salad

super easy quick pasta salad

I have been meaning to share this recipe with you all for some time.   It is a favorite of mine, one I have been making for years and years.  Perfect to whip up for a party, picnic, cookout, etc.

It takes 20 minutes.  That’s all.  From the time you boil the water to the time it is ready to serve.  And it is super delicious.  Promise!

Easy Quick Pasta Salad Recipe


  • 1 lb. pasta, whatever kind you like
  • cherry Tomatoes chopped, however many you like
  • cucumbers chopped
  • red onion chopped
  • feta cheese crumbles
  • Zesty Italian Salad Dressing – 1/3-1/2 bottle
  • McCormick’s Salad Seasoning, to taste…I usually use a couple of tablespoons full.


Boil water and cook pasta – while this is happening, chop all of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.
Chill pasta after being cooked by running cold water over it in a strainer.
Mix all ingredients together.
It’s also good if you want to make it the night before to let all the flavors sink in.  You could even add ham, olives…..whatever you like.  See I told you it was easy!
Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack
homemade fruit roll ups – alivia jane

homemade fruit roll ups – alivia jane

Today rounds out my amazing week of guest blogging for Sunny Slide Up! I’ve had a wonderful time sharing some of my favorite recipes and hope you will feel inspired to be experimental in your kitchens! Speaking of experiments, here is one more recipe that will knock your socks off: Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

I imagine almost everyone has a favorite childhood memory with fruit roll-ups involved. I loved eating Fruit by The Foot and Gushes galore! Now that I’m grown up (ah hem, sort of) I avoid eating packaged products with ingredients that are unnatural and contain preservatives, chemicals, and dyes. Needless to say, those old gummy friends and I have parted ways. Instead, I prefer to put the fruit back into fruit roll-ups by making my own at home using all-natural ingredients that taste great and are an overall healthier choice.

Homemade fruit roll-ups are easy to make and a great wholesome snack! I used a mix of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries for this recipe, and I encourage you to personalize the recipe by using your favorite fruits. Strawberry and peach are both popular flavors.  There is a time commitment needed to create these fruity and fun snacks (5-7 hours), but the satisfaction of making your own and eating well is worth the wait.


Homemade Fruit Roll-ups


  • 3 cups berries (I used a mix of raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice or water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon Agave (organic honey or granulated sugar work also)



Preheat oven to 150 degrees or the lowest temperature your oven will go.  My oven go as low as 170, as long as the temperature is 200 or under your fruit roll-up will dehydrate properly.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the berries have popped and the liquid has thickened.

Pour the hot mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the fruit mixture onto the baking sheet and use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly, about 1/4 inch thick.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 5-7 hours.  You will know they’re done when you touch them lightly with your finger and they are no longer sticky. If the edges get a little too brittle and dry, you can brush a tiny bit of water over it and will be good as new.

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Cut into squares or strips using a pizza cutter, knife, or scissors. If you want to make fruit roll-ups, roll the strips in parchment paper. Store in an airtight container.


Referring link:

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