Did your granny ever make one of those cakes where, when she cut into it, the icing would crack and break off in huge fudgey chunks? This is that icing.
Grandma Pearl’s Flaky Chocolate Icing is the stuff of legend in my family. She always topped fluffy white cakes with it.
My brother used to ask for one of these special cakes for his birthday and as long as she was able, Pearl would come through! I loved seeing that aluminum cake dome show up at our house because we knew full well what was beneath it! This is what the old folks call a “boiled icing” because they cooked it in a saucepot on top of the stove and it had to come to a full rolling boil and stay there a minute or two until it was ready. The process is similar to making fudge but we don’t use a thermometer, relying on the clock instead. This icing hardens very quickly, so it’s easiest to use on a sheet cake, where you simply pour it over the cake while it’s still in the pan and allow it to cool. If you’d like the peanut butter version of this icing, it can be found by clicking here.
The full printable recipe card for Grandma Pearl’s Flaky Chocolate Icing is at the bottom of this post so make sure you check that out. To make this, you’ll need: A white cake mix, prepared in a 9×13 pan according to package directions, and cooled. You’ll also need: Shortening, Butter, Milk, Sugar, Cocoa Powder, and Vanilla.
*You don’t need a chocolate bar, but one was visiting my house and wanted to be in the photo and I was like “Why not! It’s a chocolate day!” I do try to be inclusive.
Note: These photos are for a single recipe of icing. HOWEVER the final cake pictured has a double recipe. If you want a nice and thick icing you’ll need to double it. If you want to see what a regular portion of icing looks like, click here to see it on my old fashioned peanut butter icing post (here). These recipes are twins, with just a one ingredient difference.
In a large sauce pot, combine sugar, milk, shortening, butter, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Once it reaches a boil, let boil for two to three minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla and cocoa powder. Beat until icing is smooth and starts to lose it’s shine.
Immediately pour onto cake. Allow to cool.
Tips for success with this recipe:
- The boiling of the icing is the most critical step. Make sure it comes to a rolling boil and then stay right there, timing it. I suggest adding one minute to be on the safe side but don’t go over this as the icing will scorch.
- You absolutely must have your cake done and ready the moment the icing is done.
- Once your icing is finished, remove it from the heat and use a wire whisk to quickly stir in your cocoa powder and vanilla, stirring until it thickens a bit and starts to lose some of its shine. It should still be pourable.
- Don’t try to spread the icing once you’ve poured it, instead, pour it evenly over the cake so that no spreading is needed
- Most important tip of all: Unless you lived through the Great Depression, I strongly encourage you not to use this on anything other than a sheet cake. Only those who have the crown of wisdom that comes through age and hardship can ice a layer cake with this.
Isn’t this a beautiful sight?
Grandma Pearl’s Flaky Chocolate Icing
Note that your icing will go down into the sides of your pan some, but that is okay.
Once it’s cooled, cut and serve! This icing is a rare treat not often seen these days!
I sure do wish we could sit down and have a nice chat over slides of this cake!
Y’all have a great afternoon. Be blessed and be a blessing!
- Duncan Hines yellow cake mix made according to package directions and cooled
- 1 &1/2 Cups sugar
- 7 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- Prepare cake mix as directed and bake in a 9x13 pan. Cool.
- In a large sauce pot, combine sugar, milk, shortening, butter, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
- Once it reaches a boil, let boil for two to three minutes without stirring.
- Remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla and cocoa powder. Beat until icing is smooth and starts to lose it's shine. Immediately pour onto cake. Allow to cool before serving.