The World’s Best Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

Why do people love free food?

Best Chocolate Cake

It’s so embarassingly true. It doesn’t matter if it’s last year’s leftover Halloween candy rejects or stale crackers from yesterday’s meeting. It’s like a science – people walk into the lunchroom, cafeteria, or whatever else you call an eating place at work and start scanning to see if there are any freebies on the counter. And if you want some, you’d better get moving. They will be gone in twenty seconds. Ten seconds. Five. Gone.

Best Chocolate Cake

Speaking as a teacher, I think that we, as a profession, are probably worst at treat hoarding. We exhaust our patience and sanity working with crazy sweet little people all day, and then we open the door into the teacher’s lounge and BAM. There they are. The treats. And with all reasonableness left somewhere between the behavior charts and excessive pencil sharpening and nose picking, suddenly we’re up to our elbows in some snack mix that we don’t even really like.

We = me.

Best Chocolate Cake

At my old school in Minnesota, we had a weekly treat day. Treats could be anything from a Panera bagels and cream cheese smorgasbord to a taco bar to my personal favorite – a treasure box of assorted donuts from Cub Foods. OMG. I love donuts.

One time, this cake mysteriously appeared on the counter in our teacher’s lounge. Like, this very cake that you see here today. Luckily I had the sense to snarf down an extra large piece (or two?) before the first bell and it only took one bite before I realized that this was indeed The World’s Best Chocolate Cake. It just happens to have oatmeal in it. Yes, that feels random to me too. Anyways, I was deliriously happy. Some fellow teachers weren’t so lucky.

best chocolate cake

That cake was gone before 8am, and here’s the thing: our school isn’t that big. I’m telling you. We are treat hoarders.

The baker of this thing of pure beauty turned out to be my coworker, Mimi, and better yet, her grandma turned out to be the holder of the original recipe. So. Mimi and her grandma. They ROCK.

best chocolate cake

The cake is amazing. Lightly chocolatey, super moist, studded with chocolate chips, and topped with an old fashioned chocolate marshmallow frosting. The kind that crystallizes and gets little cracks in it when you slice into it. LOVE.

Best Chocolate Cake

I don’t even have anything to say about the oats. It’s a delicious mystery.

I see this tablescape in your future. Very soon.

Best Chocolate Cake

4.7 from 19 reviews
The World's Best Chocolate Oatmeal Cake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten with fork
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats*
  • 1¾ cups boiling water
  • 1 12 oz bag chocolate chips, divided (go for the Ghirardelli*)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½-3/4 cup chocolate chips (Ghirardelli again, please)
  • ½-3/4 cup mini marshmallows*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and mix well.
  2. Add flour, soda, salt and cocoa and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be very thick.
  3. Add water to oatmeal and let stand for a few minutes. Once oats are soft, add oats/water mixture to the batter and mix well. Stir in half of the bag of chocolate chips (6 ounces).
  4. Pour into a greased or buttered rectangular 9x13 cake pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the rest of the bag of chocolate chips (6 ounces).
  5. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the surface springs back lightly when touched and your house smells amazing. Do not overbake. Let cool completely.
  6. For the frosting, melt the butter, sugar, and milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds.
  7. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate chips and marshmallows. Stir or whisk until frosting is smooth. Pour immediately over the cooled cake. The frosting crystallizes almost immediately as it cools so it's important to get it on the cake while it's still piping hot. Allow the frosted cake to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Or... not.
Notes
*You can substitute rolled oats for the quick cooking oats, but they should be soaked in the boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Also, if you use rolled oats, the texture of the cake will be different as the oats will be more noticeable. *Any chocolate chips will work. *Regular size marshmallows work, too. They just take longer to melt.

 

Guess what else? Mimi is going to need a lot of chocolate cake in the coming months because she’s pregnant with TWIN BABY GIRLS! Chocolate cake and baby girls. That’s the best kind of life.

Thanks Mimi and Mimi’s grandma for letting me share The World’s Best Chocolate Cake with… the world. Yummy.

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Comments

  1. The cake looks and sounds amazing! My mom is a retired MN school teacher and yes, treats in the teacher’s break room went quickly! I can picture the scene with this cake now!

    I want to try it, asap!

    p.s. tried your photo tricks with google, and adding in the world manually, no dice. Darn!

    • Thanks Averie! How are you testing the photo thing – just googling the recipe? I have found that it can change over time, so I’ll set the photo tag for a particular photo and it won’t be picked up by Google at first, but then as the post gets more views and comments and moves up in the Google search ranking (which takes a little while for me), Google will grab the photo with the “photo” tag and show it in the search results. Maybe the ones you tried haven’t been picked up by Google yet? Or maybe Google is just a mystery?! We’ll keep working on it and let you if we find anything different. :) Thanks for all your feedback and sharing your experience!

  2. Lindsay this looks incredible! I’ve never heard of using oats in a cake like this but it looks like it works really well!

  3. oh my! when I see cakes like this it makes me fall in love with chocolate…and Im not even a chocolate lover…I could definitely see myself shoving this into my mouth though!

  4. I’m pretty much known as the cake maker on both sides of my families and at work. If I try to bring something else to potlucks I get a dirty look! This one is going on the list – I love love love icing that hardens up a little bit like this one. Looks delicious!

  5. what an amazing slice of cake. wow.

    and, I must agree – Cub donuts and donut holes are the best!

  6. This looks like a total hit! Love this idea!

  7. oh my. this.looks.amazing. you’d never guess there are oats in there! and since there are oats, it’s perfectly acceptable breakfast food. ;)

  8. I love love love this kind of chocolate cake! Same goes at my workplace, as soon as food is in the kitchen, you better move fast, or it’s gone!

  9. This cake is a thing of beauty!! My office is a similar treat haven…I have a feeling this would go over quite well. ;)

  10. What a scrumptious looking cake, I love your description of the frosting. That crackle signifies the best frosting out there! Can’t wait to try this, pinned! :)

  11. Free food is the best tasting food, obviously. I’ve been known to grab a stray free sandwich in the kitchen at the office even after eating eating my own lunch. And, this cake looks awesome! Been looking for something different but yet still traditional to make for holiday dessert, and this might be it!

  12. This cake looks amazing! I have a couple questions though: what size pan did you use, and when you say to sprinkle the chocolate chips is that when you use the whole bag? Maybe I just need to read the recipe again but would love some clarification!

  13. AH, that is seriously the best kind of icing icing!!!
    And people DO love all free food. I’m 100% guilty right here–I stalk open tables at work, just hoping for a half-empty box of doughnuts to appear. I think it’s the inner college student in all of us.
    Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I could so go for double slice right this very instant!

  14. Hi,
    Sorry for the double comment, but just thought of a quick Q–what size cake pan did you use? Standard 9×13?

    Also, I heart MN. Lived in the Twin Cities for almost 4 years! Did you teach near by at all?

    • Double comments welcome! I used a 9×13 aluminum pan. So classy. I don’t have a real cake pan here… so… I guess it’s a testament that just about anything will work. :)

  15. I’m salivating. Seriously.

    There are a ton of teachers in my family and immediate friends (mom, sister, brother-in-law, cousins, etc) and I believe they would agree that this is true :-)

    It’s also true in many office settings. Bring in a treat, and it’s gone in 60 seconds or less!

  16. Free food – you’re right, there is a science to it!

    This looks wonderful. But really, it’s chocolate cake – so I suppose that’s quite obvious.

    By the way, I am SO excited for Food Blogger Pro to start in a few months. :)

  17. Oooooh all the chocolate and the oaty texture and flavor! Of course this would be gone in seconds, but not just because it was free to your students…because it’s made out of the best things on the planet and looks absolutely delicious!

  18. Wow that looks incredible…

  19. Oh goodness that looks devine! I hope that is in my future. That frosting looks right up my alley!

  20. This looks AMAZING. I couldn’t stop staring at your Instagram picture of it last night! :)

  21. Oatmeal is extremely healthy……. : )

  22. I miss you… even more than I miss this chocolate cake.

  23. These really does look like the world’s best chocolate cake. I like the fact that the oatmeal makes it seem healthy enough for me to justify having two slices ;)

  24. Bj, Now it makes sense why the size 33 shorts I sent with Mary to the Philippines were too small for you. Mom

  25. Erin {Lemon Sugar} says:

    Oh, no. Now I have to make this. Dang you Lindsay and your “best ever” claims. ‘Cause you’re mostly always right.

    I’m going to make it tonight. And here’s why that’s a problem – ’cause I have half of one of THESE left on my countertop.

    Sigh.

  26. I can’t believe THAT has oatmeal in it!

  27. It’s funny that it’s so hot in the Phillipines… even your chocolate chips are sweating! :)

  28. I LOVE reading your blog, Lindsay!!!
    This cake looks amazing! Oatmeal?? really?? totally qualifies as breakfast food then, right? thought so…

  29. I have chocolate cake leftovers is the fridge. I’ll probably have some for lunch AND for diner, just to make room quickly for the new one, you know…
    My boyfriend is not a big fan of oats, but I’m definitively planning on tricking him with this one!

  30. I love the story of this cake, the photos of this cake and the description of this cake. Basically, everything about this cake sounds perfect! And I have never had this type of frosting with the marshmallows, but I cannot wait to try it!

  31. This cake sounds so good…I’ve never heard of marshmallow frosting but it looks amazing! Sheet cakes like this remind me of cakes my aunt used to make. Can’t wait to try :)

  32. You can guarantee this will be coming out of my oven soon!

  33. That looks great. Not surprised that it was gone before 8am.

  34. Ok- the minute I saw this on Facebook I started craving it and HAD to immediately go make it! We’re expecting baby number three and since this is full of oatmeal I’ve convinced myself its perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast tomorrow morning…. Assuming I don’t finish it off tonight! Thank you!!! This recipe is fantastic!!! and dont tell her but i think this cake has officially replaced pioneer woman’s chocolate sheet cake as my favorite cake of all time!! ;)

  35. Wow. Just wow. This looks incredible. Absolutely positively completely craving chocolate cake right now. Oh, food blogs! :)

  36. Hooray! I’m glad you’re making delicious chocolate cake halfway around the world. My grandma would be so proud…I wish she had e-mail…or a computer… :)

    • Print a picture and frame it for her. And then give her a gold medal to go with it. :)

    • Mimi, you can tell your grandma that I made a double batch and gave them as gifts to some new friends tonight. They declared it to be as good as the triple layer cake from Cafe Latte. That’s pretty high praise… and the credit goes to Grandma! :)

  37. Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies says:

    I seriously love this kind of frosting. Also, one of my family’s favorite cakes is an oatmeal cake. Why have I never blogged this before? I don’t have any rational excuse at all.

  38. This looks amazing & reminds me of the school cafeteria cake that was the shining light of lunch menus! Do you think this would work in a small bundt pan? It would look so pretty as I love to bake for work treats too :)

    • I do! I wouldn’t use the whole batter if it starts to get too deep in the bundt… I wouldn’t want it to not bake all the way through, but I think it would be delicious! And what kind of school cafeteria were you eating at that served cake like this?!?! Yum!

  39. free food – i laughed out loud reading the beignning of this post – i brought in a bag of stale granola that had been in my pantry for-like-EVER to work one day. people freaked out like it was the best morning of their lives. YES people LOVE free food. Whenever i bring cookies into work, they are gone by 8:45. No lie. It would be a mad dash to the break room if I brought a cake like THIS in!!! It looks like perfection. especially that chocolate marshmallow frosting!!!

  40. Looks fabulous. I’m trying this over the holidays. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Ooooh…I have the sudden urge to quit working and begin making this right now. I really wish that could happen. This looks SO good. Thanks for sharing!

  42. treat hoarders ha ha so true I totally take 2 and stash at my desk 1 for breakfast snack and of course one after lunch. and the cake looks delicious!

  43. Chocolate Cake I’m in! Looks amazing, definitely going to have to try this one. Thanks! Love your photography as always!

  44. I’ve never heard of chocolate oatmeal cake, but now I can think of nothing else! It sounds delicious and looks amazing.

  45. Brad, Gramma's son says:

    Just wait till you try Gramma’s carrot cake!!!!!

  46. Call me a little bit obsessed with this cake; it’s true. I made it three times, just this weekend! I did give away a lot of it, but plenty of forkfuls found their way onto my plate. :)

  47. I made this a couple nights ago for a youth leaders’ dessert gathering we had in our home. I may or may not have scooped out cake batter from the prepared pan before baking, and I may or may not have burned my tongue on piping hot chocolate frosting that I licked from the spatula after pouring it over the cake. Oh. Wow! This cake was delicious and seemed to get better with age – the frosting and cake kind of melded together in a most addictive way… I will definitely make this again.

    • It’s so true about burning your tongue. Because there is no way anyone can resist that melty, gooey sweetness straight from the pan. I’m glad you liked it!

  48. What kind of chocolate chips did you use? Semisweet, milk chocolate, etc.??

    Can’t wait to try this one!!!

  49. YUM!! I will be making these veeeery soon!!! Need to go get some marshmallows pronto!!!

    Regarding our love of free food…In Turkish there’s a saying: Free vinegar is sweeter than honey! ;)

  50. Ohmagoodness that crackly frosting…I can’t handle it! This is going straight to the top of my to-make list. Better have somewhere to take it though, because I don’t think I’d have much self control around that cake.

  51. Oh my, this does sound like the world’s best chocolate cake! And I totally get you on the treat hoarding–you can take ANYTHING and leave it in my work breakroom and it’s gone in 10 minutes flat!

  52. I made this last week for a Thanksgiving potluck (I am thankful for chocolate cake :)) and it was a HIT! Everyone loved it! Thanks for sharing such an awesome recipe, I’ll definitely be making this again and again.

  53. That cake looks amazing! Do you think it would work if I make half the recipe and bake it in a square 8-inch pan instead of the 9×13?

    • Yes – you’ll probably have extra batter and frosting but you could almost just make two cakes! :) Or just one regular size and one mini cake, cupcakes, etc. :)

  54. I just made this on the weekend – it is soooo delicious! Lovely and moist but not too rich like some mud cakes can be. I found your blog through a pinned recipe for Bread and Butter pudding which I also made last week – delicious! Will start working my way through your recipes now!

  55. Yes, the title is true. I made this yesterday and everyone in my house loves it. My hubby even said it’s the best cake I ever made! It is dangerously delicious. Thanks for sharing! =D

    (Note: My daughter and I thought the icing was delish but too sweet…we may look for an alternate icing or even eat it plain!)

  56. Instead of frosting I make a topping by melting butter, coconut, chocolate chips, chopped nuts (pecans, hickory nuts, almonds, walnuts, whatever you have) to spread on cooled cake, then run it under the broiler to brown the coconut.
    Mighty fine!
    We are currently living in Sweden, so I enjoy my Wisconsin recipes from time to time.

  57. I just had a piece of oatmeal chocolate cake someone got from a bakery and it was so good I needed a recipe! Yours has the same ingredients from the label so I bet it’s pretty similar and now I’ll have to make it! :) Thanks for sharing!

  58. this. is. to. die. for. YUM!!! Made it tonight for dessert at a friend’s house – everyone loved it! :) super easy and so very delicious.

  59. charlene says:

    I made this last night and it was amazing!!!!!!! the name is very fitting!!! SO GOOD!!

  60. Made this cake and it was wonderful! I halved the frosting recipe, tho. After calculating the calories – I know, bad habit – I had to cut somewhere! I don’t think anyone noticed and it was still wonderful. Thanks for the recipe! This cake made me happy while baking it and even happier while eating it!

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  62. Hi there, this cake IS truly wonderful, and we ate it up very quickly! The day I made it, the frosting wasn’t even set up by the time we dug in, BUT the next day it was very grainy, like the sugar had totally gone granulated again. Any thoughts on that? Did I cook it wrong? Thanks ;O)

    • That’s pretty normal – the frosting is meant to set and crystallize as it cools. It’s hard to say without seeing it but if it’s still soft and smooth on top I think it’s probably how it’s supposed to be. :)

  63. Just made this tonight after my mother-in-law found the recipe this morning. It is delicious! I had to make a couple of changes, based on what we had on hand and it still turned out absolutely perfect! No marshmallows, so I used 1/2 cup of marshmallow fluff (it’s kosher!) and no dairy milk, so I used soy milk. I plan on freezing most of the cake, so I don’t inhale the entire thing tonight :) Thanks for sharing, Lindsay!! I’m enjoying your site!

  64. I’m making this right now! I’ve had it pinned forever, but have been waiting on an occasion to make it. Tomorrow we are celebrating both my kids’ birthdays, but I already made them each their own huge cupcakes, so the rest of the partygoers are eating this cake with ice cream!! I know I’ll love it, and hopefully, no one else will be too weird about the oats.

  65. I made this and while I liked the cake (even though it needed a bit more salt – probably because of the oats – and maybe a pinch of cinnamon since it was a tiny bit bland), the icing was WAY WAY too sweet. It needs at least half the sugar or a higher cacao content chocolate bar (80% or so). But thank you for posting this! I liked that the cake is not too rich.

    • Thanks for the feedback Jasmine! I appreciate hearing other people’s reviews like this and sorry to hear you didn’t care for the frosting. To each their own, right? :)

  66. In the old days I was also known as the baker of our family. Oh well. I lost the touch but I’m trying to get it back.
    I was just going to say no small marshmallows but you beat me to it. Can’t big ones be cut up? I can’t remember how they tasted and I don’t know how ours taste in comparison. I know I’m not that partial to the pink ones.
    I use those trays for roasting and I think I’ve baked in them.
    Any case a very happy new year to you and your family. :-)

  67. Sheila grant says:

    Can semi sweet chocolate chips be used

  68. Saw this cake on Pinterest and new I had to give it a try! Love, love, LOVE it and I’m not a cake fan at all. It was super easy to make – your directions were clear and the tips in the article on your site were very helpful. I didn’t use Ghirardelli even though you said “please” (you’re so cute) because I had Kirkland brand chocolate chips on hand, which I think are even better than Nestle’s. But I can see how Ghirardelli would make this even better. There is a ton of frosting so I might cut the size of the frosting recipe next time. But it was absolutely yummy and the cake dense and deliciously chocolaty and everything I think a cake should be. It’s my kind of cake, for sure! Thanks so much for sharing it. Great job!

  69. The addition of oats makes a cake healthy right?! :P At least that is what I’m telling myself ;)
    The cake looks divine and I can’t wait to try it! What kind of chocolate chips did you use? semi-sweet?

    Thanks,
    Vicki

  70. Thank you very much for the recipe! I made the cake this week. It was soo moist, and the frosting was soo amazing (I used peppermint marshmallows in it)! Can’t wait to make it again.
    There is too much sugar in the recipe for my taste though, so I cut on it a bit. And I didn’t have chocolate chips and used a mixture of chopped milk and dark chocolate.

  71. This is FANTASTIC! I made this past weekend and received so many compliments…all saying ‘it’s a keeper!’ I will be making it again for Super Bowl! I will agree – it is a little sugar overload, but it’s cake – and NOT low calorie – so ENJOY! The oatmeal gives it a great different texture.

  72. Looks delicious. Can’t wait to try. The pan in the picture is smaller
    than 9×13. Is 9×13 the correct size pan to use?

  73. Yeah, totally making this for my birthday tonight. Sold!

    • I blew it! Instead of quick-cooking oats (which are rolled oats that are chopped up) I used quick cooking steel cut oats! The cake tasted great but the undercooked oats were too crunchy to be able to enjoy any and I had to dump it. However, I learned an important lesson about oats in all their forms. I also started to make the frosting while the cake was cooking! I guess I was too anxious to get cake in my face. I’ll most likely try making this cake again down the line because I got a taste of how great it will be!

  74. Gladys Moore says:

    Acabo de ver el pastel, se ve muy tentador. Voy prepararlo hoy mismo saliendo del trabajo.

  75. Just made it but it was way too sweet. i think next time i’ll reduce the sugars, but overall it was good

  76. What a cake ! Never have I thought that oatmeal would make a super moist cake. However I would put less sugar in the cake next time.

    Thanks for sharing !

  77. hi this looks delicious!!! my husband loves choc cake but has diabetes, so the oats would be a great addition. Do you know what would happen if I reduced the white sugar? Then he could have a ” sort of ” healthy treat and I could eat the rest. LOL thanks to you all for sharing

  78. hi , my cake doesn’t seem to be rising, any tips on that???

  79. Pinned your recipe and made it this afternoon. We loved it! I used dark chocolate chips, ghiradelle. Maybe that off set the “too much sugar” others have mentioned. This is a keeper!!!

  80. Shellie Kent says:

    Hello, can’t wait to try this! I’m live in Mississippi so when you list flour, we use self rising or all purpose, does this mean you used plain?

  81. Found out about your blog earlier today right when I got here at work, and I must say I’m loving every bit of your posts! It’s almost lunch time and I’m still going crazy over your delicious recipes! Makes me want to go home right now and make them myself :)

    What also amazes me is finding out that you lived in the Philippines for a year, which is also where I’m from –Cebu to be exact! :)

    Really touched at how you guys brought home
    xx,
    Gale

  82. (sorry about that)

    Really touched at how you guys brought home 3 kids from the orphanage!

    Much love to you and your family,
    Gale

  83. This looks soooo yummy!!! I love cake with oatmeal!!!
    Ok now I must be “that annoying commenter” which I loathe almost enough to not comment… ugh I hate asking this!! I have a recent Gluten-Free kiddo :( As a mom of 7 kids under 11 I must ask- has anyone tried this GF? I don’t want my kiddo to feel weird or different, & I simply don’t have time to make multiple treats :/ I’m SUPER new to GF and super long-time yummy baker lover *sigh* Any thoughts? Anyone? Please? I’ll promise next time I see free food (like after I donate blood, since I’m self-employed the break room is basically when I can break away from my 3 yr old in the bathroom) I promise I won’t hoard more than my two hands can grab ;) Many thanks for ANY thoughts!!!! ‘

  84. I will never understand how people can complain frosting is too sweet!!

  85. Spilmaniac says:

    Making this cake for the fourth time. DELISH!!! My family loves it. Each time I’ve made it the frosting comes out a little different. My stove takes a long time to heat up so I have to crank up the temp to get to boiling. This time frosting was a little too runny & didn’t crack as I poured it onto the cake. Wish I could figure it out! Won’t stop us from enjoying this family favorite cake!! Might try it with a broiled coconut pecan frosting some time.

  86. Wonderful cake! Need to try it for my mother’s birthday!!:-) When it says 1/2 cup butter, melted, do I first measure 1/2 then melt it or should it be exactly 1/2 cup after it’s melted?

  87. Can you make cupcakes with this recipe? Thanks!

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