Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis {Recipe}

I stumbled upon the most surprising recipe for delicious and moist chocolate cupcakes when I was searching for the perfect Halloween dessert this year. You may remember these “tombstone” cupcakes I made for Halloween, but did you know they were made with vinegar?!

I married my cake minis with the vinegar concept to make – Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis! See the recipe below…for now, back to the story…

Chocolate Cake Minis

I used this recipe by Simply Recipes to make those tombstone cupcakes. It was one of those recipes where you’re mixing things together wondering how on earth the combination will yield something worth eating – water, baking soda, vinegar. No eggs? No butter? Hmm…I read through the reviews on the SR post, which verified the recipe was safe to use, but I also learned that the recipe is basically known as “Depression Cake” (among other interesting names). Basically, the style of cake recipe was commonly made during the Depression (and during wars and other tough times) when butter, milk, and eggs were scarce or very expensive.

Chocolate Cake Minis

The trick is the combination of baking soda and vinegar, which helps the cake rise. I knew it worked because those cupcakes were moist and delicious. I had a light bulb moment with my cake mini recipe series when I learned about the baking soda and vinegar combination serving as a leavener. Why? Because my cake minis don’t really use eggs because of the proportions and I need other ingredients to serve as the leaveners. I’ve been using baking powder and flaxseed eggs, but vinegar and baking soda seem more common than flaxseeds/flaxseed meal.

Chocolate Cake Minis

Anywho, I’m hoping to test out this whole vinegar + baking soda trick in other cake and muffin recipes, but my first idea was to apply the new leavener combo to a chocolate cake mini recipe I already had in the works.

Chocolate Cake Minis

The result – an easy, quick-to-prepare, moist chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake Minis

While I love a good buttercream, when you need a chocolate fix fast (and you’re feeling lazy), buttercreams seem like too much work.

Chocolate Cake Minis

Instead, I did a simple chocolate ganache that takes less than 5 minutes to stir up (and stirring is about all you’ll need to do to make it, too!).

Chocolate Cake Minis

Are you ready for this?

Chocolate Cake Minis

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis {Recipe}

  • Author: Diana of
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 24 mins
  • Total Time: 39 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x


These cake minis were inspired by a version of the famous Depression Cake I found online. Why a “depression” cake? No, it’s not meant to be eaten when you’re sad, though I’m sure it would help pick you up (emergency chocolate anyone?). The recipe was apparently famous during the Depression because it made a moist chocolate cake without expensive ingredients like eggs or butter. The trick is the combination of baking soda and…wait for it…vinegar. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda to help the cake rise and don’t worry, you can’t taste it at all. Promise, kay? 😉
Be sure to see the directions below for those who need their chocolate fix fast! This recipe could become your go-to!
Adapted from my Carrot Cake Mini recipe with Depression-Cake-style twist inspired by this chocolate cupcake recipe by Simply Recipes
*Vegetarian, Vegan*



Chocolate Cake Minis

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sucanat (or sub sugar, but the cake will be more sweet)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons brewed coffee (or 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee/espresso powder stirred into 4 tablespoons warm water until dissolved)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (or other oil of choice)
  • 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Ganache

  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoons heavy cream (or sub vegan cream/creamer)


Chocolate Cake Minis

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two ramekins (3 inch diameter) with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sucanat, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until ingredients are well-combined (and cocoa powder lumps are broken up).
  3. In a medium bowl, combine coffee (or water/coffee mixture), canola oil, vinegar, and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined (careful that no flour bits remain, but that you also do not over-mix).
  5. Evenly distribute batter into the two ramekins. Bake until cake is cooked through (or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean), about 20-24 minutes (I found this cake mini takes a little longer than some of the previous versions).
  6. Cool cakes to room temperature. Run a knife around the edge of the cake in the ramekin to loosen the cake (circling a couple times until you see the cake loosening from the bottom)
  7. Pour Quick Chocolate Ganache, recipe follows, over cake mini (spread with spatula if you’re feeling particularly Type-A) and, if desired, top Cake Minis with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Pour heavy cream into a microwave-safe mug and microwave until very hot/almost boiling.
  2. Add chocolate chips to the mug and stir until chocolate chips melt and are evenly combined with the cream (you may have to zap it in the microwave for just a couple seconds longer.


Makes 2 Cake Minis

Tip 1: If you want to skip non-stick spray or prepping a baking dish, just pour the batter into a dry ceramic ramekin and plan to scoop the cake out with a spoon.

Tip 2: If you just don’t want to wait for the cake to cool, you can also plan to enjoy the cake with the scoop method.

Optional ganache preparation: If you don’t want to use the microwave, you can place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl, heat the cream in a small pot/sauce pan and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir till well-combined.

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes



Optional cake preparation if you’re in a hurry: cool cake until safe to eat, but leave cake in the ramekin.

Pour chocolate ganache, recipe above, over cake mini and…

Chocolate Cake Minis

…Use a spoon to enjoy.

Chocolate Cake Minis

Scoop and savor.

While I love my other cake mini recipes, this one may become my new go-to quick-fix dessert for a couple reasons: ease of preparation, speed, removal of need to let cake cool (I can get to my cake faster, guys!), and did I mention this recipe is faster than most of my other dessert recipes? Yeaaaaaaa!

More Clean Eating Dessert Recipes

Just Right Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Cranberry Apple Crisp

Strawberries ‘N Cream Cake Minis

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Oatmeal


Happy baking! Enjoy your Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis!

Healthy chocolate cake minis! NO weird substitutions! This clean eating dessert recipe has built in portion control. And it's a SUPER fast and easy chocolate dessert you can make any day of the week with regular ingredients. #recipe #healthyrecipes #cleaneating #realfood #vegan #vegetarian #dessert #chocolate #chocolaterecipe #cake

16 thoughts on “Chocolate “Depression” Cake Minis {Recipe}”

  1. The photos are unbelievable!! This is another recipe for me to copy and paste and save into my collection!! Thanks for posting!

    I’m such a chocoholic!

  2. So, I’m graduating high-school a semester early, and I wanted to bake my two good friends each a mini layer cake as a going away present. I used this recipe, only I used a whole recipe for each mini layer cake. They turned out great! I sampled the round part that I had to cut off of the bottom layer, and it was amazing!!! I mean, not to exaggerate, but it was probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. 🙂 I made a coffee-buttercream icing for between layers and on top, and then I drizzled chocolate syrup on them and sprinkled some crushed Andes on top. I know that my preparation wasn’t exactly healthful, but I figure that since it’s not for myself… Haha! Thanks so much for the recipe though!


Leave a Comment

Recipe rating