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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.

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