Graphic: Natalie Peeples
FeaturesStories from The Takeout about food, drink, and how we live.  

You may have heard of the mayonnaise chocolate cake recipe, which sounds so nuts you might just have to try it (if you’re not our colleague Drew Magary). But there’s also a sour cream chocolate cake recipe out there, right on the Hershey’s website. If you’re a fan of both delicious condiments, how do you choose between the recipes? Or hey, just hear me out: Why not make both and decide which is better?

There are worse ways to spend your Sunday than by drowning in chocolate before going to see Endgame. Fortunately for me, I had two ready and willing helpers who think their mom has the best job in the world. My daughter pleaded for the mayonnaise cake first, and had to leave the room when I put the sour cream in the other batter—“because that’s just gross,” she said. C’mon, like the mayonnaise isn’t? We decided to use a classic chocolate buttercream icing for both.

Photo: Gwen Ihnat

The two cake-batter methodologies differed in interesting ways: At the end of the mayonnaise concoction, you add in the flour mixture balanced by more than a cup of water, with no other butter or oil in there. That made this batter about the soupiest I’ve ever come across. The sour cream batter also had butter in it, which made it more like the cake batters I’m used to, maybe even a bit thicker. My daughter kept scouring the recipe: “Are you sure we’re not supposed to put any water in there?” As we tasted both batters and their frostings, the sour cream one definitely tasted sour cream-like—there was a whole container in there, after all—while the one cup of mayonnaise did not seem to affect the flavor of batter perceptibly.

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When we were finally done baking frosting and conducted a blind taste test, there was a clear winner. Honestly, it wasn’t even a contest. Despite my batter doubts, the mayonnaise cake was light and fluffy, with perfectly moist texture. (No surprise, the beloved chocolate cake from Portillo’s—the restaurant chain from here in Chicago—uses mayonnaise). The sour cream cake was dark and dense, almost dry, even with all that fat in it. (My son asked, “You sure you made this one second? It tastes like you made it yesterday.”) Despite its dark color, it paled in comparison to the superior mayonnaise cake.

Sorry sour cream cake, but if a huge sour cream fan like myself isn’t going to be swayed, I have doubts about other people. If you have been conflicted about the mayonnaise chocolate cake recipe, doubt it no more! It’s honestly the best homemade chocolate cake I’ve ever pulled off, and I will definitely be going back to this recipe time and again. My daughter has already requested it for her birthday. In November.

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