Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Really Good Cake (also known as Chocolate Chip Squares)

My kids and I are currently reading Harriet the Spy – it’s actually our second time reading it together. It’s my copy from when I was a child and it’s falling apart, but that makes us love it even more. In the book, Harriet gets to have cake and milk every day after school. The cake is served to her by the cook, who is not named in the book but is simply called “Cook” (at least it’s capitalized). I didn’t often come home to cake and milk, it was more like an apple or a banana. But there was definitely always something homemade for dessert after supper.

This is one of my favourite cakes from my childhood, and I think my brother would agree. It’s easy to make, and it’s fun for kids because there’s a neat thing to do at the beginning of the baking process. The recipe came from one of my Mom’s friends: Esther Feldman. I still have the piece of paper she wrote the recipe on – it’s probably 40 years old.

As you might have noticed, I sometimes fool around with recipes to try to make them healthier. The only thing I have been able to do with this cake is cut the sugar down. I tried to cut the fat (using applesauce, then trying Greek yogurt) and it just didn’t work – the cake didn’t rise enough and the bottom portion was way too dense. So trust me – just leave this one alone. It’s ok to sin every once in a while.

¾ cup butter (softened)
7 ½ tbsp brown sugar & 7 ½ tbsp white sugar (I just use 10 tbsp brown sugar – no white sugar at all)
1 tsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups plus 3 tbsp white flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Just over ½ cup cold water
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9” x 9” square pan with cooking spray.


Cream together the butter and sugar (about 2 minutes on high speed). Add the tsp of cold water and the vanilla and beat for about 1 minute. Add the eggs and beat until creamy and light (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients together.

Add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed – stir until flour is just combined, then add the water. Beat for about 2 minutes until nice and light.


Pour into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. 

Put the cake into the oven for 2 minutes, and then remove it. Use a knife to swirl the chocolate chips into the cake (to give it a marbled effect). 


Put it back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Let it cool in the pan. Cut into squares, and enjoy! 

I think you’re going to love it. As you can see by the photo below, my family did.


  1. ok have this in the oven as I type. I had to substitute a couple of things :) I used half whole wheat pastry flour and half unbleached. I also had to use sucanet instead of brown sugar (thought I had brown but didn't) and I only had half the amount of butter so used that and half canola oil :) Will let you know how that turns out - it looks good going in but clearly the kids will be the judges in the end. Thanks for sharing! I will have to make sure that I have all the ingredients on hand next time :)

  2. these turned out delicious! The kids and the neighbours loved them! They ended up eating the first batch within about 3 hours - would have been faster but I was trying to keep some for Conrad to get a taste. I finally decided I would make a second batch and let them finish the first ones. They are also fabulous because I can send them into school with the kids - no allergy ingredients for my school. Thanks for sharing - I will be making these again and again :) My guess is that if anything they were a little more dense because of the whole wheat flour - the second time I made them I used half spelt flour and half unbleached and they tasted very like the first batch. Keep sharing your wonderful recipes! I also love the pictures!!!

  3. Hi! I am so glad that the recipe worked so well for you, even with all the substitutions. Be sure to try the original recipe soon so you can compare. Glad the family and neighbours like it too - that makes me happy! :-)
    Happy Baking!