With a rich flavor and just-right sweetness, this chocolate yogurt cake is ultra moist and tastes even better as the days go by. A special trick with the pan results in a chewy crust that truly takes this easy chocolate snack cake recipe over the top.
A quick favorite with my mom right off the bat, she's made lots of variations of my lemon yogurt cake throughout the years. So when I realized I had a surplus of Greek yogurt and a new bag of Dutch-process cocoa powder waiting to be used, I called her to see what kind of chocolate twist she had experimented with.
Turns out she hadn't gotten there yet!
No matter! With just a few tweaks (notably replacing a portion of the flour with cocoa powder and bumping up the yogurt to account for the omission of lemon juice), that bright and citrusy yogurt cake transforms into the deep, dark chocolate snack cake of our dreams.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- Greasing and sugaring the loaf pan not only ensures this chocolate yogurt cake won't stick and releases cleanly, but also forms a chewier crust that tastes just like the end pieces of brownies.
- Dutch-process cocoa powder has an even richer, smoother flavor that's then amplified by a touch of instant espresso powder.
- Leftover pieces get moister the next day (and beyond), ensuring this cake is dessert-ready until the last slice is eaten. In fact I think it almost gets better with time!
- Greek Yogurt: Whole-milk plain Greek yogurt (usually around 5% milkfat) is the best option for yogurt to use in baked goods, but the addition of oil here means getting all the fat you can from yogurt isn't ultra important. Lower-fat (2%) varieties are fine.
- Cocoa Powder: While either natural or Dutch-process cocoa powders will work for this recipe, Dutch-process provides a deep, rich flavor that makes this chocolate yogurt cake something special.
- Oil: This pairs with the yogurt to provide a moist and tender crumb. A neutral-flavored variety, such as canola or vegetable, is recommended.
- Baking Powder: Does all the healthy lifting (pun intended!) for this moist loaf.
- Espresso Powder: Optional but amplifies that deep, rich chocolate flavor.
Prep - Grease a loaf pan with butter or cooking spray, then coat with granulated sugar. While often flour will be used for this purpose, sugar will also prevents sticking and results in the most delicious crust flavor, not unlike the end piece of brownies.
- Dry Ingredients - In one bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt.
- Wet Ingredients - Separately, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- Combine - Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and whisk/stir until combined and no dry flour streaks remain.
- Bake - Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350°F.
How Long Do You Bake Chocolate Yogurt Cake?
The bake time varies depending upon which size loaf pan you use. I've baked this chocolate yogurt cake in both 8.5- by 4.5-inch (pictured here) and 9- by 5-inch loaf pans and found either to work, with notes.
8.5- by 4.5-inch loaf pan
- Results in the tallest rise.
- While this this quantity of batter fills up the this size pan most of the way (above the generally-accepted rule of only filling a loaf pan two-thirds or three-quarters full), I've never experienced overflow.
- Will take longer to bake as it has less surface area/is taller. Aim for baking this size loaf cake for 50 to 60 minutes.
9- by 5-inch loaf pan
- Will not result in as tall of a rise.
- More comfortably fits the batter if you're concerned about overflow.
- Bakes a bit quicker as it's wider and not as tall. Aim for baking this size loaf for 45 to 55 minutes.
I do not recommend using an 8- by 4-inch loaf pan as it will be too small.
Tips and Tricks
- Prevent a Sunken Loaf - Resist opening the oven door while the cake is baking as the cool air can impact the rise. If you need to open it towards the end of the bake time to check for doneness, don't jostle the pan around or slam the oven door as to disturb the rising structure. And be sure to cook it long enough: many causes of a sunken center are due to under-doneness.
- Aluminum-Free Baking Powder - Some people with a more sensitive palate can pick up on a metallic-like taste in recipes that include higher amounts of baking powder. If that's you, use an aluminum-free baking powder (one that doesn't include sodium aluminum sulfate/phosphate, often referred to as double-acting).
Once fully cool, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and place in an air-tight container or sealable bag with all excess air pressed out. Store at room temperature for 3-4 days. You can also wrap individual slices and freeze them in a bag for several months.
Either is fine, so the choice is yours. Baking powder is the leavening agent in this chocolate yogurt cake. Because Dutch-process cocoa powder is neutral (not acidic like natural), it will not react with baking soda to create rise. Baked goods made with baking powder will rise independently of the presence of an acidic ingredient.
Greek yogurt often comes in non-fat, low fat, and whole milk varieties. Low-fat has around 2% milkfat while whole milk yogurts are around 5%. Much like the ricotta in ricotta cookies, whole milk is recommended in desserts for its richer taste. Because this recipe has added oil, you can get away with using a lower fat percentage, but I would generally recommend against non-fat.
More Chocolate Desserts
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Chocolate Yogurt Cake
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus more for sugaring pan
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 5% or 2%
- ½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease an 8.5- by 4.5-inch or 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or unsalted butter, then sprinkle in 1-2 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Shake and tilt the pan so the sugar coats the greased bottom and sides evenly. Set aside for now.
- Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant espresso powder, and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.
- To a separate mixing bowl, add 1 cup sugar, yogurt, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk very well (by hand is fine) until smooth and evenly mixed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and whisk/stir to combine until no dry flour streaks remain. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top until it's in an even layer.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes if using an 8.5- by 4.5-inch pan or 45-55 minutes if using a 9- by 5-inch pan, or until a thin tester inserted in the tallest part of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then gently run a thin spatula around the perimeter to loosen the edges. Remove cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing, serving, or storing.
- To store, wrap cake in plastic wrap and place in an air-tight container or sealable bag with all excess air pressed out. Store at room temperature for 3-4 days, or freeze in this manner for several months.
- Cocoa Powder - Dutch-process is recommended for the richest taste, but natural cocoa powder is fine to use, too.
- Greek Yogurt - Whole milk (5%) is recommended, but lower-fat varieties (2% or so) are fine to use.
- Baking Powder - Some people with more sensitive palates can detect a metallic taste in baked goods made with a higher amount of baking powder. I recommend using an aluminum-free baking powder to prevent this.
- Prevent a Sunken Center - Don't open the oven while the cake is baking as the inflow of cool air will interfere with the rise. When checking for doneness near the end, don't jostle the pan or slam the oven door as to disturb the rising structure. Make sure the tester comes out clean so the cake is fully cooked (underbaking can lead to a sunken loaf).
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer