Rich chocolate buttermilk cake is topped with homemade whipped chocolate buttercream, crushed cookie crumbs and decorated with gummy worms to make this fun and delicious Chocolate Dirt Cake. Yields 12 to 16 servings.
Calling all chocolate lovers!
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all heard of dirt pudding. Layers of smooth chocolate pudding and crushed chocolate cookies with gummy worms throughout. Sometimes it’s served in little cups or buckets with shovels. It’s a fun dessert and kids (and adults) love.
This is the cake version of that classic treat! I took my super simple chocolate buttermilk cake recipe and topped it with homemade whipped chocolate butter cream, sprinkled crushed cookies on top and then added the gummy worms to make it look like they were crawling out of the cake or slithering on the surface. Not going to lie, it was kind of fun to make this cake. However I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of chocolate and gummy worms – although my inner child remembers it differently.
Hi. I’m old. jkjk
The gummy worms are optional and you could decorate this cake any which way you want (creative themed ideas listed at the end of this post!) OR maybe you’re craving a chocolate on chocolate on chocolate cake. Either way, this cake is incredibly moist and deliciously chocolaty!
To Make This Chocolate Dirt Cake You Will Need:
- nonstick baking spray with flour – Helps keep the cake from sticking to the pan.
- unbleached all-purpose flour – The base for the cake batter.
- cocoa powder – For that rich chocolatey flavor. Use natural unsweetened and NOT dutch process.
- baking soda – Creates a gas while baking which helps the cake rise
- baking powder – Will create lightness in the batter, which makes it rise.
- fine salt – Use either sea salt or pink himalayan.
- granulated sugar – For sweetening and flavor.
- eggs (room temperature) – Set out 30 minutes before using or let sit in a bowl of lukewarm water.
- unsweetened applesauce – Adds moisture without adding fat.
- brewed coffee (cooled) – Adds moisture and enhances the chocolate flavor.
- buttermilk – Lends a pleasant tanginess to the cake.
- pure vanilla extract – Adds warmth and enhances all of the other flavors in this recipe.
- whipped chocolate buttercream – Or chocolate frosting you prefer.
- chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos) – Twist apart the cookies, scraping out the frosting before crushing.
- gummy worms – Or get creative and make this dirt cake spooky, winter or spring themed.
Preheat your oven to 350° and lightly grease with nonstick baking spay with flour.
make the cake:
In a large mixing bowl, measure and add; 1-3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon fine salt.
Whisk to thoroughly combine.
In a separate bowl, measure and add in 2 cups granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce.
Whisk to combine before pouring in 1 cup buttermilk.
Then pour in 1 cup (cooled) brewed coffee.
Pour in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Whisk again, to combine.
Pour the wet ingredients into the the dry.
You guessed it, whisk to combine.
Switch to a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake on the middle rack of your preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes back with only a few crumbs attached.
Note: My oven is a small, older wall mount and I believe it to run hotter than large newer ovens. For me, this cake took 22 minutes but a reader made this cake and it took 35 minutes – which is more accurate for 9×13 cakes. With that said, because all ovens are different, check the cake as it bakes.
Remove and allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
Make The Cookie Crumbs:
Twist open 24 Oreos and scrape and discard (or don’t 😉) the icing. Add the cookie crumbs to a food processor.
Pulse until fine crumbs are formed.
Once the cake has cooled, make the frosting. I’ll include the recipe at the bottom, but here is the step-by-step post if you want to see how it’s made.
Build The Cake:
Grab the frosting, cookie crumbs and gummy worms (or any other decorations) and build the cake!
Add all of the frosting to the top of the cake.
Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.
Top with cookie crumbs and spread corner to corner!
Arrange the gummy worms. I like to have some look as if they’re coming out of the dirt and also some crawling out of the pan.
Dirt Cake Variations:
- Halloween – Use candy pumpkins, bones and cookies for tombstones.
- Christmas or Winter Theme – Add a dusting of powdered sugar and decorate with Christmas chocolates, sprinkles and mini candy canes.
- Easter – Use green tinted shredded coconut for grass. Add orange tinted white chocolate covered strawberries, peeps and/or use jelly beans and Cadbury mini eggs.
Slice and serve.
Dirt cake look complete with shovel spoons I found on Amazon 🤣
Chocolate Dirt Cake
- 1¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, sea salt or pink himalayan
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup brewed coffee, cooled
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 recipe chocolate whipped buttercream
- 24 oreo cookies
- 45 gummy worms
- Preheat your oven to 350° and lightly grease with nonstick baking spay with flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, measure and add the unbleached all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and fine salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
- In a separate bowl, measure and add in the granulated sugar, eggs and unsweetened applesauce. Whisk to combine before pouring in buttermilk, cold coffee and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the the dry and stir to combine. Switch to a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle rack of your preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes back with only a few crumbs attached. (see notes below)
- Twist open the cookies and scrape and discard the icing. Add the cookies to a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs are formed.
- Once the cake has cooled, make the frosting. (see recipe card below)
- Once the cake has cooled, grab the frosting, cookie crumbs and gummy worms (or any other decorations).
- Add the frosting to the top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle with crushed cookies and top with gummy worms or any other edible decorations.
- Store leftover cake covered in the refrigerator.
Dirt Cake Variations:
- Halloween - Use candy pumpkins, bones and cookies for tombstones.
- Christmas or Winter Theme - Add a dusting of powdered sugar and decorate with Christmas chocolates, sprinkles and mini candy canes.
- Easter - Use green tinted shredded coconut for grass. Add orange tinted white chocolate covered strawberries, peeps and/or use jelly beans and Cadbury mini eggs.
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