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Howell Family Chocolate Cake

Photo by Libby Howell

In the fifth grade, my family bestowed upon me a treasured chocolate cake recipe that quickly became a household favorite. This decadent dessert soon became a staple at our family gatherings and around the table during celebrations and special occasions.

We got this recipe from my childhood best friend’s family. When my mom tried the cake for the first time, she knew she had to incorporate it into our own family traditions. Now when my mom brings home chocolate cake batter and the recipe’s secret ingredient, it reminds me of my childhood.

My childhood memories are intertwined with the rich aroma of chocolate batter and the warmth of the kitchen as my mother and I would try our hardest to perfect this chocolate cake. At first, we couldn’t figure out why our cake was not as good as my friend’s. We tried everything until we finally asked for the recipe. And in that recipe we found that the thing that makes this cake so special is sour cream.

On Christmas day, my mom would always make this cake when we came home after seeing our extended family. After a long journey to visit relatives, the sweetest welcome awaited us as we entered our home. A luscious chocolate cake, baked to perfection, would be patiently waiting on the kitchen counter.

This recipe has become a big part of the Howell family holiday because it is so easy to make and it is the perfect Christmas dessert. I cherished those moments of togetherness, with the amazing scent of chocolate filling the air as we shared stories and laughter around the dining table. This chocolate cake was not just a dessert; it was a tool for creating long lasting memories.



  • 1 moist yellow cake mix (get one with pudding if you can find it)
  • 1 package chocolate pudding mix (I use the larger box, I think it is 6 or 8 oz)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream (I use light sour cream)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • powdered sugar for decorating


  1. Combine cake mix, pudding, and sugar with whisk to remove large lumps
  2. Add oil, water, eggs and sour cream
  3. Stir until smooth
  4. Stir in chocolate morsels
  5. Pour batter into a greased and floured cake pan or bundt pan
  6. Bake at 350 F, check at about 45 minutes
  7. Let cool, then sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar
About the Contributor
Libby Howell
Libby Howell, Features editor
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? Being able to make new friends with the staff! Who are your favorite music artists? Drake, The Lumineers, and Zach Bryan What causes are you passionate about? Gun control and women's rights