Miss Leslie’s 1847 Chocolate Cake

This modern adaption from The Lady’s Recipe Book circa 1847 is the first known preparation for a cake baked with chocolate rather than a cookie dipped into hot chocolate. Our version with AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate adds a deeper, richer dimension. Delicious!

This post is presented by Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg is the largest outdoor living museum in America, upholding their educational mission through immersive, authentic 18th- century experiences and programming for their guests.

This post includes the most beautiful products available in the shops of Colonial Williamsburg:

WILLIAMSBURG Yuletide Cheer napkins and crackers by Caspari, American Heritage Chocolate

AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate is the result of a unique combination of Mars Wrigley chocolate-making expertise and historical knowledge. Made with all-natural ingredients, AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate is an authentic historic recipe from the 18th century containing spices and ingredients such as vanilla and cinnamon. Used in baking and cooking—from sweet to savory—AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate gives any dish or baked item a richer, fuller taste. With its origins in the Americas over 3,500 years ago, chocolate has been woven throughout the fabric of society for millennia and has a timeless story spanning cultures, peoples, rituals and experiences. AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate hopes to be a part of your family traditions—both old and new!

Serves 12

For the cake:
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus additional for pan
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup AMERICAN HERITAGE® Finely Grated Baking Chocolate
1½ cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
½ cup milk

For the icing:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk, plus additional, as needed
Extra for garnish AMERICAN HERITAGE® Finely Grated Baking Chocolate

  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x13”x2” cake pan with butter; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter, AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate, sugar, and egg yolks until light and fluffy, using a hand blender or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add half the flour mixture. Slowly mix in the milk, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
  3. In a separate, clean bowl, whip egg whites to firm peaks using the whisk attachment on high speed, about 3 minutes. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whites in two additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread to edges using an offset spatula. Bake until cake springs back to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. For the Icing: In a large bowl, beat the butter and vanilla until very soft, using a hand blender or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes. Reduce mixer to low speed and add the sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, raising the mixer speed to medium once each addition of sugar has been incorporated. As the mixture begins to appear crumbly, add the milk, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue adding the sugar and milk, beating until the icing is light and fluffy, adding additional milk by the tablespoon as needed to make a spreadable consistency. Spread icing on top of cooled cake with an offset spatula and garnish with additional AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate.

Photography by Paul Lowe