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Prize Chocolate Mahogany Cake Recipe

Prize Mahogany Cake is a luscious tender chocolate cake that is simple to make and delicious to eat. It’s one of our family’s favorite cakes and may become yours too.

This recipe was originally posted on 9/15/15. I’ve updated the post to include helpful details and step-by-step images. No changes were made to the recipe.

A side view of a slice of layered chocolate Mahogany Cake - Hostess At Heart
Grandma’s Chocolate Mahogany Cake

Digging through the beautiful recipe box that my Mother-In-Law (MIL) gifted me with, I came across a card titled just “Prize Mahogany”. I wasn’t sure what it was for and certainly never would I have guessed that it was this Chocolate Cake!

I called my MIL, and asked her what was a Prize Mahogany? She stated that this was a chocolate cake that was her mother’s “go-to” recipe, and one that she’s made several times. That would make this recipe at least 80 years old!

What You’ll Love About This Mahogany Chocolate Cake Recipe

Old-Fashioned Simplicity. There is a reason this was my husband’s grandmother’s go-to cake. It’s a simple tried-and-true old-fashioned recipe. The ingredients are very simple and the cake is very easy to make.

Flexibility. It can be made in any pan and makes a beautiful layer cake.

Top-down view of a round Mahogany Layered cake covered with grated chocolate. Hostess At Heart

What Is Mahogany Cake?

Considered by some to be America’s first chocolate cake, the chocolate mahogany cake recipe and was first made in the 1800s. Traditionally, served with a boiled, cooled, and then whipped frosting called “Ermine Frosting”, this cake was the historical precursor to red velvet cake. I found my simple chocolate buttercream frosting recipe worked perfectly without all of the work.

Equipment Needed

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Ingredients for Your Mahogany Cake

Top down view of ingredients used to make a prize mahogany chocolate cake including flour, butter, sugar, grated chocolate, eggs, milk, and baking soda
Mahogany Cake Ingredients
  • Sugar. White granulated sugar
  • Butter. Salted butter since there isn’t any salt added.
  • Milk. The original recipe called for sweetened milk. What in the world is sweetened milk? I thought it was like the Eagle Brand milk, but my mother-in-law said it’s just milk.
  • Grated Chocolate. I used darker unsweetened baking chocolate the first time I made this cake. The second time it was made with a lighter semi-sweet chocolate. You can see the difference in the more recent images as compared to the image after the recipe card. I believe that you could use any variety.
  • Baking Soda. Fresh an active.
  • Cake Flour. Did you know you can make your own cake flour?
  • Eggs. Grade A, large.

Please note, that the printable recipe card has ingredient quantities, complete instructions, and nutritional information. The following is a quick overview of the recipe.

How to Make a Mahogany Cake

Step One. Get everything ready to make this amazing chocolate cake recipe.

Get your pan greased and floured. Line the pans with parchment paper on the bottom, especially if they’re older pans. Preheat your oven.

Step Two. Cook the milk and chocolate.

In a small saucepan, cook the chocolate on low with the milk until thick.

Step Three. Get out the mixer.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients separately with a fork, and then combine with the sugar/butter mixture and beat again with the mixer.

Step Four. Put it all together.

Mix the chocolate into the rest, and pour it into your prepared baking pans.

Step Five. Bake and Cool.

Two layers of baked round cake sitting on a cooling rack. Hostess At Heart

Let the cake cool in the pans for 10 minutes before releasing them from the pans and let them cool thoroughly on a cooling rack. If you used parchment paper, peel it off carefully at this time.

Step Six. Frost the Chocolate Mahogany Cake

Note: If you place the baked cake layers in the freezer for 10 minutes before frosting they will be easier to frost. Especially if you live in a warm environment.

The top of a round cake spread with chocolate buttercream frosting - hostess at heart
Frost each layer with Chocolate Buttercream

When the cake is completely cooled, frost the cake. Complete instructions for making the frosting can be found in our Chocolate Buttercream Frosting post.

Top with more grated chocolate for a gourmet look.

What to Serve with your Mahogany Cake

You won’t need any extra sweets when you enjoy this rich and chocolatey cake with its velvety moist crumb. However, it does pair well with a nice espresso, latte, coffee, or a large glass of milk.

Substitutions – Additions – Variations

Add chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips or white chocolate chips to the cake or sprinkled on top of the frosting. You could also add chocolate nonpareils for an elegant touch or add bright sprinkles if you want to get festive.

Add toasted slivered almonds to the top for a gorgeous look and a little extra decadence.

Unsweetened baking chocolate will make a darker cake. Using a semi-sweet or another variety will change the color of the cake.

Add a teaspoon of espresso powder for a rich enhanced flavor. You can also add espresso powder to the frosting.

Top-down view of a slice of Mahogany Chocolate Cake sitting on a white serving plate - Hostess At Heart

How To Store

This cake will keep at room temperature for several days and will even stay soft uncovered. You can also cover and refrigerate the leftovers if you plan to keep it around for more than a few days.

Can I Freeze and Thaw This Mahogany Cake Recipe

Yes. Freeze cake slices or the whole cake in an airtight container and don’t forget to thaw it at room temperature, uncovered, for at least several hours before you want to eat it. Grab a slice to take to work and let it thaw in your lunch box!


Why does this cake recipe use cake flour?

Cake flour has a lower protein content, creating a lighter, fluffier texture. You can
substitute with all-purpose flour but it will impact the texture. If you don’t have cake flour, you
can make your own!

A bite of a layered chocolate cake on a fork. Hostess At Heart

Tips to Make the Best Mahogany Cake

Don’t over-mix the cake batter.

Use the scoop and level method for measuring flour for this cake so that your cake doesn’t end up heavy from too much flour.

Use low heat to cook the milk and chocolate together and stir continuously until it begins to bubble on the sides. Don’t overheat. It will change the texture.

To prepare the pans I used butter with a dusting of flour. You can also add a round of parchment paper especially if your pans are older.

I hope you enjoyed this delicious recipe as much as we do. Drop me a comment below, and don’t forget to give it a star rating. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. Your comments and ratings help others decide if this recipe is for them too.

A slice of Chocolate Mahogany Cake covered with grated chocolate - Hostess At Heart

Prize Chocolate Mahogany Cake Recipe

Author: Julie Menghini
Prize Mahogany Cake is a luscious tender chocolate cake that is simple to make and a family favorite.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword: Mahogany Chocolate Cake, Prize Chocolate Cake
Servings: 12 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated chocolate I used unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 eggs

Optional – additional grated chocolate for garnish


  • Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. I also recommend lining with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 °F
  • In a small saucepan, cook chocolate and milk together on low until thickened. Stir frequently. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • Combine the butter and sugar together and mix with an electric mixer until lighter in color and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and cake flour. Whisk to combine. Mix together, and add to the sugar-butter mixture. Mix until smooth and creamy.
  • Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  • Pour into the prepared baking pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Let the cake cool completely on the wire rack before frosting.


Calories: 232kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 4gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 174mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 290IUCalcium: 25mgIron: 0.8mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

The following image is of this cake using dark chocolate in the Mahogany Cake recipe. Either chocolate is delicious, however.

Top-down view of a slice of chocolate layered cake sitting on a white plate. A fork sits on the plate.

More Great Cake Recipes

Pin the Best Prize Mahogany Cake Recipe Now!

Pinterest image of a slice of chocolate mahogany layered cake frosted with chocolate buttercream. - Hostess At Heart

I was intrigued by the original mahogany cake recipe, but missing in the instructions were:

  • the size of the pan
  • the baking temperature
  • what kind of chocolate she used

She also stated that they always baked cakes in two 8 or 9-inch round pans and layered the cake, and the flour was something that resembled cake flour today.

This cake was so good. I was so glad that I made it as closely as possible to the original recipe.

The steps are all my own. They weren’t listed on the recipe, but I use this same method for almost every cake that I make.

I was up for a challenge and decided to give it a go. What I had in my kitchen was two 9-inch round pans and it worked well enough. I believe 8-inch pans would have been better. This is not a very tall cake even with two layers.

I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think.

5 from 4 votes
Recipe Rating

Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Cool! I've never seen a mahogany cake before. It looks like it has an interesting texture. Almost like it's a yeast cake. Very interesting color. I can see why it'd be a precursor to red velvet.

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Thank you so much, Jeff! It's a delicious chocolate cake that's so easy to make.


Wednesday 8th of February 2023

What a delicious cake! I love that this was given to you by your mother-in-law! Sharing recipes from loved ones means so much!


Saturday 23rd of October 2021

Hi there! How did you make the icing? xx

Julie Menghini

Monday 25th of October 2021

Hi Anne, you're looking at an oldie but goodie recipe that I really need to redo. I used for the buttercream. Another oldie!

Hershey's Chocolate Syrup Cake | Hostess At Heart

Thursday 13th of April 2017

[…] Prize Mahogany Chocolate Cake […]

Saucy Saturdays Blog Hop No 13 - Mid-Life Croissant

Sunday 12th of February 2017

[…] Prize Mahogany Chocolate Cake from Hostess at Heart. Julie shared this cake recipe that is not only mouthwatering but has been in her family for nearly 80 years. I loved reading her thought process when “filling in the blanks” in the recipe she inherited. People who are “natural” bakers amaze me. If I inherited a cake recipe that was even remotely vague in instructions it would just collect dust on my kitchen shelf. […]

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