Show Me the $$ Money Cake $$

Also known as Cinnamon-Chocolate Cake . . .

In my family, we have a sort of strange New Year’s Day tradition. Of course, we have our black eyed peas for luck and our collards for money . . . But we also have a dessert called Money Cake.

It has sort of developed from the tradition of the King Cake – which is made in France to celebrate the Epiphany, which falls on Jan. 6 every year, and marks the day when the Wise Men arrived to visit baby Jesus. With the King Cake, a trinket (usually a figurine of the baby Jesus) is baked in a cake, and whoever gets the trinket in their piece is King for the day.

Well, there’s also an English tradition of baking a bean and a pea in a pie, and the man and woman who get these are the king and queen for the day.

Somehow in my mom’s English-Canadian family this has morphed into our Money Cake. We sanitize 2 quarters, 4 dimes, 6 nickels, and 8 pennies and wrap each one in wax paper. Then we drop the coins randomly into the cake batter before the cake goes in the oven. The coins bake inside the cake, and pretty much each person’s piece of cake ends up having a coin inside. The two quarters are for the king and queen, if you get a dime you are a prince or princess, if you get a nickel, you are a duke or duchess, and if you get a penny? You are a lowly peasant!

The best way to sanitize the coins is to wash them in soapy water and then boil them in a shallow pot of water.

Over the years, we have made the Money Cake with a chocolate pound cake recipe, a regular chocolate cake recipe, but most frequently it’s a Cinnamon Chocolate Cake. This cake is moist, fluffy, mild, delicious, and festive. Not too sweet, not too rich, not to spicy – just perfect. Even if you decide to make it without the money!

Cinnamon Chocolate Cake
Adapted from a recipe printed in the AJC in the 1980s

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large bundt pan with cooking spray. Put butter, water, oil, and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well. Then, add the buttermilk and baking soda. Mix together the eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small bowl, and add to the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Drop wrapped coins into batter.

Bake 25 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan.

Then, turn onto a plate, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Disclaimer: Do be sure to tell your guests about the surprise in each piece so that they don’t break a tooth!

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