With a name like earthquake cake, you know it’s going to be good! Each gooey bite is loaded with coconut, pecans, cream cheese, and chocolate chips for a crowd-pleasing dessert.
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If you love an easy dessert and have a hankering for chocolate, I’ve got plenty of options for you. There’s Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake if you like some fruit with your chocolate or Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies for a convenient handheld treat. But if you want ultimate decadence, then there’s nothing better than earthquake cake.
In fact, earthquake cake may be one of my most requested cakes. My friends and family always ask me to make it for parties and get-togethers. And I definitely do not mind whipping up this easy earthquake cake since it is so quick to put together! I can have the cake in the oven in less than 15 minutes.
Decadent Earthquake Cake Recipe
So, what exactly is earthquake cake?
Earthquake cake is a sticky, sweet chocolate cake that has a coconut and pecan crust and a cream cheese swirl. When the sweetened cream cheese and chocolate chips are marbled into the chocolate cake batter, it causes the cake to crack as it bakes, making it look like the cake has just been through an earthquake. The uneven surface of the cake is part of its appeal.
I use a boxed cake mix to make the batter for this easy earthquake cake. It makes the recipe faster and it tastes just as good as homemade cake batter. Serve earthquake cake while it’s still warm so the chocolate chips are nice and melty. Top the cake with some whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just enjoy it plain. It is flavorful enough all on its own!
Ingredients for Earthquake Cake
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Shredded coconut – Be sure to use sweetened shredded coconut, which adds a lot of sugary goodness to the earthquake cake.
- Pecans – I like to buy pre-chopped pecans to save time.
- Chocolate cake mix – Any brand of chocolate cake mix will work but I like Betty Crocker Super Moist chocolate fudge cake mix.
- Eggs – Or consult my Baker’s Guide to Egg Substitutes.
- Canola oil
- Milk – Whole milk works best for this recipe and helps make the cake dense and moist.
- Chocolate chips
- Cream cheese – Unwrap the cream cheese, place it on a microwave-safe plate, and heat it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften it quickly.
- Powdered sugar
Here are a few ingredient substitutions for this earthquake cake recipe that work well.
- Replace the canola oil with vegetable oil. Coconut oil also works well and enhances the coconut flavor of the cake.
- Try using white chocolate chips in place of regular chocolate chips. They look good inside the dark chocolate cake and have a mild, sweet taste.
- Replace the pecans with chopped peanuts or sliced almonds. Both kinds of nuts would be delicious in this cake.
How to Make Earthquake Cake
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Make the crust: Sprinkle the shredded coconut and chopped pecans in the bottom of the baking dish and spread them to make an even layer.
- Make the batter: Whisk together the cake mix, eggs, canola oil, milk, and vanilla. The batter will be smooth and thick. Pour the batter over the crust and spread it evenly inside the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cake batter.
- Make the swirl: Beat the cream cheese and butter together, then add the powdered sugar. Beat the mixture until fluffy.
- Swirl the cream cheese: Drop dollops of the cream cheese mixture onto the cake. Use a knife to gently swirl the cream cheese into the batter.
- Bake the cake: Bake the cake for about 50 minutes. The center will spring back to the touch and the cake will pull away from the edges.
- Cool and serve: Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then slice a piece from the pan and enjoy!
Earthquake cake freezes well. Wrap the whole pan tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two months. Let the cake thaw at room temperature for about 3 hours, then it is ready to serve! You can also pop it back into the oven for about 15 minutes to make it warm and gooey again.
How to Store Earthquake Cake
Once your earthquake cake has cooled, wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to a week. I like to reheat a slice in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it warm and gooey again. It’s also delicious when served cold!
Yes! You can use unsweetened coconut for this recipe. It will help cut the sweetness of the cake a little bit, but still give lots of delicious coconut flavor.
You can use vanilla cake mix in place of chocolate cake mix to make a vanilla earthquake cake. It’s a great twist on this easy earthquake cake recipe.
Earthquake cake is made with cream cheese, which does need to be refrigerated. Store the cake in an airtight container or wrapped with plastic wrap. It will keep in the fridge for up to one week.
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 box (15.25 ounces) chocolate cake mix
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter or baking spray.
- Sprinkle the shredded coconut and chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan, making an even layer.
- Add the cake mix, eggs, canola oil, milk and vanilla to a large mixing bowl and whisk into a smooth batter. Pour the cake batter into the baking pan on top of the coconut and pecans. Spread the cake batter evenly in the pan using a spatula or spoon.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cake batter in the pan.
- In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything is evenly incorporated.
- Add the powdered sugar to the bowl with the cream cheese and beat again until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
- Scoop tablespoon-sized dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top of the cake batter, spacing the cream cheese scoops evenly over the entire pan.
- Use a knife to gently swirl the cream cheese and cake batter together. I like to run the knife through each dollop of cream cheese once, swirling it into the batter but not mixing too much. You don’t want to actually blend the cream cheese into the cake, just make it pretty and swirled!
- Bake the cake for about 50 minutes. The center of the cake will spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out cleanly (just be sure to put the toothpick into the pure cake and not into a cream cheese section which remains wet even after baking).
- Let the earthquake cake cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve straight from the pan!