cakes family favorites

Mississippi Mud Cake


I had every intention of filling this post with grand historical facts about the origin of the cake and it’s namesake cousin, the Mississippi Mud Pie. However, a cursory search of the internet didn’t yield much to pass on beyond the obvious: a rich chocolate, brownie-like cake smothered in melted marshmallows and chocolate glaze is alot like sticky mud…the mud around the Mississippi River, in particular. So, there you have it in a pretty anti-climactic nutshell. 

But, after digging a little deeper it seems that based on the cake’s puzzling name, the layers of the finished cake are cause for speculation over any symbolism their inclusion in the recipe has. Throughout the articles and posts I read, the ideas tossed around discussing the cake’s bit and pieces went a lot like this:

the cake = the earth

the glaze = the mud

the pecans/nuts = wood? trees? rocks? There were a few varying opinions on this one

the marshmallows = ???  Well, this ingredient seems to be shrouded in complete mystery as to any allegorical value it may have.  But, I have to get down to the nitty gritty here and just accept that there may be no logical comparison. Melted marshmallows just make everything better anyway and I’m pretty sure that’s why they’re included…just because they can be. 

Although the historical facts about this cake were a bit murky, I can pass on some verified personal history with this dessert. In fact, I remember the first time I tasted this cake like it was yesterday! Many years ago, my Aunt Betty served Mississippi Mud Cake at an annual family reunion we attended on Easter weekend throughout my younger years. Once our big family dinner was over and I finally got to try a piece of that heavenly-looking cake, it pretty much knocked my socks off. 

Yep, this sticky, gooey, chocolately, marshmallow-y cake totally had twelve-year-old me at “hello”.  

It was such a hit at that get-together, that every year after that some version of this cake was served. My favorite twist on it was her Dirt Cake that she served in a huge terracotta pot complete with gummy worms and fake flowers. It was awesome! I will never forget how much fun we had on those weekend visits so many years ago. 

Last Sunday, I wanted to make a special dessert for my kids to round out our last weekend of summer. Once I thought about Mississippi Mud Cake, nothing else would do for my marshmallow-loving kids. Unfortunately, I never asked my sweet aunt for her recipe before she passed on just a few years back. But, the basic concept was not lost on me and I put this version together with scratch-made, super-moist chocolate cake, a big ol’ bag of marshmallows and a decadent chocolate glaze. I did not include any nuts because my kids don’t really like them, but a handful or two of some chopped pecans would be a welcome addition for a nice bit of texture,if you like that sort of thing!

I promise that this is a recipe to get lost in…in more ways than one!

Here’ a short Youtube video (more like a snippet) I made when I was icing this cake, just for fun.  Please subscribe to my Youtube channel while you’re there! 

Mississippi Mud Cake                     
printable recipe    

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 finely chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup canola oil (or other light cooking oil)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup hot, fresh brewed coffee
  • bag (10 oz) of mini-marshmallows, 

Chocolate Glaze (instructions follow in step 5 of the recipe)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-5 tablespoons hot coffee
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup finely chopped pecans for topping (optional)

For the cake :
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° and spray a 10 x 15 inch cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line it parchment paper (a 9 x 13 inch baking dish will work too, cake will just be a bit thicker and need a bit more time in the oven) Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set it aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.  

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is just moistened. Pour in the hot coffee and stir until well-incorporated (just a couple of seconds). Batter will be thin. 
3. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
4. Cover the warm cake with mini-marshmallows and return it to the oven for for about 6-7 minutes or until marshmallows are melt-y and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. While the cake is cooling down, make the chocolate glaze. 

Instructions for making glaze

5.  Using a wire whisk or an electric mixer, whip the butter for just about a minute and then mix in the cocoa. Next, mix in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add in the vanilla. Then add the coffee, one tablespoon at a time until the glaze is at a thick, yet pourable consistency (like glue) 

6.  Transfer the icing to a measuring cup or some other cup that will make it easy to pour the icing onto the cake evenly. Pour the icing over the warm cake, as evenly as possible and allow the cake to cool completely.  

7. Get a glass of cold milk or hot coffee and enjoy!

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  1. Luscious looking cake Marcelle, I can see why you feel in love with this cake at the tender age of 12. Have a great week.

  2. Thank you, Cheri. It made a lasting impression for sure! You have a great week too!

  3. wow this mud cake looks to die for! Wish I could have a small slice with my tea now.

  4. I remember baking up a similar cake pre-blog days. I think it will have to be revived very soon—your recipe looks perfect!

  5. Hi Liz, it's a really great treat! Thank you!

  6. Marcelle, this looks like a great recipe to have on hand…Andrea

  7. It's a classic dessert – looks like you did a nice job replicating it!

  8. Believe it or not, I have never had either the pie or the cake! I think I need to try this! When I first read your post, I read "dirt cake" as "diet cake." I like that concept but I have never had a diet cake I liked. Dirt sounds much better! 😉

  9. Melted marshmallows really do make everything better, don't they? Anyway, no matter how/why this dessert was named, it's an awfully good one. And your version is wonderful. Thanks!

  10. i unashamedly love marshmallows too and think this is a masterpiece! the coffee in the glaze seals the deal–you've made an amazing dessert. 🙂

  11. Yum, the cake looks so delicius, I would love to have a piece:)

  12. I can see why you would remember the first time you had this cake, what's not to love. 🙂

  13. Marshmallows need no explanation – they are wonderful, especially gooey and melted as you say. The glaze on this is really cool with the coffee.

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