Martha Stewart Taught Me the Secret to Better Chocolate Cake

published Feb 24, 2024
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Martha Stewart headshot on colored background
Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

As the queen of hosting and one of our favorite cooking icons, Martha Stewart never ceases to amaze us with her kitchen design ideas and her brilliant one-pan recipes (her one-pot pasta is seriously worth the hype). And after learning about the secret ingredient she adds to meatballs to make them extra delicious (spoiler alert: it’s cremini mushrooms), our ears are listening to whatever Martha has to say.

Luckily, the kitchen guru revealed another unexpected ingredient that makes one of her iconic dessert recipes all the better. According to an Instagram post, Stewart adds sour cream to her beloved Chocolate Sprinkle Sheet Cake recipe. The promise: tender and extra tender crumb.

Our senior food editor Kristina Razon weighed in on why sour cream enhances a dessert like cake. “While not a traditional ingredient in chocolate cake, here it adds moisture and richness so that the cake bakes up light and fluffy,” she says. This is why you’ll also see sour cream in recipes like coffee cake and banana bread. (We promise it won’t taste sour!)

We recently tried six of the internet’s most popular chocolate cakes, and also discovered ingredients like instant coffee, cream cheese, and apple cider vinegar can majorly upgrade the iconic birthday cake. Different ingredients elevate various flavors in various ways, so you may just have to try a few different recipes to find the one you like best. (Hey, there are worse problems to have than too much chocolate cake!) 

If you’re curious about Martha’s tip, sour cream is an addition we can definitely stand behind. Our new (and best-ever!) chocolate cake recipe calls for it. Try it once, and you’ll never bake another recipe again.