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Chanukah Party Surprise Cake

Chanukah Party Surprise Cake


Have any Chanukah parties on the agenda? If you do, you’ll definitely need one Chanukah Party Surprise Cake. Serve it at your own party, or bring it along to a friend’s. But make sure you don’t tell anyone what’s inside until they cut it open and see for themselves!

Use this recipe, or any other cake recipe—even a boxed mix will do. What makes this cake exciting is the surprise element, not the actual recipe. Then again, if it tastes like sawdust, that’s not great either.


  • 2⅔ cups oil
  • 4½ cups sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups cocoa
  • 5½ cups flour
  • 4 tsp. coffee dissolved in 3½ cups hot water
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt


  1. Cream the oil, sugar and eggs.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until there are no lumps.
  3. Pour into four 10″ round pans and bake at 325° F until a toothpick comes out clean. Approximately 45 minutes.

You’ll need at least three layers; I used four. Size is up to you. I used 10″ round pans, and the cake was huge—enough for 25–30 people. Unless, of course, this cake is the only thing you’re serving. Then you’ll need more.

Tip: You know how sometimes cakes come out looking like mountains, much higher in the center than around the edges? For layer cakes, you want to avoid that. Bake the cakes at a lower temperature (like 325° F) for slightly longer, and the cakes will bake more evenly.

Remove the cakes from the oven, and set the pans on cooling racks. When the cakes are fully cooled, gently ease them out of the pans, cut off the tops so they are flat on both sides, and freeze for several hours (freezing allows for easier construction).

Prepare the frosting. This is the recipe I used, but again—feel free to use any great recipe you have, or canned frosting for convenience.


  • 1 cup margarine
  • 3 cups confectionary sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup non-dairy creamer


  1. Cream margarine.
  2. Add rest of ingredients and mix until smooth.

Now it’s the fun part. Put on your hard hat, block off the doorway with bright orange cones, and declare the kitchen a construction zone.

Take the layers out of the freezer, unwrap the first cake and spread frosting around its perimeter, like this:

Unwrap the second layer and cut a hole in the center. Place it on the base—the frosting will make it stick.

Unwrap the third layer and cut a hole in its center, like with the previous layer. Frost and stack. It doesn’t matter if the holes don’t match up perfectly.

Note: If you’re making a smaller cake and want to skip one layer, this is the one to pass.

Now, close your eyes . . . it’s time for the surprise! Actually, don’t close your eyes, or you won’t know how to make it, and then there will be no surprise at all—just a poor, forlorn, unfinished cake, ignored in favor of the doughnuts and ice cream. (No, ice cream is not specifically a traditional Chanukah food, but a party without ice cream loses its status as a party in my books.)

You’ll need chocolate coins. Lots of them. I used an entire box. Open the little net baggies they come in, and fill the center of the cake with shiny golden bounty.

Quickly, before anyone sees, frost and stack the final cake. Look—no one would ever know what’s hiding inside this dark, chocolatey mass.

Shhh . . . I hear it saying something. What’s that? Oh, right: “Your secret’s safe with me . . .”

Leave the cake as is, or frost the outside. Make it as plain or fancy as you like.

This cake is also fun to make with kids. If you’re going to a Chanukah party, make it with your kids and let them enjoy the surprise everyone else gets when you cut it open.

Because look what will happen . . .

Treasure! Gold! Eureka!

Oh, and there’s some chocolate cake too.

Invite your friends, play some dreidel, eat good food and have a party.

Happy Chanukah!

Update: Check out this picture I got from a happy reader. Her kids decorated the cake with sprinkles and they shared it at a neighborhood party. Everyone was delighted when those shiny coins came piling out.

Miriam Szokovski is the author of the historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher.
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Kathy Lipkin, M.S. December 26, 2016

Please, please, please do not use real coins in this darling cake, even if they are completely sterilized. The potential for choking is too great. Reply

Naomi Turner Selkirk ,Manitoba November 27, 2016

Chanukah Surprise Cake Awesome Idea! This Chanukah Surprise Cake is delightful. For the person who was concerned about the fat content eggs eggs are now considered good for you. Also you can substitute avocado oil for other oil. Avocado oil is good cholesterol and can withstand a heat of 500 degrees f . You can substitute stevia for some of the sugar.
Chocolate is full of antioxidents which are good for you too. Yes it isn't perfect food but you don't have to eat a large piece of cake. It is good fun and that is healthy also. If you don't want to use chocolate coins you can used real money coins that you can wash in your dishwasher to sanitize them. You can always adjust a recipe to suit your health concerns.I learned this from my mother. As for this recipe it screams fun! I love it.

Naomi Turner Reply

Roberta Langman Freehold December 7, 2015

Made it for last night's Chanukah party. What a huge hit. I just did a three layer cake, using a favorite recipe. Thank you for this great idea. Reply

Leo December 6, 2015

WoW! What an idea for a cake. Great! Reply

Myriam Arnst Jimenez November 21, 2015

Amazing cake!!! Reply

Mom of 9 Mo November 18, 2015

Will definatly put this on the to do list. Thank you Reply

Tobie Crown Heights November 18, 2015

Yummmmm! Such a cute idea! I think I'm going to try it, as I'm making a family Chanukah party (with lots of kids!) and I can just see the excitement when those coins count tumbling out!! I'll keep you posted. Please continue giving us sick great recipes especially for kids to enjoy!! Reply

Anonymous Israel November 17, 2015

I love this - makes the chocolate even more exciting. I decided to use the chocolate dollar bills this year instead of coins - also makes things different than usual. Many stores sell them too.
Happy Chanuka to Everyone! Reply

Rishe Brooklyn December 6, 2013

this is over-the-top responsibility. loosen up, girl. Gillian, Gillian, Gillian (shaking head sorrowfully) Reply

Miriam Szokovski December 2, 2013

I'm so glad! I'm so pleased to hear from all of you who have made the cake and loved it! Thanks for coming back to let me know! Reply

Miriam Szokovski December 2, 2013

Tea Hi Cesare,

I am not familiar with tea in Jewish tradition, but best of luck with your essay. Reply

Sandy D. Greenbaum Delaware USA November 29, 2013

i want to thank you for sharing this recipe with us. it was a delight for our family and friends -- kids of all ages-- a small family group of 10, but very thankful, a miracle that we were all together this year for the holidays.

everybody loved the cake, it was a conversation piece too!!! how did i get the gelt in the cake--- how did it not melt when baking? everybody laughed. i used betty crocker decorator icing with decorator frosting tips and made a menorah with lit candles on top of the cake. so, maybe it was 2:00 am when i finished, but i was laughing, too. it was fun to do. loved it. Reply

Sandra D. Greenbaum delaware, USA November 29, 2013

CHANUKAH PARTY SURPRISE CAKE i made this cake for our family Thanksgiving-Chanukah party. it was delicious and it was a big conversation piece. thank you for sharing this recipe. everybody loved it. the kids of all ages were delighted with the gelt and i did some decorating on the top of the cake in decorating frosting, a big menorah with candles. Reply

Miriam Szokovski November 28, 2013

Hi Sherri,

It's the middle two layers that have holes. Top and bottom layer are full. Reply

sherri israel November 28, 2013

please explain.. I'm planning to make this now and I realized if the top two layers have a hole in it wouldn't it be a doughnut on top and you couldn't frost it to cover the inside coins? Sorry if i'm being's the middle of the night here. Reply

Sheina Perman November 10, 2013

Love that Miriam! Reply

Cathy Dyer Apex, NC November 5, 2013

outstanding! Thanks Reply

Ilana Solomon Jerusalem November 5, 2013

Made it and LOVED it I made this cake for my son's Chumash party and him and his friends loved it.
I wrote on it טוב לי תורת פיך מאלפי זהב וכסף. I am for sure going to make this again! Reply

DD November 5, 2013

Cut Out Portion of Cake I made a little cake for her dolls to enjoy with the cake I cut out, Gillian. It looked like a mini version of the larger one. We actually had two cakes to enjoy! Reply

Cesare November 4, 2013

Hello Miriam, sorry if I write something in this discussion, by the way the Chanukah cake is fantastic, but I couldn't find any other contact. I've got a question for you about tea. Do you know some jewish tradition about tea or tipical tea flavors? I need it for an essay about tea and jewish tradition. Thank you :) Reply

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