Ho Ho (Ho) Cake

For as long as I can remember, Christmas recipes meant cookie recipes and specialty pastries like nut roll, not so much traditional dessert recipes like cakes or pies. Once our family is done feasting on Christmas Eve (seven fishes and 13 dishes!) and Christmas Day, the last thing anyone wants is a heavy dessert. We usually make coffee and unwrap a few platters with a selection of cookies that have been baked. Sometimes, however, my dad’s family celebrates Christmas a few days early or the weekend before, when I’m always more than ready to welcome dessert into my belly. There were a few years when my aunt would bring this “ho ho” cake for the occasion. It had been quite a few years since we had it and I’m not sure what made me think of it, but I placed a call to my grandma a few weeks ago asking her to hunt down the recipe. She dug it up in an old church cookbook from decades ago. Finding it was both a blessing and a curse. The cake is quite possibly the best cake I’ve had in years; however, I ate at least one piece every single day for a solid week. I’m still trying to figure out how this is a bad thing.

This cake is a phenomenal recreation of all the flavors that make Ho Ho snack cakes so irresistible. A basic chocolate cake (I used a Dark Chocolate Fudge variety) is topped with a fluffy white frosting, and then a chocolate icing. My aunt mentioned that she sometimes makes the cake like a traditional roll cake… turn out the chocolate cake and roll up (same process as my Angel Food Cake Roll), then once cool spread the filling all over it, and roll back up. Finally, cover the outside with the chocolate icing. It looks like one big Ho Ho! My guess is that it’s more popular during the holidays because people assimilate the “ho ho” name with the “ho ho ho” associated with Santa Claus at Christmas. Whatever the reason, I don’t need an excuse to down plate after plate of ridiculously delicious chocolate cake.

I like keeping the cake baked in the jelly roll pan myself. It makes it much, much easier to steal a corner here and a corner there (ahem). You can serve this cake at room temperature or cold, straight from the refrigerator. I preferred it cold myself, but my mom and Chief Culinary Consultant both preferred it at room temperature. This cake was a serious magic act – for how much we ate it, it lasted a mysteriously long time. It will definitely feed a crowd, which makes it perfect for a holiday gathering. I’ll be making it again this weekend and bringing it to my grandparents’ on Sunday. I’m secretly hoping there are leftovers so I can bring some home with me! ;-)

One year ago: Eggnog Fudge
Two years ago: Pecan Tassies
Five years ago: Peppermint Bark

Ho Ho Cake

Yield: 15 to 20 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A chocolate cake topped with a creamy white filling and rich chocolate icing - flavors reminiscent of the popular Ho Hos snack cakes.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
1 box (18.25-ounces) chocolate cake mix

For the Filling:
1¼ cups whole milk
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup salted butter
½ cup vegetable shortening

For the Icing:
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup salted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Make the Cake: Mix together the cake mix as directed on package and bake in a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan, greased and/or floured, as instructed on the box. Cool to room temperature.

2. Make the Filling: Meanwhile, combine the milk and flour in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

3. Cream together the sugar, butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat on high for 7 minutes. Spread on the cooled cake and refrigerate until set.

4. Make the Icing: In a large bowl, mix together all of the icing ingredients on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth. Spread over the filling on the cake and serve. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Share This Post...



74 Responses to “Ho Ho (Ho) Cake”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on December 20, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Oh how I love Ho-Ho’s! Haven’t had one in years and years, though! I need to make your cake. The filling kind of reminds me of whoopie pie filling and I love that stuff!

    Reply

  2. Tiffiny Felix on December 20, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Wow…just wow. This looks so good! I’ve not made a filling like this before. I think I’ll make this for my family get together on Saturday. Yum!

    Reply

  3. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on December 20, 2012 at 3:25 am

    OK now this is one beauty of a cake! I know a few people in my life who would go crazy over this. I’m glad u were able to hunt down the recipe :)

    Reply

  4. Anna on December 20, 2012 at 3:33 am

    My God it looks delicious! I need to do this cake ASAP :)

    Reply

  5. Lucia on December 20, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Omg, it looks so delicious and so chocolate-y, it definitely is in my to-bake list.

    Reply

  6. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on December 20, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Ho ho Ho – ly crap! What a great cake! I haven’t had Ho Ho’s in forever, I don’t even know if you can get them anymore? Oh no!!! What a great idea for a cake!! I love, love, love it!!

    Reply

  7. Lori on December 20, 2012 at 7:56 am

    this has my son’s name written all over it! Thanks for sharing. I am going to have a bunch of hungry 19 year old boys at my house for a serious handball tournament. This will surely be a hit.

    Reply

  8. Lisa from the 'burgh on December 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I think I just found what I’m making for Christmas dessert!!! Thank you–your recipes are always wonderful. Merry Christmas.

    Reply

  9. Mary on December 20, 2012 at 9:16 am

    This looks so good!! I love this blog <3

    Reply

  10. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on December 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Ha! Love the name. This cake sounds awesome!

    Reply

  11. DIANE CRAMMER on December 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

    do you know its getting harder to find 18.25 ounce cake mixes in the stores..I think Duncan Hines is the only one…all the others have DOWNSIZED their product…

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 20th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Diane, I don’t buy them often, so I wasn’t aware of the change in size. In any case, just use 1 “regular size” box cake mix.

      Reply

  12. MollyCakes on December 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Never had this, but sounds amazing maybe I will make it for my birthday today!!

    Reply

  13. Liddy on December 20, 2012 at 9:45 am

    When the recipe calls for “vegetable shortening,” does it have to be Crisco, or can unsalted butter be used with the same results? I don’t keep Crisco in the house and rarely buy it to use in anything, since I much prefer to use an alternative if possible.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 20th, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Liddy, In some things, butter can be substituted, but for this filling, I would not recommend the substitution. The shortening provides a distinct texture and flavor that you won’t get with butter.

      Reply

      • Liddy on December 20th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Okay, thanks so much! :)

        Reply

  14. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on December 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

    How fun! I love cakes inspired by store-bought treats. The filling sounds delish!

    Reply

  15. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on December 20, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Oh my gosh, this looks so good! I definitely don’t blame you for eating it everyday!

    Reply

  16. marie//littlekitchie on December 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Wow, this looks sooooo yummy! The filling sounds especially awesome!

    Reply

  17. Becky @ Olives n Wine on December 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I love the color contrasts of this cake! What a delicious holiday treat :)

    Reply

  18. Krystle(Baking Beauty) on December 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Oh yum this looks beyond delicious!

    Reply

  19. Cookin' Canuck on December 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Does that ever look good! Thank goodness for your grandma’s detective skills. I definitely have to try this one.

    Reply

  20. Denise from Savannah on December 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    My Mom, now departed, used to make a version of this too. She used canned frosting for the final chocolate layer (a fudge variety). Microwaved it for 30 second intervals until it was able to be poured. Poured it over the white layer, and refrigerated the cake. So great. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll make this again soon for family, who loves it. Maybe Christmas!

    Reply

  21. Bronson on December 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Oh I am so hungry, and this is making it worse… darn sweet tooth!

    Reply

  22. Sandra on December 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Oh, this looks amazing! I usually avoid the boxed cake mix, but every so often a good recipe comes along that I must try, especially true if it’s endorsed by grandma!

    Reply

  23. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up on December 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Even in the pictures this cake looks light and fluffy. I love roll cakes. This looks like it would be great!

    Reply

  24. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on December 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    My aunt used to make this cake when I was growing up – haven’t had it in forever!

    Reply

  25. Chris on December 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I made this today and it was a hit!

    Reply

  26. PFRANK on December 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I am wondering how early can we make this for the xmas party. is 3 days too much. thanks in advance

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 20th, 2012 at 11:05 pm

      You could definitely make this 3 days in advance. Just cover it well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

      Reply

  27. Keely on December 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Do you have to use a box mix? Can you use a scratch recipe and would there be any adjustments?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 20th, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Keely, You don’t have to use a box mix. Just use a chocolate cake recipe that yields a 9×13-inch cake or two 9-inch cake layers (still bake it in a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan) and proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

      Reply

  28. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen on December 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Oh! Does this ever look naughty! It reminds me of a cake we always requested for our birthdays when we were younger. Have a merry Christmas!

    Reply

  29. Kiki on December 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    I want to make this for Christmas Eve desert. Wondering how this will turn out with a red velvet cake mix instead of chocolate….. Aren’t red velvet and chocolate cake really similar?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 22nd, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Kiki, I find red velvet and chocolate to be quite different; red velvet has just a hint of cocoa in it, while a true chocolate cake should be very chocolatey. If you prefer red velvet, then you can certainly use that as a base, but it’s not chocolate enough to be a pure 1:1 substitution for a chocolate cake, if that’s what you’re looking for.

      Reply

  30. Ashley on December 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Made 2 of these today and they were an instant hit with the family! It makes ALOT of cake! I was able to share with the neighbors. Thanks for a great recipe!

    Reply

  31. Amanda on December 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    If I don’t have a 10X15 inch pan (which I don’t), would a 9X13 inch pan be an acceptable trade? *fingers crossed*

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 23rd, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Hi Amanda, You can use a 9×13, but each of the layers will be thicker, that’s all.

      Reply

      • Amanda on December 23rd, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        Thank you! :) :) I’m going to make this now.

        Reply

  32. Miss @ MIss in the Kitchen on December 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Mercy me, I must make this soon! My boys will go crazy for it!

    Reply

  33. Caren on December 22, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Should the cake mix be with or without pudding? I found the 18.25 oz but it has pudding in it.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Hi Caren, It truly doesn’t matter, whatever cake mix you like. You prepare it just as the box says.

      Reply

  34. Susan on December 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Made this for a party tonight – to die for! I couldn’t find that large a box if cake mix either, worked just fine w the standard sized box of Ducan Hines Devils Food and a 9×13, didn’t have a jelly roll pan.

    Reply

  35. Patricia on December 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much for such a wonderful website! I just wanted to ask if I can use 2% milk instead of whole?

    Reply

    • Caren on December 23rd, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      I used 2% today and it came out great!

      Reply

    • Michelle on December 26th, 2012 at 10:42 am

      Yes, you can!

      Reply

  36. Amy on December 26, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe. i made for a neighborhood dessert last night and it was a big hit.

    Reply

  37. Amy on December 26, 2012 at 9:00 am

    This has been a family favorite for years at my house. I believe its the exact same recipe! I would screw up the chocolate frosting at times and decided to put a ganache instead….oh my!

    Reply

  38. Joy on December 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    The cake looks wonderful. I had to pin it for my benefits :D

    Reply

  39. Lisa from the 'burgh on December 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I made this to take to Christmas dinner–it was absolutely wonderful. I was a little nervous about the flour in the filling but it turned out so nice and creamy. Great recipe for a crowd, too.

    Reply

  40. bakeaffairs on January 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    This cake looks absolutely delicious!

    Reply

  41. Diana on January 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    My family loved this cake – said it was amazing. :-)

    Reply

  42. Tania on February 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    What a wonderful recipe! You have no idea how long I have been searching for a filling recipe that uses a white roux starter! I cannot wait to try this cake. Great blog!!

    Reply

    • Tania on February 3rd, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Not roux :-)

      Reply

  43. Christine on February 17, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Great Recipe ~ made this cake for a potluck and everyone raved about the it! I used high ratio icing shortening for the cream filling and the result was delicious. Next time, I will probably use approx 3 T to 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa rather than melting & cooling chocolate pieces — I think this will give me a very similar result.

    Reply

  44. Parvathy on April 4, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Hi,
    Great recipe…for the cake i uused a chocolate chiffon cake…turned out well.But the icing was a little too salty for my liking.Would it be better to use unsalted butter??

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 5th, 2013 at 11:22 am

      If you found it to be too salty, you can try using unsalted butter.

      Reply

  45. Our Sunny Villa on April 8, 2013 at 10:55 am

    This looks delish and super easy … 1 of my favorite combinations :) I think I’m going to make it in a regular 9 x 13 cake pan instead of the jelly roll. These would be great as cupcakes too. I’ve used the filling before as icing for cakes or cupcakes. It’s not too sweet and it versatile. You can flavor the filling/icing with chocolate or choc. mint or any other flavor you need or like. Am going to try this to take to my sister’s house. Her ‘little angels’ are going to love it! Thanks.

    Reply

  46. Margie on April 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

    This cake is just wonderful! If you like to bake, then the filling is a really interesting process. I found that I needed about four cups of powdered sugar for the chocolate frosting – the specified three cups made a dark, creamy spread which is not what is shown in the photo.

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 30th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Margie, The cake was made as directed in the recipe and photographed; I did only use three cups of powdered sugar. No trickery here.

      Reply

  47. Dawn on May 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Is it ok to use 3 oz. of semi-sweet chips or do I have to buy the baking bar?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 9th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Dawn, You could use the chocolate chips if that’s easier for you.

      Reply

  48. Ashley on May 26, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Reminds me of a deconstructed buche de noel! We used to make one of those every Christmas- my cousin and I used to refer to it as the “hugantic ho ho” cake (since it looked like a giant ho ho, obv). I hate rolling those things, though- I’ll have to try this recipe now! Thanks!

    Reply

  49. Larysa on May 31, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Never mind Christmas, this is going to be a Canada Day desert this year. Can’t wait.

    Reply

  50. Madison on August 24, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Hi, if I wanted to make the cake part from scratch and not from a box will that still work?

    Reply

  51. Anna on October 9, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Would it be more delicious if the base was over cooked hazelnut mudcake, first filling marsmallow flyff and then the last one just the top filling chocolate mousse marbellized with nutella.

    Reply

  52. Amanda on December 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I made this cake a few days before Christmas. It was definitely a hit and SO delish! I made it gluten free by using a gfree cake mix for the base and adding gluten free flour and some starch where you called for 5 tbsp of flour. It worked perfectly and tasted amazing!

    Reply

  53. CC on February 16, 2014 at 11:16 am

    hi,
    I am not sure but your topping looks like peanut butter, yet you mention it is a dark covering. did I miss something in this recipe?
    thank you for all the effort and love that you put into this sight
    CC

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 17th, 2014 at 8:58 am

      It’s not peanut butter, it’s definitely chocolate.

      Reply

  54. ana on February 25, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Hope u are in good health.
    Good to see a new cake.
    I have been visiting your blog very often recently.
    Regarding the icing, I wanted to know that by powdered sugar you mean icing sugar or regular granulated sugar in its powdered form?
    And when making the base from scratch, which chocolate cake recipe would you recommend?

    Reply

  55. Norma on March 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I noticed on your recipe for the Ho Ho cake you use a jelly roll pan–I don’t have one and really don’t need to get anymore pans–can I use a cookie sheet instead–and if so what will be the baking time–and how much do I pour in the pan–also do I line it with parchment paper or foil?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 4th, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Hi Norma, I would not use a cookie sheet (the batter will run off), but you can use a 9×13-inch pan (I’ve done this in a pinch), the layer of cake will just be a bit higher.

      Reply

Leave a Comment





(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)