WATCH: Learn How to Make Wellesley Fudge Cake

February 14, 2017

Wellesley founder Henry Durant maintained that proper health was key to proper learning; he once declared that “pies, lies, and doughnuts should never have a place at Wellesley College.” Fortunately for those with a sweet tooth, the resourcefulness of Wellesley women won out over Durant’s best intentions, and a contraband recipe for chocolate fudge cake became a Wellesley tradition.

Wellesley Fudge Cake is a decadent layer cake topped with a slab of fudge frosting. Over time, local tearooms put the cake on their menus, and Baker’s Chocolate (now owned by Kraft) included the recipe with bars of its baking chocolate. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we offer the steps to making this classic Wellesley treat for you and your loved ones. 

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Wellesley!

P.S. We know there are several variations of the recipe, and we invite you to share your favorite, and your Wellesley Fudge Cake memories, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


Wellesley Fudge Cake 



2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup hot water

1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract



3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup half-and-half

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract




Heat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk hot water with the cocoa powder until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture, buttermilk, cocoa mixture, and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes.  


Sift together the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. In a saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar, salt, and half-and-half over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear, four to eight minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens slightly and turns deep golden brown, about eight to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the chopped chocolate and the vanilla and stir until smooth. Slowly whisk in the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa until incorporated. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes until the frosting reaches the desired spreading consistency. Frost the cake generously. 

Serves up to 16.

In case you missed it, learn to make another Wellesley favorite: the peppermint stick pie