Dark Chocolate Crabapple Cake



Crabapple season is here!  My friend, Jennifer McGovern, stalks the wild apple trees in her Anchorage neighborhood and turns the sour fruit into a moist and tangy chocolate cake.  If you’re not a chocolate fan, try this Triple-Ginger Crabapple Cake instead.

“Once every year, I get together with a friend and make large batches of crabapple cakes.  She chops while I mix up the batter.  We make 6 to 8 cakes, freeze them in quarters, and then savor them all winter long.  We always make chocolate crabapple cakes.  This recipe has been adapted from the “Alaska Wild Berry Guide and Cookbook.”  The original recipe calls for regular cocoa powder but I prefer a darker chocolate so I can get my chocolate fix.  To freeze, cut cake into desired serving size, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Label and freeze for up to 6 months. I” –Jennifer McGovern

Dark Chocolate Crabapple Cake

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings  |  Total time: 1 hour 30 min
Print Recipe

Dark chocolate and red crabapples make a beautiful cake.  Try to use dark cocoa if you can for deeper flavor.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped crabapples



  1. Preheat oven to 325°.  Lightly grease and flour a bundt pan or a 9-inch tube pan; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in water carefully as it may spill over.  
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and spices in a separate bowl.  Slowly add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture and blend well.  Add vanillla. Fold in chocolate chips and crabapples and stir to combine.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake one hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; some melted chocolate might stick to tester and that's ok.  Let cool in pan on a cooling rack 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan onto rack and let cool until ready to serve.  Let cool completely and wrap any leftovers in plastic wrap.

Date Published: September 29, 2014

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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18 comments... read them below or add one


  1. October 10, 2014 2:17 pm by marcia freed Reply

    Your personal story is so compelling and so well expressed. It adds a lot to yourMOUTHFUL OF STARS. I read your entire cookbook and suggest you look at the Indian author,, Julie Sahni and her recipe for tomato ginger chutney. It has fewer ingredients than yours but it is very good although it does not make a lot once it is cooked down. I think you would like it . I am looking forward to trying your curry leaf syrup and cocktail. The curry leaves has been my biggest cooking discovery this year. I love the perfume.

    • October 22, 2014 6:35 pm by kim Reply

      Thanks for your kind words. And for pointing me to author Julie Sahni; I will check out her chutney recipe among others. I hope you like the curry leaf syrup and cocktail. I love the fragrant hit the leaves offer to so many dishes. I recently made Suvir Saran’s shrimp and sweet corn curry, which makes such great use of curry leaf.

  2. August 6, 2016 5:47 pm by kathie Reply

    Do you peel the apples, even if they’re only about an inch wide??

    • August 7, 2016 10:08 am by kim Reply

      Hi Kathie,

      Jen, who developed this recipe, never peels her crabapples. There’s a photo of her cutting them up. I hope you like the cake!

  3. August 12, 2016 2:43 pm by Teapotlids Reply

    I like the sound of this but have a similar question to the previous one: are the crab apples just chopped or are they peeled & cored beforehand?

    • August 15, 2016 12:01 pm by kim Reply

      No need to peel the apples, but it’s best to remove the core. Thanks.

  4. August 22, 2016 11:24 am by Thel Reply

    Hi Kim. I made it last night and it’s awesome! I like that it’s not too sweet and the tiny little tangy crab apples are lovely. It’s a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

    • August 22, 2016 5:56 pm by kim Reply

      Hi. That’s good news. Where did you get crabapples? I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!! Thanks for letting us know.

      • August 23, 2016 11:24 pm by Thel Reply

        I got it from the apple tree from our backyard. We got heaps and it’s falling on the ground now. I’ve been cooking and baking crab apples since it turns reddish early this month. I tried making jelly, apple butter, turn over (a massive failure, lol), crab apple juice and tommorow crab apple ketchup. The best one is your cake recipe and I’m going to try the ginger recipe soon.

        • October 3, 2016 11:29 am by kim Reply

          Wow–that all sounds delicious. I love apple butter. On this site, I also have a crabapple limoncello recipe that’s potent but delicious!

  5. September 2, 2016 6:16 pm by Thel Reply

    Hi Kim. We got 3 apple tree in our yard. I’ve been cooking and baking crab apples like crazy =). I’ll try the ginger cake next time.

  6. September 9, 2016 10:55 pm by Jacqui King Reply

    Would this work using crabapple jelly instead?

    • October 3, 2016 6:18 pm by kim Reply

      Do you mean crabapple jelly in place of the apples? It would add more moisture so you’d have to modify cook times.

  7. June 7, 2017 3:53 pm by Julie Chan Reply

    Made it today and it turned out lovely having to up the heat of oven as l was not sure the 325 f is normal or fan forced(I use fan forced 140c to begin with). Please can you clarify. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

    • July 24, 2017 4:04 pm by kim Reply

      325 F is normal; with some convection ovens, the oven will modify/adapt the temp; i.e. I set mine to 325 F and it adjusts to 300 F convection. I hope this helps.

  8. August 24, 2017 2:38 pm by julie cooper Reply

    Could you make this into cupcakes instead of a bundt pan?

    • August 29, 2017 10:00 am by kim Reply

      Yes, I think so. But the bake time will be a little bit less. Thanks.

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