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Cranberry Chocolate Snack Cake Recipe

With its sweet crumb top, tart cranberries, and rich chocolate, this Cranberry Chocolate Snack Cake is perfect with coffee or milk. Warning: there will be no leftovers.

Cranberry Chocolate Snack Cake | Good Cheap Eats

My family loves cake. More than pie. Yeah, they’re weird. I’d much rather have pie.

But, this cake could sway me. A sweet crumb top forms a bed for fresh cranberries and chocolate chips. Delicious! It’s perfect for an afterschool snack, dessert with coffee, or a decadent addition to breakfast or brunch.

This cake has its beginnings in a basic cake recipe a friend shared with me years ago, only it was called Toffee Topped Bars. It’s basically addictive. If you sit me by a pan of this stuff, it won’t last long.

I’ve adapted the method over time in lots of different ways, with different fruits and nuts, with chocolate and without. It’s pretty much foolproof, so feel free to adjust the flavor profile to suit your fancy. Here I combined vanilla, orange, chocolate, and cranberry – a perfect team for this snack cake.

Cranberry Chocolate Snack Cake | Good Cheap Eats

How to make this good and cheap:

To make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. The holidays are a great time to stock up on baking ingredients. Cranberries will also be more readily available around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Watch for them to be marked down right after the holidays so don’t hesitate to stock up and fill your freezer with them.
  • If you need to make some substitutions or omissions, you can skip the orange zest. It’s not critical and if you don’t have any oranges or they aren’t on sale, it’s not a huge deal. You can reduce the amount of chocolate by half if you prefer to save there as well. I’ve made it with as little as 1/4th of a cup and it’s been great.

How I make this recipe easy:

Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

  • food processor – I have had a food processor for 23 years and use it several times a week. I currently use this Cuisinart model and am coming to appreciate the three separate bowls. Good news for this recipe, it’s a one-bowl deal.
  • Pyrex 9×13 with lid – I love, Love, LOVE this pan.
  • silicone spatula – I love this two-sided spatula/spoon. It’s great for stirring and scraping. I bought it originally to flip crepes, but I’ve since bought more since it’s so handy!

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Cranberry Chocolate Snack Cake | Good Cheap Eats

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Comments

  1. Yummy! This looks delicious. I would definitely like the chocolate with the cranberries. I might even try dark chocolate chips. Mmmmmm. Thank you for sharing!

  2. can’t wait to try this. I have three bags of frozen cranberries in the freezer.

  3. Looks and sounds amazing!!!!

  4. I also have many bags of cranberries in the freezer. I have wondering what to do with them. This will be one thing to make.

  5. ARGH!!!! I just used the cranberries I had frozen. Guess I’ll have to pin it for next year. 😉

  6. Have you tried to freeze it? I need some more desserts to stick in the Mr. Freezy!

  7. This was delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe. I fed half of it to my husband and took the rest to a bible study fellowship 🙂 Thought the “sweet tart” tast was totally addictive!

  8. This look so good! I know what I’m doing with my cranberries now. 🙂

  9. Looks good–I’m printing this for use in the near future. I don’t have any oranges or orange zest, so that’s holding me back temporarily. I do have lemon zest in the freezer, so maybe I’ll try that.

  10. OK, I made it, but I made a few changes that maybe didn’t help it to be as good as it looks in your picture–I don’t have a food processor, so I used the stand mixer, and I think it needed a big pan like you suggested. I think if I do it again, I’ll cut down on the cranberries and cut them in half–we aren’t cranberry lovers but a little bit can be nice. Also, using the orange zest may be significantly better than the lemon zest. One thing I added that I liked was some shredded coconut on top–gave it a nice flavor and a little crunch. I didn’t love the outcome altogether due to my changes, but I’ll try this one again though–thanks for sharing. OH–also, I think you have a typo. You mention dividing the batter for the multiple pans but only mention one pan at the beginning of the directions.

  11. Kids loved it, made it with frozen raspberries

  12. Is this soft and normal cake texture, or is it solid and more like a cookie? It says cake, but the photo looks firmer. I’m trying to decide my cookie choices for Christmas gifts this year, and I’ve had this saved but never made it, so thought I might include it if it would be appropriate.

    • @Sandi, Definitely a cake. It’s way too soft and moist to count as a cookie.

      • So here were are, a few years later, and I finally get around to making this. Yummy! Glad I finally did it. You were right, definitely would not have worked as a cookie. I used a blend of flour (white, wheat, oat, spelt) so it might have been a little denser than yours, and I had to leave out the citrus zest as I don’t have any at the moment. (tried using extract as someone else mentioned but when I opened the bottle, I found it had all evaporated out some how!) I knew the kid would not be excited about the cranberry part so I used a little extra chocolate chips. I actually thought it came out too chocolately and wished I’d stayed with the original proportions, but he did still comment about the cranberry that I thought was great, so I guess we both had to compromise. I used a slightly smaller pan to make it a little thicker, so I think it might have been better to actually stir the cranberries throughout rather than have them just on top. (Putting the note here so I’ll remember next time.) I was thinking it was the kind of dish that could easily handle some ground flax seed or some bran mixed in with no noticeable difference to bump the nutrition factor. Perhaps that is only because of the type of flour I used, though, not sure.

  13. If you would use dried cranberries, do you use the same amount or less?

    • @Carla, I’ve never done it, but if I were to try, I think 1 cup dried is fine.

      • @Jessica, Okay. Tried this last night. If anyone wants to try this with dried cranberries—stir them into the batter so they can soften more. . Had to back away from having seconds. I will definitely have to try this with fresh berries, but no complaints here. Love the texture of the cake—might have to play with some varieties here. I was in a hurry and not really fond of zest for some things so I left it out—-what does it do to the flavor of this for when I try it will fresh berries?

        • @Carla, do you have a microplane zester? I think that some folks don’t like zest because they’ve only eaten it in biggish chunks. A microplane makes very tiny flecks that add flavor without bulk or liquid.

        • @Carla, Nope, but if it is what I think it is, I have been looking for one. After I track one down I’ll give it a go! Thanks.

          • Hi Carla,
            If you live close to a Dollar Tree, you should be able to find one there. They have a Betty Crocker brand, it has a container on the bottom to catch your zest. This zester produces very very fine pieces, much smaller than the microplane. I do prefer the microplane when do a ton of zesting though, seems I work faster, but that’s not an issue when doing one or two fruits. Oh, and I’ve found that cleaning either zester is easier with a toothbrush (I buy those at the dollar store too).

  14. Would this work okay cooked in muffin pan instead of as a cake? Grab and go works better for us than a cake.

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve never tried it, but I thought of it this weekend when I made a banana version. I think it would make 2 dozen. Reduce the cooking time. If you try it, let us know!

  15. We made this on Monday using Trader Joe’s freeze dried cranberries. I pressed the berries into the batter to try and soften them, but they came out of the oven the same way they went in – crunchy! After the cake cooled it was cut into squares and stored in the cake plate, which softened the berries so they were chewy the next day. Today the berries a very soft and only slightly chewy. Jessica I love the flavor of this cake and am disappointed I’ve waited so long to make it. Oh and for anyone interested, I used 1 teaspoon pure orange extract in place of the orange zest, because I didn’t feel like fooling with zest at the time. The results still had an orange flavor and I just loved it!

  16. Just made this….and LOVE IT!! The unique combination of chocolate, cranberry and orange, is fantastic. Definitely will be making this again….probably with the rest of the bag of cranberries!! This is the first time I have made something with my food processor…other than shredding or slicing. I was a little skeptical at first because it is a thicker batter, but it worked. Thank you for all the fantastic recipes that you post.

  17. Elizabeth Heironimus says:

    I made this tonight, after intending to make it for years. It was great, and my 4 boys loved it. I’m not doing an official Pantry Challenge, but I’m following along with you and finding it inspirational, and this cake fit nicely with the leftover cranberries I had sitting in the fridge.

  18. I want to make this, but can’t find fresh cranberries. What else would work?

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