chocolate cake with ice cream

Why have a plain old chocolate cake when you could have an earthquake cake? Now, you may be wondering one crucial question: What in the world is an earthquake cake? Luckily, recipe developer Jessica Morone of Jess Loves Baking is here to explain. "An earthquake cake is a chocolate cake that, after being baked, has a lot of cracks and crevices, so it looks like it has been through an earthquake," she says. "Traditionally, they are made with chocolate cake mix, coconut, pecans and have a cream cheese filling."

Chocolate cake, coconut, pecans, and cream cheese all baked together in one decadent treat? Sounds pretty good to us. "My favorite thing about this cake is how rich and delicious it is," Morone continues. "The cream cheese inside it makes it so ooey-gooey and the pecans, chocolate chips and coconut give it a nice crunch." A cake is no doubt at its best when it has a little bit of everything — sweetness, texture, and maybe a hint of creaminess from some ice cream — and this earthquake cake definitely checks all the boxes.

Gather the ingredients for earthquake cake

ingredients for earthquake cake

For this earthquake cake recipe, you’ll need chopped pecans, coconut flakes, a box of chocolate cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water, semisweet chocolate chips, cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and ice cream or whipped cream for topping.

"You can absolutely swap some of the ingredients," Morone notes. "Any flavor of cake mix will work, and you can change up the pecans for another type of nut, or use different types of chocolate chips (vanilla chips, for example)." However, if you want to make the most "traditional" version of earthquake cake, follow Morone’s recipe exactly.

Add a crunchy layer of coconut flakes and pecans to a baking dish

coconut and pecans in pan

Preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In the bottom of the pan, sprinkle the coconut flakes and chopped pecans, which will serve as the crunchy bottom layer for the cake.

Make the chocolate cake batter and cream cheese swirl

chocolate cake batter in bowl

Grab a large bowl and add the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Mix these ingredients until they’re well-combined and you have a nice, smooth batter. Pour the batter right over the layer of coconut and pecans, then sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the batter.

Now, add the cream cheese to a separate large bowl and beat it with a hand mixer until smooth. Add in the melted butter and continue beating. Then, slowly add in the powdered sugar, continuing to beat until you have a smooth cream cheese mixture.

Dollop the cream cheese into the batter and bake the cake

unbaked cake in dish

Plop down dollops of the cream cheese mixture over the cake batter, then use a knife to swirl the cream cheese into the cake. Pop the cake into the oven and allow it to bake for 35-40 minutes — you’ll know it’s done when the center is set.

Top the earthquake cake with ice cream

cake with ice cream

Once the cake is done baking, allow it to cool, then cut it into slices and serve. Morone recommends topping the cake with ice cream or whipped cream, though she also has some other suggestions. "Instead of ice cream or whipped cream you could just sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, or serve it without anything on top," she says. "The cake is so rich it really goes well with something lighter and creamier to balance the flavors." With each bite you take, you’ll likely notice all of the cracks in the cake, a delicious reminder of exactly what makes this dessert an earthquake cake!

Don’t settle for your basic chocolate cake recipe! Instead, enjoy a mixture of pecans, coconut, and cream cheese filling with this earthquake cake recipe.

  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 15.25-ounce box chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar

Optional Ingredients

  • ice cream, for serving
  • whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle the pecans and coconut in an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Mix until well-combined. Pour the cake batter over the pecans and coconut. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the cake batter.
  4. Add the cream cheese to a large bowl. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it’s smooth. Add in the melted butter and continue beating until combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating at a low speed until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Drop dollops of the cream cheese mixture over the cake batter. Use a knife to swirl the cake batter and cream cheese mixture together.
  6. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until the center is set.
  7. Let the cake cool, then cut and serve. Top with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.