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Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake

For summer picnics and get togethers, nothing stops the show quite like a giant Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake.

Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake |

I’m sure you all remember my good friend Cathy from her amazing cake pop tutorial. She’s back again this week with a recipe perfect for a #SundaySupper picnic! Cathy made this crazy good Punch Bowl Cake then brought it over to my house so I could stuff it in my face photograph it. We make a good team! If my coworkers are any indication, this dessert is sure to be devoured wherever it goes. 

When I was little whenever there was a picnic at my dad’s job or a party at a friend’s house or a family reunion, my mom would debate what to take. Dessert was always a safe bet, and so was a punch bowl cake, or as my family called it Crow’s Nest. Recently I thought about making one and looked online for a recipe. I looked through several, and they were fancy. Super fancy. Fresh fruit and made to look prettier than they taste. I remember my mom’s being simple.

Boxed cake mix.
Boxed pudding.
Cool Whip.
Maraschino cherries.

Save this Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake recipe for all your summer gatherings!

Ok, maybe I want mine a little more homemade, but I want to be able to make it without a trip to the store to buy something fancy. This is perfect for a work picnic, church potluck, family reunion, and so on. It’s not exactly picnic-basket-friendly, but it serves a lot of people. With the rich chocolate cake, fudge pudding, and fresh whipped cream, everyone will love you.

My version of punch bowl cake starts with a homemade double chocolate cake. This cake is a big recipe. It’s made for a 1/4 sheet, but I sometimes use a 9×13 AND a 7×11. It won’t matter what shape the cake is, so use any combination of pans that gets the whole recipe baked.

The next layer is made with 2 small boxes of Chocolate Pudding – yeah, I still use a box

The last layer is fresh sweetened whipped cream. Because, let’s face it, nothing beats the real thing.

Once each of the layers are made, all you have to do is assemble.

Start by breaking up the cake and laying about 1/3 of it at the bottom of a big ol’ bowl. Follow that with a thin layer of pudding, then a thin layer of whipped cream, then repeat. I like the look best if it repeats three times. The very top layer should be whipped cream and should be thick enough to cover without seeing through. Top with strawberries, raspberries, or – like mom always did – maraschino cherries. Or skip the fruit if you don’t have any handy.

Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake |

Guys, I had never had punch bowl cake before and I have to say, this stuff kind of blew my mind. I recommend making it a few hours ahead of time. The longer it sits, the more the layers mesh together into one thick, rich, ultra fudgy cake. I would take this cake over the typical frosted version any day of the week.

Be sure to check out all the other amazing picnic dishes from the #sundaysupper family below! And if you need some help using up that leftover buttermilk after you’ve made the punchbowl cake, be sure to check out my collection of 40 leftover buttermilk recipes!

Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake for #SundaySupper

Prep Time 40 minsPrep Time
Cook Time 60 minsCook Time
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins Total Time
Yields 16


    For the Double Chocolate Cake

    • 1 1/2 Cups hot brewed coffee
    • 4oz semi-sweet chocolate
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3/4 Cups vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 Cups well shaken buttermilk
    • 3/4 tsp vanilla
    • 3 Cups sugar
    • 2 1/2 Cups flour
    • 1 1/2 Cups cocoa powder - regular, not dutch
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1 1/4 tsp salt

    For the pudding

    • 2 (3.4 oz) boxes instant chocolate pudding
    • 3 cups milk
    • 1 cup cream

    For the whipped cream

    • 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
    • 6-8 Tbsp powdered sugar
    • 1tsp vanilla
    • Fresh berries, optional


      For the cake:

      1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
      2. Finely chop the chocolate (or cheat and use chips) and place in a heat proof bowl. Pour hot coffee over the chocolate and let stand, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted.
      3. Beat eggs in mixer until thick and lemon colored. Slowly add oil to eggs, followed by slowly adding buttermilk and then vanilla. Add chocolate mixture SLOWLY and beat until well combined.
      4. In another bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, soda, powder, salt. Add this mixture gradually to liquids and beat on medium speed just until combined.
      5. Pour into lightly greased pans and bake 40-60 minutes - until center is set (time depends on size pan). Don't overbake.

      For the pudding:

      1. Place pudding mix, milk, and cream in a large bowl and whisk together until mix is totally dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Chill until ready to assemble.

      For the whipped cream:

      1. Put all ingredients in stand mixer with whisk attachment and beat until firm peaks form. *Note: the amount of powdered sugar just depends on personal preference.

      To assemble: Break up cake into bite sized pieces. Place about ⅓ of the cake in the bottom of a large punch bowl or trifle bowl. Follow that with ⅓ of the pudding then ⅓ of the whipped cream. Repeat 2 times, ending with the whipped cream. Top with fresh berries if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


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        { 68 comments… add one }

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        • Happy Baking Days May 26, 2013, 7:09 AM

          What a beautiful dessert to serve at a picnic! The strawberries make it look so pretty! Thank you for sharing.

        • Juanita's Cocina May 26, 2013, 9:59 AM

          This is gorgeous! I can imagine everyone flocking around the bowl at a picnic!

        • Amanda M May 26, 2013, 12:21 PM

          This brings back a lot of potluck memories. The perfect dish for a crowd that doesn’t cost a fortune.

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 27, 2013, 12:02 PM

            Definitely…very budget friendly. Probably even more so if you use Cool Whip instead of fresh whipped cream. Did I just say that? Whoops!

        • Tammi @ Momma's Meals May 26, 2013, 12:25 PM

          Are you trying to kill me??? WOW this looks fabulously delicious! For any party or picnic!!

        • Alice Choi May 26, 2013, 1:19 PM

          OMG!!!! This looks freaking amazing!!! What?! I love this! Pinning now!

        • kimchi_mom May 26, 2013, 1:59 PM

          All I can say is AMAZING.

          I’m am totally making this for my next party!

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 27, 2013, 12:00 PM

            Be sure to come back and tell me how it goes! I’m thinking you could try this with other cake and pudding combos too…the possibilites are endless!

        • Liz May 26, 2013, 2:22 PM

          My family would LOVE this punch bowl cake! Boxed pudding and all! It looks fantastic~

        • Nancy May 26, 2013, 2:46 PM

          This is SUCH a freaking good idea! There is so much deliciousness layered in that bowl, it’s kinda blowing my mind right now!

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 27, 2013, 12:00 PM

            It blew my mind too! Especially the way all the layers kind of blend together into one crazy fudgy cake!! You gotta try it!

        • Cindys Recipes May 26, 2013, 2:53 PM

          Too pretty to eat? Maybe, but I would dive in anyway!

        • Laura Hunter May 26, 2013, 3:37 PM

          Oh wow this looks so decidant and rich

        • Diana @GourmetDrizzles May 26, 2013, 3:52 PM

          This is beautiful! What a fun idea, and a rich and lovely dessert… YUM!!!

        • Megan Wood May 26, 2013, 4:01 PM

          This is beautiful and sounds delicious. YUMMMMMMMM!

        • Tara May 26, 2013, 4:55 PM

          I love a mixture of cake, pudding and whipped cream, my gosh who doesn’t!! Looks great!!

        • Kathia Rodriguez May 26, 2013, 6:37 PM

          What a great looking dessert.

        • Sarah R May 26, 2013, 9:58 PM

          My dad’s mom was famous for making this… EVERY holiday/party/BBQ.. lol. Still a fab addition

        • Martin Redmond May 26, 2013, 11:20 PM

          I can tell you now…I could hurt myself on this recipe;-)! Thanks for sharing!

        • Growing Up Gabel May 27, 2013, 2:07 AM

          How very pretty! I love it!

        • Paula @ Vintage Kitchen May 27, 2013, 8:03 AM

          The mix of ingredients in that bowl can´t be anything but amazing! And such a crowd pleaser too.

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 27, 2013, 11:58 AM

            Thanks Paula! It definitely is. And it feed A LOT of people, so it’s perfect for large gatherings!

        • kimchi_mom May 27, 2013, 2:45 PM

          I made this last night, albeit the boxed version, and everyone just LOVED it! Thank you!

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 27, 2013, 8:35 PM

            Awesome! I’m so glad you liked it! And the boxed version makes it so quick to throw together!

        • The Ninja Baker May 27, 2013, 7:36 PM

          Bee-you-ti-ful, Courtney! And with real whipped cream, strawberries and homemade chocolate cake, it’s guaranteed goodness =) BTW I know the chocolate cake is delicious because I have a similar recipe using coffee and buttermilk =)

        • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons May 27, 2013, 10:33 PM

          Very pretty! I actually have a trifle dish I never use. Maybe I should start?

        • Nicole Humphrey Cook May 28, 2013, 12:19 PM

          I’d like to dive right into that. Oh my goodness. Fabulous recipe!

        • Family Foodie May 28, 2013, 2:56 PM

          This looks just like something my mom makes! SOOO good. And it looks beautiful!

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 28, 2013, 10:45 PM

            Thanks Isabel. I think a lot of people grew up with something similar, but I had never heard of anything like it before.

        • Soni May 28, 2013, 4:54 PM

          Oh this looks like the perfect way to finish off a Picnic menu 🙂 Love how easy and pretty it looks! Bookmarked 🙂

        • Renee Dobbs May 28, 2013, 7:31 PM

          Just give me the whole bowl and a great big giant spoon. Oh yes!

          • Courtney @ Neighborfood May 28, 2013, 10:43 PM

            Oh yeah! Not gonna lie, we’ve been eating the leftovers straight from the bowl. Maybe with the serving spoon. Shhhhh! Don’t tell!

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