The Ingredient That Will Change Your Chocolate Cake Forever

If you're a fan of dessert — and a fan of chocolate — then chances are you love a good chocolate cake. Whether your preferred dessert takes the form of a chocolate layer cake, an old-fashioned German chocolate cake, a chocolate mocha cake, or a spicy chocolate cake, there seems to be an endless variety of baked delights that can satisfy a true chocolate craving.

Much like chocolate chip cookies — for which there are a staggering amount of recipe variations, both online and in cookbooks — recipes for chocolate cake often boast of a "secret ingredient" that sets them apart from the rest. Some of these secret ingredients include mayonnaise, mashed potatoes, vinegar, beets, baby food, and applesauce, according to Taste of Home. Each secret additive makes sense in their respective recipes. One of the craziest chocolate cake variations of all, however, is sauerkraut chocolate cake. This variation incorporates the salt-cured cabbage condiment right into the gooey cake batter. This wacky combination tastes better than it sounds. The key to achieving chocolatey success with this secret ingredient is in the details.

Sauerkraut helps balance the flavors in a chocolate cake

You're probably used to piling your sauerkraut on top of a hot dog or folding it into a salad, so it probably comes as a surprise that chocolate cake made with this tangy, fermented cabbage is a longstanding tradition, according to The Spruce Eats. We know what you're thinking. A salty, briny vegetable mixed into a chocolate cake? As bizarre as it sounds, it works, and here's why.

According to the blog An Affair from the Heart, sauerkraut helps make the chocolate cake moist, rich, and fudgy. The sour element helps balance the sweetness of the cake — much in the way that sour cream, another common chocolate cake ingredient, does. The kraut's saltiness also draws out the flavor of chocolate (via The Chocolate Journalist). And as sauerkraut is wet, it helps bring moisture to the cake, preventing it from drying out. The Spruce Eats notes that after baking, the kraut doesn't retain its strong flavor profile and that anyone tucking into the dessert will likely think the strands suspended in the batter are coconut flakes. So the next time you want to mix up your chocolate cake routine, reach for a jar of sauerkraut and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.