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Chocolate Poke Cake Recipe

5 from 11 votes

A moist and decadently rich chocolate poke cake recipe – this makes such a great addition to any party!

How To Make A Chocolate Poke Cake

A few weeks ago, I received an email with such an incredible and exciting opportunity that my initial thought was, “There’s just no way I’m not dreaming right now.”

HERSHEY’S Kitchens asked if I’d like to be a guest chef on their website, creating a new recipe in partnership with them to highlight a few of their core baking products, such as the Simply 5 Chocolate Syrup. Having grown up with their original chocolate syrup (It was the only way my mom could get me to drink milk!), I was intrigued and happy to learn they now offer a version with just 5 simple ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, or artificial flavors.

I knew exactly what I wanted to make first with the syrup: a homemade chocolate poke cake!

Originally popular in the 1970s, the idea of a poke cake is to press holes into the top and pour on a filling that soaks into the cake, adding extra moisture and flavor to each deliciously gooey bite.

Poke cakes have been making a resurgence in recent years and seem to be really popular lately at potlucks or barbecues, with anything from pudding, to caramel sauce, to fruit-flavored gelatin, to sweetened condensed milk being used as the filling.

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Homemade Chocolate Poke Cake

I made this chocolate poke cake over the weekend to share with a small group of friends, and as we sat on the balcony catching up and eating chocolate cake, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Baking is something that has always made me ridiculously happy.

It’s a creative outlet where I can use my imagination to transform everyday household ingredients into an endless array of magical possibilities, turning the chocolate desserts of my dreams into reality.

And one of my favorite parts of the baking process is sharing the results with others.

(The recipe video above now has over 1 million views on facebook!!!)


Tips For Success:

1. You can poke small or large holes into the cake. I decided my favorite way is to poke a larger number of smaller holes with a fork, which disperses the chocolate filling more evenly.

2. Check off each ingredient as you add it, to ensure you don’t accidentally skip over an easy-to-miss item such as salt or baking soda.

3. When making a recipe for the first time, it’s always a good idea to follow the recipe exactly—without substituting a different flour, sweetener, or cutting back on the salt, sugar, or oil—as even seemingly small changes can make a huge difference.

Once you know how a recipe is supposed to turn out, you can play around. Edible experiments are the best kind!

4. Be sure to have all ingredients out and read through the full recipe before starting.

5. As a general rule, baked goods are actually richer, sweeter, and have a much better texture the day after they are made, which is definitely the case with this cake and many of my other recipes.

If you can wait, I highly recommend not even tasting the poke cake until the next day.

Also Try These: Sweet Potato Brownies

hersheys food blog
hersheys simply 5 syrup

Why Should You Try A Poke Cake?

This was my first time making a poke cake from scratch, and I was surprised at how just the one little step could have such an enormous impact on the results – it is so much better than an ordinary chocolate cake!

The chocolate syrup gave the cake a soft and opulent center with an unbelievable richness. If you can find HERSHEY’S Simply 5 Syrup, I highly recommend it, because it can be used just like regular chocolate syrup yet has a much cleaner ingredient list (no GMOs, and just 5 ingredients: cane sugar, organic invert cane syrup, water, cocoa, and natural vanilla).

I also used HERSHEY’S Natural Unsweetened Cocoa to make this cake. It’s vegan and 100% natural, as the only ingredient is cocoa.

I frosted this cake with my Avocado Chocolate Frosting, but the cake is so decadent on its own that you can honestly get away with skipping the frosting altogether and it will still be fantastic!

How To Make A Chocolate Poke Cake Recipe The EASY Way
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Chocolate Poke Cake Recipe

A moist and decadently rich chocolate poke cake recipe that's great for parties.
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 9 servings
5 from 11 votes


  • 1 cup spelt or white flour
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp each: baking soda and salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, unrefined if desired
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, banana, or yogurt of choice
  • 1/4 cup oil, almond butter, or allergy friendly sub
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup chocolate syrup


  • Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch pan with parchment, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk all remaining ingredients except the syrup until evenly combined. Pour wet into dry, stir until just combined, and pour into the prepared pan. Bake on the oven center rack 25 minutes or until cake has risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely. Poke holes into the cooled cake with a toothpick or fork. Pour the syrup evenly on top, and let it seep into the cake. As mentioned earlier, if you can wait, I highly recommend not tasting until the next day… this cake is so much richer and sweeter after sitting for a day!
    View Nutrition Facts


The recipe was adapted from my Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe.

Have you made this recipe?

Tag @chocolatecoveredkatie on Instagram

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Thank you again to HERSHEY’S Kitchen for sponsoring this post. I was excited for the opportunity and had so much fun creating this recipe. If you try the poke cake, be sure to tag me @chocolatecoveredkatie on Instagram so I can see and like your photos!

Published on December 7, 2017

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
featured on The 
Today Show, CNN, 
Fox, The 
Huffington Post, and 
ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

Learn more about Katie

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  1. Vegan Julie says

    Katie this looks amazing! The new syrup looks great too and I love how it’s vegan. I have a holiday party this weekend and am supposed to bring a dessert. I guess I know what to make now 😉

  2. Patty Fields says

    Congratulations on your guest appearance with Hershey’s! How exciting! And this cake looks amazing! 🙂 I always look forward to your next idea! 🙂

  3. Laura\ says

    I say this as long-time fan and this is in no way meant to discredit you or your choice to work with Hershey’s (and the exposure it allows you is great) but for the disclosure of your readers I feel like someone needs to point out that Hershey’s uses child labor and slave labor to produce their chocolate and purchasing their products means supporting a really heinous industry that refuses transparency about their sourcing. I don’t want to be a downer on a good-looking recipe but you have such a large following and I feel like many people want to turn a blind eye to this issue.

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Thanks Laura, and thank you for bringing this up. I want to reply based on what I learned about the situation and their current role (because I did a lot of research and asked questions before signing on), but I also don’t want to unwittingly make any false or misleading claims or speak for the company, so I’m currently waiting on confirmation that my reply is correct and okay to post.

    • shadymama says

      thank you for pointing this out. it kills me on Halloween, watching alla these kiddos running around in their costumes, full of joy, collecting Hershey kisses, etc and knowing that kids on the other side of the world are living a completely different reality.

    • Stephanie - Consumer Representative, The Hershey Company says

      Hi Laura, My name is Stephanie and I am a representative of The Hershey Company. I appreciate the concerns you raised and wanted to take a moment to share more about our cocoa sustainability initiatives, as our company is committed to the responsible sourcing of cocoa. With 70 percent of the world’s cocoa supply coming from West Africa, there are entire communities in that region dependent on this crop. We want to let you know that we are committed to eliminating any illegal and abusive forms of child labor. In our efforts, we are attentive to the International Labour Organization (ILO). We cannot tolerate the unacceptable forms of child labor that continue to exist in cocoa-growing regions, but we recognize this is an enormous challenge well beyond the ability of a single organization to solve. As part of our commitment to eliminating illegal labor from our supply chain, we continue to build and accelerate our relevant programs. Since 2012, we have made rapid progress toward our commitment to source 100% certified and sustainable cocoa. We will continue to invest and innovate in this work alongside governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private foundations and activist groups. We are also greatly encouraged by the coordinated efforts of the World Cocoa Foundation’s CocoaAction members. As a founding member, Hershey has worked to ensure our cocoa sustainability programs complement and support the broader goals of CocoaAction. We believe this will greatly advance our mutual commitment to end illegal child labor. Feel free to read more about this on our website:

      While we are pleased with our progress on many fronts, we also recognize that more work needs to be done.  We once again appreciate your concerns about responsible sourcing and welcome your feedback regarding our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts.   We encourage you to connect with us to share your additional comments or any questions. Please contact us anytime by calling 1-800-468-1714 or sending us a note at

      • Berit Anderson says

        If I had a child slave in my house doing heavy labor and kept this child out of school, and I formed several committees to investigate the problem of child slavery, would you still put me in prison?
        Let’s hope the answer is yes. You would probably think I were even more of a hypocrite for the committees I’d sat on…and “my commitment to end illegal child labor.”

        And you, Stephanie, should personally look at what you’re doing with your life as an apologist for this group of people. It can’t feel good, knowingly defending the practice of enslaving the weakest segment of any population. .

    • brook says

      Exactly my thoughts, as great as this recipe looks. Especially since the recipes on this blog are vegan–all the more important to be mindful of the harm done to other humans in addition to other animals through oppressive and unjust agricultural practices.

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Sorry, I haven’t tried it so I really don’t know… it would be replacing a solid with a liquid, so there’s really no way to tell what might result unless you try. But edible experiments are the best kind of experiments 🙂

    • Orion says

      I made this cake and cut the sugar in half then replaced what was deducted, with maple syrup and it turned out great!!! ?

    • Jason Sanford says

      She has similar recipes that use Bob’s gf all purpose mix, so I’d experiment with either that or oat flour first. Oat flour will most likely work and will taste delicious, just the texture will be more dense.

      Jason (media relations)

    • Orion says

      I made this cake using Bob Red Mill GF 1 to 1 flour and it turned out awesome!!! This is our new favorite cake!!! (Katie is the best?)

  4. Stef says

    Looks like the kind of cake I would absolutely love to make. I do not buy anything in plastic so I will not be purchasing the Hershey syrup. Would you have a recommendation (or a video of yours) on what I can make to replace such syrup? thanks! You’re beautiful and I Love your recipes.

  5. Karen says

    Congratulations that is awesome! Thank you as well for the heads up on the syrup. I used to love Hersheys chocolate syrup when I was younger but gave it up years ago due to the corn syrup.

  6. Whitney says

    I have been so curious to try a poke cake for a while now. Oh darn, now I have no excuse. 😉
    I especially love the idea of the chocolate sauce (except I’d have to try it with yours, because I can’t have the sugary Hershey’s); up until now, I always thought it had to be a pudding or custard consistency.

  7. Zoe says

    Hi Katie!!
    This looks amazing! I just wanted to ask you, what kind of sugar did you use? In the video, it didn’t look like it was granulated, and so I was wondering which sugars you used with success. Thank you!!

  8. Emily says

    Wait a minute. HERSHEYS SYRUP IS VEGAN?!?!? I had no idea! As a new vegan, this just made my whole year. ??? I will be spreading the word!

  9. Amy says

    Tbh the poke cake does not sound good to me. Sorry I’m just not a cake person but the syrup I will probably buy to put on banana soft serve because I make my own chocolate syrup right now but if there’s a natural one I can buy then that saves me time. If you could post more banana soft serve recipes that would also be great.

  10. Becky says

    This may be my new favorite go to dessert. I made it and it turned out great. Delicious. Love the face that the syrup is now healthier.

  11. kara says

    I want to try making the poke cake, but the video shows frosting on the cake (after the syrup has been poured on) and I don’t see that in the recipe…

  12. anonymous says

    Do you think it would still be good if I did a vanilla cake instead of chocolate? I like the idea of a poke cake but just think that chocolate cake and chocolate syrup would be too much of a chocolate flavor for me, so I’d like to try a vanilla cake with chocolate syrup, if you think that’d still work?

  13. Andrea says

    I’m glad to see Hershey’s is offering a healthier alternative to the corn syrup and chemical filled original, and that it doesn’t have sucralose or splenda added to make it “healthier”. I will look for it, but I do wish though, that they’d make some of their bars or dark chocolate kisses vegan as well. Or Katie, maybe you could come up with a homemade vegan hershey kiss? Peanut butter blossom cookies are my mom’s favorite and I’d love to make a vegan version.

  14. Suzette says

    I am also disappointed that you are going to go the way of so many bloggers and start publishing posts sponsored by big food companies. I thought your recipes were supposed to be refined sugar free? I really dont see how this Hershey’s product fits into your claim of natural ingredients and sugar free.

  15. Jenn says

    This was delicious! Mine did not rise very much, but it got fourteen thumbs up from my house! (Two thumbs a piece!) Not everyone opted for the frosting, but the ones that did declared it fantastic as well!

    I did make two small changes. The first was that I made this grain free using a paleo flour blend and the second was that I used Truvia instead of pure sugar. I also made my own syrup using Truvia.

    So much yum! Thank you!

  16. Christopher says

    This cake is delicious – so moist and so many layers of chocolate goodness. The family gave it a 10/10! It will definitely go into our dessert rotation. Thank you for the great recipe!

  17. Sameena says

    Hi. You mentioned 1/4 cup of apple sauce, banana or youghurt eg coconutmilk youghurt. Do you mean apple juice or normal plain yougurt/fruit yougurt

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