Thursday, September 17, 2020

Rich Chocolate Yogurt Cake: memories of Lisbon


From Mary Jane Maffini 
A few years ago, I had a wonderful visit to Lisbon, a city with fabulous food on every street corner.  

 We were served yogurt cake every day as part of our breakfast in the Guest House associated with our Airbnb.  It was a daily morning walk along several streets with outside staircases and I felt that entitled me to eat all the cake I wanted for breakfast.

The host teased me about his family recipe without ever revealing it, so I spent a long time trying to recreate the taste, with pretty good results. I posted my recipe triumphantly here at Mystery Lovers Kitchen and changed it up regularly at home with jam, fruit or chocolate chips. 

Fast forward a few years and I am writing a scene with Charlotte Adams and Jack Reilly for Death Plans a Perfect Trip (Book six of the Charlotte Adams organizing mysteries, out next spring). Charlotte and Jack are in Lisbon, enjoying yogurt cake. Jack thinks it would be even better if it was all chocolate.  I couldn't argue. I love yogurt cake and chocolate cake and I set out to experiment with chocolate yogurt cake, for Jack, and maybe for me. 

I think this time I’ve got the result. The little cake is extremely easy and flexible. It's made in one bowl with no mixer.  Plus it’s not very sweet and that suits me fine. I find many desserts from France, Italy and Portugal are not overly sweet. I usually dust it with a bit of icing sugar. If you like things sweeter than that, icing it would solve the problem.  You will notice that this is the second chocolate cake in two days!  Daryl's looked fabulous.  But it leads me to ask: do you also think everything is improved by chocolate?



1 cup all purpose flour
12 cup cocoa powder, the best you can find. I used Pensey’s
2 teaspoons baking powder
12    teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (optional if not using vanilla yogurt)
1   cup white sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt - I used vanilla bean flavor, but plain is fine
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon strong coffee
12 cup vegetable oil (not olive)
icing sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350'F. Grease a six-inch round pan.  You can use a larger pan but the cake won't be as high. Up to you!  You can also use a loaf pan if you prefer. You may have to watch the baking times.

In a large bowl, sift in flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.

Blend in salt, sugar. Mix well. 

Add in the yogurt, eggs, coffee and oil. Use a whisk and whisk everything together until blended. It’s a one bowl, no mixer cake!  Fast and easy. 

Pour into the pan and bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. 

Cool in for 10 minutes before taking it out to cool completely on wire rack. Transfer to serving plate.

Dust with icing sugar when cool.  

You can also ice this cake, of course. The texture is such that you could cut into two layers and ice in-between.  Today, I wanted simple.  The blue and white dishes and the yellow flower remind me of our holiday in Lisbon.

This went so fast we were lucky to have a slice left to take a photo!  As they say, you snooze, you lose.

Mary Jane Maffini is the author of three and a half mystery series: the Camilla Maffini mysteries, the Fiona Silk capers and the Charlotte Adams mysteries – number six coming soon!  The Charlotte Adams books have recently been optioned for television films. Details to come when they can be made public. With her daughter Victoria Maffini, MJ collaborated on The Book Collector Mysteries as Victoria Abbott. Victoria Abbott spent several happy years on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. MJ  is very glad to be back. 

Don't forget to check out MJ's Canadian books:  Camilla MacPhee features a fortyish widowed lawyer who runs an advocacy agency for victims of violet crime, in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. Life would be easier if she didn't have the world's worst office assistant, the world's bossiest sisters and, arguably, the world's greatest stubborn streak. If you like your mysteries a bit edgy with a side order of humor, these could be for you.

Keep up on the news!  Sign up for MJ's newsletter HERE 


  1. Hmmm, a 6" pan? Sounds like a delicious, individual serving to me!
    Love your new portrait shot. Great smile.

  2. Ah thanks, Libby! I bought that 6-inch pan to make small cakes back when everyone was just having itty bitty pieces. Now I think I might need a second one. Hugs. MJ

  3. Wow this looks scrumptious!

  4. Thank you for this recipe, MJ! Sounds fantastic.

    To answer your question: Pretty much!

    There's a restaurant in Leesburg, VA that we call the "chocolate restaurant" (because I can never remember the name, but it's called The Conche). It's my Virginia daughter's favorite place to celebrate, and nearly every dish features some aspect of chocolate, including the savory dishes. Scallops with cacao nibs. Steaks with cocoa rubs, etc. Mussels with spiced cocoa oil. And of course the drinks and desserts are amazing.

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Karen! I MUST visit that restaurant some time. It sounds like it would be worth the trip. Hugs. MJ

  5. This recipe sounds delicious as well as easy. As long as I don't tell my husband there is yogurt in it, I am sure it will be a hit.
    I have not read your books yet, but I am looking forward to "meeting" new characters. I think it's great that you collaborate with your daughter. Congratulations on the TV/movie project. Don't let them ruin the written word.

  6. Thank you. Your husband sounds like my son-in-law. I am always slipping him treats with yogurt, cream cheese, goat cheese and other things he disapproves of. Hugs MJ

  7. I have read all Victoria Abbott books. Are more coming?