Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake

I am in love with this cake.

It’s a white cake. It has a brownie layer. It has chocolate sauce. And cream cheese frosting!

Take a slice and you’ll see the brownie surprise cake inside…


Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake | | White cake, brownie, chocolate sauce, and cream cheese frosting!

I have eaten lots of cakes. I’ve made lots of cakes. This cake? Is one of my very favorites! And it’s from one of my newest favorite cookbooks:


Surprise-Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke of i am baker!

This book is so gorgeous. It’s seriously a work of art. Amanda is a cake genius! Jordan looked through the book and all she could say was, “WOW! This woman is so talented!”

I also heard her utter, “So THAT’S how you do it!” when looking at some of the surprise-inside cakes like the balloon cake (you cut it…and there’s a balloon shape inside). Not only is there a gorgeous beauty shot of every cake, but there are also step-by-step photos of every recipe. After reading the steps, you actually think you can do them!

Jordan marked several of her favorite cakes, but this Vintage Cake stood out to me. It was breathtakingly gorgeous and it’s full of a brownie and chocolate surprise!

And did I mention the cream cheese frosting?

Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake | | White cake, brownie, chocolate sauce, and cream cheese frosting!

This cake has a few steps to make it, but every single step is so worth it once you’ve taken a bite.

The two cake layers are a white cake. I used the recipe in Amanda’s book (and, seriously, it’s the BEST white cake I’ve ever eaten) but you need to get the book for that recipe. You can use your favorite, or grab box of white cake mix. You can make your cake layers the day before you assemble the cake. Just let them cool and wrap them in plastic to sit on the counter overnight.

The rest of the action happens the day you assemble the cake. The secret to the surprise is a layer of brownie. You can use the recipe in Amanda’s book, but I used a box brownie mix. The reason you need to make the brownie the day you assemble the cake is because you drench it in homemade chocolate syrup while it’s still warm.

Did drool just puddle in your mouth? Because it did in mine.

Once the brownie layer is drenched and cooled, you frost and layer the cake as you normally would. Amanda’s cream cheese frosting recipe is amazing and it makes just enough to frost the whole cake.

Speaking of frosting cake: do you get crumbs in your frosting and they drive you crazy? Here’s the solution: a crumb coat. A crumb coat of frosting is a very thin layer you put on before your final layer, like you put on your underthings before you put on your clothes. The point of a crumb coat is to make all the crumbs from the cake stick to it so when you frost it with the final coat it looks pretty and put together. Once you add your crumb coat layer, it’s important to let the cake chill so that it sets before frosting the final coat. Your cake will be crumb-free!

Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake | | White cake, brownie, chocolate sauce, and cream cheese frosting!

I was so mad I had to give this cake away. I made it for a potluck…but they got it sans one slice. I couldn’t help myself!

There were only crumbs left when I went to pick up my cake plate. I was kind of bummed. 🙂

Now that you’ve had a peek at one of Amanda’s recipes, I bet you want her book, right? You’re in luck – I’m giving away a copy. Scroll down for the details!

Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake | | White cake, brownie, chocolate sauce, and cream cheese frosting!

I’m drooling. Are you?

Did you make this recipe?

Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake

This surprise-inside cake is to die for! A white cake with cream cheese frosting is hiding a bottom layer of brownies and chocolate sauce. This is the perfect cake for your next holiday or potluck.


  • 1 box white cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare cake

  • 1 box brownie mix (9x13" pan size), plus ingredients to prepare brownies

  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (half of a 14-ounce can)

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup milk


  1. Prepare white cake mix according to package directions. Bake in two 9-inch round pans as directed. Cool completely. You can make the white cake rounds the night before you want to assemble the cake, if you wish.

  2. On the day you want to assemble the cake, prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour brownie batter into pan, making sure it doesn't go more than 3/4 of the way up the pan. (My brownie mix was a regular 9x13" pan size - about an 18 ounce package - and I used all of it. If the brownie mix makes more for some reason, you can bake it in cupcake liners or discard any extra.) Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs about 1" from the side of the pan. Let the brownie layer cool about 30-45 minutes, then gently remove it from the pan using the foil.

  3. Place semi-sweet chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until smooth. Let sit 5 minutes.

  4. Remove foil from brownies and place on cake stand. Pour chocolate sauce all over the top of the brownies (some may spill over the sides, that's okay.) Let finish cooling to room temperature.

  5. Make the frosting by beating the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 1-2 minutes, until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at at time, until frosting is light and creamy. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired spreading consistency (I used 1 tablespoon).

  6. Once brownie layer has cooled, place one white cake layer on top of the brownie layer. Add a thin layer of frosting on top, then top with second white cake layer. Give the entire cake a very thin layer of frosting. This is your crumb coat, so that your final coat won't be full of crumbs. Chill the cake until the frosting is set, then use remaining frosting to coat the cake. Use your spatula to make a "c" pattern over the cake for the vintage look.

  7. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.


The white cake recipe in Surprise-Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke is to die for, and can be used in place of the box mix called for here.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Surprise Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke

All images and text ©. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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  1. Maybe a tulip to celebrate the arrival of spring

  2. Brownies, chocolate sauce, white cake and cream cheese frosting?! Can’t handle the delicious.
    This looks amazing and what a great giveaway!

  3. Anything chocolate would be great inside… or a bunny for Easter!

  4. A rainbow. My girls are obsessed.

  5. Love it Dorothy! I definitely want her book! She is such a genius!

  6. I am making that this weekend! It looks great! I bet a chocolate brownie cake with the chocolate sauce and pb frosting would be incredible!

  7. What a GORGEOUS CAKE! Your prettiest EVER! for sure!

    I’d put a million dollars inside a cake 🙂 Congrats to Amanda on her awesome book!

  8. I love that rainbow surprise

  9. What a cool cake idea!! If I were super talented at baking cake surprises, I would do a sort of piñata cake, with little candies (like M&Ms or skittles) tucked in the center. I like how your daughter even flipped through the book – reminds me of myself, looking through baking cookbooks as a child 🙂

  10. Yep, definitely drooling over here. What a fabulous idea to put all of these things into one cake… I can’t even take that. I don’t think it can get any more beautiful than this!

  11. Amazing cake! I would like to see an Easter egg inside a cake!

  12. I would love to see a cupcake inside the cake – haha!

  13. I have made the same birthday cake for myself for more than a decade, and have been craving something different, but could never find something I wanted to try. This is the one! Thanks for sharing!

  14. I’ve never baked any surprises into my cakes but I love all the cakes that are coming out of this book. I’d love to find a brownie tucked into a slice.

  15. Surprise-Inside Cakes?!?!? What a wonderfully happy, fun (and delicious!!) idea! And for you to say it’s the best white cake you’ve ever eaten, and that this cake is one of your very favorites … well, that’s saying A LOT! I can see why you’d be so in love, though …. That gooey chocolate oozing out over the deep, dark brownie … my oh my! Utterly fabulous! 😀

  16. I love her cakes and that cookbook is in my cart on Amazon. My 6 1/2 year-old is requesting the heart cake for her birthday. And for my almost 3 year-old, well, I have something else fun as a surprise inside her cake. Such great inspiration.

  17. Peanut butter and jelly!

  18. I would put a pie inside a cake.

  19. This is amazing! I would probably do the same surprise as you. I mean, I haven`t made many cakes, but if this is your favorite, I think I need to try it out!

  20. Would love to do it for a baby gender announcement.

  21. I want this cake in my life! Amazing!!!

  22. I’ve always wanted to put colored cake pops (minus the coating) inside for polka dots!

  23. Wow this cake looks absolutely amazing! White cake, brownie, chocolate sauce, and cream cheese frosting. My head might explode, too much deliciousness! 🙂

  24. I would try a teddy bear

  25. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere, and can’t wait to get it for myself. I normally hate cake, but this looks so good!

  26. looks absolutely fabulous! I would love to win this book, never have made a surprise cake.

  27. i saw pinata cookies once, so a pinata cake would be really neat. or, do a theme: like if it is a carrot cake, put a carrot surprise in the center, or a bunny, or something.

  28. This looks amazing!

  29. I would like to put a kitty-face!

  30. I baked a pecan pie into a cake once – it was fun! I’d like to try baking brownies inside a cake sometime.

  31. I think id do a suprise cake with brownies or some kind of fruit filling!

  32. Yay! I saw this book last week and, well, think it would make a great addition to my other cookbooks. A girl can’t have too many cookbooks, right? Thanks for the lovely cake, great review and hosting this giveaway! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  33. Oh, there have been so many times I wanted to cut a slice before taking a cake somewhere! Hehe. Maybe next time you can cut it, take your pictures and put the slice back and re-frost the section 😉 Looks delightful.

  34. That cake looks amazing! I can’t think of anything better to put in a cake than brownies!

  35. Gaaah…I would love to win this book!!! I’d love to see some sort of chocolate truffle surprise inside a cake. Or a shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day themed cake. Or a peace sign – that’d be cool!

  36. This looks amazing! I Would get it just for the white cake recipe. I’d fill my cake with oreo cookie surprises 🙂

  37. I love piñata cakes! “Hey a delicious cake,” and then BAM, you cut into it and candy spills out! What’s better than that?

  38. I love the idea of brownies inside a cake! I also think a layer of soft chocolate chip cookies, or maybe Oreos could be fun!

  39. THIS is SUCH a GORGEOUS cake!! I have never heard of a surprise cake but I might now be in love!!! Sounds amazing!

  40. I like the bunny cake.

  41. Oh my! That looks absolutely fabulous!!!

  42. Yummmmm! Peanut butter or (not and here!) raspberries

  43. this looks fabulous! and will be my next cake I make! Love the surprise!

  44. You had me at “Sweetened condensed milk”. Looks scrumptious!

  45. That cake looks amazing! I would put berries inside a cake. Or caramel sauce in a chocolate cake. yum….

  46. I think I would do a pinata cake with candy inside and decorate the outside to look like an Easter egg. So it would be like an egg filled with candy!

  47. This looks amazing! I definitely have to try this!

  48. My kids would love to see a bear in a cake, it sure would surprise them.

  49. Oh my goodness! A brownie is a pretty good surprise in a cake in my opinion. I guess I’d like to put a person’s initials inside a cake. I think that would be fun. And Amanda’s white cake does look pretty awesome. I really need to make it!

  50. this looks like the most gorgeous surprise cake ever! i am totally drooling right now…need to go find a mop!

  51. Her cakes are so gorgeous!! I would love to have just a dab of that creativity!

  52. I would put a heart surprise in my cake!

  53. wow what a pretty cake! i love the cream cheese frosting and the brownie layer. it would have been hard for me to part with this cake too!

  54. This cake is SOOO PRETTY Dorothy! And that brownie surprise inside is pretty epic! YUM!

  55. I would put a flip flop inside of my cake! Your cake looks Yummy!

  56. Absolutely beautiful, Dorothy. You really did a great job! Wish I was at that potluck to try it.
    xoxo, Mom

  57. I would put a fruit filling inside the cake. This one just looks so yummy!

  58. I love surprises! What a cake (perfect for Easter dinner!), and what a cookbook. I have never seen it -thanks for doing such a great give-away, Dorothy!

  59. Something chocolate for sure

  60. I would like to put balloons inside the cake.

  61. This cake looks awesome, I can’t wait to try out the recipe. The book is stunning and I would love a copy. Thank you for the opportunity!

  62. A cheesecake surprise!

  63. The surprise I would put in my cake is rocky road brownies. This cake looks amazing cant wait to try and make it, the book looks like it has many ideas. Thank you for the contest.

  64. Um yeah, I think I’m in love. Add a brownie to anything and I’ll be gaga over it! Great recipe, Dorothy! 🙂

  65. I’d put the recipients name.

  66. This cake looks good! I would put some chocolate fudge in it.

  67. These all look delicious! I would love to try them all!

  68. This cake is so awesome! Love the brownie layer on the bottom. I made one of the recipes from her cookbook recently and it had a brownie on the bottom layer too! Seriously, so good. I am in love with that cookbook! You did a wonderful job with this cake!

  69. Yum! All the things in one cake.

  70. I’d put in a surprise chocolate basketball

  71. I would put in a surprise cupcake in a crazy flavor – like spicy mexican chocolate and sea salt!

  72. Amanda is truly a cake and dessert genius! I love the cake with the heart inside, and this Vintage Cake looks to die for…I also like the heart inside cake too. Thanks for the opportunity to win this delightful cookbook.


  73. I am making this cake ASAP! And this book is a must-have!!!

  74. Anything with chocolate and peanut butter…..or maybe a praline filling…..or maybe nutella…..

  75. Can’t wait to go through the book.

  76. This cake looks delicious! I don’t want to use box cake mix so I will cross my fingers and hope that I win the cook book!

  77. This cake looks so beautiful and drool worthy! But I love Jordan’s comments while reading the book best 🙂 Love that she is getting into baking 🙂

  78. Lemon curd would be a nice cake surprise.

  79. I think a nice surprise in a cake would be a rice crispier treat center

  80. How cool! I love the heart but would do it in chocolate

  81. I don’t think a surprise in a cake could get any better than a chocolate brownie layer with chocolate ganache. Peanut butter frosting would be awesome, too!

  82. Anything chocolate or caramel would go good in the cake.

  83. I’d put raspberry filling with dark chocolate in a cake.

  84. The possibilities are endless! I would probably try a heart first.

  85. Yummy!!! What a perfect cake/cakes to make for our Mother’s Day Potluck, So many endless kinds surprise cake I can make.

  86. I would like to put caramel or lemon curd. ‘
    Or something pink or blue for a gender announcement cake

  87. Amanda is amazingly talented. And creative. How does she come up with this stuff? Great giveaway 🙂

  88. Both you and Amanda are amazing!

    There is so much to love about the cake and book! I need them both!

  89. I want cake! Seriously, I am now craving cake . . . thank you very much!
    Chocolate and peppermint patties would be divine in a cake . . . or chocolate and peanut butter is always a great combo! Maybe even colorful cotton candy . . . is that possible???

    I would so love to win this delicious book ~ fingers crossed ~ thank you!

  90. I would love to win this beautiful book

  91. What a beautiful cake, love the chocolaty surprise inside.

  92. I’m thinking some sort of fruit filling for the surprise inside!

  93. I’m so in love with your website! Your recipes make me drool every single time! Can’t wait to try this cake!

  94. I would like ice cream inside a cake. Love the brownie layer in this cake.

  95. a lady bug would be so cute, thanks

  96. Anything surprise chocolate would be fun. This brownie surprise looks like a winner in my book.

  97. I’m not usually a fan of white cakes, but this one looks delicious! I am definitely putting this on my must make soon list! Thanks!

  98. This cake from Amanda’s book looks divine. I’m going to make it for sure!!!!

    I’d love to have the white cake recipe that is raved about also from Amanda’s book!

  99. Love to bake and try new recipes. Love thumbing through cookbooks looking for something fun to bake.

  100. I’m a huge cupcake person, and I love the white cup-cakes with the rainbow cake ball in the middle. I think it a really bright and unexpected surprise 🙂

  101. I would put a love message inside :-).

  102. Any sweet chocolate treat…. I love chocolat!

  103. Something chocolate

  104. I am very new to baking but I would try to put in butterscotch pudding with pecans. This cake looks so delish & the recipe is simple enough for me to try it! Love reading your blog everyday & pinning almost every post!

  105. I love this idea. My cakes are so boring would love to try the brownie cake…looks delicious!!!

  106. I love putting surprises inside cakes and just recently added shamrocks to a Leprechaun Hat Cake. Next time I might try something for Easter.

  107. I would do a rainbow for my granddaughter. I am obsessed with this book…PLEASE!

  108. This looks amazing!!! I think I would do some sort of peanut butter, or truffle or even cookie dough filling. Anything really would be delicious though!!

  109. I would put a large Oreo cookie in the cake!

  110. That cake is seriously beautiful. I can’t lie, I may have started drooling a bit. White cake and brownie? Dying.

  111. cherries!

  112. Oh man, that’s a tough one! I’d probably say mini-candy bars…just because I love mini-candy bars!

  113. Chocolate candy bars!

  114. I’d put peanut butter cups inside!

  115. Oh I think a big soft chewy chocolate chip cookie crust under the brownie could make this cake absolutely decadent

  116. chocolate kisses

  117. Oreo truffles.

  118. I think it would be fun to hide a heart or candy 🙂

  119. A castle for my princess loving girls!!!

  120. A brownie inside of cake sounds pretty epic to me!

  121. i think that i would put a bunch of rolos in a cake, because i like caramel, or just caramel. thank you for the giveaway.

  122. This would be an awesome mother daughter project. Once a week I set time up for each of my two kids and we do the things they choose for our quality time.

  123. I would love to see a diamond ring in the middle of a cake. Would be cute for a wedding shower.

  124. carrot icecream cake is delicious. going to make it for Easter

  125. I would put something chocolatey and caramel inside for a surprise.

  126. With Easter coming, I would like to put something ‘spring-like” in the center. Perhaps a bunny or a chick, but the best may be the hidden Easter Egg!

  127. This cake looks amazing…I have a brother that doesn’t really like cake, but loves brownies, so this may be the perfect solution for the rest of us cake lovers! Definitely going to try this one out 🙂
    I would want to try to put a manatee or a whale inside a cake. I love sea life…Maybe with blue icing on the outside. Thanks!

  128. I would love to try and spell out someone’s name inside of a cake! I think that would be so cool for someone’s birthday and really unique.

  129. Love! Such great photos too.

  130. I would like to put a rubber chicken in a cake. Prolly won’t bake up very well though 🙁
    It’s kind of a long story…

  131. I’d put a rainbow for sure.

  132. I would put a heart inside!

  133. Looks SO good! Will be trying this for my sons 1st birthday coming up!

  134. This cake looks so delicious!

  135. little hearts inside a cake would be cute!

  136. I love baking cake and to have more new cake recipes would be the icing in the joy of my baking more cake 🙂 I love your blog, it has become my new have to read blog! I’m hoping to break into pie now .. with your help! Thank you 🙂

  137. i would add blended dates, pecans and a caramel sauce layered in a vanilla cake. pecan pie cake, yum.

  138. Ooh this cake with salted caramel instead of the fudge sauce would be amazing!

  139. I’ve never attempted a Suprise-inside cake before. Sounds like fun! And this cake looks delicious!

  140. a flamingo!

  141. I like the pinata style cakes with candy inside! I want to try that!

  142. Gooey caramel, or some kind of fruit maybe.

  143. I have done a banana split good..I want to next try something citrusy or cinnamon…and nautical with a seashell or seahorse or mermaid..something..just don’t know what yet..thanks!

  144. For my son, maybe some gummi worms. He would get a kick out of that!

  145. Do I get an extra entry for having been Amanda’s high school teacher?

    She is such a gifted baker and a super sweet person to boot. Frankly, I don’t know what I would put inside a cake that Amanda hasn’t already! Maybe a smiley face? To bake for people who are feeling down?

    (Odds are good, tho, that’s she’s done that too. 🙂 )

  146. You had me at homemade chocolate syrup. That and maybe some salted caramel sauce. Mmmm.

  147. Hmmmmm. Maybe a layer of chopped pecans between the layers.!

  148. A ladybug with red velvet cake dough.

  149. I’ve been dreaming about this cake ever since I saw your picture on Instagram!! I really wish I could’ve been at that potluck to sample a slice… Or, umm, 3. With how much I love chocolate and brownies. Jordan definitely picked out a winner! 🙂

    And I’ve always wanted to hide a heart inside of a cake (or cupcakes). Classic but cute!

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  152. I made this cake with a slightly different alteration. Since I made a bit too much chocolate (I got a little too chocolate happy), I connected my rounds with more chocolate instead of frosting. The result was an almost ombre effect from the brownie layer to the top cake layer. It was delicious and the whole party loved it!

  153. Pingback: Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake {surprise-inside cakes review & giveaway} MARCH 21, 2014 BY DOROTHY KERN 139 COMMENTS 4K+ I am in love with th... - ZuziFeed

  154. Pingback: Vintage Brownie Surprise Cake {surprise-inside cakes review & giveaway} MARCH 21, 2014 BY DOROTHY KERN 139 COMMENTS 4K+ I am in love with th... - ZuziFeed

  155. Can this be made as a bundt cake?

  156. I am a pure cake novice, to the point that my husband had to take over decorating the last cake I baked. So, so sad!  Anyway, I studied this recipe for nearly 2 weeks, making it for my son’s 18th bday this week.  They both said it was the best cake I have ever made! It turned out exactly like your pictures, only I added some sprinkles. Thank you for the wonderful recipe and allowing me to build my baking confidence back up!  It was just perfect in every way!

  157. Just wondering, have you ever made this with the brownie layer in the middle? 
    I love it like it is, but just wondeing.

  158. Yum! I love to bake, so this is going in my must try list! Thank you for sharing.

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