Kellerkuchen (Cellar/Basement Cake)


Christmas was somewhat different for us growing up.  Most of our traditions came from Germany.   There were no stockings hung by the chimney with care, we had these beautiful plates that were left out on Christmas Eve for Santa to fill with chocolates and the occasional small present.   

We also celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve.   We would get all dressed up and go out for dinner, and while we were out at the restaurant Santa would be at our house delivering our presents.  We were always told not everyone can celebrate Christmas on Christmas morning, Santa wouldn’t be able to deliver to everyone if everyone celebrated at the same time, so we were helping him by celebrating on Christmas Eve,   Hey, worked for us.   

Now with my own boys we do things more “traditional” because my husband is stubborn.   I bug and bug until he lets us at least open our stockings on Christmas Eve, but no presents.   I still try every year to see how far I can push, I’m hoping one year he’ll give in and let me open some presents Christmas Eve.   

The one thing that was always done, we always left a plate of cookies for Santa.   Well, we left kellerkuchen.  This was a staple at Christmastime.   It wasn’t Christmas until my Oma had made a pan of kellerkuchen.   

This was the first recipe I stole from her one year while she was in Germany  visiting her mom and sister.   My mom and I went to check on my grandparents house and I decided to start snooping around for recipes.  It was just scribbled on an envelope in German, so I took it home, translated it and decided I would give it a go.  When Oma came back from Germany she came to my house and said she would help me make it.   She did things a little different than I do now.   She said to heat the coconut lard until it’s smoking hot (do not do this, EVER!).   The smell that came off of this, when you heat it up that hot is vomit inducing.   I’m sure this was her plan so I’d never make it again.  

Since that first time I’ve made this over the years, though the last few years I haven’t made it as my boys don’t like it and my husband isn’t a sweets type of guy, so it’s just me that eats it (and my mom, but she only wants a little bit) and 1 pan, though it doesn’t seem like a lot, once sliced up, it’s a lot.   

To start off you need to line your loaf pan with Saran Wrap.  This is to help with the removal of the kellerkuchen once finished.  Do not skip this step, trust me.     

Then comes the Palmin.  Who knew all those years ago we would be so trendy.  Palmin is simply  coconut lard.   I haven’t tried this with the solid coconut lard you can get in the grocery store, I get Palmin at the German market.   Place this in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat (4.5 – 5).   You want it hot enough to sizzle when it gets mixed in to the chocolate mixture, so it can cook the eggs, but not so hot it smells.  If you notice when mixing this into the chocolate mixture that you are getting a strong almost “vomit like” smell, allow the coconut lard to cool slightly, as it’s too hot.
While the Palmin is melting and heating up, in a metal bowl (remember you will be pouring in hot coconut lard so no glass bowls please) mix together 1 1/2 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp. Salt, 1 Tbsp. Instant coffee granules, 1 tsp. Rum extract, 2 eggs.   With a whisk, mix this together until completely combined.   It’s gonna be thick and will take a bit to get it all mixed together.   
Once the chocolate mixture is ready and the Palmin is hot enough, slowly, one ladle at a time, whisk the Palmin into the chocolate mixture.   You can test the temperature by pouring a small amount into the chocolate mixture, if it sizzles it’s hot enough, if it doesn’t, let it heat up a bit more.   I keep the pot on the stove while I start mixing everything together, I just turn the heat down to low, and if I notice the Palmin is getting too hot, I take it off the heat.   

Once all the Palmin is mixed into the chocolate mixture it’s time to start layering with the cookies.   Start out with a layer of Social Tea cookies on the bottom of your lined loaf pan.   Scoop some of the chocolate mixture on top (3 to 4 heaped spoonfuls) and carefully spread this out (try to not move the cookies around.   

Then add another layer of cookies, breaking them up to fit the pan.   Then another layer of chocolate.
Keep going until you’ve used up all of the chocolate, alternating with the Social Tea cookies, ending with a final layer of cookies.   I cannot give you a specific amount of layers you will get, it all depends on the size of your pan and how much chocolate you put between each layer of cookies.  Just remember to start and finish with Social Tea cookies.   

Then take the Saran Wrap that was hanging over the sides and wrap this over the top and give it a gentle press down.   (Don’t go all He-Man on it, just a slight push down is enough).  Then into the fridge over night.   My Oma used to put them into her cool room in the basement, but I don’t have a cool room, so mine goes in the fridge.  

After 24 hours, remove from the pan and slice (you can slice this as thinly or thickly as you wish) and enjoy.   The thinner you slice it, it will break apart (like in the picture below) and this is how we always had it.  If you slice it thicker, you will get slices that stay together and don’t crumble as much, but this is how we always had it and then you would just take a little bite.   It’s quite rich so a little bite goes a long way. 

*Remember to keep this refrigerated as there are eggs in this.   

Kellerkuchen (Cellar/Basement Cake)

Makes 1 loaf

1 box Social Tea cookies

1 pkg. Palmin (250 gr)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Instant coffee granules 

1 tsp. Rum extract

2 eggs

  1. Line loaf pan with Saran Wrap.
  2. Heat Palmin in small sauce pan over medium heat.
  3. In metal mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, salt, coffee granules, rum extract and eggs.
  4. Once Palmin is hot enough (test by pouring a small amount into sugar/cocoa mixture, if it sizzles it’s hot enough) slowly, one ladle at a time, whisk this into the sugar/cocoa mixture.
  5. Once all the Palmin is mixed into the cocoa mixture, start layering alternately with the Social Tea cookies in your loaf pan, starting and ending with the cookies. 
  6. Take the overhang of the Saran Wrap and pull over the top of the finished loaf to cover completely and give it a gentle push down.
  7. Refrigerate over night. 
  8. Remove from the pan, pulling on the Saran, and using a serrated knife slice the kellerkuchen as thin or as thick as you wish.

* Will last up to 2 weeks refrigerated, though it usually doesn’t make it that long.  


3 Comments Add yours

  1. I know this cake as a Kalter Hund (“cold dog”). When I was a kid in the eighties, it was all the rage at birthday parties but it has since gone out of fashion. We had one at a family Christmas do the other year and it was a fantastic revivial of a culinary memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never heard it called a Kalter Hund before. Growing up we were the only ones that I knew of that made and ate this.


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