Rachel Dunston's Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake in a pyrex surrounded by poinsettias

Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake

Old-fashioned desserts are all the rage, and we’re head over heels for Rachel Dunston’s Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake! This chocolatey cake recipe gets a soak of a delicious syrup made with Armagnac or cognac, for tons of flavor.

Rachel Dunston's Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake in a pyrex surrounded by poinsettias

What is a Poke Cake?

A poke cake is simply a cake that, after baking, is poked and then soaked with flavored syrup. This adds flavor and moisture to the cake.

How to make a Poke Cake

You don’t need a special recipe for a poke cake. This technique can be used on any cake. Once the cake is baked, use a skewer to poke holes throughout the cake. Then, simply pour a syrup or liquid over the top of the cake and let it soak in. Many recipes call for a flavored simply syrup. This particular recipe uses prune infused water (sounds fancy, but we just reused the water that we soaked the prunes in), sugar and Cognac.

How far in advance can you make a poke cake?

If you’re including this decadent poke cake in your holiday dessert spread, you’ll be pleased to learn that you can make it 1-2 days in advance. In fact, the cake actually tastes even more incredible after the flavors have all melded! We prefer the cake served at room temperature, so simply store the cake in your refrigerator and pull it out a few hours before you plan on serving.

Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake in a pyrex
Rachel Dunston's Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake in a pyrex surrounded by poinsettias

Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake

Rachel Dunston
Old-fashioned desserts are all the rage, and we're head over heels for Rachel Dunston's Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake!
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Cool Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 284 kcal


For the Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup Armagnac or cognac
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt full fat at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP molasses
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chopped
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature

For the Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP Armagnac or cognac


  • Preheat oven to 325F (160C) degrees. Spray an 8 × 8 (20×20 cm) baking pan with a flour based baking spray and line bottom and sides of your dish with parchment paper for the best results.
  • Heat 1/2 cup (90 g) prunes with 1/3 cup (80 ml) Armagnac in a small saucepan over medium until warm, 2 to 3 min. Remove from heat and let soak while you continue.
  • Sift flour with cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Combine 3/4 cup (135 g) prunes with yogurt and vegetable oil in a food processor until it turns into a light and shiny paste. Add paste to flour mixture and add in egg, sugars and molasses.
  • Add in chopped chocolate and buttermilk. Your mixture will be rather dry. Scrape mixture into prepared baking pan. Smooth top. Cut soaked prunes in half and place on the top of mixture, pressing them in a bit lower than the surface. Reserve remaining liquid for the syrup.
  • Bake until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean, about 45 to 50 min. Set on a cooling rack.
  • To make a syrup combine water with 1/3 cup (65 g) sugar in a small saucepan over medium. Stir until sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 min. Cool for 10 min, then stir in 2 tablespoons Armagnac and remaining liquid from prunes.
  • Poke several holes in the warm cake with a skewer. Pour syrup evenly over cake. Let cool completely on a rack, 1 hour.
  • Garnish with extra chocolate shavings and powdered sugar if desired. Lucky enough to have leftovers? Pop a slice into the microwave for a few seconds for that fresh-out-of-the-oven feel.


Love Rachel’s Boozy Chocolate Poke Cake? Try Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cake next!


Calories: 284kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 130mgPotassium: 301mgFiber: 3gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 178IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chocolate cake, poke cake, prune cake, rachel dunston
Tried this recipe? Want to save it for later?Share it on social and tag @CAPrunes or #CAPrunes!

Love this recipe? Here are a few different Poke Cakes (or at least cakes you could use this technique on)

two slices of old fashioned prune cake

Old-Fashioned Prune Cake

What’s a prune grower’s favorite way to enjoy prunes? Well, if you ask the Mitchell family, it’s this Old-Fashioned Prune Cake. A soft, prune-studded spice cake is covered in a buttery-sweet glaze that has everyone going back for another slice (or two.)

a slice of Mascarpone Cake with Red Wine Prunes from Claire Saffitz's Dessert Person

Mascarpone Cake with Prunes and Red Wine

Claire Saffitz‘s tangy-light mascarpone cake is studded with sweet, flavorful prunes simmered in red wine. It’s the kind of recipe that will make a dessert person out of anyone (if you know you know…check out Claire’s cookbook).

a loaf of glazed election cake

Election Cake

This recipe for Election Cake was used to encourage folks to do their civic duty. Before you get too up in arms, let’s clarify: it wasn’t a “bribe”, it was a reward. Today, they hand out stickers, back then, they passed out slices of this hearty, fruit-studded cake. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

a 36 Lady Prune bundt Cake with a slice removed on a plate

36 Lady Prune Cake

36 Lady Prune Cake is a Vasey family favorite, and we have a feeling your family will love this recipe, too!  

Did you try this recipe? Maybe you’ve got a favorite recipe using California Prunes that you’d like to share with us? Snap a pic and share it on social using #caprunes.

Like what you see? Be sure to follow California Prunes on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter for more delicious recipes!