chocolate cake with powdered sugar

French Chocolate Cake for Kids

French choco­late cakes are great for kids as they con­tain less sug­ar than their Amer­i­can coun­ter­part. They are usu­al­ly small­er, con­tain less ingre­di­ents, and have no frost­ing on top. Every­day French cakes are eas­i­er to make and less fat­ten­ing. They do not con­tain any arti­fi­cial food col­or­ing. In short, they are health­i­er, while still being delicious.

Today , I am mak­ing “Le gâteau au choco­lat des écol­iers”, which lit­er­al­ly means “the school chil­dren’s choco­late cake”. You can find the recipe in French here.

chocolate cake with powdered sugar

This is my kids’ favorite choco­late cake. I make it all the time in France and kids love to help. It is our go-to cake when­ev­er we are asked to bring a dessert at any par­ty. Always a hit with both kids and adults!

Gathering the Ingredients:

My goal is to find ingre­di­ents that are as sim­i­lar as pos­si­ble as the French ingre­di­ents in the French recipe.

Leavening Agent

The French recipe calls for 1 pack of “Lev­ure Chim­ique”, which is the leav­en­ing agent. “Lev­ure” trans­lates lit­er­al­ly into “yeast” in Eng­lish. But is it real­ly the yeast they sell in US gro­cery stores? After exten­sive research, I found that the US equiv­a­lent to the French “Lev­ure Chim­ique” actu­al­ly is Bak­ing Powder.

But bak­ing pow­der is not sold in lit­tle packs in the US so what is the equiv­a­lent of 1 pack of French “Lev­ure Chim­ique”? I found that one pack con­tains 11 grams so the recipe calls for 11 grams of bak­ing powder.


The French recipe calls for “Dark Choco­late”. In France, the go-to choco­late for bak­ing is Nes­tle Dessert Dark Choco­late. This is the bak­ing choco­late every­one buys, there aren’t many oth­er options. In the US, you have a choice: there is bit­ter­sweet, semi­sweet, unsweetened…Which one is equiv­a­lent to the French dark choco­late? I decid­ed to go with the unsweet­ened choco­late, which seemed to be the clos­est to the French bak­ing choco­late. That being said, the unsweet­ened choco­late has a some­what bit­ter taste. If your kids are not used to it, opt for bit­ter­sweet choco­late instead.

Thank­ful­ly, the oth­er ingre­di­ents are easy to find.

Here is the full list of ingre­di­ents you need for the cake:

List of Ingredients for Chocolate Cake:

7 oz. (200g.) Bit­ter­sweet Bak­ing Chocolate
4 Eggs
4.4 oz. (125g.) Unsalt­ed Butter
7 oz. (200g.) Gran­u­lat­ed Sugar
3.5 oz. (100g.)All Pur­pose Flour
0.4 oz. (11g.) Bak­ing Powder

Now let’s make the cake!

Making the Chocolate Cake:

Step 1: Pre­heat oven to 180 degrees Cel­sius, which rough­ly equals 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Melt the choco­late. You can do this sev­er­al ways. I like using the microwave because it is fast and easy. Just add 3 table­spoons of water to the choco­late when using the microwave.

Step 3: Mix the choco­late with the but­ter. The mix­ture should look like this:

melted chocolate and butter mixture for French Chocolate Cake
Melt­ed choco­late and but­ter mixture


Step 4: In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix the eggs with the sug­ar until the mix­ture whitens. Then add the bak­ing pow­der and the flour. It looks like this:


eggs, sugar, baking powder and flour mixture for French chocolate cake
Eggs, sug­ar, bak­ing pow­der and flour mixture


Step 5: Pour the melt­ed choco­late and but­ter into the mix­ture you just pre­pared in step 4. Pour the result­ing mix­ture into your bak­ing pan (make sure you already but­tered the pan to pre­vent the cake from stick­ing to the pan). This is what it should look like in the bak­ing pan:

final mixture for French chocolate cake
Final mix­ture


Step 6: Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Once it is ready, you can add pow­dered sug­ar on top to make it pretty. 


Chocolate Cake with powdered sugar
The final result: choco­late cake with pow­dered sug­ar on top


ENJOY!!!! You can wait for it to cool down or eat it warm. It is deli­cious with vanil­la ice cream!

Tasting the Chocolate Cake:

So does the choco­late cake taste exact­ly the same as in France? Yes, and no. Pri­or to putting it in the oven, I tast­ed the mix­ture and it tast­ed the same. How­ev­er, after bak­ing it, the con­sis­ten­cy was not quite the same and it tast­ed a lit­tle different.

My guess is this is prob­a­bly due to the bak­ing pow­der. While bak­ing pow­der is the clos­est you can find in the US to the French “Lev­ure Chim­ique,” it does not work in quite the same way. After doing more research, I found that US bak­ing pow­der is dou­ble-act­ing. It con­tains two dif­fer­ent types of acid that react at dif­fer­ent times: one time when it is mixed with the liq­uid in the recipe, and anoth­er time, when the mix­ture is exposed to oven heat. The French “Lev­ure Chim­ique” on the oth­er hand, is sin­gle-act­ing. It cre­ates the gas need­ed for leav­en­ing as soon as it is mixed with liq­uid ingre­di­ents. This prob­a­bly explains the dif­fer­ence in the cake’s consistency.

So now the real ques­tion: Did the choco­late cake taste good? Yes! My kids loved it and so did my husband!

In sum­ma­ry, the choco­late cake did not taste exact­ly the same as when I make it in France, but it came very close to it. Most impor­tant­ly, my kids loved it, and they ate a French cake that is much health­i­er than its Amer­i­can coun­ter­part. I am very hap­py with the result!

Hope you enjoy mak­ing this deli­cious French Choco­late Cake for your kids! 

French Mom

Update 08/31: I found that you can buy the French “Lev­ure Chim­ique” online. If you are inter­est­ed in doing so, this is what you want to buy (use 1 lit­tle pack for the recipe):


6 thoughts on “French Chocolate Cake for Kids

  1. I’m so impressed by your thor­ough research into the French and Amer­i­can ingre­di­ents. I def­i­nite­ly want to make this cake!

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