“Bandido!” My late grandfather would scream, with his wide smile and the most endearing eyes, to my youngest son, if he were here to see how Julian messes up the kitchen.
As soon as a thought of cooking appears in my head, he drags a chair, climbs on top, asks what are WE going to make, and without waiting for an answer announces that it is “yo, yo, YO…,” who will cook and experiment. I shall be of assistance.
Needless to say, it takes much longer than needed and the kitchen looks messier than my husband likes to see it. But if you ask me, it is worth every extra second and extra spoonful of crumbs on the floor.
Well then, what cake to make for his birthday? Of course chocolate! His brothers tell me with a tone of disbelief. However, I know it has to be spongy, fluffy, gooey, sticky, moist, extra messy, sweet and truly decadent to be worthy of the three candles in its middle.
Since I will count with not only one, but probably three, enthusiastic sous chefs, the cake should have a fun and simple preparation process.
After playing around with a couple ideas, a cross between my oldest sons’ favorite camp cake and what I remember from my growing up birthday cakes from Sanborns (a Mexican store famous for making incredible cakes) is what creates: Juju’s birthday cake!
Thank the heavens and the seas for the wonderful surprises one can encounter while playing in the kitchen. It just never stops! This one is definitely worth a try.
Juju’s Birthday Cake
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For the cake:
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs preferably at room temperature
For the frosting:
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup sprinkles optional
To prepare the cake:
- Grease a 9x13-inch cake pan with butter. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large pot, over medium heat, pour the water, stir in the cocoa and add the butter. Let it heat for a few minutes, stirring now and then, until it all dissolves. Remove the pot from the heat.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In another, beat the eggs and combine them with the sour cream.
- In turns, add a quarter of the flour mix and then a quarter of the sour cream mix at a time into the pot with the cocoa mixture; stir with a spatula, mixing all of the ingredients as you move along. Pour onto the greased cake pan and place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely moist but not wet.
- Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool a bit while you prepare the frosting.
To prepare the frosting:
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, pour in the milk and the vanilla. Stir in the cocoa and add the butter. Heat and stir until everything is all dissolved and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners' sugar. Thoroughly mix with a spatula and set aside.
- Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake. Turn the cake onto a platter and gently remove the parchment paper. Pour the still-warm frosting over the cake and gently spread it out with a spatula. If you wish, you may add sprinkles of your choice before the frosting hardens (NOTE: The cake is soft and moist the first couple days, then hardens like a brownie afterwards if left uncovered-- perfect for packing in school lunches).