Juju’s Chocolate Birthday Cake


Juju’s Chocolate Birthday Cake

“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

Pastel de chocolate de Juju
10 to 12 people
Pati Jinich
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cake, Chocolate, Dessert, pati's mexican table, vanilla
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
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.


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

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.
To assemble:
  • 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).

54 comments on “Juju’s Chocolate Birthday Cake

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    1. Hi Michele, I do not have a preferred brand, as long as is 100% unsweetened cocoa, all of them are pretty good 😉

  1. Deliciosos. Gracias for compartir la receta. Quisiera however, la receta para la Jericaya que te vi preparar en uno de
    tus cooking shows. Me la mandas porfa. Mi email es rzendejas@satx.rr.com . De antemano gracias. Me encanta tu show. Te ando haciendo PR por todo San Antonio, Tx. con mis amigas para que se sintonicen a tu show on PBS.
    Maria de Lourdes Zendejas

  2. After following the instructions for the frosting I had to toss it out because it was clumpy. Adding the butter last was the problem, it wasn’t something you’d want to finish off a cake with. I remade the frosting again starting by melting the butter first, and then it came out perfect!

    1. Oh to make the frosting you want to put all of the ingredients over medium heat until everything is all dissolved and combined…and I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake!

  3. I love your show, you have a beautiful family. I saw a show today on Create, you made a chocolate flour less cake for your husband, I would love to try this recipe if you would post it. Thank you .

  4. I have just seen your show for the first time today, and I loved it! (7/20/14). You made a chocolate cake for your husband that had powdered sugar on top instead of frosting. It looked delicious, but I can’t find the recipe on your website! Am I just not seeing it? I’d love to make it!

  5. HI Pati,

    Love your show,your personalty as well. Keep it up!
    I did this cake but when i poured the frosting over the cake, it absorbed and did not leave a smooth topping like the photo.Can it be that the cake was too warm??

    1. Hi Edith, Thank you so much! I’m sorry to hear the cake didn’t work out – it could have been that the frosting got too hot after the butter melted. I just posted a video, you can see it here: http://bit.ly/1spaEjx

  6. I made it with 1 tsp of cinnamon and it was amazing! Thanks for a fantastic recipe for my collection:-)

  7. Hi Pati i have tried some of your recipes and they are delicious i love your blogg keep up the good work and recipes.

  8. Hi Pati,
    The cake looks amazing but what do you think about adding cinnamon? I think it would make an awesome cake just that much more awesome. I’m gonna try it-I’ll let you know how it come out.

  9. This cake looks delicious, but what is the measurement for the cocoa, is it 1 cup? The above printed recipe shows a question mark before the word Cocoa.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Judith, It’s 2/3 cup cocoa. Thanks for pointing out the question mark – fixed it! Hope you try the recipe. 🙂

  10. Pati,
    I made juju birthday chocolate cake and took it for desert to our friends house. It was fabulous. Needless to say, I did not have any left to bring home. I will make one for us tomorrow. It was the first time I made it and it turn out perfect. Thank u.
    I also tried the impossible chocolate flan for my husband office party. Big hit.
    Mil gracias.

  11. Best thing about this recipe: in less than an hour and a half, the cake was baked and frosted, the kitchen was cleaned up, and I had greedily finished my first slice!

  12. Pati love your show my husband and I try not to miss it. We love all the food n today we’re making the cake. Love the book.

  13. Oh my goodness, I love your show…I absolutely cannot believe you we’re not a cook for years and you changed careers, after a hard day work and rushing home to cook dinner , I love to watch your show.. The energy, the warmth between you and your sister is truly heartwarming….thanks so much for sharing your recipes… You truly are an amazing first class chef!

  14. Hola pati!
    Is the sour cream a must have in this cake??? That is the only ingredient that i don’t have and i really wanted to make it. Or is there something else i can substitute it for?
    Btw i love all ur recipes:)

  15. Hi, pati, first time I made a cocolate cake from scratch and my sons looooved it…
    Thank you for the recipe!,,,,
    I saw it yesterday on tv and fell in love 🙂

  16. Hola Pati,
    My son and I made the chocolate cake and we loved it! I enjoy your show and hope to attempt more recipes.


  17. I saw your show for the first time yesterday – the school lunch episode, and made the cake today. It is delicious!
    The next time I get to the grocery store, I will buy some buns and make the sandwich for my son’s lunch. He will love it, I’m sure!
    I have a girlfriend from Mexico, so I plan to bring her some cake tomorrow. I will be sure to share your website with her also.
    Cheers from Canada

  18. I love this post – the deep chocolate cake, your grandfather’s voice, your beautiful family. And that picture at the end! Happy Birthday to Juju – lucky to have a mom like you.

  19. Pati:
    Just got information on your website and recipes….I got to say I know her and use to teach her Pilates. I am dying to try that chocolate cake recipe.
    Hope I get to see one of your classes.
    Ann Hallman

  20. Pati!! I just have one word for your blog: AMAZING!!!
    I definitively have to try this cake with Gabriel as he is a real chocoholic (and Jacques seems to be following his steps). I will let you know how it all turns out…
    Un abrazote

      1. Thanks Pati, everyone (specially the kids) loved this cake!!
        We made it in Switzerland and Spain 😉 So now you have new followers for your website and recipes in Europe!!!!

  21. Many, many thanks Ana Maria!!! Yes! Let me know what you think once you try the recipes in your kitchen… And let me know when you are going to be making some of those orange/chocolate cookies!