May 12, 2009 9:00 PM
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!

Jujus birthday cake 2.jpg
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. 

Jujus's Chocolate Birthday Cake
Serves 10 to 12 non-hungry people

Ingredients For Cake
1 cup water
2/3 cup cocoa
½ cup vegetable shortening, or butter
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
Ingredients For Frosting
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup cocoa
½ cup vegetable shortening, or butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
¼ cup sprinkles, optional

To Prepare
Grease a 9X13 cake pan with vegetable shortening. Place a piece of parchment paper so as to cover the bottom of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the cake: In a large pot, over medium heat, pour the water, stir in the cocoa and add the vegetable shortening. Let it heat, for a couple minutes, stirring now and then, until it all dissolves. Remove from heat. 

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In another bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the sour cream.

Taking turns, add a quarter of the flour mix and then a quarter of the sour cream mix into the cocoa mixture and stir with a spatula, incorporating 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 it out of the oven and let it cool a bit while you prepare the frosting.

To make the frosting: In a sauce pan, over medium heat, pour in the milk and the vanilla, stir in the cocoa and add the vegetable shortening. Heat and stir until it is all dissolved and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the confecioners' sugar. Thoroughly mix with a spatula and set aside.

To Assemble
Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake. Turn onto a platter and gently remove the parchment paper.  Pour the still hot 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.