Lisa Erickson mug

February is birthday month at our house. Eight immediate family members, plus some close friends have birthdays. We try to condense some of the festivities and celebrate some together or we are celebrating birthdays twice a week. I call it the month of cakes.

Most of my family asks for the same cake on their birthday—Pink Cake. It’s a strawberry cake with almond cream cheese frosting. It is crazy delicious! But after eating it every week for a month, I’ll be ready for something different.

I crave a rich and decadent chocolate cake, but some family members want Grandpa’s spice cake or a vanilla cake with sprinkles or a tropical coconut cake. No chocolate. My birthday isn’t until April, but that is too long to wait. So, I make a cake for myself and share it. 

My mother used to make a chocolate cake with regular cream cheese frosting. It still is one of my favorites, but I wanted something more chocolatey-fudgy.   

The frosting is what makes this cake divine. It’s thick and fudgy. When you make a thicker frosting, the cake needs to be sturdy—but not tough so it will hold up under the pressure of spreading the frosting. If the cake is falling apart when frosting it, freeze the layers, and then frost while they are frozen. It’s so much easier to work with.

Happy Birthday everyone!

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 cup cocoa powder, with one Tbsp removed

2 tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 ¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk or milk, room temp

½ cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup warm strong coffee


½ cup butter, softened

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

4 ½ cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

½ tsp salt

½ cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and shake around pans to coat; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Mix until combine. Do not over mix. Add the coffee and stir until no flour lumps remain. Batter will be very loose. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cake springs back in the middle when lightly pressed and the sides have pulled away from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add the cocoa powder, salt and vanilla; mix until combine. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Mix until smooth. Spread immediately on cooled cakes and serve. Refrigerate any leftover cake. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at or email her at

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