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Dessert Recipes

Holiday Devil’s Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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I know a beautiful little girl with curly dark brown hair. She has huge blue/grey eyes. Tiny freckles scattered across her nose.

She is spunky like her mom. Sharp as a whip like her daddy. Mattia is my my beautiful niece that just turned five.
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She deserved a special cake. Her mom called and asked me this past Monday if I could make Mattia a cake. I had offered the day before to make one, but she wasn't sure about a celebration.  It had to be chocolate with buttercream frosting. Pretty pink sprinkles. Some crushed candy canes. A birthday cake fit for my precious niece.
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Sometimes life throws you punches. Days of sorrow for a loss that you would never have imagined. During those days, life still has to go on for the little ones. We adults are tough and we don’t mind skipping a birthday. Mattia’s birthday fell a week after her sweet great aunt Sheryl passed away.  Sheryl was not my aunt, but she was like family.

I hoped a special cake would bring a little normalcy back to the family. It was a bittersweet moment as we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Mattia. Mattia doesn’t fully grasp the depth of what happened. The look of pain in my sister-in-law’s eyes as we sang broke my heart.

I can’t turn back the clock and bring back that dear woman. I can keep baking and show my love to my family with my sweets. And that is what I will do.

I appreciate all the kind comments and condolences that you left last week. The kind words mean so much to me. You all are THE BEST!:)
Happy Birthday,  my precious Mattia! We love you bunches!
 mattia2010

You can't go wrong with Martha Stewart. This is her Devil's Food Cake and Buttercream Frosting recipe.

Devil’s Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting
Serves 10 to 12
  • FOR THE CAKE
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • crushed candy canes and sprinkles to garnish
  • 1 crushed candy cane in the middle of the cake
FOR THE FROSTING
Makes about 6 cups
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 7 large egg whites
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 1/4 pounds (5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, softened
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Directions for the cake

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter paper. Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, and transfer to a mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cocoa-powder mixture. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
Divide batter between pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, peel off parchment, and let cool completely.

Directions for the Buttercream Frosting:

Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, and mixture is cool, about 10 minutes.

Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on medium speed, add butter, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until mixture is smooth. Mix in vanilla extract. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days

Frosting the cake:
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level. Transfer one cake layer to a cake stand, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer, and coat top and sides with remaining frosting, spreading it in a swirling motion. Cake can be refrigerated overnight.

45 comments

  1. My condolences go out to you and your family. This cake looks so festive. I bet the chocolate and candy cane pieces were a yummy flavor combo!

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  2. It's great that your family can count on your good energy, spirit and of course creativity with cakes that can only bring smiles even in tough times.
    The loss of loved ones is never easy especially during the holiday period.
    Here's sending you strength to hold up your family's spirit.

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

    P.S. I finally had a chance to visit your guest post ;o)

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  3. Oh my beautiful yumminess! And that was such a sweet thing you did! My condolences

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  4. Besides red velvet cake, this is my favorite kind of cake. I LOVE chocolate cake with buttercream, there's nothing quite like it. Your cake is absolutely gorgeous, I love the sprinkles and crushed up candy canes, so beautiful! (and I secretly what to eat your whole cake) You are so sweet to have made your niece a cake for her birthday. Happy Birthday to her! I'm still thinking about you and your family. I'm so sorry that you had to experience such a terrible loss.

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  5. The cake is gorgeous and Mattea is too! I bet she loved it!

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  6. Beautiful cake. I am sorry for your loss and understand more than you could know.

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  7. Such a beautiful birthday cake or for the holidays. It is amazing how sharing a beautiful cake that you've made yourself can lift every body's spirits.

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  8. a beautiful cake for a beautiful little girl, Lora; this will be a hard season for all of you but my one piece of advice coming from someone who has lost several loved ones: talk about her. share stories about her. laugh and cry with one another. but talk about her.

    because when you don't (because you think it will make others sad) sends the message that she didn't exist. my aunt shared those words with me after she buried her daughter (my cousin) at 30; no one in the family ever mentioned Janette again because they didn't want to upset my aunt - and she felt as if Janette was never there. so talk about her. xo

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  9. Mattea is so beautiful! Happy happy birthday to her. And so sweet of you to make her that cake. I am glad that you were able to help try bring back some normalness after such a huge tragedy (my condolences, by the way - I missed that entry).
    Hugs.

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  10. That little girl is absolutely gorgeous. My heart aches for the family to have to go through a loss right now (I lost both my grandparents on the 21st). I agree with Smith Bites, by the way.

    The cake is phenomenal. I especially love the decorating idea with the candy canes. Perfect.

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  11. I am so sorry for your family's loss. May your happy memories of your great aunt Sheryl help you through this difficult time.

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  12. Beautiful cake! Love the candy cane sprinkled around!

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  13. This cake and your niece are both absolutely gorgeous!

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  14. Mattea is a doll! The cake looks amazing- Martha knows cake!

    My condolences as well.

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  15. So sorry for your family's loss. Your niece is very lucky to have a wonderful auntie to make her such a special cake for her birthday.

    I'm intrigued by the fact that the devil's food cake is made with melted butter instead of creamed. I'm thinking that would make the cake a little more moist and dense along with the addition of the sour cream? In any event it sounds delicious.

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  16. Your niece is beautiful! I love the curly hair :) This is an awesome cake for her. It looks fantastic and I can just imagine it put a smile on everyone's face :)

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  17. So sorry for your loss...but it looks as though that cake goes a long ways toward healing a lot of things

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  18. Mattia is adorable, I love her eyes and my younger daughter has that same curly hair! So glad you were able to bring her a little bit of happiness with this yummy cake! Still thinking about you, wishing you Happy Holidays.
    -Gina-

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  19. What a beautiful cake for a beautiful little girl. I'm so sorry to hear about your "Aunt". I'm glad you were still able to celebrate such a special birthday for your niece. I completely understand. Years ago, my mother was buried on my daughter's 5th birthday, but afterward we still had a cake for her.

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  20. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Happy birthday to your niece, she is so beautiful!

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  21. I am really sorry to learn of your loss. May great aunt Sheryl rest peacefully and you find comfort in your loving memories of her.
    Mattia, Happy belated Birthday! She looks gorgeous and the cake is perfect for her.

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  22. That Chocolate cake looks so rich and moist! Chocolate heaven! I'm sure you brought a great deal of joy into the day with that lovely cake, and food does have a way of making things just a little better.
    Mattia is precious and having you in her life is a blessing, thanks for sharing that great pic of her!
    Cheers
    Dennis

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  23. well, that is just beautiful and I am sure delicous. Love your cakes!

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  24. Beautiful cake and beautiful little girl!
    Hope she keeps those smiling eyes all her life :)

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  25. Such a lovely cake for your niece. Happy birthday to her and I hope that she really enjoyed all the sugar!

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  26. What a lovely little girl and a gorgeous cake. This looks delicious and festive:) Not sure I could get mine to look as pretty, though.

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  27. I'm sorry for your loss Lora, but I'm also glad that little Mattia is going to be able to celebrate her birthday with this wonderful cake. She is gorgeous, as much as the dessert she gets :)

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  28. Your niece is precious! My best friends dad's funeral was this weekend and her birthday is on Monday.. I wish I could just make her a cake like this to take some of the pain away she's feeling right now. Oh to be young and happily naive to things such as this..I'm sure your niece loved this cake.. it looks fabulous! Sorry for your loss as well :/

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  29. The cake and little girl are both adorable.

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  30. Oh my goodness....what a beautiful little girl! Your entire family is stunning, I'm sure...but those curls brought such a big smile to my face. Precious! I'm so glad that you shared her birthday cake with us. What a delicious way to celebrate her special day. Thank you for sharing it with us. Have a wonderful Sunday, Lora. Much love!

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  31. Lora...such a beautiful birthday cake . Happy Birthday Mattia !

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  32. Mattia is just so adorable, it hurts! You did something really kind and thoughtful for your family, I'm sure her great aunt Sheryl will be so pleased that the void she left is filled up with plenty of love.

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  33. I'm so sorry about Sheryl. I hope this cake made everyone feel a little better. It's a beaut, and perfect for this holiday season.

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  34. This cake could brighten anyone's day! Beautiful job!!!

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  35. What a sweet, sweet little girl. Precious that you could make this cake for her. Sounds like through the sadness you guys found joy :) xo

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  36. What a beautiful cake you made for your even more beautiful niece. I have four of them so I know what you mean when you describe her as precious. I bet it was delicious!

    I'm sorry for your loss, though.

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  37. She. Is. GORGEOUS! ...Definitely deserving of a special cake like this! :)

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  38. Sorry about your loss. I think this cake would brighten anyone's moment as it looks like it would be fabulous enough to wash away a bit or sorrow for a moment. Mattia is a gorgeous little girl. Happiest Birthday to her.

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  39. Lora: I've just been introduced to you by Monet. So happy to make your acquaintance! Both the recipe you left on her blog for us and the cake here for your darling niece are most welcome!

    Condolences to all for the loss of your loved one.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  40. Happy Birthday to your beautiful niece, how sweet is she! I am sure this cake was awesome,it looks fantastic, and you totally need the pink sprinkles!

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  41. I'm so very sorry for your family's loss. And think it's a wonderful reflection of the love in your family that you prepared such a perfectly girly cake for your sweet little niece. Who is absolutely adorable by the way. I love. this. cake. Think my nieces deserve it if I ever get back that way in time for their bithdays.

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  42. A difficult loss and my heart goes out to you and your family. But I agree, life for the little ones needs to move forward, so Happy Birthday to Mattia.
    What an adorable child and that smile just knocks me out... Precious girl with a precious Aunt.
    P.S. Gorgeous cake as well

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  43. She is beautiful! And this cake must have so made her eyes light up! It is gorgeous! I so want a cake like this....

    And I hope the family is all doing well after your sad loss. xoxo

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  44. Great looking cake! So sorry to hear of your loss, yet happy to see a smiling neice! This is one of my favourite cake recipes and I use it all the time!! I will most likely use this recipe to make my 5 year old nephew's cake as well!

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