Birthday Mud Pie

The sad thing about long distance relationships is you don’t get to celebrate things like birthdays together.
Which happened a lot to me and Jonathan.
My last birthday was the first birthday we were together on- and he was only able to be there because he wasn’t allowed to be in Tuscaloosa (thank you, tornado.)

For Jonathan’s last birthday, I sent him a birthday-in-a-box… balloons, plates, a cake mix, a pan, frosting, sprinkles, etc. It was super exciting.

But THIS year, I got to make him a cake for REAL.
He requested coconut cake, but we decided to wait to make his “real” birthday cake until we had some “extinguished guests” to celebrate with (my family is coming to visit!).
But, he also really wanted cake to eat on THE day.
“Chocolate cake?” I offered.
“Yes,” he said… “With pecans?”

My mom sent us some pecans in the mail a few days ago… and Jonathan’s been eating them like nuts. (Get it? AHAHAHAH!)

So, ready to bake, I text my mom requesting her incredibly amazing chocolate cake recipe. Sadly, she text back saying she was out for dinner with friends, and wouldn’t be able to get me the recipe that evening.

Disappointed but not discouraged, I started hunting for a recipe. Unfortunately, most chocolate cake recipes call for ingredients that I do not have in my kitchen… if it’s not a super common ingredient, I don’t have it. (Having to drive about 3 1/2 hours to grocery shop will put a damper on your desire for exotic kitchen supplies.)

Finally, in one of my recipe books, I found the perfect solution. And, by the way, it turned out so delicious that I’m going to share the recipe in a minute.

I baked the cake in a 9×13 pan, cut it in half, then stacked the two halves on top of each other to make it like a cute little miniature two-layer cake. It was adorable.

Then I remembered the pecans. Oops.
Sad, but again, not discouraged, I decided to put the pecans IN the frosting!

Ohh, the frosting. I’ll give you the frosting recipe too, because it tastes good. And I’m sure that if you just leave the cake in the pan and cover it with the frosting, it’s fine. But if you want to do anything slightly more creative with it… anything at ALL… find a different recipe, or go buy a can of frosting.


This stuff was a nightmare to work with. It said to “add milk until desired consistency is reached,” but no matter how much I added, it was stiff. (of course, it could be something else that I did something wrong in making it… so if you want to try, by all means please do.)

The frosting was so stiff that as soon as I tried to spread it, it stuck to the cake and gouged out big chunks. It was so sad looking.

I took a minute to mourn my once-adorable cake, then set out to fix it. I microwaved the frosting until it was slightly melted, then just poured it over the cake.
It worked… sort of. Most of the frosting bunched up around the bottom of the cake and just made it look ridiculous. With the pecans in it, it actually resembled the mud and sawdust cakes I used to make when I was little (they made a good dessert to go with the Armadillo Soup my brother made). I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the whole, finished cake; I should have taken one, but I was too sad at the moment. The good news is that the cake was DELICIOUS.

I made a cheesecake a while back that had a similar fate but was equally delicious. I have a theory that the worst-looking foods are often the best-tasting. I don’t know why.

Fortunately, Jonathan is a man, and that means that as long as it tastes good, it’s fine. He didn’t care that it looked like a pile of mud.

As long as there was also a candle on top, he was fine. =D

Okay, recipe time!

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

In a saucepan, bring butter, water and cocoa to a boil. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add cocoa mixture; mix well. Combine buttermilk and vanilla; add to batter and mix well. Beat in eggs. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.


  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or whipping cream

In a saucepan, cook and stir butter and cocoa until smooth. Remove from heat. In another bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Add cocoa mixture and enough milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.




  1. Bahahaha! “he ate them like nuts” – too bad it’s not Monday! Great story, I’m happy to see you blogging more these days. 🙂 So… what exotic cooking ingredients/supplies are you most needing?

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