Big Girl Birthday Cake

Here’s the thing….

I’m not a huge cake person.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s a birthday requirement I can definitely live with.

But given the choice…I would almost always choose some other dessert over cake.

Especially if there is a brownie option.

But you know…birthdays happen.

And on birthdays you eat cake.

This past weekend my friend Bridget visited because she just had a birthday and I epically failed so we had our own little celebration.

And, obviously, I made a cake.

It involved a big girl ingredient called Kahlua.

Do not be alarmed.

This cake does not taste like booze.

It tastes like delicious chocolate cake with coffee liqueur.

Get excited

It came from this awesome book (thanks, Mom!) called The Cake Mix Doctor.  The recipes start with a plain old box of cake mix and doctor it up, (get it? get it?) until it’s something ridiculously delicious that is SO easy to make but will make everyone think you’re a master chef.

Best thing ever.

I actually made this cake for my friend Claudia over the summer.  I brought it to the lab and it was a huge hit!

It even made me into a cake person…at least for the day.

It is UNBELIEVABLY moist and has just the right amount of sweetness and chocolatey flavor.

I like that it has a glaze rather than a 2 inch thick layer of pure sugary grossness.

It may look like boring old chocolate cake but do not be deceived by its modest appearance! This is a chocolate cake like you have never had.

Trust me. This is coming from a pretty strict brownie person.

SO let’s boogy.

(ugh boogy? really? I need to hire a writer or something)

The cool thing about this recipe is that it requires only one bowl!

Throw everything in there.  Yup. Everything.  All at once.

Mix it up until everything is well combined.  That’s harder than you think because of the ridiculously thick batter. Check this out…

Luckily that’s all you have to do.  Now spread it in a pan and bake it up.  The original recipe calls for a bundt pan.

I do not own a bundt pan.

So I made it a sheet cake.  Bridget forgave me.

Real life.

You could also make it a layer cake with two rounds, or even make it into cupcakes if that’s your thing.

Bridget is not a cupcake person.  She is a sheet cake person.  What kind of person are you?

(Suddenly that sounds like a loaded questions…it’s really not)

Chocolate cakes tend to overcook more easily than lighter cakes so start with way less bake time than you think you need…you may surprise yourself…then let bake longer as needed.

When it’s all cooked up…stab it all over with a fork or a chopstick…

(yeah I have those…but no bundt pan…it’s fine)

…or whatever other pokey object you have laying around.  You’re making holes for the glaze to seep into the cake.

Yeah.  Important stuff here.

Next take your glaze (powdered sugar and kahlua…I added a little milk…so simple!) and pour it all over.

I decided not to sugarcoat things here.

(Bridget’s got that covered HA!)

Yes, that is Bridget pouring the glaze so I can take a picture.

Yes, I did make a corny sugarcoating joke just now.

Yes, we are on the floor.

There’s better light next to my back door than anywhere else in my house.

Real life in action right there.

Pretty much after this you know what to do!

Light some candles, sing happy birthday, don’t forget the cha cha chas…

Maybe shave a little chocolate over it for added pizazz…

Savor that supermoist, melt-in-your-mouth, best-cake-you-ever-had feeling.

Have a good time with some good friends and some good food.

Happy Birthday Bridget!

❤ Ellen

Chocolate Kahlua Cake

Recipe adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn


1 package (18.25 oz) plain devil’s food cake mix (whichever is you favorite)

1 package (5.9 oz) chocolate INSTANT pudding mix

3/4 cup Kahlua (**note: I bought a 200 mL bottle, used 3/4 c for the cake and the rest for the glaze)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs (really)


1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

remaining Kahlua (**note: original recipe calls for 1/4 cup kahlua and no milk.  I just used the rest of my little bottle…it was delicious but had a more subtle Kahlua flavor)


**Oven 350 degrees

1. Place cake mix, pudding mix, Kahlua, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute, scrape the bowl, then increase the mixer speed to medium for 2-3 minutes more

2.  When batter is thick, smooth and completely combined, pour into a greased and floured cake pan of your choice (bundt for original recipe, sheet cake, rounds or cupcakes..doesn’t matter!)

3. FOR A BUNDT PAN: bake 45-47 minutes.  OTHER PANS WILL NOT BAKE THIS LONG! You can cut the time at least in half.

4. To prepare the glaze: mix sugar and remaining Kahlua, then add milk a little at a time, mixing completely, until you reach the desired consistency.

5. Poke holes in your cake so the glaze will absorb into the cake itself and pour the glaze all over the cake (in a bundt-allowing the glaze to drizzle down the sides, in a sheet cake-spreading evenly)

6.  Shave some chocolate over the cake just before serving.  Enjoy!


  • The Cake Doctor suggests adding 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to play up the Mexican flavors.  I’ve never tried it but I bet it would be delicious.  If you try that let me know!
  • Cake keeps on the counter up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.  You can also freeze it (wrapped well) for up to 6 months! Let it thaw completely on the counter before serving.



Filed under Dessert, Uncategorized

10 responses to “Big Girl Birthday Cake

  1. Lauren

    As a pretty strict non-coffee person, I wholeheartedly recommend this cake. It’s AMAZING.

  2. Mom

    March 6. Just sayin.

    Also! Ask your brother about the strawberry welcome home cake. The poke-the-holes thing reminded me. I think we can safely say that cake with stuff drizzled in is SuperCake!! Always!

  3. I don’t normally comment on blogs.. But nice post! I just bookmarked your site

  4. Bridget Hayden

    Best birthday cake ever! You’re awesome. LOVE!

  5. ErikaC

    You have my missing small plate!! haha You can keep it to remember me by

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