Magnolia’s Chocolate with Vanilla [Birthday] Cake

Y’all. I am thirty years old today.

THIRTY! I cannot believe it. I don’t know where I was when this happened. Six months ago, I sat in the corner of a cozy, little pub telling one of my classmates that I was going to make a To Do list for myself before I enter my next decade. When asked what it might entail, I had a few ideas, but nothing concrete.

I don’t even think I did any of the things I said back then. But, almost immediately, I went and got a drastic haircut. I rocked a fringe for a couple of months before the styling got too frustrating for me. Note to future 30-something KC–

You forgot, and that’s okay. It had been about ten years, anyway. Like a dog gobbles up its own vomit almost immediately, so, too, will you wish you could take those bangs back. You will not enjoy the extra maintenance. They will still be growing out in June for your 30th birthday. Don’t do it to yourself when the mood strikes you again in a few years, as it always does. We just don’t have to.

Anyway, my lack of To Do clarity was something that kind of nagged. I’ll go dancing, I thought. I’ll get another tattoo. I’ll travel somewhere. And honestly, I only achieved that last item.

The truth is, I realized that the work I wanted to do was internal first, with some external consequences. Which is to say, I am told I look well-rested these days. For those of you who follow me and have been customers over the last six and a half years, please know you can always reach out to me and I would love to stay in touch. My contact page is here, and we can go forward from there. I am so grateful to have formed relationships with many of you, and I appreciate you following me here. ❤

And then, I realized why I wasn’t dancing. You don’t need to dance to change your narrative. Because even though the one I was using was always true, it wasn’t working for me anymore.

The truth is, I was waking up every day plagued by what had brought me to where I am every day. Meanwhile, all things considered, I am kind of a raving success. I have survived a lot of things, and that is all I need to see when I look back. So, I gave myself this due date. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give yourself time, but I can confirm as the leading lady of my own life that it was time. By my 30th birthday, I wanted to finally feel better.

It isn’t that everything disappeared, and it isn’t compartmentalization. It is simply a daily choice that I have decided to make-with every effort I am capable of-every day until it is a habit. Because, I am not defined by what has happened to me. I deserve to wake up every day feeling good. Some days, that means this decision is conscious. Some days, that means recognizing that even though I feel worse than the day before, I still deserve to feel good, ultimately. [If you are not in a place to observe this for yourself right now, I just want you to know that I really respect that and I see you and I am sending you all of the love. You’ve got this.]

The grief button may always be there. And there may be days when it gets hit hard. But. It doesn’t rule me. I am still here. I made it. I won. I win.

Boom. How does it feel to blow those candles?

Anyway, I don’t want to become birthdayzilla here, but the odds of me leading a normal life seem to be quite slim (let’s be real, I have always been the woman in the fountain with the hat and the gorgeous ice cream, anyway), which means bride-dom is someplace on its own timeline, and I think I deserve a day. So, I’m naming that day this one. And all of the next ones. And the ones after that.

To celebrate, I have my favorite cake, ever. Complete with my favorite cards I ever pulled.

Happy Birthday. I love you.

One Year: Birthday Strawberry Pie Bars
Two Years: Oatmeal (Ice) Cream Pie
Three Years: Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
Four Years: Birthday Brie Grilled Cheese with Raspberries, Avocado, and Caramelized Onions
Five Years: Marzipan Cardamom Snickerdoodles
Six Years: Red Curry Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Corn

Magnolia’s Chocolate with Vanilla (Birthday) Cake
Adapted From The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
Makes one 2-layer cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
a few drops of food coloring, if using

nonpareils, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour and the baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk and the vanilla, beating after each addition until smooth. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top of cake.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating will after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.

Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with nonpareils. Serve! Cake will last up to 3 days, kept in an airtight container.


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