taking time to celebrate

It’s crazy to think that I’m three-quarters of the way through my first rotation. It’s been an incredible experience thus far: constantly humbling, challenging, and inspiring. On a daily basis I’m reminded of the importance of taking time to celebrate and appreciate the health, friends, and family I am so lucky to have. Most recently, a very special celebration was in store. Sugar Cured’s own Kate had a birthday, and no amount of work or studying was about to stop us from marking the occasion in the way we know best—through good food.


True to her generous spirit, Kate invited us to her home for dinner where she cooked a smorgasbord of incredible Middle Eastern dishes from the pages of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Although I’d usually fight the birthday girl on working in the kitchen on her big day, I knew that nothing would make Kate happier. But I at least compromised on two things: 1) getting to bring dessert and 2) doing the dishes.


In my family, there’s only one cake that’s fit for a birthday celebration. My grandma has been making this chocolate bundt cake for decades, and I can’t remember a birthday at my house (or in college, when my amazing mom would ship it cross-country) that hasn’t included it. I’m not sure what the original title on my Grandma’s recipe card read, but through years of whipping out this decadent creation for all manner of “special” occasions, we’ve lovingly dubbed it “Special Chocolate Cake.” As fate would have it, it turns out that half a country away, Kate’s family has also been making this cake recipe for birthdays for many years, although they call it Tunnel of Fudge Cake. So when deciding what dessert to make for Kate’s big day, it really was a no-brainer.


As special as this cake is, it’s really one of the easiest things to bake in the world. It involves doctoring up a cake mix (Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Fudge is our family’s go-to, and when I’ve tried other mixes, I’ve regretted it) with sour cream, pudding mix, extra eggs, and chocolate chips, and topping it with a rich ganache. An added flourish of sprinkles and a flaming crown of candles made this a fitting cake to toast to a sweet and wonderful  year ahead.

Happy Birthday Kate!

Special Chocolate Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Fudge highly recommended)

½ cup oil

½ cup water

4 eggs

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

8 oz sour cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Coat bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with sugar (we use this in lieu of flour to make a nice crunchy crust).

Add all ingredients besides chocolate chips into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric hand or stand mixer to beat on medium speed for 1 minute to combine all ingredients. Scrape down bowl. Beat for another 4 minutes on medium-high speed (<– sounds like a lot, but it’s what makes it super moist and fluffy!). In the last minute of mixing, add in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until knife inserted in middle of cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack in pan for 30 minutes. Run a knife along the middle and outer edges and invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Top with glaze.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup half and half

1 tbsp butter

In a glass measuring cup or microwave-save bowl, microwave chocolate chips and half and half for 1 minute on low power. Stir until chips are fully melted (if necessary, microwave for another 30 seconds on low power). Add butter and mix completely. Pour glaze over cake, allowing it to fall gently over the sides. Decorate to your liking.

One thought on “taking time to celebrate

  1. I use grandma’s recipe as a white cake version for making other cakes (no chocolate chips, use a “white cake” box and vanilla pudding): Andy loves funfetti (add sprinkles to the batter) and Jillian’s rainbow cake. I had a professional cake maker exclaim how delicious it was! Still, I’m a chocolate girl and THIS one is my favorite! Xoxo

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