Grown-Up Birthday Cake

Grown-Up Birthday Cake

birthday cake

You guys. The Full Tummy is a year old. I honestly cannot believe it. Not one tiny bit! I never thought I’d get to this point and I’m excited for all the things that are still to come.

When I realized that The Full Tummy’s blogiversary was coming up, I kept dreaming and concocting recipes for all different times of treats, but most importantly, cakes. A birthday cake, in a way. A grown up birthday cake, to be exact. I’m not a big fan of boozy cakes but I do love the combination of bourbon or whiskey with chocolate. There’s something incredibly decadent about the combination, especially with darker chocolate because it’s not overly sweet.

birthday cake

For a few weeks, I sat at my desk at work bouncing birthday cake ideas off coworkers and friends until I settled on this cake. It’s full-bodied, but not heavy and it’s sultry in nature. This is a birthday cake for when you’re celebrating something important, something that you worked really hard for, you know? For me, this blogiversary was the perfect occasion.

Dark Chocolate cake, bourbon buttercream filling, and a whipped chocolate ganache to cover the whole thing. The cake is important, but not in the way you’d think. It’s gotta be a cake you love. Boxed cake, a family recipe. Doesn’t matter as long as it’s a sturdy chocolate cake. For me, it’s this Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake from America’s Test Kitchen (you can access the recipe if you sign up for their 14-day free trial). It’s the right texture, isn’t dry and is worth the extra effort.

birthday cake

Ganache is easier than you think it is to make, and it tastes so freaking good. It’s basically a 1:1 ratio of chocolate and cream. One ounce chocolate, one ounce cream, and so on. I made 16 ounces of ganache. I know, it sounds crazy, but the decadence of this birthday cake was important. In my brain, good frosting = good cake. ¬†All it takes is 8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate melted into 16 ounces of heated cream, cooled and then whipped with a mixer. Chill it and it will easily pour and cover the entire cake.

The buttercream is a bit more involved, but I promise that it is super good and worth it. Meringue powder is basically dried egg whites and a smidgen of cornstarch. The powder adds stability and helps the frosting firm up. Initially, I didn’t add the meringue powder and there was almost a disaster in my kitchen. Add this, its important. You may need to add a bit more sugar than what’s called for if the frosting is a bit more runny than it should be.

Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

Yields: about 5 cups frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces of powdered sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup bourbon of your choice (I used Knob Creek)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp meringue powder
  1. In a stand mixer, preferably with a paddle attachment, mix the butter until creamy.
  2. Add 1/3 of the sugar and mix until just combined. Add 1/2 of the cream and bourbon and mix until combined.
  3. Alternate the rest of the sugar and bourbon, mixing until combined.
  4. Mix in vanilla and then the meringue powder.
  5. Chill frosting for about 10 minutes before using on a completely cooled cake.
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 15 minutes


First year down, my friends. First year down, many more years of birthday cake, easy recipes and tips to help make cooking a bit easier to come. I’m thankful for a lot, but you’ll find out more about that on Wednesday!

Go make yourselves a cake, especially if you’re having a rough go. You really won’t regret this one.

Also, and this is mega important: Thanks to my amazing friend Da’Neil for the adorable cake bunting. Go check out her hilarious cross-stitch and cake decor in her Etsy store!

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