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Born just under four pounds five weeks early, fed by syringe for seven weeks…six years ago.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

2 cups granulated sugar

10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a small heatproof bowl, whisk together the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth. Let cool completely.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat together the granulated sugar and butter on medium-high speed until the mixture is light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla and the cooled cocoa mixture.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops.

Bake the cakes until they begin to pull away from the sides of the pans, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside of each pan to release the cake. Invert the pans onto the racks, lift off the pans and peel the parchment paper off the cakes. Turn the cakes right side up and let cool completely.

Place 1 cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, spread the top of the layer with a generous 1/2 cup of the frosting. Place the second layer, top side down, on top of the first layer. Frost the top and then the sides with the remaining frosting. Slice the cake into thick wedges and serve.

For chocolate cupcakes, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.

Recipe from William Sonoma

Chocolate Frosting

3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream, or as needed

To make the cake, preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Using the mixer, beat in the butter on low speed until it is crumbly. Beat in the vanilla, then gradually beat in enough of the cream to make a spreadable frosting.

Brown Sugar Frosting

Melt ½ lb butter
Add: 1 cup dark brown sugar
Boil 2 minutes
Add: ¼ cup milk
Bring to full boil and let cool
Gradually add 4 cups powder sugar and beat to spread
Melt 2 squares bitter chocolate and drizzle on frosting.

Recipe from Plum Cove Cottage

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Charlotte ice skating with her brothers for her sixth birthday.

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