It looked as if it rained candy sprinkles in my kitchen. The rainbow-colored specks of sugar were everywhere. On the counter. On the floor. In the sink. On Stanford’s wet, cold nose. On my finger smeared with thick chocolate buttercream frosting.

It was a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting kind of day. In our household, chocolate cake means only one thing: a celebration. It could be for the silliest reasons like the return of The Walking Dead or Top Chef but it could also be for victories, both big and small, like Jun-blog getting mentioned in two world-class food magazines. The first came in October in Food from back home and the second was a sweet mention in the December issue of Feast from Australia. I know, this is thrilling news.

Food MagazineThe unexpected news came in the form of tweets from friends, Emilie and Cherrie, who first spotted the shoutouts. They snapped quick photos of the magazine and sent them along in a tweet filled with pride and excitement. As soon as I heard about the mention in Food, I hurriedly telephoned my mom and told her the good news. She stormed out of the house after our quick chat and bought copies of the magazine. The next thing I knew, I was reading an email from my sister telling me that my mom was in tears while reading the short feature.

“Filipinos are very proud of their cuisine, but Jun Belen took his love for Filipino food to a whole new level. … In every entry, he shares stories about his family, growing up away from his motherland and the native dishes he has come to love.” — Food, October 2011

“Philippine-born, San Francisco-based Jun Belen quells his homesickness with a blog about his homeland’s food. … Jun’s job as a photographer and stylist makes for a blog that is both interesting and beautiful.” — Feast, December 2011

This may not seem like a big deal for some but you have no clue how much this means to me. It is a much welcomed pat in the back and I am thankful. Truly thankful not only to Food and Feast but, more importantly, to you, my dear friends.

And so Dennis and I celebrated with chocolate cake like we always do. My go-to recipe for chocolate cake for life’s chocolate-cake-moments comes from the back label of a can of Hershey’s cocoa powder — my mom’s cocoa powder of choice. The recipe is quick and simple and the cake is rich and delightfully moist. The recipe is for a 6-inch cake, which can be easily doubled to make a heftier 9-inch treat. Add candy sprinkles to make it more fun.


Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Recipe adapted from the back label of a Hershey’s cocoa powder can, makes one 6-inch one-layer or multi-layer cake

For the chocolate cake, makes one 6-inch one-layer or multilayer round cake

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour two 6-inch round pans.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat by hand or use a mixer until fully blended, about two minutes. Stir in boiling water. Note that the batter will be thin. Pour the batter equally into the pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a cooling rack for ten minutes. Remove from the pans and allow the cake to cool completely on a cooling rack. Frost with chocolate buttercream frosting.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting

1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine butter and cocoa in a medium bowl. Blend by hand or use a mixer. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk and beat gently until smooth and spreadable. Stir in vanilla.


Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake