I made this for a friend’s 50th birthday party. I had a shoot after the party, so I thought, “I’ll just pop back over here after everyone has gone through the line and I’ll get a piece then.” Tsk, tsk, tsk. Silly me. There was nothing but a couple of teeny, tiny crumbs left. I took that as a great sign, and all of the, “Mmmm... what’s in this?” comments, that it was a hit! The “secret” that had everyone asking what was in it was the almond extract in my chocolate buttercream. I used 1 Tablespoon of almond extract and 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (from Mexico. I am a big believer in asking your friends and family to pick up a bottle of vanilla for you, when they travel to Mexico! OR, find the Mexican tiendas in your town, and buy a bottle there!)

Anyway, the addition of the semi-sweet chocolate chips patted along the side and the chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on top didn’t hurt, either. For the cake, use your favorite chocolate cake recipe (I included mine below), or you could use a box mix. If you DO use a box mix, replace the water with milk and with a chocolate cake, use chocolate milk or chocolate soymilk or almond milk, and always add an extra egg. Also, add a box of instant chocolate pudding and 1 cup of sour cream OR, plain yogurt or even mayonnaise if you are in a pinch. Trust me on this one! 

Because I love the way my doctored cake mixes tasted, I began adding pudding to my scratch cakes, too. I use the old fashioned 1-2-3-4 cake recipes that my Grandmothers used. But I even add a little to that! The instant pudding makes the cake rich and moist, so normally I just splurge on one slice, but yesterday I didn’t even get the one slice. The biggest surprise taste was my buttercream, so here is the recipe for that. 



  • 2 sticks of butter, softened at room temperature (NOT melted)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

I use a stand mixer, but if you do not have one, you may use a hand mixer. Just make sure you mix this for a long time, as the air is needed for a fluffy consistency. 

Beat the butter to cream it and make it soft and perfectly whipped/creamed. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together, then slowly, slowly add into the butter mixture. Beat together until it is a crumbly mixture. Add the almond extract, vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream, then increase the speed. If your icing is too stiff, add a bit more heavy cream. If you find it too runny, add a couple of Tablespoons of powdered sugar.