Birthdays and Butter

Donuts and Irises: Mom's favorites.

Irises and Chocolate-Covered Donuts: Mom’s favorites.

Isn’t she lovely?

Two weekends ago we celebrated my mom’s, AKA the extremely loved Mama Doerr’s, 60th birthday. How does one celebrate and honor a person like Mom? As many of you know, she is vivacious; she has magical silver hair; and her kindness knows no bounds. Mom always announces that when she grows up she wants to be like me (I told you her kindness is limitless)…but l have a sneaking suspicion that Mom will never grow up. She remains young at heart and that’s exactly what I love about her and what I strive for each day. While she has a quiet wisdom about her, it is balanced and lifted with humor and utter goofiness. We all know that laughter is the best medicine, and Mom has a special blend that overfloweth for all. I’m incredibly lucky to get a healthy dose of it every day.

Mama Doerr was born and raised here in San Antonio with her five other siblings, who all still live here. After being away for twenty years, many birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and graduations have been sadly missed. Now that the Doerr family has returned to the home of the Alamo (always remember y’all) however, reunions have been sweet and have sprinkled us as reminders of the importance of family. One such sprinkle came in the form of Mom’s birthday, as all of my aunts and uncles came together to celebrate Mom’s milestone. I love witnessing sibling reunions, and when it involves my Mom’s family, the joy erupts even more so. Laughter, smiles, bright eyes and inside jokes from years gone unfold before my eyes and I absolutely relish it. I’m reminded of the sixty years’ worth of memories my mother has and how they have undoubtedly shaped who she is today. Yes we celebrated a sixtieth year of life, but the true heart of the gathering rejoiced and renewed the ageless bond we all share.

Tres leches on da house

The Gang’s all here

We all met at the longtime favorite Mexican restaurant, La Fogata, which in English translates to “the campfire” or “the bonfire”…quite a fitting name. Mom has a light about her that can illuminate the dreariest day, the most melancholy of moods, and even add more sheen to an already joyous occasion. Mom is a bonfire in and of herself! The margaritas flowed, the mariachis serenaded, and the delicious Mexican food satisfied our tastebuds. The music especially added a sentimental touch to the day as the siblings reminisced about the songs their mother and father used to sing and play together in their childhood home. My grandparents’ spirits were present with the strum of the guitar and the harmony of voices that surrounded our table. Everyone was there. Everything was as it should have been!

 

Mom’s birthday was a success: it had all the color, brightness, and happiness that characterize her very being. The only thing missing from her birthday lunch was chocolate. And I made sure to remedy that with this recipe, compliments to Pinterest, which led me to this blog page. In it, you’ll find the magical steps needed to create *drum roll* Nutella…I’ve gotten your interest now…Gooey…I’ll keep talking…Butter…*drool*…CAKE. Nutella Gooey Butter Cake. The title just gets better and better…much like every bite of this fabulously decadent dessert. Mom (like so many of us) is obsessed with Nutella and craves it constantly. So for her birthday, I thought I would bake her this dessert in honor of her favorite chocolate spread. It just so happens that it’s one of my favorites too…so this cake ended up being a gift that kept giving.

 

I don’t hate it.

 

This cake is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted…and if you know me, you KNOW I make an effort to sample every dessert I can. The bottom layer is like a moist (sorry Caroline…I know how much you love that word), dense brownie. The top layer melts in your mouth and is reminiscent of a fudge-pudding hybrid. While the ingredients you are about to read sound like they would make for an extremely heavy and ultra-rich dessert, they don’t! I promise! I was worried I would only be able to handle a tiny corner of the cake, buuuut……let’s just say I underestimated my own strength. I’m still a little baffled by this, but to me, the taste of this cake reminded me of a light chocolate pecan pie. And yet there are no pecans…..so I don’t know if I’m crazy, or spot on, but let me know what you taste when you make it! Because you have to now! Lauren’s orders.

Here is the recipe:

What to pick up at the store, or from your impressive pantry:

These items will form the bottom layer of the cake:

  • 1 Box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

For the melt-in-your-mouth, addicting top layer:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Let the gooey games begin:

For the bottom support layer of chocolate:

  1. Set your oven to 325° F and lightly grease a 13×9-inch pan
  2. Using whatever you have, whether it be a mixer or a (not so) trusty bicep, combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter until it is all well combined. Press into bottom of greased pan until smooth.
Gentlereaders start your engines...

Gentlereaders start your engines…

The finished product will look like this

The finished product will look like this

For the star-of-the-show top layer, also read as THE PART WITH NUTELLAAAA:

  1. With mixer or strength of Hercules, blend, cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs, Nutella and vanilla. Carefully mix in the powdered sugar (I got this everywhere…and I wrongly chose to not wear an apron) and blend until smooth.
  2. Spread this glorious gaggle of ingredients over the bottom layer and bake for 40-45 minutes. The center should be a little gooey (have I used this word enough yet?) and the entire top will bear a striking resemblance to brownies. But this cake is SOOO much more than brownies could ever be.
  3. The original recipe calls for dusting the top of the cake with powdered sugar once it has cooled…but I decided not to. While I enjoy a little sweetness….I don’t like to give sugar more power than it already has. But do what you will!
  4. Like fine wine, and my mom, this dessert gets richer and better with time.
    Isn't she a beaut?

    Isn’t she a beaut?

    A glorious cake in a brownie's clothing

    A glorious cake in a brownie’s clothing

    Is your mouth watering yet?

    Is your mouth watering yet?

EAT. ENJOY. REPEAT UNTIL YOUR SOUL IS SOOTHED. (This may involve sticking a fork in the pan and finishing the entire confection in one go. You go Glenn CoCo.)

This cake lasts for a while! It gets better with time. The top layer sets a bit for ultimate biting into.

This cake lasts for a while! It gets better with time. The top layer sets a bit more for ultimate biting into.

Alright friends, I’m signing off for now. Until next time, ciao 🙂 Keep celebrating life and eating dessert (which are wonderfully one in the same)!

2 thoughts on “Birthdays and Butter

  1. To My Lauren,
    What a sweet tribute!….So Lovely and Endearing. Thank you for your kind words, my girl.
    It was truly a glorious day!….One for the Sweet Memory Book of Life!
    We continue to be ever so proud of you!
    Your description of cake making and Nutella ‘Wonderment’ is absolutely scrumptious!
    “AAaaaaaaaaah!”….The Stuff that Dreams are made of.”……Chocolate!…..Nutella!…..”OOooooooh, dear!”

    Love you to the Moon and Back,

    Mummers

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