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Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Birthday Cake

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Birthday Cake

My youngest child is turning 7 years old at some point today. As anyone who has given birth to 3 children knows, by the last one you have barely any brain cells left. Therefore, I obviously have no earthly idea what time of day or night she was born. So when the children ask me, “is she 7 yet?” I stare blankly and try to distract them with something shiny.

So I do what I do best. I bake for her. She’s the cutest little thing, and she asks for very little in general. She doesn’t even seem to mind that I have no idea what time of day she was born.

I seem to have made her day just by taking the time to cut up celery to give her for snack at school today. Don’t worry, though. You don’t get an easy one like that unless & until you’ve earned your stripes. Which I have. Earned my stripes, that is. As I’m sure you have, too. So if you don’t have an easygoing child just yet, that means that you just need to have another child. It’ll be smooth sailing. That’s the law. Not for nothing, but I have made this promise many times, & no one has come to kill me (yet). Which means it has panned out every single time (so far).

Word to the wise: don’t listen to me. Except when it comes to gluten-free cake. This sour cream vanilla cake is smooth and pound-cake-like, not like a silly, airy vanilla cake at all (even though I do love a silly airy vanilla cake now & again). The tang of the sour cream balances the sweet mini chocolate chips and rich chocolate frosting in the very best way. Using miniature chocolate chips means that fewer chips go a really long way, so they find their way into every bite, but don’t overwhelm the cake itself. Oh, and before you even ask, the answer is “yes.” You can replace the sour cream with an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt.

The chocolate frosting is made with melted chopped chocolate, not cocoa powder, since cocoa powder tends to make brown frosting, but not really chocolate frosting. And this cake calls for real, rich chocolate frosting. Here’s how:

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch cake


1 1/4 cups (210 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg + 1 extra-large egg yolk at room temperature, beaten

1 cup (224 g) sour cream (not nonfat), at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 teaspoons (4 g) cornstarch

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

7 tablespoons (84 g) nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 to 3 cups (288g to 345g) confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup


  • Preheat your oven 350°F. Grease or line an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan and set it aside. To make a layer cake, double all of the cake ingredients, follow the recipe as directed, and divide the batter between two same-sized round cake pans.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla, and mix to combine well. The batter will be thick. In a separate small bowl, place the chocolate chips and cornstarch and toss to combine. Add the chips and cornstarch to the cake batter, and mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, and smooth into an even layer with a wet spatula.

  • Place the cake pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs attached and the top is light golden brown (about 28 minutes).

  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Place the chopped chocolate, in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds at a time on 60% power, stirring well in between microwaving, until melted and smooth. Add the vanilla to the melted chocolate, and stir to combine. Pour the chocolate mixture into the mixer, and beat to combine well. Add 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar to the mixer, and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the corn syrup. The frosting should be smooth but thick enough to hold its shape when scooped with a spoon. If it is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar by the tablespoon until it reaches the proper consistency.

  • Use the frosting to frost a single layer cake, or fill and frost a double layer cake. Place in the refrigerator until set. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before slicing and serving.


P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of My Cookbooks! I can’t keep the blog going without your support!

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  • Marian
    October 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    I’m all set to make this tomorrow! I just had my youngest 9 weeks ago so I can remember when she was born, but for the life of me I can’t remember what time of day my middle child was born. I’m sure there are more memory problems to come, now that I have three. Just recommended your cookbooks to a friend who found out he has celiac yesterday. So excited to receive the new one!!

  • stacy jose
    October 19, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Gorgeous! My mum always made me amazing cakes, the highlight was the pink castle for my 3rd birthday, and the Oscar the Grouch for my 5th. Now my darling sister makes them for me as I live away from Mum and Dad, this year she made me a mint chocolate creation!
    Gift and Ideas

  • Carole
    October 18, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    My 5 pound box of better batter arrived and I found nonhydrogenated shortening so my husband will have a cake he’ll kove this weekend.Thank You.
    Can’t wait to get the mix recipes from your new cookbook.

  • Kristen
    October 16, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Thanks for sharing Nicole…I just had a friend ask me last night if I had a good gluten free cake recipe (per her boss’ request).  Being that your daughter and I share the same birthday (I was born at 9:41am) I think I may have to try this recipe out and then share with my friend.  I have every single ingredient on hand, so I have no excuse, and I’ve not had any birthday cake yet.  Happy birthday to your daughter!!

  • Agreatshopper
    October 16, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I ordered the quick and easy cookbook this morning.  I also ordered some Better Batter.  I haven’t tried the flour yet with your other cookbook but am very excited to get started. Thanks for this recipe for the cake.  It looks AMAZING  :)

    • gfshoestring
      October 16, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      You’re all set, then! Thank you for your support, greatshopper. I hear you’re a great shopper.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Cindy
    October 16, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Perfect timing! My birthday is tomorrow. I think I’ll make this for myself. Do I have to share?

    • gfshoestring
      October 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      There is a law. It says that if you are making your own birthday cake, you don’t have to share any of it with anyone. It’s a law. Happy birthday Cindy!
      xoxo Nicole

    • October 16, 2012 at 8:34 PM

      There is a law. It says that if you are making your own birthday cake, you don’t have to share any of it with anyone. It’s a law. Happy birthday Cindy!
      xoxo Nicole

  • October 16, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    I’m guessing you were a lot like your little girl when you were her age. I just know it. I can’t wait to try this cake for whomever has a birthday next in my life. It looks so deliciously unique. Kinda like you. Waiting for your book……..xoLinda

    • gfshoestring
      October 16, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      I can tell you this, Linda. I looked just like her when I was her age. Or at least she looks just like I did. Thank you for always being so kind and supportive, Linda!
      xoxo N

  • Wisdomfamily6
    October 16, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Ps: your book is on my bday list :-)

    • gfshoestring
      October 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      I hope you get everything on your list, Wisdom. Including a “yummy cake.”
      xoxo Nicole

    • October 16, 2012 at 8:38 PM

      I hope you get everything on your list, Wisdom. Including a “yummy cake.”
      xoxo Nicole

  • Wisdomfamily6
    October 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    My birthday is in 14 days. My girls 19, 9 & 5 want to make me a “yummy” cake…… not like the heavy cake grandma make LOL they are going to be excited to try this. I think we will all love it. Thank you. BTW my youngest was born at 3:07 am.

  • Sherry
    October 16, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Wow!  That looks amazing, I can almost smell it from here!  My oldest has a birthday in a few weeks, and I think I know what she will be eating on that day.  Thanks for all you do!

  • Sherry
    October 16, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Wow!  That looks amazing, I can almost smell it from here!  My oldest has a birthday in a few weeks, and I think I know what she will be eating on that day.  Thanks for all you do!

    • gfshoestring
      October 16, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      Happy early birthday to your oldest, then, Sherry! Lots of Fall birthdays. They’re the best. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    October 16, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Soooo yummy looking! Haven’t had cake in a long time. Scott will thank you later on this week when he gets home!
    PS – anticipating the arrival of the new book :)

    • gfshoestring
      October 16, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      Scott had better thank you, and then me. In the meantime, more for Molly (without the chocolate of course). ;) I can’t wait until you get that book, Pam!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Brian Hunn
    October 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Note from the peanut gallery: she was born a little past 6 am.

    • Pamela G
      October 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      awwwww…daddy remembers! :) Lucky little girl…

    • JoAnn C.
      October 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Way to go Dad!

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