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Chocolate Cakes with Rosewater Frosting, A Birthday

Everything starts anew. Year after year that I live in San Francisco, I am reminded that the fog will roll in right around my birthday. And I will overdose on peaches. I revisit the trails, mountains, and seasides that I always do. Year after year. I’ll revive my bicycle, and a few pairs of shorts that I wear, oh, roughly three times per year. Summer clothes are hardly essential in this city.

A few years ago, I thought that living the life meant traveling around, spending a year abroad, being a vagabond. I felt entrapped in my wonderful life, silly and selfish as it sounds. My problem was that I felt that it wasn’t ‘exciting enough.’ I was jealous of friends who were able to take summers off between graduate school, or quit work without having another job. Sometimes I was jealous of people who simply couldn’t understand why you’d ever want to settle down, especially in your 20s and 30s.

As my birthday rolls around, for the 29th year in a row, I am reminded that this lovely routine — the changing of the seasons, getting to know people and places you already know all over again, and feeling settled — it’s actually quite nice. I don’t have to give up my travel bug (I did just get back from New York, am flying back there next week, and then heading on a two week trip to Sicily in less than 4 weeks). But, my evening plans can include cooking from my favorite cookbook, or going for a familiar walk in Golden Gate Park. I’m quite liking it that way.

This year, my last one in my 20s, I don’t want to make some overambitious list about the 30 things I’d like to accomplish. This life is not a checklist. And I’m glad I’ve gotten here. And there, too.

Little Chocolate Cakes with Rosewater-Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
*makes 8 little cakes, baked in a popover pan
*You can use this recipe to make 12 cupcakes. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and bake for about 15-20 minutes. You may want to double the frosting recipe.

For the cakes:

1 1/2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed
3 large eggs

For the frosting:

2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of rosewater (to taste)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut square pieces of parchment paper and line a popover pan with them.
2. Sift the flour and salt in a bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder.
3. Combine 3/4 cup of butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat over medium-high until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean seeds and eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate. Next, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to fill the lined popover pans with batter about 3/4 of the way. Bake for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
5. Refrigerate leftover batter. Once the first batch has had some time to cool, line a few more openings in the pan with parchment paper and divide the remaining batter among them. Bake for another 30 minutes (or until done).
6. Allow the little cakes to cool. Then, make the frosting: combine 1/2 cup of butter with 2 cups of powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat until smooth. Add the rosewater and vanilla and beat to combine. I prefer a more assertive rosewater flavor, so I add a lot to my frosting. If you prefer for it to be milder, add less. Taste before you add more.
7. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a round or star tip. Frost little cakes.

Musical Pairings: Frank Ocean – nostalgia, ULTRA. + Little Chocolate Cakes with Rosewater-Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • emmyk

    Those look delicious! Can’t wait to use them – lots of birthdays this summer!

  • Thank you darling! I agree, lots of birthdays indeed!

  • Happy birthday Kasey and Yes to cake!

  • These are adorable! I just love your frosting swirls. Have a wonderful birthday, Kasey! Enjoy the nice long weekend 🙂

  • Those are too cute! Happy birthday a couple days early!

  • May birthdays are the best. Happy early Birthday!

  • Thanks, Nicole!

  • Thanks, friend! See you soon 🙂

  • Thanks, Nicole! I don’t frost often, but I’m sort of obsessed with my pastry bag + tips…

  • Always yes to cake! Thank you, Jess!

  • Hannah

    Oh my god, I remember these. SO GOOD.

  • I’m glad to hear another 20-something has come to terms with her feelings about settling down vs. living a wild and carefree life. I want it both ways and am convinced that I can make that work. I need to come home to a kitchen but I love travel and adventure too!
    Happy birthday and may your next year be equally full of wandering and nesting!

  • Yeah! Dual purpose cakes!

  • Rachel, thank you so much for the very thoughtful comment! I agree that I want to make it work both ways, too. I think if you’re determined to live your life a certain way, the only person who stands in the way of that life is you. So let’s make it happen! Thank you 🙂

  • Mmm, I love the idea of rosewater in frosting. And living in SF, especially compared to where else in the country you could be living, is certainly living The Life. Plus you have a kitchen to cook in whenever you want.

  • How good do they look? I reckon I could eat the whole lot in 10 minutes flat!

  • sarah kieffer

    These cakes look lovely! {I’m coveting one of those wood slabs!!} And Happy Birthday! I think you’re in a very good place, and hope for good things in your future.

  • Mallory

    Happy 29th! I am happy that I am not the only 29 year old (my birthday was this week too!) that is pulled in several directions and trying to find the joy and happiness with where we are, right now. May this coming year be your best yet!

  • Happy birthday, Kasey! Hope your year is filled with all kinds of goodness and light. So stoked to meet you and a bunch of other way cool ladies in NY next week.

  • Happy (belated) Birthday!! I recently had a rosewater caramel chocolate that was super tasty. Rosewater + Chocolate = Yum.

  • You are so very right, Deanne 🙂

  • Hahah, that wouldn’t be hard, Spencer!

  • Thank you, darling! I really appreciate that.

  • Thanks, Mallory! Have belated birthday to you! Cheers to a great last year in our twenties!

  • Thank you so much! I am very much looking forward to meeting you, too! x

  • Thank you, Brandon! You’re not late at all – it’s tomorrow 🙂

  • Phew!! Ok cool. 29 was a good year for me. 30 has been even better! I’m not sure why everyone is so scared of turning 30 😉

  • Those cakes look heavenly, Happy happy birthday!

  • Thank you so much, Jessica!

  • I’m glad to hear that! 30 feels like a major life milestone, but I’m not afraid of it 🙂

  • Happy 29th birthday!!! Those little cakes look perfect (and a good excuse to try rosewater – I never have – shame on me). It’s kind of a wonderful gift in itself to realize that you’re making your life the way you want it. Hip hip hooray to you!

  • Happy birthday, Kasey! Love your perspective on life, can’t wait to see all the goodness that year 29 holds for you.

  • Happy birthday! Hope you had a great long weekend (ps – these look a-mazing).

  • Thank you, thank you! I like the way you put it 🙂

  • Thank you my dear! I really appreciate that!

  • Thanks, Nicole!! Hope you had a fantastic long weekend!

  • Pingback: apple bacon monkey bread minis | cozywalls()

  • Emily

    These are just adorable, and look amazing. You are a talented lady!

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