Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

Don't get me wrong, I love a fancy, pastry-chef-made dessert as much as (or probably way more than) the next girl, but I have a much stronger and more loyal affinity to down-home sweets that taste like something you ate in your mother's kitchen when you were just a kid running in from school. The nostalgia of biting into an old-fashioned banana cake, for example, or a perfectly baked fudge brownie, just makes the whole thing that much better, more comforting somehow.

This is why I love Texas sheet cake so much. It tastes like the best memories you have of chocolate birthday cakes from your grade school days, but even better, sweeter, more intense. I've baked an iteration of this cake before, but this new recipe, from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook, by Ree Drummond, really takes the cake (pun intended). I actually closed my eyes and sighed when I took my first, still-warm-from-the-oven bite. Give it a go in your own kitchen, I promise it's more than worth the (minimal) effort. xo

Texas Sheet Cake
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook, by Ree Drummond
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks salted butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

1 3/4 sticks butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir together and set aside. In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Mix with a fork and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the cocoa. Whisk together to combine. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. When the butter is melted, pour the boiling water in the pan. Allow to bubble for a moment, then turn off the heat. Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture. Stir together for a moment to cool the chocolate, then pour into the egg mixture. Stir together until smooth, then pour into an ungreased jelly roll pan (or rimmed baking sheet) and bake for 20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make the icing: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Dump in the chopped pecans and stir until well combined. Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, pour the warm icing over the top. You'll want to avoid doing much spreading, so try to distribute it evenly as you pour. Let cool for a good half hour or so until the icing is set. Slice up into squares and serve with a smile. xo