Thursday, July 25, 2013

The best chocolate sheet cake. Ever.

I tend to get really excited about things.  Like, really really excited.  Think dogs and mailmen kind of excited, but more vocal and (barely) more civilized.

Let me give you an example: I see a new movie in a theater.  I enjoy said movie.  I talk about said movie at every opportunity.  I tell friends, family, coworkers, bus drivers, and church greeters about the film.  I explain that I loved it so much that I'd see it again.  I tell my audience they must go see it.  No, they MUST.  "I'll even come with you!" I offer.

I start throwing around phrases like "best ever," and my friends will grow weary of my rants.  They'll politely (or not so much) change the subject.  That is, until they see the movie for themselves.  Then, most of the time, they'll confirm what I told them long ago that yes, that movie was totally awesome!  And yes, I was right.

Actually, that last part is only inside my head, but it's there, nonetheless.

It's been this way with movies like Argo, The Avengers, and obviously The Cutting Edge.  With Brooks running shoes and the TV show New Girl.  And especially with a certain restaurant dessert

Deeming something "the best ever" is both a blessing and a curse.  It lets others know that hey, this thing here is it!  But it also begs for one-upmanship and Simon Cowell-like critiques.  However, I think even that man would be left speechless by none other than the Pioneer Woman herself and this magical cake. Because it is, without question, the best chocolate sheet cake.  Ever.

It's one of two desserts I made for my birthday.  First, there was Grandma's legendary Oreo dessert, an ice cream treat, and then this cake.  This cake!  I've been saving this recipe for nearly two years (what's wrong with me?!) and jumped at the chance to make it.  If you're still questioning my need for two cakes, I offer you this additional nugget of wisdom -- cake and ice cream are the ultimate party dessert combo, hands down.

But, back to this cake.  You better get excited because I'm excited.  It's legit the best chocolate sheet cake I've ever tasted.

I once failed to understand what the fuss was all about when it came to Texas sheet cake.  It's just chocolate cake, right?  Wrong.  Texas sheet cakes feature a single layer of cake, thinner than a traditional layer, topped with rich chocolate frosting.  It's popular because it's a classic flavor loved by so many, easy to make, and a piece of cake (word play!) to serve right out of the pan at any size gathering.

Boiled down, it's got a RIDIC cake-to-icing ratio.  Time to get excited!  This isn't for the faint of heart, folks.

Pouring the warm frosting on the cake was like being in the presence of the most breathtaking chocolate waterfall ever (under which I'd like to stand, thankyouverymuch).

The cake is incredibly moist and the icing?  Sweet mother of all things good in the universe.  The icing is where it's at!  Thick, chocolatey, and so luscious.  And the finely chopped pecans add such an unexpected crunch and flavor.  I wondered if they were really necessary and now I get it.  Absolute perfection in a pan!  Perfection that is irresistible with every pass by the cake.  Let's just say I kept a fork in the pan for convenience.

Pioneer Woman, though you and your cake may be residents of Oklahoma rather than Texas, I most certainly wouldn't want to mess with this recipe one bit.  Neither would Chuck Norris*.  Best chocolate sheet cake ever, bar none!

*I am neither a fan nor foe of Chuck Norris.  His presence atop this cake was a result of my husband joking to friends that, if he had to guess, my birthday cake would look like this.  Sometimes I wonder about that one.  (My husband, not Chuck Norris.)

Two years ago: Banana peanut butter protein smoothie
Three years ago: Haluski with bacon

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe)

A few notes: I halved the original recipe (that called for an 18x13-inch jelly roll pan) to make a slightly more manageable 9x13-inch cake.  Also, this cake is incredibly moist and will remain so for at least 5 days.  I cannot vouch for any longer because it was too good to last!

For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
2 heaping Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
3/4 stick (6 Tablespoons) salted butter
2 heaping Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray and set aside.  Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and set that aside, too. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add cocoa, whisking to combine.  Add boiling water and bring mixture to a boil for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and add cocoa butter mixture to dry ingredients, stir and allow to cool slightly. 

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, stir together milk, egg, baking soda, and vanilla.  Pour this into the chocolate mixture and fold until combined.  Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make icing by melting butter in small saucepan.  Add cocoa, whisk to combine, and remove from heat.  Add milk, vanilla, and sugar, and stir.  Fold in chopped pecans and pour over warm cake, right out of the oven.  (It'll pour and coat the cake so easily when both the cake and icing are still warm.)  Dig in with fork immediately.  Allow to cool slightly and serve and enjoy like a semi-civilized person or a crazed birthday-obsessed adult.  Either/or.


  1. This looks so good. I am getting distracted though looking at your sidebar and seeing all your yummy looking recipes!

    1. You're so sweet! Thank you... and happy cooking/baking :)