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This cake. It is absolutely, without a doubt, the best chocolate sheet cake ever. God bless my mother-in-law, who shared the recipe with me when I got engaged to Ladd. I tweaked it slightly over time with sinful results. The icing is poured over the cake while it’s still warm, creating a thick fudgy effect, and the resulting homemade cake is moist beyond imagination, chocolaty and rich like no tomorrow, and 100% of the time, causes moans and groans from anyone who takes a bite. You can skip the nuts if you want, but they add delicious crunch and texture to the cake. Whether it’s birthday parties or holidays or any ol’ weeknight, every occasion deserves some of this decadence.

What makes sheet cake different?

Sheet cake is thinner than a traditional layer cake, which means it bakes much more quickly. I make mine in an 18-by-13-inch sheet pan, but a jelly roll pan works fine too. Either way, you end up with a high frosting-to-cake ratio!

Why is chocolate sheet cake sometimes called Texas sheet cake?

Some say that the first recipe for a thin chocolate sheet cake originated in a Texas newspaper sometime in the ’50s or ’60s… but no one really knows. Don’t worry about where it came from, just make one—you won’t regret it!

How much batter goes into a sheet cake?

Here’s a good rule of thumb with sheet cakes: It’s about the same amount of batter that goes into a regular 9-inch layer cake or a 9-by-13-inch cake—it just ends up much thinner because it’s in such a big pan.

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Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 c.

    flour

  • 2 c.

    sugar

  • 1/4 tsp.

    kosher salt

  • 4 tbsp.

    (heaping) cocoa powder

  • 2

    sticks butter

  • 1 c.

    boiling water

  • 1/2 c.

    buttermilk

  • 2

    whole beaten eggs

  • 1 tsp.

    baking soda

  • 1 tsp.

    vanilla

For the Icing:

  • 1/2 c.

    finely chopped pecans

  • 1 3/4

    sticks butter

  • 4 tbsp.

    (heaping) cocoa powder

  • 6 tbsp.

    milk

  • 1 tsp.

    vanilla extract

  • 1 lb.

    (minus 1/2 cup) powdered sugar

Directions

    1. Step 1Note: I use an 18-by-13 sheet cake pan. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa. Stir together. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
    2. Step 2Pour the buttermilk in a measuring cup and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
    3. Step 3While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

      Cut into squares, eat, and totally wig out over the fact that you’ve just made the best chocolate sheet cake. Ever.

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The Cast of Characters. Very basic ingredients—perfect for us Pioneer Women who live out in the country and nowhere near dutch processed cocoa, Madagascar vanilla extract, or creme fraiche. All you need for this wonderful cake is sugar, flour, salt, butter, cocoa, baking soda, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, powdered sugar, milk, and pecans. Are you ready? Let’s go dance with the devil!

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First, melt 2 sticks regular (not unsalted) butter in a saucepan. While it’s melting, boil 1 cup of water.

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When the butter is melted, add 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

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And mix thoroughly.

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With the heat still on, pour in the boiling water…

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And allow the mixture to bubble for 30 seconds.

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Turn off heat. Set aside.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar

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And 1/4 teaspoon salt.

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Stir together.

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Pour the hot butter/chocolate mixture over the top…

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And stir together slightly, just to cool the chocolate.

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In a measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup buttermilk.

PIONEER WOMAN BACK-UP PLAN
: Living way out in the country, I often find myself missing key ingredients for many recipes and have had to learn to improvise. I usually don’t have buttermilk in the fridge when I want to make this cake, so here’s what I do: pour just under 1/2 cup regular milk into the measuring cup, then add enough regular vinegar to the milk to bring the quantity up to 1/2 cup. Within seconds, it turns into buttermilk and works perfectly. Try it sometime!

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To the buttermilk, add 2 beaten eggs

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1 teaspoon vanilla

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And 1 teaspoon baking soda. Stir together.

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Add the buttermilk mixture to the chocolate/flour mixture.

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Stir together well.

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I use this commercial baking sheet, but any jelly roll pan will do.

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Pour the luscious batter into the ungreased pan…

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13

13″x18″ Half Sheet Baking Sheet

And spread it evenly.

Bake the cake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes. While the cake is baking, it’s time to make the evil, decadent frosting.

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Chop 1/2 cup pecans

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Into pretty small pieces. Keep on choppin’—the smaller and crunchier, the better.

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In a saucepan (I always wash and use the same one as before), melt 1 3/4 sticks of regular butter (not to be confused with 1 1/2 sticks or 2 sticks, for pete’s sake.)

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Once the butter is melted, add 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder.

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Stir together, and allow to bubble for 30 seconds. Turn off heat.

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Then add 6 tablespoons milk

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And 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir together.

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Then add 1 lb. powdered sugar. Actually, I like to add about 1/2 cup less than 1 lb., but I was too embarrassed to admit that I wouldn’t be able to tell you what quantity that is. So add a pound, but hold a little back, and please don’t ask me how much that is, because I hate math.

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Stir together…

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Then add the chopped pecans…

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And stir together again.

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Now pour the evil, adulterous, wicked frosting over the warm, ridiculous cake.

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Try to pour it all over the surface, so you won’t have to do much spreading.

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The warmth of the cake should do most of the work for you, causing the stupidly delicious frosting to spread on its own. You’ll have to help it along a little, but the less you have to spread, the better.

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Sigh. Before you sink your teeth into this beautiful creation, take a moment. Pause and reflect upon how fortunate we are to be human. To be able to control the various ingredients in our kitchens. To be able to harness the energy necessary to heat an oven. To melt butter. To chop nuts. To eat…to eat…chocolate.

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