Texas Sheet Cake
Random fact #71 about The Hungry Mouse: I actually own a cake pan shaped like the state of Texas. True story. It’s cast aluminum, and it was my first purchase on eBay, like 8,000 years ago. I think I paid maybe nine bucks for it.
This, however, is not that cake. This is way, way better.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas. When it comes to cake, they were right. At least, so says this Yankee Mouse.
This recipe makes an impressive amount of cake. Like, almost too much cake. (Almost.)
What is Texas Sheet Cake?
Texas Sheet Cake is a thin chocolate cake topped with chocolate frosting and toasted, chopped pecans.
It’s also a really fast cake to make. You can throw it together from start to finish in just over a half an hour, give or take. Once it’s finished, you need to let it sit for about an hour to set up and settle in.
Much like my Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake, you don’t need a mixer or any fancy equipement. Just a couple of bowls and a pot.
This is a great cake to bring to a party. Or a picnic. Or a barbecue. (Fourth of July festivities, anyone?) It travels well. Just wrap the sheet pan in plastic wrap, grab a knife and a spatula, and you’re good to go.
I found this recipe in a recent issue of Cook’s Country. The good folks over at Cook’s Illustrated say that it serves 24.
I guess that depends entirely on how much you feel like sharing.
I love the crew over at Cook’s Illustrated, because they’ll spend a lot of time monkeying around with a recipe, testing a zillion different versions until they find the one they like best. They also tell you about how they arrived at the final recipe.
For example, for this recipe, they wanted to boost the chocolate flavor of the cake, because their initial attempts just weren’t fudgey enough. So they increased the amount of cocoa powder—and added melted semisweet chocolate.
An unconventional method
This cake defies one of the 10 Commandments of Baking: Thou shalt not frost until the cake is cool.
Almost all frosted cake recipes call for waiting until the cake has cooled completely before applying the frosting. If you don’t, the heat from the cake will break down your frosting, leaving you with a runny, drippy mess.
Not this recipe. Listen up.
So, you bake this cake for about 20 minutes, yank it out of the oven, then completely douse it in warm chocolate frosting. While it’s hot. (Yep, you heard me right.)
The frosting sinks into the cake as it cools, creating this unbelievably moist, fudgey layer on top. It’s a lot like a very cakey brownie.
Let’s look at that a little closer, shall we?
Oh, after you put on the frosting, you immediately sprinkle the whole thing with chopped, toasted pecans. The pecans nestle into the frosting.
Everybody loved this cake when we brought it over to a party. (The same party that got those S’mores Bars.) I hope you enjoy it!
Texas Sheet Cake
Adapted from Cook’s Country
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbls. butter
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 Tbls. butter (that’s 1 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbls. light corn syrup
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbls. vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped
Pan prep & preheating
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 11 x 18 sheet pan, line with parchment paper, and set aside.
Make the cake batter
Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk together until uniform. Set aside for a sec.
Put the eggs (two eggs plus two egg yolks) in a small bowl.
Toss in the vanilla and sour cream.
Beat until smooth. Then set that aside along with the dry ingredients.
Add the water and the cocoa powder.
Cook over medium heat for maybe 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the whole mess melts and is uniform.
Pour the molten chocolate/butter mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture.
Whisk to combine.
It’ll take a minute to get it uniform, and look kind of gross. That’s just fine. Keep going.
(See what I mean? Icky.) You should wind up with a thick, mealy paste.
(Still icky.) And stir until uniform.
Now, it should look like smooth and lovely chocolate cake batter.
The batter will be on the thick side.
Pour the batter out onto your prepared sheet pan.
Spread it around with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon until it’s evenly distributed.
Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven. Bake 18-20 minutes.
Toast the pecans
Toss your pecans into a nonstick pan (not greased, just throw them right in). Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly brown and very fragrant.
The smell of the toasting pecans brought both beasts into the kitchen. (What can I say? They’re kitchen dogs, through and through.) I wasn’t about to let either of them nibble on hot, toasted nuts, so they had to settle for a few of their favorite apple cookies. Rough life, I know.
When the nuts are toasted, pull them out of the pan. Transfer to a cutting board. Let them cool for a few, then chop them up.
Set aside for now.
Make the icing about 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven
That way, it’ll be nice and warm when you pour it on the hot cake. (Hot cake + warm icing = melt-in-your-mouth-fudgey-Texas-Sheet-Cake-goodness.)
Cut the butter up into chunks and put it in a medium-sized pot. Pour in the cream.
Add the light corn syrup to the pot. I like Karo syrup, which you can find in most American grocery stores. If you live outside the U.S., or can’t get your paws on it, try Lyle’s golden syrup or something like it.
Toss in the cocoa powder.
Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is melted, smooth, and uniform.
Take the pot off the heat. Stir in the vanilla…
…and the confectioner’s sugar (often called powdered sugar in the U.S.).
Whisk it until all the lumps of sugar are gone.
Frost the cake when it’s hot!
After 18-20 minutes, yank your cake out of the oven. It should be slightly firm to the touch and a little crackly around the edges.
Pour the pot of warm frosting right onto the cake. Do not pass go. Do not let that cake cool.
Spread the icing around with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon so that it covers the entire cake.
Sprinkle the cake fairly evenly with chopped, toasted pecans.
Let cool for 45 minutes – an hour to let the icing sink into the cake.
When it’s ready, slice into wedges and share with your favorite people.