Vivan’s Texas Sheet Cake

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I’ve never been a gambler.  Well, at least not a good one.  I rarely win anything, be it a stuffed toy at the county fair, or a pair of tickets via the local radio station.  This fact does not bode well for me since I have a group of friends that likes to meet occasionally for a “friendly” game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

We have some really, really good players in the group and I am so bad that I only play when I know I have decent cards – I’m giving away all my secrets here!  In all seriousness, the game is always fun.  I see it as a way to connect to friends on a human level rather than via Facebook, and hey, when we host, I always make some sort of sweet or savory snack!  So, even though my friends walk away with my buy-in (all $10 of it!), at least I can say I provided something good to eat while they do it.

This time, we welcomed two newcomers into the fold.  My friend from Norway, Thomas, was here visiting and he brought his friend, Anders.  To mark the occasion, I felt that something chocolatey would suffice.  I instantly thought about my mother’s Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s quick and simple, and totally divine.

Before you make this cake, be sure that you have enough people present to eat it.  It’s a BIG cake.  I’m sure you could use the batter to make cupcakes, but I wanted to stay true to Vivian, my mother, so I followed her method.

When I asked her the details of her frosting, she was sure to let me know that nobody would judge me if I, in fact, chose to eat the warm frosting right out of the pan.  That’s love.  And in my book, this cake is a pure winner.

Vivian’s Texas Sheet Cake

Ingredients:

2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda

Fudge Frosting:

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray a half sheet pan (18 x 13 jelly roll pan) with cooking spray and dust with flour; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the eggs, granulated sugar, and 1 stick butter.  Cream until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.  Add buttermilk and mix until incorporated.

In the meantime, bring 1 cup water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the baking soda; stir to combine and take off the heat.

To the creamed sugar mixture, add the sifted flour and cocoa and mix on low until combined.  Add vanilla and water/baking soda mixture.  When fully incorporated, pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  While cake bakes, prepare frosting.

For frosting:

In a medium pan, heat the cocoa, milk, and butter over medium heat until bubbling.  Remove pan from heat, let cool slightly, and add sugar and vanilla and beat well with a whisk or electric beaters.  Spread frosting on warm cake and sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired.

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