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Dark chocolate sheet cake with chocolate frosting

Dark chocolate sheet cake with chocolate frosting

If the only thing you want for Christmas is for someone to remember your December birthday, this cake’s for you! Or maybe you know someone who has a birthday competing with Christmas so you need a cake that can stand out.  My daughter and I make a different chocolate cake every few weeks, I don’t post all of them, only the ones we decide are really extra delicious and this one was all that plus it was so easy!  I find it so fascinating how many ways there are to make a chocolate cake – this is an old school texas sheet cake recipe we modernized and I think the water, oil, AND butter make a combo that is not dense and dry as ‘from scratch’ cakes can often be.  The process of making it was really unique and fun.  I often make layer cakes, because they are pretty and I love the frosting to cake ratio on a layer cake, but a 9×13 is a birthday staple, and this is only a few more steps than your box cake and tastes so moist and springy.  Plus it’s poppin off chocolate flavor like no other – and if you add rainbow sprinkles it will make all your chocolate cake dreams come true!

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (sprinkled with a little flour)

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup hot cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
rainbow sprinkles (optional)

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and preheat oven to 375.
  2. Whisk sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine water, vegetable oil, butter, and cocoa stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil then pour the hot mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together just until smooth.  Let it cool slightly then mix in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. Scrape batter out of pan and spread evenly into 9×13 baking pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. For the frosting: Melt chocolate and butter either in a pyrex at low heat or in a double boiler.  Remove from heat and pour in your hot cream, stir until combined then add the vanilla and sugar beating until spreadable.  Pile it all on your cooled cake and spread out as you wish.  Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles too!

Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking chocolate texas sheet cake and fast chocolate butter icing.

Rich Dark Chocolate Tea Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

There are so many cakes and other chocolate bakes that use coffee, and I’m sure they taste great, but the fact that I don’t drink coffee should not keep me from experiencing these desserts, so I decided to take a famous cake, and experiment with using herbal tea instead, the results were incredible!  This is my take on Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) Beatty’s Chocolate Cake.  This cake has awesome reviews and it looks and sounds so good, I just had to eat it!  Instead of coffee, I steeped 2 bags of Zhena’s Gyspy chocolate chai tea and poured that into my batter hoping it would impart some cool flavor, and it DID!  If you have no hang-ups with coffee, you can use that, or even just hot water, but I loved the undertones of chai and red tea that came through with my brew! The frosting calls for instant coffee powder, so there again, I used some creative tricks and came up with a very rich and super chocolatey frosting by dissolving special dark cocoa powder instead.  I don’t know what Ina’s frosting tastes like, but mine was super rich deluxe and so so SO delicious!

For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot Chocolate Chai Tea with 2 bags (or other tea you like, or coffee)

For the Frosting:
7 ounces high quality semi-sweet chocolate (Ina recommends Callebaut, but I use Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon special dark or other dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water
2 cups (possibly a bit more) confectioners sugar

  1. Take out your butter for the frosting if you’re making the same day so it will be room temp.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and parchment line on bottom 2 8 inch cake pans.  I had only 9 inch, which worked great, I just watched for doneness and they were done at closer to 32 minutes than 40.  Always check for doneness, not bake times.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined.
  3. Get your hot tea steeping so it’s rich with flavor while you do these next steps.  In another bowl combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  With mixer still on low, add your hot tea and mix until just combined but be sure to take a spatula around the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients or you’ll get an uneven batter that’s too thin or too thick.
  4. Pour batter into your prepared pans as evenly as you can and bake around 30-40 minutes (depending on size of your pan) until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. For the frosting, chop up the chocolate and melt it either using a heat proof bowl over simmering water, or my preferred method, in a pyrex in the microwave on defrost so it never gets too hot.  Do this first and set it aside so it has time to cool because you don’t want to put hot chocolate into your butter or your frosting can get a bit sloppy.  Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and the vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.  Turn the mixer to low, gradually add half the confectioners sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.  Dissolve the dark cocoa powder into the water creating a thick paste.  On low speed, add the chocolate and the cocoa paste to the butter mixture then add the rest of the confectioners sugar adding more if needed to get a workable texture.  2 cups was about right for me, and the frosting was just beautiful to work with and so shiny and pretty.
  6. Place 1 layer cake flat side up on a flat plate or cake pedestal.  With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting then put the second layer on top, rounded side up and spread frosting evenly on the top and carefully over the sides of the cake making sure to touch your spatula only to the frosting and never to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake