Friday, August 13, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake.

A few weeks ago, I made these brownies and discovered two things.

One, they are the best, best, best brownies ever.
And two, I have a serious love-hate relationship with powdered sugar.

Mostly hate.

The first batch of icing was ruined when I had to run to the store mid-whisk. The second batch reflected my patience and was full of little un-whisked clumps of powdered sugar. They tasted fine (okay, they tasted positively narcotic), but I'm a perfectionist and the color and consistency was slightly off.

So when I was asked (told) to make these again for a barbeque this weekend, I cried, huffed, stomped my feet, threatened to burn down the kitchen, and admitted defeat.

And then I said, let's do this. I tied on my big kid's apron, whisked the icing with determination... and made the best batch ever.
Also known as Texas Sheet Cake, Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, Buttermilk Bars, or The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever, this recipe is a classic and my absolute favorite. The soft, rich, chocolatey cake, frosted with warm icing while still hot from the oven, is so perfect and addictive and timeless, that there's nothing left to say except that it's absolutely necessary for you to whip up a batch this moment. 

If that means driving to the store for buttermilk at 2 AM, I support that.

Texas Sheet Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup strongly brewed coffee or water
1/4 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 tablespoons dark cocoa
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and granulated sugar.

In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, shortening, coffee or water, and cocoa. Stir and heat to boiling. Pour boiling mixture over the flour and sugar. Add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix well, using a wooden spoon or on high speed with an electric mixer.

Pour into a well-buttered jelly roll pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until brownies test done in the center.

While brownies bake, prepare the frosting. In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla until frosting is smooth.

Pioneer Woman uses chopped pecans in her icing. I was feeling adventurous (okay, I had just found chopped pecans in the freezer), and, let's face it, Ree knows her way around a kitchen, so I sprinkled them over half the cake before I poured the icing on.

Either way, pour the warm frosting over the brownies as soon as you take them out of the oven. Let them cool until the icing hardens enough to slice (it's easiest with a pizza cutter).

So which was better, the plain fudgy icing?
Or the pecan-specked icing?
Mmmm. Pecans. Definitely pecans.

Source: From Great American Recipes.


  1. OMG!! This looks delicious!! I love how theres coffee in it! I think it definitely makes a difference!

  2. I so hear you when it comes to powdered can be a "love hate" relationship! I have found that by sifting the powdered sugar ahead of adding it to the recipe at hand, I tend to have better luck. Just a suggestion. :-)

    This recipe looks absolutely delish!!! Especially when you add the coffee to the batter...yum-o!

  3. You're much more adventurous than me. Baking? Sugar? Icing? Forget it. I'd rather make the dip and depend on my friends to make the dip!

  4. Oh my God. This looks so lovely. I personally don't do very well with icing sugar either. It usually clumps up and results in an unfriendly mess and since I don't like clumps of sugar in my icing, I tend to avoid it all together. I should get over my fear with your awesome recipe. :)

  5. Hi, I'm new to your blog and really like what I'm seeing! :o) This cake sounds delicious, I sure would love a piece right now for dessert. Great flavors!

  6. Oh WOW!! These look absolutely delish! Super YUM!

  7. We knew this as Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake and used sour cream instead of buttermilk. I'm not a big chocolate fan but will make an exception when this is around! I'll have to try it with coffee next time I make it.

  8. looks great :). Glad to hear you conquered your powdered sugar problems. I know that feeling; especially using it with marshmallow fondant it is a REAL pain!! Good job though might try this since i'm addicted to chocolate.

  9. These look so good it hurts!!! I really want to be making these, but I'm afraid I'll eat every last one :)

  10. Trying these today for the Superbowl - they look delicious and remind me of growing up :)

  11. Have always made this cake with a teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter, no coffee, and when I got it out of a (Texas) newspaper years ago it was called 'Mexican Chocolate Cake". Pecans in the icing (just whisk them in) are the BEST although several daughters of mine prefer the icing plain. Have never had trouble with lumps in the icing. My family's favorite cake. Have brought it to potlucks cut into brownie-size pieces. Always a hit!

  12. My Aunt, God rest her soul, shared this recipe over forty some years ago. The only difference is no coffee...and used Walnuts in the frosting..And the name it was called 1/2 sheet cake. You could make it bake it and frost within 1/2 hour and have it ready for guests. The other item was you had to use powdered buttermilk mixed with water and tsp baking soda. This is what made it so moist. My one addition is that I use Black Walnut extract for the vanilla..Heaven sent this recipe is and has been..

  13. I forgot to add the fact that I never use the amount of powdered sugar it calls for I use enough to make it runny and can pour on the cake but never thick that one has to literally scrape it out of the mixing bowl. The thing to remember is: 2 c sugar, 2c flour, 2 sticks butter (1 for the cake and 1 for the frosting) and remember to pam your pan and finally: FROST the "cake" within a few minutes of removing the cake from the oven. The heat from the cake helps the frosting spread.

    1. I have been making this CAKE for over 40 years. The frosting recipe is: 1 stick margarine. 4TBSP cocoa, 6 TBSP milk, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla. Melt the butter, cocoa, and milk together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from stove and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add 1 cup walnuts. Pour over HOT cake and spread evenly, let cool.