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.