Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake

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Consider chocolate cake. Any number of things come to mind. Like the Trunchbull making poor Bruce Bogtrotter eat that enormous chocolate cake in front of the entire school (although maybe that wasn’t actually so bad … he did end up with an entire cake). Or, Bill Cosby’s stand up routine “Chocolate Cake for Breakfast,” (“NUTRITION! Eggs, milk, and wheat are in the chocolate cake …”) which growing up was the standing joke for what we should have for breakfast (although, somehow I never did end up with that cake come breakfast time …).  Or perhaps, it is this amazing peanut butter and chocolate cake that I made for two of my sister-in-law’s bachelorette parties and the leftovers that we ate the next day until we couldn’t move. (Can you tell I’m a fan of chocolate cake?)

This version of chocolate cake is quick and easy (at least as cakes go) and is originally from Cooking Light, so I think you can claim it is healthy (just don’t ask your favorite dietitian). My edits are very minimal: a dash more cinnamon, replacing buttermilk with milk, and a less sweet, more intensely chocolate frosting.  It goes a long way since it is a sheet cake (or it just makes folks feel less guilty about having a second slice).

Texas Sheet Cake
Adapated from Cooking Light, Sept. 2007

Cake
2 c all-purpose flour
2 c granulated sugar
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
3/4 t water
1/2 c butter, melted
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c milk
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs

Frosting
6 T butter
1/4 c cocoa
1/3 c milk
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375°.

Grease 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.

Combine flour through salt in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Then combine water, melted butter, and coca in mixer and turn on to low speed. When well combined, gradually add the flour mixture. Turn mixer up to medium speed and mix until well blended. Add milk, vanilla and eggs; beat well.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Place on wire rack to cool.

While cake is starting to cool, combine butter, cocoa, and milk in a sauce pan to make your frosting. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour over the still hot cake then sprinkle with pecans.

Allow cake to cool completely before serving.

Serves 16-24.

One additional thought on this post: While I grew up listening to Bill Cosby, in no way do I support or endorse him in light of recent revelations about his treatment of women. The truth about the man behind all those stories is deeply disturbing and sad.

Lemon, Almond and Ricotta Flourless Cake

Lemon, Almond and Ricotta Flourless Cake

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Usually when I share a recipe, I’ve made it at least three times. I read once that when cooking/baking you should make the recipe exactly as written the first time, alter it a little bit but overall follow the original the second time, and, finally, make it yours the third time, throwing the recipe out the window and making it from memory. This isn’t quite my process (I rarely ever follow a recipe to a T the first time), but it is close. I like to really give something a try before I claim it as my own, and the honest truth is: I rarely stop editing a recipe. It just keeps changing each time I make it (even if only slightly). And, occasionally, I find a recipe that just needs no alteration–it is perfect as is.

This cake is an exception to every rule. First, it is amazing. I couldn’t wait to share it, because it is that good, so I’m sharing it after only making it once–ah! Second, I had to alter it because I didn’t have all the ingredients. The original recipe called for vanilla bean, not extract, but when I couldn’t find vanilla beans at Trader Joe’s and there was a snow storm coming (and thus every grocery store in town had lost its wits), I decided extract would work. Also, the recipe originally called for more lemon zest and no lemon juice. I zested all my lemons and still didn’t have enough, so I decided to use what I had and add some juice to make sure the cake was lemon-y enough. Thankfully, my edits went well (especially since I was making it for a dear friend’s baby shower with no back up–again, ah!) and there was nothing but crumbs to show for it at the end of the day.

Because I made this cake in the dead of winter (read: crazy snow storm for the mid-Atlantic, but nothing like what my favorite Bostonians are dealing with), I served it as is with no toppings. However, if you were making it in the summer, I think topping it with fresh berries would take it to the next level. Some freshly picked strawberries or raspberries would likely make this cake about perfect (until I decide to edit it again).

Lemon, Almond and Ricotta Flourless Cake
Adapted from Cakelets and Doilies

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c white sugar, divided
1 t vanilla
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
4 eggs, separated
2 1/2 c almond meal
10.5 oz whole milk ricotta
Sliced Almonds, for decorating
Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan and set aside.

Cream butter and 3/4 c sugar together in a mixer. Add vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add egg yolks one at a time. Then, add almond meal 1/2 cup at a time. Once the batter is well combined, fold in the ricotta cheese.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/2 c of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. (My dad taught me you can flip the bowl upside down and the eggs will not come out–try at your own risk.)

Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the rest of your batter. Then, fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour mixture into prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula and decorate with sliced almonds. Bake for 45-50 minutes until firm to touch. Allow to cool completely in cake tin, then be sure to loosen sides with a knife or spatula before removing the sides of your pan. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Makes 1 delicious cake that serves 12-24, depending on how you like your slices.