Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Chocolate Signature

My cookbooks are littered with commentary on the recipes I've tried. I scribble little notes in pencil in the margins and it always surprises me to stumble upon a comment like "Excellent! The family loved it. Jan '87" If it was so great, why didn't I ever make it again? A lot of recipes are like that. But a few are the ones I turn to again and again.

This cake recipe was given to me by a girlfriend in high school and since that time I've made it so many times I could probably make it in my sleep. I've taken it to block parties and showers, made it for birthdays, girl-friend nights, and slumber parties, and also any time I have a chocolate craving that won't go away. If I had a signature dish, this would be it.

I've seen dozens of variations on this one, some calling for rum, some put nuts in the frosting, some low fat (euwww), but this version is my trusty go-to for when I need a chocolate cake in an hour. Seriously - an hour. I timed it making it this time. And it's such a forgiving cake that it takes an effort to screw it up. And you can make it with one pan, two bowls, and a wooden spoon (plus measuring utensils). Plus no weird ingredients. So any time a chocolate craving strikes, I'm an hour away from pure chocolate heaven. Does it say something about me that my signature dish is fast and easy?

Texas Fudge Cake

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups sifted flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Frosting (recipe below)

1- Preheat oven to 375 deg. F with rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 metal pan.

2- In a medium saucepan combine the butter, cocoa, and water. Bring to a boil.

3- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

4- Pour the hot ingredients in the the dry ingredients. Stir well with a wooden spoon.

5- Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir until the batter is smooth.

6- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (While the cake is baking, wash the saucepan and bowl. You'll use them for the frosting.)

7- Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. Immediately make the frosting and pour the frosting over the warm cake. Spread the frosting evenly and let the cake cool as much as you can bear before cutting into squares and devouring.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp cocoa
dash salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

1- In medium saucepan combine the butter, milk, cocoa, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a boil.

2- Place the powdered sugar in a large bowl. Pour the hot ingredients over the powdered sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until the frosting is smooth. (Think of this as pre-burning cake calories!)


Jennifer Jo said...

Hm, a chocolate signature. I'm puzzling over what mine might be...

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I love cakes like this, and everyone else seems to love them too. I make a similar chocolate sheet cake and it's always a hit.

pattio said...

It's about time. Now I can find the recipe whenever I need it.

Dolce said...

This is perfect! I like that you can pull it up very fast and yet there is frosting on... I guess, just don't say it look little time to whip a batch when you bring it over :)

hobby baker Kelly said...

Yuuuuummmy! I received a recipe almost identical to this for my wedding shower some eleven years ago. It was called Alaska Chocolate Sheet Cake and calls for buttermilk or sour cream instead of the milk. I may have to do a side by side comparison. I do love a fudgey cake! The frosting is exactly the same but calls for the nuts sprinkled on top. I prefer my chocolate without nuts. Same goes for brownies. :) Thanks for the reminder! Time to bake...

Karen Baking Soda said...

"And it's such a forgiving cake that it takes an effort to screw it up" Does that mean even I can make this work? Have you seen my latest blooper? Just saying...
(ok, 2 over my shoulder screaming for this cake; in one hour mom!) Tsk

Beth said...

Lynn, I found a very similar recipe in the "What's Cooking" column of my hometown newspaper many years ago. It is called Texas Sheet Cake, and it includes a layer of marshmallow. At the end of baking, you remove the cake and top it with marshmallows and then put it back in long enough for the marshmallows to melt. Spread the marshmallows and then frost. I've made this cake many times and I agree, it takes care of a need for a chocolate fix! I love to lick the bowl for the icing, too. This is wonderful icing. I also have a recipe for a peanut butter cake that has a similar powdered sugar icing (flavored with peanut butter though, not cocoa). Great post and you made me hungry!


elizabeth said...

oh my mother makes one like this... texas sheet cake, I think she calls it. I also think it might be the first chocolate cake I ever made (many moons ago, of course).

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

If you have a signature dish chocolate is certainly an excellent choice.

Melinda said...

I am glad to have your version of this recipe. I tried out the Pioneer Woman sheet cake recipe and it was very good. I will try yours out next time.
I love things that are unfussy but taste like they were a lot of trouble to make!

Abby said...

I can tell it's AWESOME from the ingredient list: butter, butter and more butter. Should I start calling you Paula?! Yummo.

Muminmiri said...

The ingredients are easy and the steps look easy too. Will try it this weekend.

Thanks for sharing.

grace said...

the cake is soft. the frosting is rich. lynn, in addition to being completely legible, your signature is beautiful. :)

Katrina said...

Some also put cinnamon, which I tried and didn't care for. But I lost the recipe I grew up loving and this looks similar! I'll just have to make it and see. What a great signature!

Anonymous said...

You had me when you said chocolate cake and one hour in the same sentence. Does that say something about me too? hahaha.

Dharm said...

I too have my signature Chocolate Cake but I think I have to try this one out. It looks pretty awesome!

Debbie said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I am going to give this a try. It sounds simple with minimum clean up and I LOVE that you said it had no weird ingredients. I just hate it when I see a great looking cake and it calls for several ingredients that are not common and I'll never use again. A big turn off...Can't wait to try this!

Barbara said...

Well, I'm not sure you did me any favors with this recipe, Lynn! I mean I have all the ingredients in my pantry....then as I was reading, I thought no, don't make it, I won't be able to frost it. And there it was, a simple frosting recipe using nearly the same ingredients!
It looks wonderful.

I don't think I have a signature recipe. Going to think that one over.

Maria said...

Great go to cake!

Peabody said...

Alright my dear, I trust you, and so I am making this on Saturday.

eatme_delicious said...

Ohh yum! I love that the butter is melted for both the cake and the frosting, so that you can make it anytime and not have to remember to take out the butter.