My mom doesn't cook. She doesn't like to cook, as she will tell you herself. (Unimaginable in our little foodie world). I'm actually not sure how such a food-passionate person like myself could have been raised under such circumstances!
But, she will also tell you she knows how to make a few things:
Leftover chicken sandwiches
And this chocolate cake. At least, she used to… about twenty years ago when she worked with a woman named Cathy Picarillo who made a darn good German chocolate cake.
I remember my mom making this cake on special occasions. Back in those days (when I survived on Wonder Bread and Jiffy), I didn't care too much for cake-- especially chocolate cake.
To this day, cake isn't my favorite dessert. Most of the the time it is dry and heavy, too sweet, and piled with mounds of light, fluffy, and overly sweet frosting (I'm more of a buttercream kinda gal).
But this cake (oh, this cake) is moist, lightly sweet, and very chocolatey without being bitter. It has a thin layer of fudge frosting that provides a crunchy coating to a very soft and delectable dessert. You will convert guests into cake and chocolate lovers with this easy to make sheet cake. And I must add: thank you, Cathy Picarrillo! (And mom, obvi;).
Cathy Picarillo's Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudgy Frosting
Cake adapted from Cathy Picarillo's recipe; Frosting adapted from CDKitchen
Makes one frosted 9 x 13-inch sheet cake
For the cake:
½ cup neutral oil
2 eggs, room temperature (use pasture-raised local eggs)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (she used Droste's)
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
For the frosting:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ stick butter
¼ cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F with rack in the center. Lightly grease a non-stick 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the oil and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Sift together 3 times until well mixed.
With mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and hot water to sugar-oil mixture, scraping down the bowl as necessary and being careful not to over-mix. The batter will be VERY soupy and thin, that is normal.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before icing.
To make the frosting, combine sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a soft boil and let boil for 1 minute. Stir in vanilla. Cool for one minute and transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat with the mixer for 2 minutes, until thick and spreadable. Spread a thin layer on the still warm cake. Top with sanding sugar or sprinkles if you're feeling fancy ;)
Note: I've also had great results using this chocolate buttercream frosting.