Texas sheet cake — a large format, thin, one layer chocolate cake that is topped when warm with a hot, pourable fudgy chocolate frosting — is everyone’s idea of a good time. But when the cake is flavored with peppermint for the holidays and assembled in a 9-by-13-inch pan, rather than the traditional, large rimmed cookie sheet, for more manageable, but still generous servings, well, the good time gets even better. A Texas sheet cake is assembled in the most unorthodox of ways, where portions of both the cake batter and the frosting are cooked on the stovetop until boiling. For the cake, the boiling blooms the cocoa powder which results in an extra chocolatey flavor. And for the frosting, the boiled ingredients lead to an extraordinarily fudgy icing. Moreover, the fact that the hot, not yet set, frosting is poured over the warm cake, results in a thin layer where the frosting meets the cake that is a moist and fudgy chef’s kiss.
But here’s the thing: if any of this sounds fussy or hard or labor intensive, we’re got news for you. This is one of the easiest cake and frosting combos in the land. You couldn’t make this cake (or the frosting, for that matter) with a stand mixer even if you wanted to. And if you can boil something on the stove top and stir a couple of things together in a bowl, you, too, can make this cake. But because of the extraordinary magic of a warm cake being coated in hot frosting, the texture of this combo would make you (and your adoring friends and family) think you’d labored excessively to get it to the table. But don’t worry: we won’t tell.
Swap Option: Omit the peppermint extract in both the cake and the frosting and substitute orange extract for an equally festive and holiday-friendly chocolate orange Texas sheet cake.
Technique Tips: When you cook the butter, cocoa, water and espresso powder on the stove top for the cake batter, be sure to only let it boil for about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally.
Be sure to mise en place, or assemble, the frosting ingredients while the cake is baking. You want to assemble the frosting as soon as the cake comes out of the oven, so the frosting can be poured over the cake while they are both still warm.
Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolk, vanilla and peppermint extract.4.
In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the butter, water, cocoa and espresso powders and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Continue to boil for about 30 seconds, then carefully pour the hot mixture over the dry ingredients, whisking to combine. Gently whisk in the buttermilk mixture until smooth.5.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pan halfway through.6.
While the cake bakes, make the frosting: in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the milk, butter, cocoa powder and salt, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk to combine. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and whisk to combine.7.
Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Pour the warm frosting over the hot cake and spread it with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the chopped candy over the frosting and allow the cake to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.