The Perfect Chocolate Sheet Cake

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Posted by Robin

So my big boy, Carver, turned 4 – four! I’m kind of in disbelief – a few weeks ago.

My no-way-can-I-sit-through-a-restaurant-dinner-unless-the-following-conditions-are-in-place boy (I know a lot of parents out there can relate):

  1. Loud surroundings (If the restaurant’s already loud, it won’t be a biggie if my guy has voice modulation challenges – sometimes the garlic knots are so good you gotta give a shout out. His version of, “My complements to the chef.”)
  2. A make-shift corral – a booth is essential so that we’re not tempted to jump up and do cartwheels across the joint. In a booth, we can be relatively confined. (Note: do NOT allow child to sit on the outside – just don’t do this to yourself.  Remember why you got the booth in the first place.)
  3. Appetizers – Food has to come out fast. And we’re at an age where goldfish crackers we bring are just not satisfying.  Chips and a mild salsa are ideal, but rolls will do – anything that can keep the child busy while the rest of the table displays the patience of Job by comparison – something crazy like 3 minutes before we have carbs works for the rest of us!

But I digress.  Isn’t he so stinking cute?!  And he is such a very sweet boy too – just a man…On. The. Move.  It’s just a real-life part of his awesome energy – with my daughter we’d been frequenting P.F. Chang’s for ages by now.  Nope, not this guy.  And that’s okay.  It’s saved on the dining-out budget.

At 4, he loves dinosaurs, trucks, …The Big Hungry Bear (by Don and Audrey Wood), sharks, whales, a bear named Wheezy, and his puppy blanket (complements of Aunt Kathy when he was born).  So happy to have this little guy who is hilarious, performs segments of his favorite movies at random, and still loves to snuggle after bath time.

He is a huge fan of all things chocolate, especially chocolate frosting.  And his mama is especially fond of sheet cake in particular.  I’m not usually a big frosting person, but I make an exception for this one.  That dark, rich flood of warm icing is irresistible (exhibit A below – it’s impossible not to sample a little from the edge).  And it’s even better when it’s cooled to room temperature, as is so for just about all chocolate desserts in my opinion.  There is intense debate within the family as to whether pecans belong in the frosting on this one, but Barry’s allergic so I leave them out. Easy decision for us.  You could always frost half of it, add nuts, and make it halvsies if you truly cannot decide.  It’s a tough call, and life is just too short to not have it both ways when it comes to frosting some days. If you’re already having sheet cake, you may as well commit to the indulgence.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • ½ c. Crisco
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 5 T. cocoa
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cake Instructions:  

Preheat oven to 400° F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar.  In a sauce pan, bring to boil water, Crisco, margarine, cocoa, and salt.  Pour chocolate mixture into flour and sugar. Mix slightly; then add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in a greased & floured sheet cake pan until a toothpick comes out clean.  Immediately begin making frosting.  You want the cake to be warm (but not hot) when you frost it.

Frosting Ingredients*:

  • 5 T. Cocoa
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 7 T. milk
  • 1 box of powdered sugar (1 lb.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Frosting Instructions: 

Bring to a boil 1 stick of margarine, milk, and cocoa. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar, vanilla, and pecans if desired – just need it to stay warm enough to be able to pour your frosting over your cake…because that is beauty, right there.

*I sometimes double the frosting to have an abundance for the cake (just don’t overflow your sheet cake pan) and have some leftover to eat on its own. This is a judgement free zone here at Four Sisters Dish.  🙂

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