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Not Your Grandma’s Chocolate Sheet Cake

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A while back, my cousin, Pattie, shared a recipe for chocolate sheet cake with me that our Grandma Davis had written in her own hand, and allowed me to scan it so I could keep a copy for myself.  (Thank you, Pattie!)  This is precious to me, because my Grandma was and is precious to me, I love to bake, especially cake, recipes are precious to me, and this one is doubly so because it was written and used by her.

However, I don’t think I will ever make it as written.  I have had this old-fashioned chocolate sheet cake before (not baked by Grandma, but the same recipe), and I was not impressed with the lack of chocolate flavor, and thought it wasn’t quite moist enough.  I hate to say it, but it was, in fact, the worst homemade cake I’ve ever had.  Not that it was a terrible gag-worthy cake, it just wasn’t as good as all the others I’ve had.

Yes, my name is Veronica, and despite liking cake mixes, I am a cake snob.  I won’t even touch a store-bought cake (gag) unless I’m at a party where it’s being served, and I’ll take a slice so as not to offend.  But don’t you dare try to buy me one for my birthday.  I require that cakes have great flavor, great texture, delicious homemade frosting (preferably made with real butter), and be very moist.  This cake met none of those requirements, although the icing was almost good enough.

When I ran across Paula Deen’s recipe for Savannah Sheet Cake on From Apples to Zucchini recently, I could tell right away that it would be more moist, sweeter, and more chocolatey than Grandma’s recipe.  I combined that recipe with my Grandma’s directions for baking, and switched the regular cocoa powder with Dutch process to make it even more chocolatey.

I’m pleased to report that this cake is everything I hoped it would be: insanely moist and perfectly chocolatey.  It’s so good, I’m thinking of using the cake recipe to make a layer cake and seeing if it is as good as my favorite chocolate cake.  And I’m not sure how I know this, but when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it is sheet cake nirvana.

Super Chocolate Sheet Cake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup water
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup Dutch process or Hershey’s Dark cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Pecan Icing:
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or Hershey’s Dark cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
16-oz. box confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour an 18″ x 12″ jelly roll pan. In a small saucepan, combine water, butter, oil, and cocoa. Bring the mixture to a boil; remove from heat. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, sour cream and cocoa mixture. Add the vanilla. Mix until very smooth, about 2 minutes.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, until the center appears firm and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Five minutes before the cake is done, start the icing. Bring the butter, cocoa, and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about a minute. Stir in the vanilla and pecans. Pour warm icing over warm cake and spread quickly with a spatula. Let cool about 2 hours before cutting. Laugh after reading that and dig right in, topping the warm piece with ice cream and let your eyes roll back in your head as you take your first bite.

*To toast pecans, place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Recipe source: Adapted from Paula Deen’s Savannah Sheet Cake


Super Bean Burritos

We’ve eaten these burritos three times in the last month and I’m just now getting around to posting the recipe!  The picture is from the first time I made them (you’d think I’d have stopped to take a better one on subsequent occasions, but I just couldn’t be bothered b/c I was too busy stuffing my face), but my favorite way to layer the ingredients now is to put a smear of sour cream on the tortilla, dribble on some salsa, sprinkle on some cheese (I like a combo of Monterrey Jack and cheddar), and then put the bean filling over it and fold it up.  That way the cheese doesn’t come out of the bottom but melts at the top and I don’t have to put any condiments on the outside.  Yumtastic-ness!

recipe from My Kitchen Cafe

1 cup brown or white rice (or 2 cups already cooked rice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced (can substitute 1 can of green chiles)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn or 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
6 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

16 burrito-sized (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook rice; set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and golden, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add one can of beans and mash gently in the pan (a potato masher or fork works great here). Add the second can of beans and the water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10-12 minutes, being careful not to let the mixture stick to the bottom of the pot. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in onion and garlic powders. Remove from heat; stir in green onions and cooked rice.

Heat tortillas in microwave for about 30-45 seconds or until all are warmed through.

Fill each tortilla with about 2/3 cup bean and rice mixture and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. Fold, and hold in sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos.

Serve warm immediately, with salsa and sour cream if desired — or, to freeze for later consumption, put the baking sheet of burritos into the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until very cold so that they don’t come apart in the wrapping process. Remove them from the freezer and wrap each burrito individually in plastic wrap and place all the wrapped burritos in a freezer-safe resealable bag and freeze up to three months.

To reheat from frozen:
Remove plastic wrap from the burrito. Poke holes in the top several times with a fork. Microwave on high for two minutes. Gently poke a few more holes in the burrito and microwave for another minute. Be careful as the burrito will be piping hot!

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