Let's yap about remembering joyful snippets in time.
This salted texas chocolate sheet cake recipe is from my childhood. It's my dad's favorite cake and was the star at every potluck, picnic, barbecue, and party it attended. I added the salt, but the recipe is otherwise unchanged.
When Bon Appétit asked for original recipe submissions for its 2014 Readers Choice Award, I sent it to them. My salted texas chocolate sheet cake won!
Holy moly. Best day ever.
A Very Smiley Day
Most days, I feel like I forget a lot, but I remember April 29, 2014, quite clearly. I was in the grocery store - the produce section to be exact - and I looked at my phone to check a recipe's ingredients. The badge on my mail app was announcing I had a new email. That badge invokes my monkey brain like nothing else can. Of course I clicked on it.
It was an email from Bon Appétit. Yeah, them. I receive lot of their marketing and newsletter emails, but this one was different. I had to read it maybe three times, because it didn't seem real. Short and sweet, here it is in its entirety:
Subject: Congrats from Bon Appétit!
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:03:35 +0000
We loved your recipe!
Senior Web Editor, Bon Appetit
4 Times Square, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Wait. WHAT?!?! I clicked the link. Frozen, I read the web page. Twice.
Oh. Whoa. It started to sink in. I wanted to run and shout and hug everyone in the store from produce to deli to dairy! Oh, but I kept my cool on the outside. On the inside, however, my heart beat wildly. I felt like I had scratched off a winning lottery ticket. In essence, I sorta had!
A month or so prior to this day, I had read that Bon Appétit was asking for readers' best, original recipes. I submitted two. If I thought long and hard enough, I might (probably won't) remember the other one. But it doesn't matter.
Bon Appétit made this recipe, chose it as the winner, changed it a little (but hey that's okay!), took a gorgeous photo, wrote a story, and put it out there for the world to read and enjoy for themselves. I. WAS. ELATED. Still am. Forever will be.
My mom always made it with walnuts. I only realized after Bon Appétit published it that pecans are the traditional topping, which makes sense because, you know... Texas. I'm certain I would love it with pecans, and I bet I'd love it with green pistachios, too. But I know in my heart that I love it best the way my mom always made it.
Peanuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, cashews, walnuts - or none at all - I hope you love it, too. Let us know in the comments!
- 1 cup unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon butter or crisco for pan
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1-2 tablespoons for pan
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour about 10 ounces
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk or 1 Tablespoon vinegar + enough whole milk to equal ½ cup; let sit a few mintues to curdle
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 pound powdered sugar sifted (about 3 ½ cups)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup walnuts chopped; omit for nut free
- 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon or Cypriot
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and coat a 15x10 jelly roll baking pan.
- Bring cocoa powder, butter, and water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk sugar, baking soda, salt, and flour in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to well. Blend with a whisk, then gradually whisk in dry ingredients. Add butter-cocoa mixture ⅓ at a time, whisking until smooth. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and smooth top.
- Bake until cake starts to pull away from edges of dish and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 15–20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack.
- When cake has finished baking, heat butter, milk, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is smooth (do not let boil). Whisk in vanilla and remove from heat. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla.
- Pour warm frosting over warm cake and spread out and smooth with a spatula. Top with nuts and sea salt.
- Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
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