This recipe makes a chocolate sheet cake that is spongy but dense and super moist – that in-between state of chocolatey bliss where a light textured brownie meets a chocolate sponge.
It’s been a while since the aroma of cocoa baking in the oven last wafted through my kitchen. So I thought to myself, it’s time for a chocolate treat … and I need this to be good. Really good.
I had this recipe for a chocolate sheet cake for some time, but never got around to baking it. Over the years, I’d been keeping clippings of recipes cut out from newspapers, magazines, flyers, and what have you, meaning to sort and index these into some sort of organised collection but like a lot of things in my life, the best of intentions often get lost in my day-to-day hubbub. Welcome to my ever-constant state of so many things to do, but not enough time!
I liked this recipe the minute I scanned it. I like that it’s simple, and that’s a huge plus for me. Most of my best stuff has come from the simplest of recipes and steps. You know how you read a recipe and your gut, or call it your instinct, just feels that it’s likely a good one? Well, this is that kind of recipe. You’ll end up (happily) with a chocolate sheet cake that is spongy and denser, and it’s awfully moist – that in-between state of chocolatey bliss where a light textured brownie meets a chocolate sponge. My kind of cake. Any time.
This recipe also makes a chocolate ganache frosting that is a thick, glorious mass of fudge. I am able to warm these chocolate sheet squares in the microwave oven for 15 to 20 seconds, and not worry about having it melt into messy chocolate sauce on my plate. It melted just a little over the edges and softened up, but still in shape and in place where I enjoy it best – right on top with the nuts!
If you do prefer your chocolate ganache a little less fudge-like, just change the proportions of cream to chocolate in the recipe. Add more cream for a thinner consistency or softer ganache. If you’ve got a crowd to feed (sometimes, that’s just a family of 3 or 4, cos when a cake is this good, it gets lapped up very quickly!), this is sure to please!
Chocolate Sheet Cake with Ganache Frosting & Toasted Pecans
- 150 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content)
- 200 g butter softened at room temperature
- 150 g icing or confectioner's sugar
- 8 eggs
- 100 g caster sugar
- 150 g plain flour
- 50 g unsalted peanuts finely ground
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
For the Ganache Frosting
- 6 tbsp whipping cream
- 300 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content)
- 100 g pecans roughly chopped and lightly toasted
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Grease and line an 8 x 12-inch/20 x 30-cm baking pan or tin with greaseproof paper.
- Fill a saucepan with some water up to a depth of 1-inch or 2-cm. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Break the chocolate into a bowl and set it over the saucepan, making sure that the base of the bowl sits above the water line, and melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, place the butter and icing (confectioner's) sugar. Using an electric or hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed (speed 3 on my Kitchen Aid mixer) until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Gradually add the egg yolks to the creamed butter, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate to the creamed butter mixture and beat until well incorporated.
- In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites using an electric or hand-held mixer set at medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid mixer). When the egg whites start to get foamy, add in the sugar in a steady, continuous stream, during the whisking. Continue to whisk until just stiff.
- Using light moves, carefully fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate-butter mixture. Then fold in the next 1/3, followed by the remaining 1/3.
- Mix the flour, ground peanuts and cocoa powder together in a bowl and fold into the batter until well incorporated. Spread out into the prepared baking pan or tin. Level the surface and tap the pan or tin lightly on the counter top once or twice.
- Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake emerges free of batter. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan or tin.
For the Ganache Frosting:
- In a small saucepan, warm the cream (do not let it come to a simmer). Break in the chocolate and stir until melted and well incorporated. Allow to cool slightly, making sure it is still of pouring consistency.
- Spread evenly on top of the cake. Scatter over the top with toasted pecans. Let the ganache cool and set completely before slicing and serving.