February 8, 2012

Rocky Road Texas Sheet Cake

I admit that I didn't know how I felt about these as I was making them.

First, I was skeptical about the amount of chocolate in the recipe. Was there really enough? (!) Then, I completely forgot to add the sugar until almost the end. (!!) Thank you, baking Gods, for making my pea brain sense that something was missing. I wondered, 'did I just mess up this entire thing?' Then wondered again if I just should have baked brownies, instead.

I don't know why I was doubting this Texas Sheet Cake so much. After all, the recipe did just win second place in Cooking Light's 25th Anniversary "Best-Chocolate Recipe Bake-Off" tournament published in the Jan/Feb double issue. So, this is the second best chocolate recipe that Cooking Light has published in the past 25 years, and I'm over here thinking it's got to be a weird typo.

While the doubts flowed, I was too far along to bother scrapping the whole thing, so I figured I may as well keep going. The traditional version of this cake is topped with pecans, but I made mine a peanut butter- rocky road version. The traditional version of this cake is topped with pecans, but I made mine a peanut butter- rocky road version. The one I created is topped with the recipe's original chocolate frosting, but then I added peanuts and mini-marshmallows, and finished it with drizzles of chocolate peanut butter frosting.

I finished icing and decorating, then tasted a piece. In an instant all of my previous doubts were blown away.  ]I felt the waves of obsession and euphoria that tend to flow forth from such a dessert-loving experience. It's not what you expect, but it's an addicting flavor of light chocolate with notes of warm cinnamon.

Now, I'm a fan, and I definitely understand how this cake edged out 16 other competing recipes to arrive at sweet stardom. I also really adore the rocky-road spin on the recipe, so I hope that you do, too.

This is the perfect dessert to share with friends....mostly because if you keep it around you're going to eat it all!

Rocky-Road Texas Sheet Cake: makes 28 squares
Cooking spray
2 t. cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk*
1 T. vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
6 T. butter
1/3 cup fat-free milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1/4 cup mini-marshmallows
1/8 cup smooth natural peanut butter

* Cook's note: I made my own buttermilk by pouring 1/2 cup milk + 1 t., 1/2 t. and 1/8 t. vinegar into a measuring cup, stirring well, and allowing to sit for 5 minutes.

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Coat a 15x10 inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray and dust evenly with the cocoa powder. Set aside.

Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine in a large mixing bowl with the next 4 ingredients (through salt). Combine 3/4 c. water, 1/2 c. butter, and 1/4 c. cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into flour mixture and beat at medium speed until well blended. Add the buttermilk, 1 t. vanilla, and eggs. Beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

Combine 6 T. butter, fat free milk, and 1/4 c. cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and slowly stir in the 3 cups of powdered sugar (I used slightly less). Stir in 2 t. vanilla. Add the peanut butter to a small bowl and pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the chocolate icing into the peanut butter. Whisk together to combine.

Pour the remaining chocolate icing over the entire cake and spread evenly. Top evenly with peanuts and marshmallows. Drizzle with the peanut butter icing. Allow to cool completely, then cut 4X 7 rows.

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