Sunday, March 22, 2015

Texas Turtle Sheet Cake

Texas Turtle Sheet Cake - made March 15, 2015, recipe adapted from About a Mom
I have to confess, I’m starting to lose steam on baking. Usually I “just do it” without giving it much thought beyond what ingredients I have in my pantry (usually all of what I need), what recipes I finally am going to try after having pinned them forever ago and what occasions I need them for or people I need to give them to. It’s just habit to bake now.

But I’ve been busier than usual lately, not just with work but with the non-baking aspects of my life (yes, those aspects do exist) so when I start feeling like I “have” to find time to bake, it takes the fun out of it and hovers dangerously into becoming a chore. Despite my baking fiendishness, the biggest reason I’ve never done it as a job is I didn’t want to turn something I love into a job. So I bake only when I feel like it. Mostly.

So when I don’t feel like it, my blog goes quiet for longer periods. You might not have noticed since I usually have a backlog of posts to put up and I can get away with posting every 2-3 days, sometimes more often. So it looks like I’m baking all the time but actually I’m just catching up.
Anyway, after the weekend visit to my sister’s and being on the road for hours, being behind on the errands I normally run on weekends when I’m around, looking at my overflowing laundry basket and the paper clutter that breeds on its own during the week (seriously, how does that happen??), I confess I didn’t feel like baking. Just didn’t want to do it. Was too tired, was burned out, what have you.
But, like muscle memory that automatically knows what to do even when you’re on auto pilot, I found myself in my kitchen. I swear I thought I was just tidying up but somehow I found the spark of inspiration to try out this sheet cake recipe. Before I knew it, I was lining a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil, bringing out my medium heavy saucepan to boil butter and buttermilk together and by the time my oven had preheated, I was popping a cake into the oven. That just goes to show how easy this recipe is even if you don’t really feel like baking.

Of course the baking part was just the first step. While the cake baked, I made the frosting and after I took out the cake, I spread the frosting over the hot cake which melted it slightly into the cake. If you want a more stiff frosting, use the full amount of confectioners’ sugar. If you like your frosting to err on the side of glaze and be less sweet, cut back on the confectioners’ sugar. The more sugar, the more the frosting will “set”.

You want to sprinkle the toasted pecans over the frosting before the frosting sets so they’ll adhere better. Same with the chocolate chips. I used salted caramel from Trader Joe’s to bring it all together but you can always make your own from scratch if you prefer. As cakes go, this was delicious, especially eaten while still slightly warm, the frosting is a little runny and the toasted pecans have a nice crunch to provide a texture contrast to the soft cake while the salted caramel provides an added gooey factor. I had a piece when I first made it and another one the next day. It wasn’t as good the next day because the pecans weren’t as toasty-crisp after sitting on top of the frosting and being covered by the salted caramel overnight. But remember that I have really picky taste buds.

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 tablespoon espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk

Chocolate Frosting
1/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Turtle Topping
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup salted caramel sauce, for drizzling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar.
  3. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa powdered and 1 cup of espresso. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  4. Pour into prepared dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add eggs and the 1/2 cup buttermilk. Mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  6. Frosting: in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup butter, 4 tablespoons buttermilk and 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  7. Remove from heat and use a wire whisk to gradually mix in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Pour warm frosting over warm cake. Sprinkle immediately with toasted pecans and chocolate chips. Drizzle with salted caramel.

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