If you have never experienced the magic of cooking with dutched cocoa powder, you are missing out. Dutched cocoa powder has been processed in a way that neutralizes the acidity. It is typically darker in color, and much smoother in flavor. It’s amazing.
The Cocoa Police might come after me for saying this, but if you’ve noticed a distinct difference in the “boxed brand” batters and the ones you make from scratch, it’s likely the difference of dutched versus natural cocoa that you’re tasting. We all know Oreos. Those are flavored with the darkest–black dutched cocoa! This sheet cake includes a special dose of black dutched cocoa in addition to brown dutched, to get that nostalgic, smooth and chocolatey taste we are all fond of.
Because of this literally non-acidic quality, you usually pair dutched cocoa powder with baking powder, rather than baking soda. Using baking soda with dutched cocoa would be completely pointless since the baking soda does not have an acid to react with. The exception to this is if you substitute an acid in, say buttermilk for regular milk, or add sour cream or another acidic ingredient.
With this chocolate sheet cake recipe, we keep it simple and just swap the baking soda for baking powder. Mix up all your dry ingredients first, then add the rest and whisk until completely blended. Pour into a greased, floured half sheet pan (this is usually an 18″x13″x1″ aluminum pan). Bake in a 350 degree oven for roughly 25 minutes, on the center rack. Because ovens tend to vary in how evenly they heat, and because this is a relatively shallow cake, check the center with a toothpick periodically and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
While the cake is baking, the frosting can be made. This recipe makes a nice, glossy, chocolatey frosting that is dense and spreadable. Perfect consistency for a thin layer over the top. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips for 20 seconds at a time. Stir in between each interval. This allows for even melting, and no scalding. They are done when they can be stirred completely smooth; only do the minimum amount of intervals to achieve this, no extra. With the butter completely softened, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, milk and smooth chocolate chips until smooth and glossy. Store covered, at room temperature until ready to use.
Wait until the cake is completely cooled to frost. Using an offset spatula is the best method for an even, thin layer. Top immediately with sprinkles!
chocolate sheet cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup dutched brown cocoa can use regular cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup dutched black cocoa can use all brown
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 stick butter softened at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour a half sheet aluminum pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoas, baking powder and salt.
- Add to that the eggs, water, oil, milk and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
- Pour in sheet pan and bake 20-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- In a microwave safe container, heat chocolate chips in 25 second intervals, stirring in between each one until melted and completely smooth. Do not heat past this point.
- Beat together the melted chocolate, vanilla, and half of the powdered sugar. Beat in the butter and the rest of the sugar until smooth and fluffy. Don't over beat or it can separate.
- Store on the countertop, at room temperature, covered until ready to use.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting. Begin by scooping a very large dollop onto the center of the cake, and then using an offset spatula to spread a thin layer evenly to each edge.
- Decorate with sprinkles directly after frosting, so they stick.
- Cut into 24 even pieces; 6 long ways, and 4 across.
- When beating the frosting, beat only to the point that it is combined and fluffy. Going too far can cause the fats to "separate" and it will look a little clumpy.
- If this does happen, you can fix it by adding 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream and beating until smooth. If the frosting is too soft after this, mix in a couple tablespoons more of powdered sugar. Again, don't beat it past the point that it is combined and smooth.
- Make sure the cake is completely smooth before frosting.
- Decorate with the sprinkles right after frosting so they stick better.
- Cut with the thinnest point of a sharp knife to avoid dragging the frosting.