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For many years, on my husband’s birthday, I baked a chocolate cake.  It was different every time because he never liked any of them.  He liked chocolate cake, just not my chocolate cake.  Until about five years ago when I stumbled across this sheet cake at Epicurious and aaaaaahhhhh!  Success!  He loved it and I decided to stick with what works.  This dessert is now my husband’s official birthday chocolate cake…forever.

Chocolate Cake with Toasted Pecans
Adapted from a recipe by Dorothy Davis of Columbus, Ohio

Print-Friendly Recipe

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • one 1-pound box powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 9 X 13 inch pan. Stir 1/2 cup unsalted butter, coffee, 1/2 cup cocoa and vegetable oil in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and kosher salt in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in cocoa mixture. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl until blended. Add to flour mixture and blended well. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cake to rack.

Meanwhile, stir whole milk and remaining 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/4 cup cocoa in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.  Add powdered sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and a big pinch of kosher salt and whisk until smooth.

Take a skewer and make several holes in the warm cake then spread immediately with frosting. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

You can serve this cake warm (maybe with Vanilla Ice Cream…I’m just saying) or cool completely to room temperature.

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