This past week, my entire extended family has been vacationing in our favorite island along the coast. The beach is a beautiful stretch of land, occupied primarily by locals and families, and the waves are just enough to get a short ride on a boogie board. The best spot to park your chair is in the middle of the countless tide pools, letting the waves cool your ankles as you watch the clouds float. We’ve been making this trip for the past ten years or so, long enough to recognize a pretty distinct pattern:
-Spend the first few days lazing on the sand, pleased with yourself for the weeks before where you ate healthfully.
-Make ambitious plans for everything we want to do.
-Someone gets a sunburn and hides under the umbrella.
-The shade under the umbrella starts getting crowded.
-Resignation that any healthy habits you had before vacation have been ruined.
-The last few dinners are eclectic affairs made from left over pasta, the pancake mix you haven’t used yet, and many desserts.
During the course of the week, every family hosts a meal, in an effort to reduce left overs and increase family time. This year, we had no idea what to do for dessert. It had to be something simple but delicious. Chocolate is recommended. Suddenly, while wandering around the grocery store, my mom figured it out.
The cake that we made has been a family standby for years. We were heckling my cousin’s fiancée when she couldn’t finish her admittedly giant piece and started asking everyone to estimate how many of these cakes they’ve eaten in their entire life. My own figuring went something like this: we make the cake somewhere around five times a year, and each time I eat about a row, which eqauls four pieces. That’s roughly 20 pieces a year. I’m 22, so I’d guess that In my life, I’ve consumed 20-25 of these cakes.
I’m betting that number is on the low end for my family.
Texas Sheet Cake
1 cup water
2 sticks butter or margarine
4 Tbsps cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 375oF.
In a sauce pan, combine water, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Once it reaches a steady bubble, remove from heat and immediately stir in sugar, flour, and salt.
Separately, beat the eggs well. Stir in sour cream and baking soda. Mix into the cocoa mixture until well blended. The batter will be thin.
Pour into a large, ungreased pan (10½ x 15½ if you have one)
Bake 20-25 minutes, being sure not to over bake.
Cocoa Butter Nut Frosting
Whether you have someone with allergies or someone very picky, this frosting can be done with or without the nuts. Or, if you do have someone like that but refuse to concede the nuts, remove a bit of frosting before adding the nuts. You’re going to want to lick out the pot, so wait for it to cool so you don’t burn your finger/tongue.
1 cup pecans, chopped
16 oz powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter
6 Tbsps milk
4 Tbsps cocoa
Start the frosting 10 minutes after you pull the cake out of the oven.
In same saucepan used for the cake, cook milk, butter, and cocoa until bubbly. (Again, be sure to stir continuously so it doesn’t burn.) Take off heat.
Mix in nuts (if using), powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Spread over warm cake, and wait for everything to cool.