Quick and easy one-bowl cakes that do not require a stand-mixer – or really any equipment, other than a whisk and the aforementioned bowl – are an absolute dream when entertaining over the holidays – or, really, when entertaining, period. And if said cake is festive and large enough to do double duty as a holiday show-stopper, well then it truly is time to celebrate. This chocolate peppermint flavored Texas sheet cake is exactly what all your party guests didn’t even know they’d ordered – and we’d be surprised if it didn’t secure a permanent spot in your holiday dessert rotation.
Texas Sheet Cakes are oversized chocolate cakes, baked in “half sheet pans” (aka cookie sheets with a lip). They are iced as soon as they leave the oven, with a warm, thick and fudgy frosting, often made with evaporated milk (which due to its low water content contributes exponentially to both the frosting’s creaminess and fudginess) and are traditionally sprinkled with pecans. Although there is a bit of a recipe-formula that folks follow when Texas sheet cake-making, here, we’ve twisted and tweaked things a bit. A little espresso powder boosts the cake’s chocolate flavor and a little brown sugar and an egg yolk, its fudginess. We like Dutch process cocoa powder here for its color and flavor and the peppermint extract in both the cake and frosting just sings “holiday” to us, in the best way. The frosting calls for a bit more salt than usual, to cut the sweetness of both the cake and frosting and to help the chocolate and peppermint flavors really pop. The warm frosting spread atop just-baked cake makes for a texturally perfect slice of chocolate cake – soft, fudgy, moist and super flavorful – and the part where the underside of the frosting meets the cake is almost pudding-like in all the best ways.
Finally, and for some, perhaps its most redeeming quality, this easy peppermint-chocolate number is assembled, baked, frosted and cooled in less than an hour. Sounds too good to be true, we know, but it is. Holiday baking never looked so good, and yet required so little.
Peppermint Texas Sheet Cake
For the Chocolate Sheet Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 250 g
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200 g
- 1 cup light brown sugar 200 g
- 1/2 cup buttermilk 114 g
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed 226 g
- 1 cup water 240 g
- 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder 40 g
- 1 tbsp espresso powder
For the Peppermint Frosting
- 1/3 cup evaporated milk or regular whole milk 80 g
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed 169 g
- 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder 27 g
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar 360 g
- Crushed candy canes or peppermint starbrite mints for decorating
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x18x1 inch half sheet pan with cooking spray or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugars in a large bowl. Whisk together he buttermilk, eggs, yolk, vanilla, and peppermint extracts in a 2-cup measuring cup, if you have one, or a small bowl. Cook the butter, water, cocoa, and espresso powders, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until boiling; and let boil for about 45 seconds. Pour the hot mixture over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Gently whisk in the buttermilk mixture.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, nudging it into the corners, if necessary, and place in the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point. Mise en place the frosting ingredients while the cake is baking, so that you are ready to make it as soon as the cake is out of the oven.
- Place the milk, butter, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium saucepan and set the two extracts close by. Have ready the sugar in a large bowl. Once you remove the cake from the oven, set it on a cooling rack and place the saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture just boils. Pour is over the sugar and whisk to combine. Whisk in the extracts.
- Pour the warm frosting over the hot cake and spread it with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the chopped candy over the frosting and allow to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.