The Perfect Super Bowl Sunday Treat:  Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


They say “Everything’s bigger in Texas”. I haven’t spent much time there, but if they’re talking about the airports, I’d say it’s true.  Both the Dallas and Houston airports are huge!  I know this because I’ve spent my share of time in each, wandering about and hopelessly lost, as I frantically tried not to miss connecting flights.  I’ve even missed one of said connecting flights in Houston because I couldn’t run fast enough, and had to spend the night there, sans toothbrush, and clean undies.  Good times!

Departure Lounge

They could also be referring to that phenomenon called Texas Big Hair.  I’ve heard that  the women of Texas can spend hours working to achieve that proper, signature volume and precarious hair “altitude”.  It is even said that these big hair techniques are as secret as their family bbq recipes, and are often handed down from generation to generation! Fascinating! I’m jealous. I want a secret family big hair recipe too, but no such luck.


Of course, Texas also has George Dubya, and he’s the biggest…. Well, never mind about that.


One thing I can say with certainty that is bigger and better in Texas is chocolate cake – Texas Sheet Cake, to be exact.  Oh yeah baby, bring it on!


Also known as Texas brownie cake, Texas brownies or Texas ranch cake, a Texas Sheet Cake is a big old dark, rich, chocolate cake baked in a jelly roll pan and smothered in a warm river of even darker and richer ganache-like chocolate frosting.  And, there are about 100,000 toasted pecans swimming in that frosting too.  Aside from the fact that this cake probably originated in the Lonestar State, I’m guessing that it also got its name because it’s just about as big as Texas is!   Hmmm.  Huge, chocolate cake with sinfully, decadent chocolate frosting…  Interested? Well, read on!

I’ve been intrigued by the Texas sheet cake ever since the first time I came across one in a newspaper article years ago.  Why I never baked one before now, I can’t explain.  I always meant to.  And, now that I have, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!  But, what’s done is done.   So, in honor of the Super Bowl being held this Sunday in the great state of Texas, let’s bake some cake!

The first thing you need to do is toast your pecans.  Spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 350 F. for about ten minutes.  You will smell them when they are ready.

There’s another saying that goes, “Don’t mess with Texas”, and it applies to Texas sheet cake as well. Don’t even think about using some other kind of nut.  This is just not done.  If you try it, the Texas Sheet Cake police will come and find you and then you’ll be sorry!  And, it will be out of my hands.


While your pecans are toasting, melt some butter in a saucepan and add cocoa powder and boiling water.  I used hot brewed coffee instead, and I loved the way it turned out.

Stir it up until it is smooth and bring it to a boil.


Whisk all of your dry ingredients together in a big bowl and beat in a few eggs, some buttermilk and vanilla.  Don’t ask why chocolate cake recipes always call for vanilla.  There must be a reason.  Just do it!


Add the butter/cocoa mixture to the bowl and mix it all up.


Pour your batter into a jelly roll pan and bake it for about 20 minutes.  This is when you should start making the frosting.  Unfortunately,  I didn’t get any shots of the whole frosting making/pouring thing because I was all alone and couldn’t maneuver the camera with one hand and hot pots and mixing bowls with the other.  I know I need an assistant, but this gig doesn’t pay me enough to hire one.

For this cake to work like it’s supposed to, you have to make sure you pour the hot frosting on top of a warm cake.  That’s how the magic happens.  Again, don’t ask me why.  It just does.  The cake turns out light and incredibly rich with a moist and tender crumb, and the hot frosting soaks into the warm cake, making it even more moist and delicious. Total chocolate cake bliss!


I’m told that there are some acceptable tweaks for Texas Sheet Cake.  Some of these include adding brewed coffee to the batter (as I have here),  adding a little cinnamon and mixing some toffee bits into the frosting.  But, that’s about it.  I got this on good authority from my friend Marye at Texas Well Seasoned, which is where I also found this recipe.   Marye knows what she’s talking about.  She’s from Texas.

This cake is indescribably good served warm right out of the pan, but it’s also fabulous chilled.  I froze a few pieces to hide save for later and it was great right out of the freezer.  It’s a perfect no muss, no fuss delectable treat for Super Bowl Sunday or any old time.

So, tease your hair a little, put on a Willie Nelson album and bake a Texas Sheet Cake, y’all!




17 responses to The Perfect Super Bowl Sunday Treat:  Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

  1. On February 01, 2011 at 3:03pm, The Blue-Eyed Bakers said...

    Oh goodness this looks AMAZING. Chocolate, more chocolate and pecans?! Sooooo good!

  2. On February 01, 2011 at 3:05pm, Rosa said...

    I love that cake! Perfect indeed.



  3. On February 01, 2011 at 3:10pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Awesome. I haven’t made this before, but I do have the PW cookbook with a recipe in there and I do swear I’ll try it sometime.

    I remember the first time I was in Houston on a business trip. I was in a restaurant and ordered chicken “fingers”. They handed me a plate containing what looked like 3 chicken cutlets. Any time I relayed that story to a coworker I was told, “Welcome to Texas”. Texas is not a good state for losing weight!

    I have the big hair thing down pat. My hair is naturlly huge. Houston humidity helps that even more. Maybe that’s why women in Houston have big hair? It’s SO HUMID.

    If you’re trying to be pro-Texas and don’t want to include GWB, you can always remember that he’s a fake Texan. He is really a New Englander in Texas clothing. (Then again my liberal Democrat grandmother was from New England too…)

  4. On February 01, 2011 at 3:16pm, Priyanka said...

    hi…..rightly said by you “Total chocolate cake bliss!”. This looks lovely and tempting….. :)

  5. On February 01, 2011 at 3:35pm, marye said...

    LOL! I am glad you liked it… next time try the browned butter version! (and I used to have Texas big hair in the 70s….. in fact it was bigger than I was at the time. )

  6. On February 01, 2011 at 3:43pm, Ky said...

    In my part of the woods (DFW, TX), we call it a Texas Sheath Cake. Not to be confused with the Sheet cake as usually found in grocery store bakeries and the like. My former SIL made it for a holiday dessert one year and from that point on, I was hooked. I even requested her passed down a few generations recipe for my birthday one year! Needless to say, I request this cake every year for my birthday. Usually, two will be made – one for my guests and one for ME! :)

    It can also be made without pecans, equally scrumptious. Yes. This Texas Sheath Cake is the MOST. SCRUMPTIOUS. CAKE. EVER. Ever. Ever.

  7. On February 01, 2011 at 5:05pm, The Food Hunter said...

    I too have read about these cakes for years and have never made one…what am I waiting for.

  8. On February 01, 2011 at 6:07pm, Karen@Mignardise said...

    Once you make this cake, you find very few things that can compare to it. It’s one of those things that’s just impossible to stop eating.
    Love your photos of it!

  9. On February 01, 2011 at 9:40pm, Rachel said...

    Mmmmmmm! Looks delightful! I do live in Texas too! Shouldn’t I be eating more of this? I guess I don’t want to be one of the bigger things in Texas . . . I’ll just share! 😉

  10. On February 02, 2011 at 7:05am, Amy said...

    Yum! This looks great. I had Texas sheet cake once and it was tasty!

  11. On February 02, 2011 at 9:21am, paul jennette said...

    I don’t think I have ever enjoyed Texas sheet cake, but I really want to now. It looks amazing and perfect for the big game coming up this weekend!

  12. On February 02, 2011 at 8:37pm, MaryBeth said...

    I have never had a Texas sheet cake but I of course would be more than happy to give this one a try, YUMM-O!

  13. On February 02, 2011 at 9:54pm, Lese said...

    yeah, like life is SOOOOOO much better with Obama,,,

  14. On February 03, 2011 at 4:11am, peabody said...

    Brings back many a memory. It seems like every potluck I was at as a kid had it. You hardly ever see it anymore. Which is a shame because it is such a yummy cake.

  15. On February 06, 2011 at 5:48am, Jackie said...

    Wow, I was searching for a chocolate cake recipe that was moist and rich and could be served as a dessert but still work OK for a birthday cake. I had in my mind dark chocolate with a ganache type icing dribbled over the top. I even have some leftover pecans from a recipe experiment my sister did with my son over the holidays. Pecans are not something we eat a lot of so I was wondering (since I hate wasting food) how on earth I would use them up. This recipe couldn’t be more perfect, thank you!

  16. On February 16, 2011 at 2:07pm, LV @ said...

    I have never tried Texas Sheet Cake, but now I will. This looks great!

  17. On June 18, 2011 at 4:42am, Ron said...

    This looks good! thank you for this recipe! I’m weak for all things chocolate.

please post a comment...

kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

Just Browsing?
55 Knives
follow me!

    Follow Me on Pinterest

    Friday Food Lust

    Fine Cooking