This chocolate sheet cake is so moist, tender and fluffy, each bite is another piece of heaven. It is one of the easiest chocolate cakes you can make, and it is really easy to freeze what you don't need right now. In this recipe I will also show you how you can make it in a smaller pan, as cupcakes or a layer cake!
The frosting is also super hard to resist. A buttery, tangy cream cheese frosting with chocolate, Baileys and coffee, or just leave them out if you want to make the perfect children's party chocolate cake! This is a typical cake Norwegians serve their kids at birthday parties, because it is
- feeds a crowd,
- incredibly, incredibly mega delish.
This frosting is ridiculously addicting. There is something so dreamy about cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar as the base. From there you have a ton of options, but it shouldn't be too much liquid or else it will separate (read more about that in my brown butter buttercream frosting).
This frosting has just a tablespoon of Baileys and 4 teaspoons of strong coffee. It's only a hint of these flavors in the background, enhancing the chocolate flavor. It's like you can't really pinpoint WHY the frosting is so good. That is why it is also perfect for kids. They won't even know about these subtleties.
Top their cake with fun things like Smarties, jelly candy, unsweetened shredded coconut or sprinkles and I guarantee you they will love it. And you will love it too, with or without toppings.
Why eggs in frosting
Eggs are a little secret ingredient to add to frostings to make them extra creamy and rich. It also removes most of the grittiness from the powdered sugar. Because we are melting chocolate and butter in a water bath, then mixing it with the egg, we are actually kind of cooking the egg so you won't even eat raw eggs here.
If you are concerned, however, make sure to buy pasteurized eggs or just leave them out. The frosting will still be delicious, but not as smooth and creamy.
To make the frosting, add butter and chopped chocolate into a large glass bowl and put on top of a small saucepan with a little simmering water (known as bain-marie or double boiler). Stir on low heat until it is smooth, then mix in one egg and ¾ of the powdered sugar.
Add the cream cheese, Baileys and coffee if using and add another cup of powdered sugar if you find it necessary.
What makes this cake so moist
The ratio of wet to dry ingredients determines how moist the cake turns out. Just trust the recipe magic! Yes, it has a lot of sugar, sour cream and butter, but - news flash - that is also why it is the best chocolate cake EVER.
Sour cream is one of my favorite ingredients to avoid dry cakes, that tangy fatty cream is absolutely perfect for a moist and tender cake crumb.
It is also important to not over-bake it! In a large half-sheet pan, but it still doesn't need more than around 40 minutes. However, it will vary slightly depending on your oven. You should test the cake 5 minutes before the 40 minutes are up if you know your oven is running a little hot.
I love to test a cake's doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake and checking whether the toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Then it's ready! However, that strategy doesn't work for super fudgy brownies obviously.
Difference between a chocolate sheet cake and Texas sheet cake
When googling chocolate sheet cake, you will be bombarded with a ton of Texas sheet cake recipes. They are not exactly the same but the essential parts of the Texas sheet cake are quite similar to this cake. They are rich and chocolatey like brownies, but unlike brownies, they have a tender cake crumb that is not fudgy.
A Texas sheet cake is often made in a 1-inch tall jelly roll sheet pan, making it a rather flat cake. My chocolate sheet cake is taller and needs to be made in a regular half-sheet pan (or other pans as you will see below).
A Texas sheet cake is also topped with pecans, I personally don't like the added texture of the nuts on cakes, but if you want you can of course add pecans to this cake as well!
How to alter this recipe to the pans you have got
I realize not everyone has a regular half-sheet pan, but still may want to make this delicious cake! In Norway, this half-sheet pan is what we call a langpanne, and langpannekaker (long pan cakes) are very common.
However, there are actually quite a few options and they are all good. It depends on how many you want to serve and how easy you want to make it for yourself really.
In the US, when people talk about sheet cakes, they talk about the quarter pan, which is 9x13 inches (23x33 cm). It is possible to make this cake with that pan, but you will need to make 2 cakes*. Which should be no problem, as they are easy to freeze. Or you can make 1 9x13 inch cake and the rest as 12 cupcakes!
* Or you can cut the recipe in half. Use 2 eggs and a splash of milk as a replacement for the last half. Bake for about 35-40 minutes (36 in my oven).
As you can see in the infographic, this batter also makes 3x8-inch cakes. In order to avoid any form of cutting, you can just use these three cakes on top of each other and use the frosting in between.
But if you want my pro-tip and a perfect cake-to-frosting ratio, use only 2 of the cakes and cut them in half so you have 4 thinner cakes and fill them with the chocolate frosting. Reserve ½ cup of the frosting, whip ⅓ cup heavy cream, and fold together.
Add to a piping bag with a star tip and decorate the top of the cake as pictured. I also use mocha beans (mokkabønner) as decoration here, but you can use whatever.
A layer cake usually requires more frosting than a sheet cake when frosting the outsides and filling the insides. The full batch of frosting is perfect for this smaller layer cake.
You can freeze the last of the three cakes, unfrosted.
The best way to freeze cakes
I prefer to freeze cakes without frosting. That way, all you have to do is to cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Don't forget to write the name and date on the foil, you won't believe how easy it is to forget what you have in your freezer!
It is also a good idea to cut the cake into smaller pieces so that all you are thawing is all you are going to eat in 1-2 days.
Cakes are great for about 9 months to a year in the freezer, but they remain safe after that. I even thawed a 2-year-old cake the other day and I couldn't tell the difference (it was this lemon ricotta cake).
Let it thaw in the foil on the counter and once it is thawed, you can add whatever frosting you are vibing today. It could be this chocolate Baileys frosting, or this coffee Baileys frosting, chocolate orange buttercream, brown butter buttercream, or even just nothing!
You can freeze cakes with frosting as well, but covering them with aluminum foil will make them a little messier. When I'm thawing it, I like to remove the aluminum foil when the frosting is still frozen, but when it is pliable.
How to make this cake
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit (175 Celsius) and line a half sheet pan (18x13 inches or 45x33 centimeters and it should be 2 inches or 4-5 centimeters tall) with parchment paper. If you want to use other-sized pans, please read the above paragraph on pan sizes.
In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (1). In a saucepan, combine water, unsweetened cocoa powder, and butter. Bring it to a boil and remove it from the heat. Stir together so there are no lumps. Let cool for 5 minutes (2-4).
Quickly whip the eggs until frothy (5). Add the cocoa butter mixture, eggs, sour cream, and pure vanilla extract into the dry ingredients and stir until it is a smooth batter (6-7). Pour into a sheet pan (8).
Bake on the middle rack for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack (11). Once cool, spread the frosting (see above + images 9-10) on top (12).
In Norway, it is customary to decorate the cake with Smarties (Non-Stop), jelly candy (Seigmenn), unsweetened shredded coconut, or sprinkles for kids' birthday parties.
Just a thought! Enjoy this cake with a cold glass of milk, tea, or coffee.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more chocolate cakes I think you would like:
- 6-inch chocolate raspberry cake (when that craving hits and you are not serving a large party)
- Chocolate coffee cupcakes (also with a Bailey's type frosting)
- Chocolate orange cake with chocolate buttercream
- Coffee Guinness caramel brownies
- Classic brownies
- Decadent tiramisu cake (ricotta cake with a white chocolate mousse filling)
- Black forest cake (this is also a perfect Halloween cake!)
- Chocolate pear cake
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