Who could resist a day set aside for nothing more glorious than making and eating chocolate cake? Obviously we are in good company here. My favorite chocolate cake recipe that I turn to time and time again for celebrations, birthdays, and shhh…any day really…is the Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. I have it in hard copy in The New Best Recipe cookbook, but this recipe is also on their website and may alone be worth the annual subscription. Cook’s Illus recipes are usually pretty darn near perfect, but I’m still pushing this recipe to see how much more chocolate I can add to it before it turns into something not so cake-like. Not that that would be a bad thing.
A note on ingredients-many Cook’s recipes for baked goods call for buttermilk, but mine was a little too ripe. I keep buttermilk powder in the fridge for just such an emergency. I can’t say it’s the perfect replacement for all recipes. Fortunately it is indistinguishable in this cake, but fails miserably in other recipes like my favorite vanilla sugar scones from the Best of Better Baking.com cookbook.
Since it’s not my recipe to share for this yummy cake, I thought I would at least share a frosting recipe I adapted from Joy of Cooking. I cut down the sugar significantly, and simplified a few other components. This is fabulous on chocolate cake (or straight from a spoon):
½ cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy is great, but the natural kind is peanut-ier)
3 ounces cream cheese – cold!
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter – softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk