I grew up eating this cake for every birthday. It was my Grandmother’s specialty and nothing beats it. She called it Mexican chocolate cake because it has a touch of cinnamon in it, however you can omit it if you choose. She would also use vanilla from Mexico, which makes it even more delicious. This cake is easy to make, and you may already have most of the ingredients in your pantry. This no fuss cake will have your guests raving, with little effort on your part. No messing with frosting spatulas or piping bags with this recipe, the warm icing just pours over and soaks into the moist cake a little bit, making for a scrumptious a comforting dessert for any occasion.
FOR THE CAKE
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup salted butter
- 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon Mexican or regular vanilla extract
FOR THE ICING
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, rimmed 12×18-inch baking sheet (aka a half sheet pan).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, butter, and cocoa powder and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
- Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, and mix until combined. You can do this with a hand mixer to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cake springs back lightly to the touch and has barely started to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake!
- Icing: When the cake is almost done baking, start to make the icing. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, cocoa powder, milk, and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, just until the mixture comes to a simmer.
- Immediately remove from heat and add the vanilla, then whisk in the powdered sugar until the icing is smooth. Stir in the chopped nuts. If the cake isn’t ready yet, keep the icing warm and stir it every so often so it doesn’t harden on top.
- Let the cake cool for 10-12 minutes, then pour the hot icing over the warm cake and spread it evenly with a spatula. Let the frosting set for 20 minutes before cutting the cake into squares. The frosting will completely set after 1-2 hours.
- Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.