This decadent chocolate sheet cake is a prime choice for a Kentucky Derby viewing party—or any party, for that matter. The richness of this moist, buttermilk chocolate cake is intensified by utilizing the molasses notes of brown sugar (in addition to granulated sugar) and adding a generous sprinkling of chocolate chips in the batter. And then, you top the cake with an insanely delicious bourbon buttercream, candied walnuts, and a chocolate drizzle. Yeah, it's some kind of wonderful.
2 cups (about 8 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, melted and cooled completely
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
Baking spray with flour
1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter
4 cups (about 16 oz.) powdered sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) bourbon
1 1/2 cups walnut halves and pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
How to Make It
Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together butter, water, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add butter mixture to flour mixture; stir just until combined. (Some small lumps may remain.) Stir in chocolate chips just until incorporated. Spread batter in a 15- x 10-inch jelly roll pan well coated with baking spray. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 45 minutes.
Prepare the Frosting: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high until butter starts to foam, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until butter turns a light amber color and starts to smell nutty. Remove from heat, and pour into the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Cool butter to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Add powdered sugar, half-and-half, and bourbon. Beat on high speed, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary, until fluffy and well blended. Set aside.
Prepare the Candied Walnuts: Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add walnuts, sugar, and butter; cook, stirring constantly, until butter melts. Continue to cook, stirring often, until sugar melts and turns amber and walnuts are well coated, 5 to 6 minutes. Working quickly, spread walnut mixture on parchment-lined plate, using a spatula or fork to separate mixture into small pieces before sugar hardens. Let stand until sugar hardens and nuts are cool enough to handle, 5 to 7 minutes.
Assemble the Derby Cake: Spread frosting evenly over the cooled cake, and sprinkle evenly with candied walnuts. Place the chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup, and microwave on HIGH in 15-second intervals until melted and smooth. Let stand until cool but still pourable, about 5 minutes. Transfer melted chocolate to a piping bag, and pipe in a decorative pattern over top of cake.
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