Hands-on Time
17 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour 5 Mins
Serves 20 (serving size: 1 piece)

A big, flat classic. Toasty nuts and fudgy cake get topped with a thin, crackly glaze. It’s easy and  since it first appeared in the magazine in 2000, it's been a staff and reader favorite.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375°.

Step 2

Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.

Step 3

Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces (2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into flour mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

Step 4

Combine 6 tablespoons butter, fat-free milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar; stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and pecans. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack.

Chef's Notes

This recipe originally ran in Cooking Light March, 2000 and was updated for the November, 2012 25th anniversary issue.

Also appeared in: Oxmoor House, , 2013,Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!

Ratings & Reviews

RickiJohnson's Review

February 08, 2012
One of my beefs with Cooking Light in general is that too often, they rely very heavily on sugar to make up for the loss of deliciousness that happens sometimes with reduced fat. This is a good, old recipe. That said, 5+ cups of sugar--even for a jelly roll pan sized cake with frosting, is almost obscene in a country with diabetes increasing to epidemic proportions, even in children, and contradicts what the editors say is their purpose for this magazine's existence. As I diabetic, I wouldn't eat this cake myself; as a responsible human, I will not make it a second time for other people when I have fabulous lower fat AND low sugar alternatives. This should go back to the drawing board, and should only be offered as a"healthy" alternative if there really IS a healthy, not just lowered fat, alternative.

steponme's Review

February 08, 2015
Delicious, moist and loved the frosting (only made & used half of the frosting). Did make a couple of other alterations; 2 1/2 tbsp. butter & 4 tbsp. cold pressed, organic coconut oil and 1/2 cup of cocoa in cake.

EllenDeller's Review

July 06, 2014
I've been making this for big occasions like potlucks and parties since it first appeared in CL over a dozen years ago. I cut it into 32 pieces, though, since it's so sweet. I'm making another one tonight and will try another reviewer's suggestion to cut down the sugar in both the cake and the icing. It is less like a cake and more like a gooey brownie. It's pretty wonderful!

Carisa58's Review

April 07, 2014
I wouldn't change a thing about this recipe. Not the amount of sugar, spices, butter or anything else. I made it exactly as the recipe called for and everyone loved it. The only thing I would have liked better is a way to get it out of the pan once it has cooled down. I don't care for serving a cake in the pan it was baked in. Not very pretty. I don't know if lining the pan with parchment paper would help, because this cake is so tender it might break up if you try to lift it out of the pan.

dgoodjohn's Review

January 31, 2014

foodie2212's Review

December 29, 2013

pkh1210's Review

July 24, 2013
Has anyone tried this above 3000 ft?

KristenLewis's Review

July 12, 2012
Excellent recipe. You won't believe it is "light". A few substitutions: I used one cup of white whole wheat flour and one cup almond flour. I used one cup of sugar and half a cup of agave in the cake recipe (instead of 2 c sugar). I also used half a cup of coconut oil in place of butter in the cake recipe. I kept the icing as is with all the butter and powdered sugar, though next time I might use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup less of powdered sugar, as it was quite sweet (though delicious). Even with substitutions, the cake was very moist, had a great crumb, was rich and chocolatey, and it kept well for 3 days at room temp (by then it was all gone, between just three of us!). I served the warm cake with Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. This was the best dessert I made all summer. Thanks!

JodyVT1977's Review

May 09, 2012
Delish! Made for a co-workers birthday, and it totally impressed. Definitely used extra cinnamon and only used 1 & 1/2 cups of sugar in the cake and 2 cups of powdered sugar in the topping. Perfectly chocolatey and sweet!

Norton48's Review

April 11, 2012