My mom, who was an incredible baker, made the most delicious, rich, moist, brownie/cake dessert that she called a Texas Sheet Cake.  I adored when she made it and watched diligently to learn the recipe and implement it in my own home.

Over the years, I discovered that it is a southern classic. It is also a big funeral cake – meaning you take it with you as a condolence to the grieving family.  I’m not sure where my Pittsburgh mother got the recipe, but she would have made any southern cook proud! I also don’t think she ever took it with her to funerals, but ya never know.

White plate with dark, moist brownies with fudgy icing

Just what is a Texas sheet cake?  I’m glad you asked. This is a thin, flat, incredibly moist, chocolate cake that serves 24.  24? Really? Yep, it serves 24.

The warm cake is then ‘iced’ with a hot, sugary, fudgy layer of chocolate that is then topped with chopped pecans or chopped toffee bits. Are you salivating yet?

Wait.  I’m not done.  The warm cake and the warm frosting marry and produce this ‘love child’ of a thin, pudding-like layer of chocolate deliciousness that stays soft and pudding-like even when the cake is cooled.

Closeup of frosted fudgy chocolate sheet cake

The origin of the original Texas sheet cake is a bit of a mystery.  The recipe has been traced back to the 1960s and there are as many variations as there are cooks.  

I have heard a few reasons why it is referred to as a ‘Texas’ sheet cake.  One is because it is huge and flat like Texas. The recipe also uses classic Texas ingredients like pecans.  The best theory is that it is a ‘Texas’ sheet cake because it is flamboyantly rich…..like Texans. That theory is my favorite.  Let’s go with that one!

Now, I love a great classic recipe, but I’m always up for gilding the lily, so to speak.  With just a couple of small tweaks to this classic, this recipe goes from great and easy to off the charts amazing and just as easy.  

Using cake flour, which has less gluten, you achieve a light and airy cake with a soft crumb.  It makes a big difference and is worth using.

The espresso powder gives the cake a rich depth of flavor and brings out the flavor of the chocolate.  It is similar to adding vanilla to chocolate recipes. Both the espresso and vanilla provide additional layers of flavor and enhances the chocolate.

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White plate with a pile of choclate sheet cake with fudgy icing



A classic chocolate dessert that has been tweaked in the best way possible. Moist, rich, chocolate cake with a fudgy icing, this sheet cake is a crowd pleaser.



For the cake:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/8 tsp teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

For Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar, more if needed to achieve the desired consistency (it should be thick, yet almost pourable)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or toffee bits (yeah, the toffee….it will make you cry!), optional


  1. For the cake: Lightly grease a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, coffee, and cocoa in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Next, add the sugar, flour, salt, eggs, baking soda, sour cream, and the vanilla. Mix well using a spatula or wooden spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  3. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until done. Do not over bake.
  4. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the same pan (you don’t even have to wash it. Yay, one less pot/bowl.) melt the butter, cocoa powder, buttermilk, and half & half over medium heat, stirring often. Allow this mixture to come up to a gentle boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar (you will be grateful to have sifted this about right now.) and the pecans or toffee bits, if you are going to ‘gild the lily’ – this is optional, but delicious.
  5. Try to restrain yourself from licking the spoon, your fingers, or anything else you may dip into this luscious concoction.
  6. When the cake is done, remove the pan from the oven and IMMEDIATELY pour the frosting over the hot cake. Spread to cover. Allow to cool completely.
  7. Cut into squares and enjoy. Pour yourself a tall, cold, glass of milk. You’re gonna need it!
  8. Yep. I think mom would be proud!


  • Serving Size: Serves 24

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