Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Fudge Cake with Pecan Boiled Sugar Icing Recipe a Winner

January 16th, 2012 · No Comments

Fudge pecan cake /photo by Jan Norris /vintage Jackson China dish

I baked this last week because Cheffie wanted brownies. I didn’t. I’m the baker, so I win. It’s a take-off of the Texas sheet cake, but is not a Texas sheet cake – so if you comment that this is not what a Texan would make, you’re on your own for fall-out comments.

Its ultra-sweet, boiled-sugar icing crunches over when set and adds to the pecan crunch. It’s extremely satisfying for those of us who love texture in our foods. It’s very chocolatey as well. The oil in this cake combined with butter keeps it more moist than the butter alone – but butter adds flavor that oil doesn’t give. You can use all of both if you prefer one or the other.

It has a few steps, but still is simple: Bake it in a 13×9-inch cake pan (not a sheet pan) to keep it moist, and spread the icing on it while it’s still warm. I turned out the cake – didn’t leave it in the pan – but you could if you prefer. I like some of the icing to dribble over the sides. Use excellent vanilla extract – don’t go cheap on this flavoring because you can taste a difference.

One other tip: Always toast nuts when you’re cooking with them. The flavor is much more intense.

Fudge Pecan Cake recipe

  • For cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (not margarine or spread)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • For icing:
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and stir in cocoa powder till smooth; add oil and stir to combine. Remove from heat and cool. In a small bowl, beat eggs well and drizzle in cool chocolate mixture; whisk well to combine thoroughly.

Alternating buttermilk and egg mixture, beat both into the flour mixture in two additions each. Beat well after all is incorporated – 1-1/2 minutes at medium-high speed. Add vanilla and beat well again – 1-1/2 minutes. Pour batter into greased and floured 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until the center top barely springs back to the touch. Do not overbake or cake will be dry. Remove and let cool 15 minutes; turn out onto cake board if desired, or leave in the pan for serving. Ice cake while still warm.

While cake is baking, make icing: Combine butter sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt in saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow butter to melt before stirring, but watch to prevent burning. If your stove runs hot, do this over a double-boiler. Stir butter-sugar-cocoa mixture till smooth and liquid. Add pecans and stir well. Keep mixture over low heat or over a double boiler till cake comes out of oven.

Allow cake to cool 15 minutes before turning it out and icing while warm.

Makes 16 to 20 servings. Cake will freeze well.

Tags: Baking: Cheap therapy · Recipes: What's Cooking!

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