From the book, Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-off Meals Straight from the Oven, this easy chocolate cake recipe makes the perfect end to the perfect meal. The creamy, mascarpone cheese is a total upgrade to cream cheese, and makes for the most decadent, lush frosting. Make this cake a day or so ahead to let the flavors blend and mellow a bit. Chocoholic fans will swoon, as will your Italian grandmother.
Serves 20 to 24
For the cake
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional but recommended)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the frosting and finishing
- 1 heaping cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
- 1 tub (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Mist a sheet pan with cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, and mist the paper, too.
2. Make the cake: Combine the butter with 1 cup water, the espresso powder (if using), and the cocoa powder in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter melts. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until smooth, about 3 minutes. Let cool until just warm to the touch.
3. Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium-size bowl.
4. Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula just until the batter is smooth and streak-free.
5. Dump the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the corners with the spatula.
6. Bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan and the center springs back when lightly poked, 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool completely before frosting.
8. Make the frosting: Beat the Nutella and mascarpone in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, on medium-high speed, until light and silky, about 3 minutes.
9. Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake (it will be a thick layer). Finish with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.
1O. Serve the cake right away or wait a day to let flavors deepen.
The cake will keep, well wrapped in aluminum foil, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Recipe and photo with permission from the author.