I’ve been faced with a lot of myself these past few weeks – forced to gaze upon a lot of my own, shall we say…. tendencies . I’ll eat a bag of chips within 24 hours of bringing it home. I’m very resistant to emptying the clean dish washer. I will go back to the pantry to look for more chips even when I know I’ve eaten them all. I will not, unless faced with severe fines and penalties, put away my clean laundry. If there is cookie dough in the freezer… well there’s no more cookie dough in the freezer so we’ll just leave it at that.
I’m ok. You’re ok. And we’re making a simple, single-layer chocolate cake about it.
This is the sort of cake that comes together super simply, is tri-flavored (trying out that new word), and is the sort of snacking cake that you eat by the sliver straight from the refrigerator. We’re leaning all the way into our tendencies. Let’s call them luxuries and go in with big bites.
Stacks on stacks, but cake with soft fluffy flavored whip. Which flavor has your name on it?
For this cake you’ll need all the things that make a cake a cake:
• flour, sugar, an egg, a stick of butter, cocoa powder, buttermilk, baking soda and salt.
You can make this cake gluten-free using a 1-for-1 flour blend.
If you don’t have buttermilk, I’ve used yogurt or sour cream in equal amounts.
We’re topping this cake with three flavored lightly whipped cream. Strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate – classics, ya know? In this recipe we’ll whip of heavy cream but I feel comfortable admitting to you that I LOVE this cake made with Cool Whip that I flavor. It’s not a mistake, I’ll tell ya that much.
The wonder of this cake is that it all comes together in a medium-size pot.
I know you’re sick of doing dishes. Me too. I feel the dish fatigue in my bones.(Ok that’s dramatic.) All the small bowls we show in these pictures is just to show you a step-by-step of ingredients. In your own kitchen, please please use as few dishes as possible and feel empowered to just get everything in the pan.
In a pan melt cocoa powder, a bit of water, and a stick of butter. Whisk and nudge any lumps out of the cocoa powder as the mixture melts together.
Remove from the heat and allow the melted butter to cool jus a touch before adding the buttermilk and egg.
Whisk it all to glossy.
Stir in the the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
You’ll whisk the ingredients until smooth. We love a glossy chocolate batter – I just can’t stress this enough.
The batter will be pourable.
Grease and parchment and grease the parchment inside a quarter sheet (9×13-inch) pan. I promise that the layers of pan prep are worth it to ease the cake out of the pan in perfect little square slices.
Oh, one more thing! This is a thin layered chocolate cake. I bake it in a rimmed sheet pan though a traditional 9×13-inch cake pan will also do. Don’t expect too much height – it bakes to soft and spring rather quickly.
While the cake baked, whip some lightly sweetened heavy cream to very soft peaks.
We’re going to add flavors and continue whipping the cream so to keep things soft and spreadable – soft peaks to start.
Divide the whipped cream into thirds and stir cocoa into one, strawberry milk powder (or ground dehydrated strawberries) into another, and a dash of vanilla extract into the third.
Frost the cake in thirds.
Frost the cake in any flavor combination that your heart desires. There’s no wrong way to do this!
Allow the cake to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours (if you can stand to wait) and slice clean slices to enjoy.
You’ll want a slice of each. Ok wait… maybe a slice of one and then thin slivers of the rest of the flavors eaten straight from the cake pan in the refrigerator. That’s what our tendencies insist.
Photos with my friend Jon Melendez.Print
One-Pot Chocolate Sheet Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15-18 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes or so
For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Topping:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup strawberry milk powder or powdered dehydrates strawberries
- To make the cake, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the butter to the water and stir in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract; stir until well combined.
- Add the flour, sugar, soda, and salt and whisk until smooth.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray a 9×13-inch sheet pan (a quarter-sheet pan) with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.
- To make the frosting, lightly whip the cream and sugar to soft peaks. Divide the cream into three bowls and mix each whipped topping with a separate flavor : vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and strawberry. Spread generously in thirds across the cooled cake.
- Serving Size: 8-12
I was so excited about this recipe! I made it with a gluten free cup for cup blend and it just didn’t work for me. It was not pourable at all—bummer. So, I added more liquid a tablespoon at a time until it more traditional cake batter texture. I’m wondering what you would do next time? Less flour? More liquid and same flour amount? I’ll keep playing, but I’d be interested in your thoughts!
I have always made layer cakes, and still will, but this was such a simple and delicious alternative! And the size is just right.I didn’t have the ingredients to make the frosting so I made a cream cheese/coconut frosting but I look forward to making it as written soon. Thanks for the great recipe!
Hello! Do you have any ideas for a frosting that is non dairy? I have some lactose intolerant folks that I bake for and know this cake would be a hit. Thanks for your help!
I would do a dairy free, vegan cool whip.
Oh my gosh! It’s 9:30 on a Monday night and my mouth is watering. I want this cake! Whipped cream is so good with chocolate and the three flavors sound so good. Your photos are beautiful.
It’s probably a good thing that I have to work in the morning and can’t stay up making this. It goes on the list of desserts to try very, very soon.
Just made this cakie. Waiting to cool. Worst part! Serves 8-10? Haha this will get me through a few days :) thanks for these simple sweet recipes Joy. This and the cupcakes are perfect for these strange times. ??
Thank you for the recipe! We will be making this on Tuesday :) I just thought I’d let you know that in the butter melting step, you said to melt the butter, a little water and a stick of butter.” I think maybe you forgot to mention the cocoa in that part. ;) Your photos are gorgeous, I can’t wait to try this cake!
Kristi (from Seattle Cheesecake Factory ??)
Thank you Kristi!
I honestly dream about this type of cakes!
I just made this cake and it looks beautiful! I did not do the strawberry cream – no one in this house would eat it!
I just remembered it is my anniversary tomorrow – my husband always remembers lol – so I thought I’d make this cake as a form of a “black & white” cookie he loves, growing up on Long Island NY
Oh Joy, this cake reminds me of the old fashioned half-gallons of neopolitan ice cream I so loved as a child. Growing up with 7 siblings, I remember we all fought over the chocolate and strawberry sections leaving the vanilla for our mom. Little did I know that as I grew older, I learned to love the vanilla and ended up getting more ice cream as a result! Thanks for the recipe and the memory it triggered for me.
Great idea. Choose the one you like or combine all three. Genius! I’m thinking mocha, vanilla, caramel or chocolate with pecans, coconut, and caramel whipped cream. Stay well, Joy. You’re a treasure.
I hear ya on the dishwaster. I will hand wash dishes for at least 4 days to avoid emptying the dishwasher. Also, Cool Whip is the worst and best kind of whipped cream. It’s got that plastic taste that you can’t replicate anywhere else!
LOATHE emptying the dishwasher. LOATHE putting away clean laundry. Cheers to pulling dishes and laundry out and off the kitchen table on an as-needed basis. Amen and amen.
Or… imagine adding that whipped coffee to the whipped cream or cool whip…just saying. Looks fabulous. I have developed some definite quirks I don’t normally have. But hey, these are not normal times…so, I am trying to be easy on myself. I’m at sticking to most of my routine things, but in between…sometimes have to force myself to do something because I just want to take a nap or stare at my ipad…etc. I have gained a few pounds, which surprisingl7 I am not upset about. Hang in there, thank you for this and maybe buy two bags of chips next time…thank you and stay well.
I am so angry at Marie Kondo for implementing a drawer system that doesn’t allow me to just shove a wad of underwear into it. Thank you for the cake, one bowl helps.
I have images of Marie Kondo on her couch with a family size bag of chips surrounded by laundry she hasn’t put away for weeks. That and left over Easter jelly bean and m and m mix are keeping me sane right now. Yes, thank you, Joy for the lovely cake. We re all kindred spirits.
Looks fun! Would malted milk powder work for one f the frostings?
Ooh Janet, I like how you think. I’m a malted fan too.
Joy, this cake is simply charming.
Take good care of yourself!