Showing posts with label Texas Sheet Cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas Sheet Cake. Show all posts

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Welcome guest author Nancy Martin! It's #bookclubweek + book #giveaway!

It's Book Club Week and we have guest author Nancy Martin as our Sunday guest!!

Nancy Martin is the author of nearly fifty popular fiction books in four genres—mystery, romance, suspense and historical. Her best-selling Blackbird Sisters Mysteries have been hailed by Fresh Fiction as, “perhaps the best cozy mystery series going.”  Nancy is the founder of Pennwriters and has served on the national board of Sisters in Crime. 

Her upcoming book, MISS RUFFLES INHERITS EVERYTHING, has mystery author Carolyn Hart saying, “As Texas true as Tanya Tucker and boot-scootin’ fun. Miss Ruffles will capture hearts. I LOVE this book!” 

TAKE IT AWAY, NANCY!  And to all of our readers, remember to tweet #bookclub @MysteryKitchen to share with your other book club-loving friends.

Texas Sheet Cake

Four years ago, this is the only thing I knew about Texas: Texas sheet cake, a delish chocolate dessert perfect for sharing at picnics, parties, book club meetings. (If your members are chocoholics, prepare to be adored.) A confirmed Yankee, I’ve lived all my life in Pennsylvania, and I write books set in my home state. (Have you read my Blackbird Sisters Mysteries?) Except for taking the kids to Disney World and visiting my parents in their vacation home just north of Jacksonville, Florida, the furthest south I’ve ever really spent any time was –uh---Philadelphia. So for me, Texas meant Texas sheet cake. I made it for our recent block party. Not a crumb was left over.

But four years ago, my daughter moved to Texas with her husband and my grandson, Bobby.  A few weeks later, my daughter delivered a baby girl—my granddaughter Edie, who is officially Texas born and has come to personify everything I am learning about Texas. She’s a red-headed spitfire. (Do people really use that word outside of romance novels? In Edie’s case, yes.) Edie loves horses, cowboy boots, even football (she’s only four!) and a lot more non-Yankee stuff. I felt the need to learn about my granddaughter’s state, and the result was not just a cake, but a book--my look at a place that sometimes feels like an alien planet, but I fell in love with it anyway.

How can you not love a state where parishioners are encouraged to sit on their horses in church?

One result was that I wrote MISS RUFFLES INHERITS EVERYTHING, which is the story of a flamboyant wealthy woman (believe me, Texas has more of their fair share) who leaves her fortune to her dog, Miss Ruffles. Miss Ruffles is a Texas cattle cur, a herding dog, not a lady’s lap dog. She’s a troublemaker, and Sunny McKillip has the extremely difficult job of keeping Miss Ruffles out of mischief. When the wealthy pup gets dognapped, Sunny must ride to the rescue. Trouble is, Sunny is from Ohio and doesn’t understand the ways of her adopted home, so she must get to know the people of Mule Stop, Texas, in order to save the ornery Miss Ruffles. It’s a fun story. Who doesn’t love books with cowboys? And horses? And barbecue? MISS RUFFLES INHERITS EVERYTHING will be published November 3rd, so keep your eyes peeled. HERE'S THE LINK 

My father’s favorite life statement was, “Bloom where you are planted.”  He lived within the same Pennsylvania twenty miles all his life—a good, full life with an exciting career, extensive travel, a devoted family, many leisure pursuits, so he wasn’t held back by remaining where he’d been planted. But families are farther flung now. Do you have an adopted home? Is it different from the place where you grew up? It’s a theme I explore in MISS RUFFLES INHERITS EVERYTHING. If your book club happens to choose this book, I bet everybody has a tale to tell about being a stranger in a strange land.

While you’re thinking about that, here’s the Pinterest page where I save all the recipes I think will make a good dinner for my book club when it’s my turn to cook.  HERE'S THE PINTEREST LINKAnd the recipe for Texas sheet cake is below. Make it for your next book club meeting. They’ll thank you!

Texas Sheet Cake

In a large saucepan, boil (2 minutes) one cup of water and two sticks of butter.

Take pot off the heat and add:

*2 cups sugar
* 2 cups flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* ½ tsp salt
¼ cup cocoa
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup buttermilk

Bake in a buttered sheet pan @375 degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, wash out sauce pan and make frosting:

Melt 1 stick butter with ¼ tsp cocoa, 6 Tbsp milk, 1 box confectioner’s sugar, 1 tsp vanilla. (Okay, to be honest, I add another half stick of butter, more cocoa and milk and extra sugar, too. A little frosting is good, but a lot is better, right?) You can add a dash of cinnamon, too, or a shot of espresso. Why not?

When smooth, add a cup of chopped pecans, then keep the frosting warm on the stove until cake is done.

When cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour warm frosting over the cake and let cool. Serves a crowd. Add ice cream if you’re really feeling decadent.

Today's giveaway!
Since Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything isn't out yet, I'm offering to give away the first three in my Blackbird Sisters Mysteries

Leave a comment plus your email so I can contact you.

In the meantime, tell me do you belong to a book club? If so, what's your favorite book club treat? If you don't, what's your favorite book-reading treat?

Visit Nancy’s website. 

Or stay in touch with her on Facebook 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

JoAnna Carl Bakes A Cookie Sheet Chocolate Cake!

A very special welcome to JoAnna Carl, author of the Chocoholic Mysteries. The series takes place in a fictional town with a Victorian atmosphere on the shore of Lake Michigan, and features (oh, yum!) a behind-the-scenes look at making fine, luscious, luxurious European-style truffles and chocolates!

If cooking were hereditary, I’d be Julia Child. Or at least a fry cook. My family is full of wonderful cooks.

Food is important to us all. I can remember laughing, as a dumb kid, because my female relatives never got up from lunch without discussing the menu, supplies, and time schedule needed for dinner. My grandmother saw nothing funny about this. “You have to plan ahead if things are going to be good,” she said.

My grandmother, Nettie, and her sister, Aunt Sula, are the models for Aunt Nettie, the owner of Ten Huis Chocolade and a major character in the Chocoholic books. But neither of them, as far as I know, ever made a bonbon or a truffle. They were too busy baking cakes for church and family, frying chicken-fried steak (Oklahoma’s official state entrée), producing the best piecrust in town, or chopping salad (that’s another blog).

And despite having written ten books about a chocolatier, I can’t make truffles or bonbons either. This is a skill that takes lots of equipment and practice. I’ve never even tried.

But I can make good brownies, and I can bake the family’s favorite chocolate cake. And how this cake came into the family always struck me as funny and very typical of my family.

I first ran into this cake at a convention I attended with my husband. No, it wasn’t served, but the wife of another convention-goer mentioned it to me. She gave me the recipe, just out of her head, and I wrote it down on the back of the envelope I’d gotten my name tag in. I still have that envelope, now all stained with chocolate.

When I got home, I made the cake, and it was great. So I wrote the recipe out neatly and sent it off to my mother, asking her to share it with my grandmother and great-aunt. I felt that I’d made a real contribution to the family archives.

I never had any response to the recipe, however, and eventually I almost forgot sending it.

Then we – me, my husband, and our three kids – went to visit my parents in Wichita. When we arrived, Mother had dinner ready, and as she served it up she said, “Save room for a piece of this new chocolate cake. Someone at church gave Aunt Sula the recipe, and it’s wonderful.”
You guessed it. It was my cake.

None of them had even tried Little Eve’s cake recipe. I might be thirty years old and the mother of three, but I was just an inexperienced cook to those ladies. It was only after the same cake turned up at a covered dish dinner that it won the acclaim it deserved.

I’d have had my feelings hurt if I hadn’t been occupied with stuffing down chocolate cake. Instead I thought it was funny, because I knew those ladies loved me very much, even though they snubbed my cake recipe.

The cake is still our family’s favorite. We call it Cinnamon Chocolate Cake, because of that special ingredient, or Cookie Sheet Chocolate Cake, because it’s baked in a jelly roll pan or another flat pan with a rim. The cake is thin; the icing thick.

A few years ago I took this cake to a covered dish dinner at a family reunion in Michigan, where the Chocoholic books are set. I didn’t know all the people there well – they’re distant relatives of my husband’s grandparents – so I was horrified to see that someone else had brought the same cake.

Covered dish etiquette varies from locale to group to family. I was afraid this was someone’s special annual contribution. I might have inadvertently stepped on her toes.

But the other cake maker came over and smiled. “I see you brought a Texas Sheet Cake, too,” she said.

I did? It was the first I’d known about it. I’d never run into the cake under that name. After I got to a computer, I looked it up on-line, and, sure enough, there it was. “Texas Sheet Cake.” There’s a white version, too, but I never waste calories on white cake, so I haven’t tried that. Yes, I’m a genuine chocoholic. Anyway, here it is. Easy to make and awfully easy to eat.

Oh, one more story. When my older daughter was nine or ten, I was cutting a piece of the sheet cake for her and a friend. She watched me seriously, then she turned to her pal. “My aunt,” she said, “gives me a great, big piece of that cake.”

How’s that for a hint? Since then I’ve remembered that the cake is thin, so the it must be served in “great, big” pieces. At least to nine-year-olds.


Mix in large bowl: 2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring to a boil: 1 stick margarine
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
½ cup shortening
Mix the two mixtures.
Add: ½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs, well-beaten
Pour into greased and floured cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan or other large cake pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in 400-degree oven.


6 tablespoons milk 4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick margarine 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar 1 cups nuts
Bring cocoa, margarine, milk, and vanilla to a boil. Add powdered sugar and nuts. Pour over warm cake.

JoAnna's most recent book, The Chocolate Cupid Killings, was just released!

Lee McKinney Woodyard and her aunt, chocolatier Nettie TenHuis Jones, are cautious helpers in that mysterious underground railway which assists abused women to escape to new lives. The appearance of a private detective looking for the woman they’re sheltering sends up alarms – especially after the private eye is found dead, with Aunt Nettie is standing over him brandishing an empty Amaretto bottle.

Thanks so much for joining us today, JoAnna!