Double chocolate sheet cake with brown butter, figs and candied ginger

Candied ginger and buttery figs put a spin on this classic double chocolate sheet cake. While it's certainly a treat, this recipe  is slightly lower in sugar than most cakes and relies heavily on coco powder to bring the flavor. 

 Spring naan flatbread

We moved into our house on Laurel Street a little over a year ago. With three bedrooms and a lovely, jasmine-lined courtyard, it was certainly an upgrade from our one-bedroom down the street.

Don’t get me wrong, we loved our little one bedroom. It was our first home in San Francisco, and it was cozy and sweet. But cozy turned into cramped after our daughter and all of her things moved in with us. After about 10 months of using our living room as a bedroom so that Lulu could have her own room with a door that shut, we decided to seek more space. And renting was the only good option at the time.

After taking one look at this rental on Laurel, we were hooked. We fully moved in and made it our own within a matter of days. We’ve love it, and built a community of friends in and around the neighborhood. We don’t walk for more than 10 minutes to go to the park, grocery store, library or gym. It’s absolutely (almost) perfect (minus the incessant fog).

Now, after a year, we can say that this little house on Laurel is officially our home, as we were given the opportunity to purchase it last month. Naturally, I figured chocolate cake was in order.

While I first made this cake for a birthday, it was so simple and so good that it’s now a go-to for special occasions and celebrations. The base recipe is nothing more than a less sugary version of Texan sheet cake. While they say don’t mess with Texas, I think the coco in the cake and sweetness of the candied ginger adds more than enough sweetness for my taste. However, if you like your desserts on the sweeter side, I would recommend adding another ½ cup of sugar to the cake and ½ cup to the frosting.

 Spring naan flatbread
 Spring naan flatbread
 Spring naan flatbread

COOKING NOTES

For tools, you’ll need a 15x10x2-inch baking pan that’s greased or covered in parchment

paper. As I noted above, I cut the sugar in this. So if you like your desserts on the sweeter side, add about ½ cup to the base and ½ cup to the frosting. This cake keeps for up to 5 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

SERVES A CROWD

PREP TIME: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 35 minutes TOTAL TIME: 1 hour, 5 minutes (ish)

INGREDIENTS

For the cake
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed premium unsweetened natural cocoa
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter + 3 tablespoons
1/4 cup lightly packed premium unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
½ pound figs, sliced in half
¼ cup candied ginger, roughly chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the center.
  2. To make the cake, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until it’s just starting to brown and caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes. As soon as it starts to smell nutty, whisk in the cocoa.
  3. Add the coconut oil and water and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Pour the warm cocoa mixture into the sifted ingredients and whisk until just combined.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the batter. Then pour the batter into a greased or parchment-paper-lined pan and place in the center of the oven.
  6. Bake until the top is firm and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. While the cake is in the oven, make the frosting and figs. Melt ½ cup of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time while whisking continuously.
  8. In another small pan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter with the 3 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. On a sheet tray or plate, pour the hot butter and sugar mixture over the halved figs. Set aside.
  9. Right after the cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over the hot cake and sprinkle with the candied ginger. Top with the figs.
  10. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.