- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The holidays are upon us, your schedule is getting busier, and let’s face it, the window of time you have in which to cook is getting smaller.

What to bring to the holiday potluck party at the office or in your neighborhood? This crowd-pleasing German chocolate sheet cake, of course.

I once said this recipe was worth the price of my chocolate cookbook. I remember when I tested recipes for that book, and this was the cake that had my finicky family lining up for seconds.

Flecks of German chocolate are baked into a German chocolate batter enriched with sour cream; best of all, the cake bakes and stays in the same pan. This makes travel to the party a breeze.

Did I mention the from-scratch rocky road frosting with peanuts and marshmallows? If you don’t have miniature marshmallows for the frosting, but you do have larger marshmallows, snip the marshmallows into half-inch pieces with clean kitchen scissors.

Five time-shaving appetizers to bring to a holiday party

• Queso dip. Use the recipe on the Velveeta cheese box. A package of cheese melted in the microwave with a can of Rotel tomatoes. Place in a small crockpot or a fondue pot and surround with tortilla chips.

• Vegetable platter with an interesting dip. Try blending prepared pesto into light mayonnaise, adding chopped fresh cucumbers and dill to plain yogurt, or using a bottled peanut dressing.

• Wrap refrigerated corn-bread twist dough around mini hot dogs and bake until the crust browns. Serve a spicy mustard for dipping.

• Order sushi from your favorite Japanese restaurant or the supermarket, then place on a long white platter and fill the gaps with long spears of fresh cucumber, slices of radish and slices of red bell pepper.

• Wrap prosciutto around slices of fresh fruit — apples, pears or melon — and secure with toothpicks.

German chocolate sheet cake with rocky road frosting

The preparation time is 10 minutes, the baking time is 35 to 38 minutes, the frosting time is 10 minutes, and the resting time is 20 minutes.

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan

2 ounces German chocolate

1 package 18.25 ounces plain German chocolate cake mix

1 cup sour cream

1 cup water

cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 13-by-9-inch pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

Break the chocolate in half. Turn on a food processor and drop the chocolate through the feed tube, one piece at a time. Process until finely grated.

Place the cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, eggs, vanilla and grated chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again, if needed. The batter should look well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 35 to 38 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the rocky road frosting.

While the frosting is still warm, spread it over the cake in the pan. Let the cake rest another 20 minutes before slicing.

Store this cake, covered with aluminum foil, at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving. Makes 16 to 20 servings.


1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

3/4 cup miniature marshmallows

Place the sugar, butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil, 3 to 4 minutes. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate chips, and stir until they are melted.

Let the pan rest off the heat to cool slightly but not completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in the peanuts and marshmallows until they are well combined and the heat from the frosting begins to melt the marshmallows.

Turn the frosting out onto a cooled sheet cake, then spread evenly with a spatula until the frosting covers the entire cake. Makes 1 cups.

To share favorite cooking tips, ask questions and access Anne Byrn’s free online newsletter, go to www.cakemixdoctor.com.


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