This chocolate sheet cake requires that you use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. What exactly is that? A process called Dutching, which was invented in the 19th century by a Dutch chemist and chocolatier named Coenraad Van Houten, raises cocoa powder’s pH level, which gives the cocoa a fuller flavor and deeper color. Dutch-processed cocoa (sometimes called “alkalized” or “European- style” cocoa) is the best choice for most baked goods. Using a natural (or “unalkalized”) cocoa powder results in a drier cake. Follow this recipe with your kids.
CHOCOLATE SHEET CAKE
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Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes (Inactive time: 1 hour, plus cooling time)
Vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all- purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2?3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
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1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Milk Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)
Gather Cooking Equipment:
13-by-9-inch metal baking pan
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Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 F. Spray bottom and sides of 13-by-9- inch metal baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
In medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.
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In large saucepan, combine chocolate chips, milk, and cocoa. Place saucepan over low heat and cook, whisking often, until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Turn off heat. Slide saucepan to cool burner and let mixture cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Add oil, eggs, and vanilla to saucepan with chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth, making sure to scrape corners of saucepan.
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Use rubber spatula to scrape batter into greased baking pan and smooth top (ask an adult for help because saucepan will be heavy).
Place baking pan in oven. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
Use oven mitts to remove baking pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking pan on cooling rack and let cake cool completely in pan, about 2 hours.
Use icing spatula to spread frosting evenly over cooled cake (see photo, right). Cut cake into pieces and serve.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.