I’d love to sit here and tell you that this cake is gorgeous, but it isn’t. The genre is called “mud cake.” I’ve run across a West Virginia Mud Cake and a Mississippi Mud Cake and several non-geographically correlated versions, and all of them are WONDERFUL. But, friends, they aren’t pretty. I tried a version of this out of the pan, thinking I could coax it into some lovely form, and was rewarded instead with a mud slide. This is in the pan because that is where it belongs, where it needs to be. The pooling icing and marshmallow stays with its cake that way. Yes, there is pooling icing.
This big boy is a relative of my beloved Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake. And just for kicks, I put it on a scale and it weighs a whopping six pounds. This behemoth is not for the faint of heart, the unhealthy of heart, or the calorie conscious. This cake is pretty much wrong.
Which is probably why I like it so much.
This is one of those wonderful recipes that can be mixed all in one saucepan. The marshmallow fluff (which I consider gross unless I’m the one using it) sits on the warm cake until it is spreadable. The hot icing is poured over the warm cake and fluff. I swear I made the swirly things on top just because my cake was so homely looking. You may swirl, you may let it go au natural, or you can gussy it up with more pecans. Believe me, once you have had your first bite, you will love it just like you do your ugly aunt. I’m kidding. All my aunts are stunners by the way…in case there is any confusion. The cake, not so much.
Buy milk. You will need a big frosty glass with this.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
½ cup butter
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup milk
1 pound, plus approximately 1-½ cups, confectioner’s sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set it aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the cocoa. Stir the cocoa into the melted butter with a whisk until it is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and add the two sugars. Stir until well combined. It will have a very sandy texture. Add the eggs and stir them into the mixture. Likewise, add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture, and stir until it is just combined. Fold in the coconut and nuts.
Pour the batter into a greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake the cake for 18 minutes and then test it for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake. If is wet, continue to cook for an additional two minutes and test again.
As soon as the toothpick comes out clean or merely crumb-y, remove the cake from the oven.
Allow the cake to cool for five minutes. Then, scoop the marshmallow fluff onto the cake. Let it sit for about five minutes before attempting to spread it. The heat from the cake will soften the fluff and make it spreadable. If you spread it earlier, you will risk tearing the top of the cake.
Meanwhile, make the icing. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the cocoa and whisk it until it is smooth. Whisk in the milk. Add one pound of confectioner’s sugar and whisk it until smooth. Add more confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time, until the icing is thickened, but of a pourable consistency.
Spread the marshmallow fluff to the edges of the cake. Pour the icing around the edges and top of the marshmallow. You may simply cover up the marshmallow, or make decorative swirls in the marshmallow and icing with a fork.