I Tried “Texas Trash Cake” and I’m Never Making Chocolate Cake Another Way

Texas trash cake.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman Credit: Kiersten Hickman

If you haven’t noticed, Texans have an obsession with calling various food dishes “trash.” There’s Texas Trash Pie, Texas Trash Dip, and now as we’ve discovered, Texas Trash Cake. While it’s not as widely known as the pie, this cake is meant to be a clever take on the Texas classic for those who would much rather a slice of cake for dessert (me included). It’s still chocolatey and nutty, and just like the other “Texas Trash” recipes you see, it uses up a lot of ingredients you likely already have in your pantry and fridge.

Plus, this chocolate cake recipe is easy to make in a 13×9-inch pan, which I am a big fan of. No fussy layering or frosting techniques needed for this dessert: simply dump, bake, and pour on the frosting. Top with some nuts and it’s ready to serve.

But does it taste just as good as it sounds? I decided to put this recipe from the blog Sweet Pea’s Kitchen to the test and see if it lives up to the name, or if it tastes like…well, trash.

Get the recipe: Texas Trash Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

How to Make Texas Trash Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9-inch dish with cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper.

Sift 2 cups of flour, 1 3/4 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in a larger mixing bowl. Set aside.

Whisk 1/2 cup of buttermilk, 2 large eggs, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract in a bowl until combined. Set aside.

In a saucepan, whisk 1 cup of unsalted sweet cream butter (2 sticks), 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, and 1 cup of room temperature brewed coffee until everything is incorporated and smooth.

Slowly pour the chocolate/coffee mixture into the flour as you whisk. This step may be easier with a stand mixer on a low setting, if you have one.

Once incorporated, do the same for the buttermilk mixture. Whisk until the cake batter is evenly combined.

Pour the cake batter in the prepared pan. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, whisk together 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, 1/3 cup of whole milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, gradually add in 3 cups of powdered sugar, whisking constantly.

When all of the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is smooth, turn off the burner and fold in 2/3 cup of chopped pecans.

Pour the frosting over the cooled cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle another 2/3 cup of chopped pecans on top. Let the cake and frosting cool before slicing and serving.

Texas trash cake.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

There’s nothing trashy about this cake, at all. This cake is good. Really, really good.

First, it isn’t overly sweet, which I love. I’m not the biggest fan of desserts that leave your teeth aching, so I was pleasantly surprised by how balanced this cake is. The salty pecans on top satisfied my need for salty-sweet desserts. Also, I personally think every chocolate cake should be made with coffee. It adds a little extra oomph to each bite.

The texture of this cake is also surprising. It’s perfectly tender and moist, not dried out at all, and melts in your mouth with every bite. I enjoyed how the frosting was lighter; the texture reminded me more of a chocolate ganache. While a thick buttercream works for particular types of cakes, you want a lighter frosting with this cake because of its delicate nature.

Lastly, I love when I can make a cake in a 13×9-inch pan. Don’t get me wrong, the challenge of making a beautiful layer cake at home can feel exhilarating. But for someone like me, a layer cake is certainly a challenge, and I always end up with something a little lopsided and sad. Being able to pour the batter in one dish, then simply frost it and serve it…this kind of no-effort, no-nonsense dessert is definitely more my style.

Needless to say, I will absolutely be making this one again. I think it might be my new go-to!

Texas trash cake.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman Credit: Kiersten Hickman

3 Tips for Making Texas Trash Cake

  1. Use cake flour: This recipe doesn’t specify the type of flour to use, so I decided to use cake flour and I really do think it makes all the difference. Cake flour has a lighter texture compared to all-purpose, which helped with giving this cake that perfectly moist, spongy texture we desire with each bite. If you don’t have cake flour, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to all-purpose for a similar effect.

  2. Wait for the cake to cool before frosting: Because this frosting is already hot from whisking on the stove, pouring it over a hot cake will just cause it to seep right in. I recommend giving the cake at least an hour to cool before topping so you don’t have soppy, wet slices.

  3. Try melted chocolate for the frosting: While this frosting uses cocoa powder, I’m almost convinced that melting chocolate could give it a richer, fattier flavor. Try swapping out the cocoa powder with semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks. You may have to decrease the amount of butter and/or milk in the frosting since the chocolate already has some fat, depending on the consistency you’re looking for.

    Get the recipe: Texas Trash Buttermilk Chocolate Cake