Friends, I love any recipe that includes dates. In loaves and cakes and cookies, dates add sweetness and caramel flavour. They really are natures perfect candy. I’m always happy when I have date pieces in the bottom of my morning smoothie, because it’s like a little sweet treat left behind! A date square? Don’t even get me started. And a date cake? Life is so so good. This Queen Elizabeth Sheet Cake is right at the top of my list of favourite things. It’s incredibly moist, and has just the perfect amount of sweetness, but it also has a nutty coconut top layer that is seriously alright.
I first had this cake many years ago at a friend’s house. I’d never heard of such a thing, and truth be told, I thought, it was kind of ugly. But friends, one bite changed this mind and I quickly set out to calculate a recipe for sheet pan size. I let the staff at work decide whether this sheet pan-sized cake was worth all of the oohs and aahs I had been giving it. I left two pans on the staff room table, and no note otherwise (although they usually have a good idea that its me). I’m not even kidding when I say, I had people chasing me down for the rest of that week begging for the recipe. It really is the perfect ratio of date cake and broiled nutty topping. That’s 24 whole servings of awesomeness, perfect for any buffet or holiday table.
Want to know my secret ingredient? I soak the dates in hot coffee. I know that dates are usually rehydrated in water, but I really can’t say enough, that for date cakes and date squares and such, try coffee. Trust me when I say that only the date flavour is enhanced and there truly is no taste of coffee at all. I’m also a big fan of using Medjool dates too. They are slightly sweeter and deliciously sticky and wonderful in baked goods.
I don’t think this cake is ugly at all anymore. In fact, its probably one of my go-to recipes for company and I think this moist and delicious dessert deserves it’s place in royalty!
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- For The Cake:
- 1½ cups Medjool dates, chopped
- 1½ cups hot coffee
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2¼ cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1¼ tsp baking soda
- For the Topping:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1½ cups coconut
- ¾ cup butter
- ½ cup cream
- 1½ cups chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 12 x 18 sheet pan with cooking spray and .with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl add the dates and coffee; set aside.
- In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs and beat well.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Pour in the date and coffee mixture and stir well.
- Pour batter into the sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted comes out clean. During the last 5 minutes of baking time, prepare the topping.
- Prepare the topping by combining the brown sugar, coconut, butter and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add the walnuts and stir well.
- Spread the topping over the warm cake. Broil on high for approximately 3-4 minutes, until the topping is bubbly and the coconut is slightly brown. Allow the cake to cool before serving.