WHO: Tanisha Newsome, 33, of Tampa, kitchen supervisor at Casey's Cookies
WHAT: Texas Sheet Cake
ABOUT THE RECIPE: Moist chocolate cake topped with a sweet icing similar to chocolate fudge, Texas Sheet Cake is "like a piece of heaven in your mouth," Newsome said. She learned the recipe from her aunt, who always made the dessert for family gatherings. It was so popular that she would often make three cakes in one weekend — the family would devour the first cake and beg for more.
"The Texas Sheet Cake is one of my core cakes that I'm very, very proud of and will always love to make," she said.
Although she has loved to bake since she was 12 years old, Newsome didn't realize she wanted to do it professionally until a few years ago. She got her degree in pastry and baking at the Art Institute of Tampa. For her, baking is an "extension" of herself, a way to share love with friends and family.
"It's something that you have to put yourself into," she said. "People can tell if you enjoy making something because they can kind of taste it."
TIPS: When you melt the cocoa, milk and butter together, remove from the heat before the butter melts completely. Don't let it melt all the way. Let it finish melting in the pan, then add the sugar.
ON THE SIDE: Fresh strawberries or kiwis to balance out the sweetness of the cake.
CAN'T BAKE WITHOUT: Her KitchenAid. "I take it everywhere," she said. "You touch it, you die." She laughed.
WHAT RECIPES DO YOU WANT TO DO NEXT? "What I don't want to do is a shorter list," she said, laughing. She can't decide which she wants to try first. There are so many options. Cakes. Truffles. Breads. Cookies.
HER DREAM BAKERY WOULD BE: A welcoming place where people "can be themselves" over a cup of coffee and a truffle. It would be "someplace safe for those with disabilities to come in and try their hand at baking bread or making some truffles if they wanted to," she added. "I've always wanted someplace safe for them to go ... where they're not shunned by the community but have a sense of welcome and purpose."
Emily Young, Times correspondent
Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.