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June 19, 2017This is about... Old Fashioned Fudgy CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE!
MY MOTHER WAS NOT MUCH OF A COOK. OK, suffice it to say she could barely boil water without burning the pot. But she could make a decent pudding cake—FROM A MIX. Because they were so easy to put together, we had a lot of these when I was growing up, always chocolate or lemon. Back then she used the PY-O-MY brand, alas, along with all the other brands, no longer available. I have a feeling, though, that my fond memory of them probably wouldn’t live up to my expectations anyway. Still, I’VE ALWAYS HAD A SOFT SPOT IN MY HEART FOR THEM. I even concocted a fudgy version for a PILLSBURY BAKE-OFF. I used their brownie mix to make what I called the “THICK AND FUDGY TRIPLE CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE.” Chosen as a finalist and flown out to San Francisco for the contest, The San Francisco Chronicle, and a lot of Pillsbury employees thought I was going to win, but I didn’t—came close though. And my recipe was on the back of a Pillsbury brownie mix box, which was a total WOW for me. Pudding cakes have been around for a long time, considered A “VINTAGE” DESSERT these days, but all the rage in Fannie Farmer’s and Betty Crocker’s day. My tattered Joy of Cooking even has a recipe, where they call it a sponge custard. IT’S MAGICAL TO MAKE. And from scratch, they’re almost as easy to whip up as a mix. You spread chocolate batter in the bottom of a pan, sprinkle some sugar and cocoa on top, pour a boiling liquid like coffee, or even hot water over it, wave a wand back and forth as it bakes (not really—but you could), and TA-DA, you end up with a creamy hot fudgy sauce covered in cake. Served warm or cold the next day, no matter, it’s a treat. This version doesn’t hold back on the chocolate. And, it’s always fun to dive a spoon into the dish to discover how much creamy pudding is there. To serve, I like to scatter a bunch of fresh raspberries on each serving with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. You can’t get much better than that. LESSONS Learned: 1. The unsweetened cocoa powder you choose will determine how chocolatey it becomes. Hershey’s will make it more mild than a Valrhona or Callebaut. In this recipe, I like Hershey’s. It’s a little less rich. 2. You could toss about ½ cup of toasted chopped walnuts or chocolate chips into the batter before you bake it too. 3. Vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream on the side is an absolute necessity!
Old Fashioned Fudgy CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
freshly whipped cream
Make the pudding cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Bring about 2 cups water to boiling.
Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the milk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cocoa powder. Evenly sprinkle that mixture over the batter. Stir the espresso powder into the boiling water. Slowly and evenly pour the boiling water over the top. Don’t stir! The liquid is supposed to sit on top of the batter.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center is set, and cool for 20 minutes. Spoon into dessert dishes and top with the fudgy sauce, from the bottom of the pan. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
Makes 6-8 servings.