Mmmmmmmmm, chocolate. That’s pretty much all I have to say for this recipe.
I’m pretty sure chocolate was my first love, and there are many things in this world that I would sacrifice for a Hershey bar. It’s difficult for me to decide the one food that I would take to have on a deserted island, but hot fudge pudding cake topped with vanilla ice cream may very well be my choice.
I actually changed this recipe a bit and found that I like it better than the way it is published. Instead of Dutch-processed cocoa (which I basically never have in my pantry), I used humble cocoa powder, and I added more brown sugar to the sugar-cocoa mixture which becomes the smooth layer of chocolate pudding beneath a decadent brownie; it’s a bit sweeter than the original recipe, a tad closer to milk chocolate than semisweet, but I prefer it, and I think you will too.
What this cake lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. I’m not sure I’d serve it at dinner party, but it’s great for a relatively simple dessert with family and close friends–keep it for people you like to make happy but who you aren’t really trying to impress.
This cake will probably last about a week, but the longest that it’s stayed in my house is four days.
Notes: I happen to have a package of Folgers Classic decaf instant coffee crystals in my house. The packets are 2 grams, less than the 2 teaspoons called for in the original recipe. I’ve made it with the original amount, and I found that it made the pudding a bit too bitter for my taste. If you prefer to cut the sweetness, use a full 2 teaspoons.
I know that I should use baking chocolate and not chocolate chips for recipes like this, but I don’t, and it always turns out fine. I’ll start to recommend baking chocolate when chocolate chips fail me.
I do not own an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. I don’t own one that’s 9 inches either. I own a 9 inch metal pan, but I don’t think that’d be good for this because you want to be able to see the pudding in the pan (it’s fun!). I do have a glass pie dish, though, so that’s what I use, and it works perfectly.
It may look like there are a lot of steps to this recipe. However, this is only because I illustrate the way to dirty the fewest dishes possible. This recipe requires more dishes than I generally like to use– I’ve cut down to the absolute fewest bowls you can use, and I do several steps at once in order to not dirty extra dishes. The explanations are below. (I originally ranked this at 5, but I decided to drop it to 4 because it really does use a lot of dishes.)
1-2 gram packet of instant coffee powder (about 1 ¼ teaspoons)
1 ½ cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
⅔ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup plus ¼ cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces (⅓ cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate, chopped
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk (I use 2%, the original recipe says whole. I think anything but skim is fine.)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1. Set your egg out to bring to room temperature. Lightly grease your glass or ceramic baking dish (note above). Stir instant coffee powder into water; make sure it is fully dissolved, and then set it aside.
2. I work on multiple things at the same time here so as to not dirty extra dishes and measuring spoons.
a. Measure ⅓ cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Measure remaining ⅔ cup granulated sugar in a medium bowl.
b. Add brown sugar to the small bowl (the one with ⅓ cup granulated sugar). Add ⅓ cup cocoa to the small bowl; combine all contents of this bowl (2 sugars and cocoa), breaking apart clumps with your fingers. It should look like sand.
c. Add ⅓ cup cocoa to a new small bowl along with butter and chocolate. Set into a saucepan filled with just enough water to touch the bottom of the bowl; heat on medium heat, melting butter, chocolate and cocoa together, stirring often and until smooth. Take bowl out of saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.
d. In the medium bowl with ⅔ cup granulated sugar, add and whisk milk, vanilla and salt until combined. Whisk in the egg yolk.
3. Add slightly cooled chocolate mixture to the medium bowl and whisk to combine. Sprinkle flour into this bowl, and sprinkle the baking powder over the flour. Attempting to touch only the flour, lightly whisk baking powder into the flour. Then, whisk flour into the chocolate batter until the batter is evenly moistened.
4. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and spread to the sides and corners. Sprinkle batter evenly with cocoa-sugar mixture from the remaining small bowl. Gently pour the coffee mixture over the cocoa-sugar mixture. Bake in a 325F oven for about 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. Be sure to start checking the cake at about 40 minutes. When the outer edges begin to pull away from the sides, the top looks a tad crackly and pudding is bubbling up in a few places, the cake is done. Cool cake in baking dish for about 30 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.