What. The. Effff… is what I thought when I was putting together this cake batter. Never before had I stared down so confusedly at a cake pan, wondering how the batter in front of me was supposed to bake into a cake. And yet, magically it sure did. If I were naming this bastion of zero-remorse decadence, I’d call it Upside-Down Chocolate Pudding Brownie Cake. I don’t say this lightly– it is the purest expression of chocolate debauchery that I’ve made in a long, long time. (It’s hard to say “ever”, but it’s pretty up there…) And topped with ice cream… let’s just say #sorrynotsorry.
This cake is actually called Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake, and Baked Occasions celebrates National Chocolate Pudding Day by putting this in our faces. To which I say, FREAKING THANK YOU, guys. This is the very last cake from the book that Baked Sunday Mornings hadn’t made yet, and it’s a great one to end with. (The rest of our recipes are mostly holiday cookies, which are good too, but I feel like it’s been a while since we took a dive into something super chocolatey.)
As I alluded to above, this was no ordinary cake batter. The cake consists of two layers, which seemingly trade places in the oven, which I am fully aware sounds totally ludicrous. The bottom layer seems like it’s going to be the “cake” part; although there are three different mixtures to assemble, none are difficult. You first mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt), then the wet ingredients in a separate bowl (buttermilk, egg yolks, canola oil). For the third mixture, melt butter and chocolate together and add cocoa powder to form a dark cocoa paste, followed by brown sugar and vanilla.
You then add the wet ingredients to the chocolate/butter/cocoa mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Sounds like cake, right?! But then you kick down some chopped chocolate on top, followed by a thick covering of white and brown sugars mixed with cocoa powder, at which point I was like, “What is going on here??” (This layer looks a lot like a sweetened hot cocoa mix that you would buy in the store, where you can see sugar granules mixed into the cocoa powder.) And finally, you pour in the last element: boiling water mixed with instant espresso powder. So I’m looking at this cake pan with scalding chocolate water on top, utterly baffled. WUT.
I put the pan in the oven, leaving it in the hands of the Magical Baking Gods, and I was shocked to see it transforming before my eyes, with big patches of batter puffing up throughout the pan. When I took it out, I couldn’t believe it– it was, indeed, a cake.
Not only was it a cake; it was a cake that resembled Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream (one of my all-time faves) due to the irregular puffy patches, with dark chocolate and darker chocolate all swirled together. Now, the tricky part is flipping it over for serving. I happily discovered that the bottom of the cake was, in fact, a pudding layer, just like the book says. When I read the recipe intro, I was like, “What do you mean ‘invert the slices when serving so the pudding is on top’?!” I had envisioned a big pile o’ chocolate mess, which wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing, but not something I would describe as a “slice”. In reality, it was something in-between, with a brownie-like cake layer on the bottom and a thick, gooey pudding layer on top. I managed to wiggle out a piece, but it worked better after chilling the cake, and the slices re-heat easily.
The recipe suggests serving this cake with vanilla ice cream, and when I see that written, I generally take it as a “hell yes” imperative. I didn’t have any vanilla on hand, but I did have Ben & Jerry’s Milk & Cookies, another favorite, and it was a perfect combination. Really, I think any flavor that complements chocolate would go well here.
The only thing I might change next time is trying it with black cocoa powder. I was thisclose to giving it a whirl this time, but since the recipe seemed so uncertain, I decided to go with regular cocoa powder the first time around.
This is a terrific dessert when you’re feeding a small crowd, and pretty much any chocolate lover will go bonkers for it! I suppose you could even invert the whole thing onto a platter very carefully, though I didn’t try that. Anyway, go forth and celebrate National Chocolate Pudding Day with glee by reveling in this Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake— the recipe is located at Baked Sunday Mornings. Take a look at my fellow bakers’ cakes too! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.