I went down to Savannah and St. Simon’s last weekend for my friends’ wedding. While there on St. Simon’s, I went to dinner with some friends at a place called Barbara Jeans. And when I say I met up with friends for dinner, I mean that I was super late and rushed into the place as they were all getting their food and I stole half of a crab cake. Yeah. As we were finishing up, Jennifer asked the server for a serving of “Chocolate Mess” to go. Intrigued, I inquired about this “chocolate mess” and Jennifer assured me that it was pretty much the best thing ever. And then, when the server set down two Styrofoam cups, one filled with whipped cream and the other with a gooey chocolate dessert, Jennifer decided that we didn’t really need to wait to enjoy the warm mess of chocolate, so we all dug in. While rich and chocolatey, it was also light and fluffy and divine with the whipped cream.
I meant to go back to the restaurant and ask about how the dessert was made before I left the island. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and I found myself on the phone with my brother, brainstorming how to replicate it. “It was kind of like loose, wet chocolate cake,” I explained, “maybe with some kind of chocolate syrup stirred in.”
“It sounds like one of those chocolate cakes where you pour the hot water over the cake before cooking,” he advised. “Go Google ‘chocolate pudding cake hot water.’”
As it turns out, the concept of the pudding cake has been around for quite a while because everyone except for me seems to know about it. I just assumed when people spoke about pudding cakes they were referring to cakes made with boxed pudding mix. My mistake. The pudding cake, sometimes also referred to as the “self-saucing cake,” is made by spreading a layer of chocolate cake batter in the bottom of a baking dish, followed by a layer of sugar and cocoa powder, all of which is then topped with a bunch of water. As the cake bakes, magic (science) happens and the cake rises up through the liquid and a fabulous pool of pudding-ish chocolate sauce forms in the bottom of the pan.
You let the dish cool for a few minutes before spooning some of that awesomeness into a bowl and topping it with some homemade whipped cream. Or, you could just eat it out of the pan. I, of course, would know nothing about that sort of thing. I do, however, highly recommend kind of smooshing the sauce and the cake together before eating it. Trust me. Good stuff.
Oh, and you know how I said you top off the dish with hot water before baking? I replaced half a cup of the water with Kahlua. Cause why not?
- 1 C All Purpose Flour
- ¾ C Granulated Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ C Whole Milk
- 1 Egg, large
- 1½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- ¼ C Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled slightly
- ½ C Granulated Sugar
- ½ C Brown Sugar
- ¼ C Cocoa Powder
- 1 C Hot Water
- ½ C Kahlua
- Homemade Whipped Cream, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Whisk or sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla.
- Stir the wet mixture into the dry and then stir in the butter as well until the batter is smooth.
- Spread the cake batter evenly in the bottom of a 9x9" square baking pan.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the topping granulated sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the cake batter.
- Combine the hot water and Kahlua and then pour them evenly over the topping.
- Place the baking pan in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake has emerged from the liquid and is firm to the touch an the edges have just pulled away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving topped with fresh whipped cream.
If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy the following recipes on Peaches, Please and elsewhere:
Homemade Ding Dongs on Peaches Please
Minty Brownies on Peaches Please
Sticky Toffee Pudding on Peaches Please
A healthier version of a Chocolate Pudding Cake on Chocolate Covered Katie
Salted Caramel Pudding Cake on Serious Eats. Cause, come on, salted caramel is awesome.
Chocolate Pudding Cake on The Creekside Cook. Because it uses buttermilk, which is the nectar of the gods.