Why do we equate chocolate with affection? And Valentines Day?
Who cares? Not me, that is for sure. I never have a struggle finding reasons to have chocolate in any case, but an actual chocolate-sanctioned holiday? I’m there. I can completely buy that chocolate means love, and if we are going to celebrate love, chocolate is the best way to do it.
The trouble is, my own object of affection isn’t very fond of chocolate in large amounts. He hid this from me until after we were married, which I think is almost grounds for divorce. “Not like chocolate? Nobody doesn’t like chocolate! That is crazy!” He likes bits of chocolate in things, like chocolate chip cookies, but really, he’d rather have something like my Bourbon Pecan Pie. Oh well – we have been married for 37 years, so I guess I can deal with it, but still…
… then there is this Chocolate Pudding Cake. It is decadently, intensely, incredibly chocolatey. Gooey and creamy and rich. In other words, wonderful. And, despite the intensity of the chocolate, for some reason, Mr. “I’m not that crazy about chocolate.” loves it. So, you know it has to be utterly irresistible, right? I think it’s the silky smooth pudding part, or maybe the rich crackly-on-top cake part. Or, dude – maybe it’s the chocolate, eh?
I found the original recipe in James Beard’s American Cookery, one of my favorite cookbooks. But – I thought the recipe could be better. Richer, with more of the pudding and a more flavorful cake. I have fooled with it quite a lot over the years, and this version is the result. It is just as easy as the original, but I think even Mr Beard would approve of mine.
- 4 tablespoons soft butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour
- 1 & ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup baking cocoa
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup baking cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ c half and half
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Generously butter an 8 x 8inch baking dish [or other 2 quart baking dish].
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Beat in the egg.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup baking cocoa.
- Mix the vanilla into the buttermilk.
- Add the dry mixture and buttermilk alternately, mixing well after each addition.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish.
- In the same small as you used for the dry ingredients, blend together the ½ cup white sugar, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup baking cocoa and ¼ teaspoon salt, until the mixture is of a uniform texture.
- Sprinkle that mixture over the batter in the pan.
- Mix the water and half & half together and heat nearly to boiling.
- Pour the hot water mixture over the surface of the cake, taking not to stay in any one spot for too long - you don't want to dislodge the layers. It's ok if you end up with some dry spots on the top - baking will take care of that.
- Carefully place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, turning the dish about half way through. The top should dry and there should be bubbling all around the edges - if not, return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Set the dish on a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. I think it tastes best after about 20 minutes or so.
- Top servings with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream of maybe a dollop of Creme Fraiche.
- Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.
And if I can’t exactly say this cake is the key to Larry’s heart, it is definitely the key to mine!
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