Hot fudge pudding cake, for the uninitiated, is a cake that is very much a pudding in disguise. Essentially you create a cake batter and then pour a sweet, cocoa powder concoction over it, before placing it in the oven. While baking, the cake layer absorbs the topping a bit, but not completely, leaving you, after about 30 minutes or so, with a cakey-pudding for scooping into bowls and eating with melty vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients from the pantry

I love this recipe not only because it is delicious, but because you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now. As I write this, many of us (and hopefully all of us) are social distancing, and it has not been easy to find all of the ingredients we need when cooking and baking at the grocery store – not to mention the fact that many of us are trying to cut way back on how many times we actually go to the store…

But I am pretty confident you have the ingredients for this special cake at home (you can substitute milk for the cream and regular cocoa powder for the Dutch process – and use all granulated sugar if you don’t have light brown, or vice versa!). And if you don’t have them, but venture to the store to buy one or two, I am pretty confident you will find them there – and another good thing about this cake is that it does not call for eggs, as I know some folks have had trouble finding them.

So easy-peasy!

But besides this cake being so fab for these uncertain times, it is also my fave kind of sweet because it is of the simple, easy-peasy variety and I kind of like to think of myself as the queen of easy-peasy sweets…

The cake comes together so speedily – like we’re talking less than 5 minutes – and as long as you remembered to preheat your oven, you will literally be eating cake within 40 minutes of craving it, because it is not only suggested that you eat hot fudge pudding cake warm, it is basically required. And I don’t know about you, but eating something sweet and chocolate-y, straight from the oven, while isolating at home with my husband and kids, is just about the best way I know to lighten up the occasional gloomy day.

For the bottom layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the top layer:
5 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup hot water

And here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready an 8x8x2-inch square pan.

To make the bottom layer of the cake, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, light brown sugar and the granulated sugar and whisk to combine. Add the cream and vanilla, and whisk again. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, gently whisk to incorporate and transfer the batter to the pan.

To make the top layer, in a small bowl, whisk the light brown sugar, the cocoa powder, and the water. Pour this mixture over the batter in the pan, but do not not mix. Bake for about 35 minutes, rotating at the halfway point. The cake is done when it still looks pudding like around the edges, but dryer and more “cake-like” in the middle.

Serve warm with ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.

Jessie is a baker and cookbook author; you can learn more about her through her website