A wintery night calls for comforting foods. For a recent family dinner I was looking for the perfect dessert for yet another cold night and I remembered my Gram’s Hot Fudge Pudding. My Grandma Rita would bring it over to my Mom’s in a blue covered dish and instruct my Mom to put it in the oven to keep it warm. I remember feeling the cold come off Gram as I would lean over to take the still-warm dish from her. This dessert was one that would have all of us even more eagerly anticipating dessert than usual.
I am not sure that I had ever made this recipe myself. Thankfully Gram had given me a copy written on an index card in her usual style (recipe title and preheat temperature in red at the top, the name of the recipe’s author at the bottom). One of the things that I love best about using her recipes is seeing her handwriting. She was kind enough to copy recipes for me if I asked. Sometimes she would mail them to me when I lived in DC if we had talked and I had missed out on a favorite or if she thought she had a good one to try for my book group. I treasure these recipe cards now because I can recreate her classics, but also because it feels like I am having a conversation with her as I make little adjustments or follow her recipe tips.
This is an easy recipe, but it has one step that is a bit out of the ordinary. After getting the batter and its topping in the baking dish, you pour hot water over the batter! This creates a sauce, but I will confess that if I didn’t trust my Gram’s recipe, I would have wondered if I was ruining my dessert. I remembered that sometimes it felt like the sauce for her hot fudge pudding needed a bit more body to it. I decided to add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder to the hot water step and we all agreed it worked nicely. (Rita would probably have approved as she often added a bit of leftover coffee to her chocolate frosting.) This recipe yields a crusty, cake-like layer floating on a warm, chocolate sauce. It had been a long time since any of us had tasted it, but I am sure that we will be making it again soon.
Hot Fudge Pudding
For layer 1:
- 1 cup AP flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp cocoa
- ½ cup milk
- 2 Tbsp Butter Flavor Crisco or other shortening
- ½ cup walnuts chopped, optional
For layer 2:
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp cocoa
For layer 3:
- 1¾ cup hot water
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Have a roughly 10 x 6 inch glass or ceramic pan ready.
- Whisk together dry ingredients for Layer 1.
- Stir in shortening (you may melt it if you prefer) and then milk, stirring until smooth.
- Add nuts if using and spread Layer 1 in a pan.
- Mix together brown sugar and cocoa for Layer 2. Then sprinkle mixture over Layer 1.
- Dissolve espresso powder in the hot water. Then pour over Layers 1 and 2.
- Bake 40-45 minutes. The top will have formed a crust, but the pudding will still jiggle when removed from the oven.
- Allow to cool slightly, but serve warm.
- To serve, scoop cake-like layer and then spoon sauce over it.
Notes Rita's recipe calls for shortening that has been melted. Though I do not generally use shortening, it seemed appropriate in this case. I used Butter Flavor Crisco, but did not melt it. It mixed in without issue for me, but you could choose to melt the Crisco first. Like most desserts, this tastes great with a bit of whipped cream on top.