Whenever I taste each recipe I make, I always think about what I will write in my introduction for that recipe.  After the first bite of this “cake”, my first thought was, “Holy moley! You guys have got to try this stuff… It’s aaaamazing!” I’ll be totally honest: I wanted to leave it at that… It’s just that good.  Instead, I’ll tell you that is is a modification of a dessert my great-grandma called “cottage pudding” which she made often for my dad and aunt, and that my aunt made for us on special occasions. Because Aunt Mary lives in Texas, and we in the Ozarks, it was a treat we rarely got, but one we all coveted. It’s been years since she made it, so, when I asked Aunt M. about it for my cookbook, she was able to give me the basic ingredients and process, but nothing like a formal written recipe, so I planned to do a little experimenting (when I had the time) until I got it right.  Enter social media.  A friend posted a picture of her “hot-fudge pudding cake” and it looked incredibly similar to the decadent dish I remember from my childhood.  I got the recipe, and, though the process seemed a little odd, I threw it together in just a few minutes, and anxiously awaited the result. And—it bears repeating—holy moley, it was amazing! The top is crisp, almost crunchy from brûléed sugar, the bottom is an ooey-gooey chocolate sauce, and in between is a soft spongey cake.  I couldn’t get a picture that portrays just how fantastic it is, but I guarantee—whether you call it cottage pudding, hot-fudge pudding cake, or Shirley—you’re gonna love it.  Served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s one of the best darn things I’ve ever had.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 c. sugar, divided

1/2 c. cocoa powder, divided

1 c. all-purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. milk, room-temperature

4 T. butter, melted and cooled

2 t. vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk, room-temperature

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1 c. boiling water

First, preheat the oven to 350° and spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Take 1/4 c. of the cocoa and 1/2 c. of the sugar, mix them together with a fork in a small bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the remaining cocoa and sugar with the flour, baking powder, and salt. Next, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, vanilla, and butter and then stir it into the dry ingredients.  Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips and combine. The batter will be like a thick brownie-batter.

Use a rubber spatula to pour the batter into your pan and spread it into the corners. Sprinkle the reserved cocoa and sugar evenly over the top and then carefully pour the boiling water over the top.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is crisp and a toothpick inserted into the cake part comes out mostly clean.

It’s best to let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream or a dollop whipped cream or crème fraîche and enjoy!

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