When the mood hits for a dark & decadent dessert, make a mini skillet Hot Fudge Pudding Cake. A chocolate brownie & hot fudge sauce combo, perfect for two!
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake for Valentine’s Day
A chocolate brownie. No, a warm chocolate brownie. Wait…a warm chocolate brownie with its own hot fudge sauce made right in the pan. For two. Yes, that’s it! That’s how to describe a Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, made in a mini 6-½ inch cast iron skillet.
Chocolate Cobbler, Chocolate Pudding Cake, Hot Fudge Brownie Cake…these are but some of the names people use for this dessert. Whatever you call it, you’ve got to try it!
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake uses basic ingredients
The great thing about making a Hot Fudge Pudding Cake is that it doesn’t take a lot of advance planning or fancy ingredients. Just combine everything and put the skillet in the oven about 30 minutes before dinner.
I love the deep flavors of dark chocolate, especially for a rich and decadent dessert like this one, so I use King Arthur Flour’s Double Dark Cocoa Powder. You can use regular or extra dark cocoa powder, either natural or Dutch-process, if you prefer.
The rest of the ingredients are pretty straightforward.
Can Hot Fudge Pudding Cake be gluten-free and/or vegan?
That's up to you. I haven't tried this recipe with a gluten-free flour mix. If you do try it, please let me know in the comments below.
For a vegan preparation, you can use a non-dairy milk and a butter substitute (like Earth Balance Buttery Spread) in the brownie batter if you wish.
How to make Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
The recipe for Hot Fudge Pudding Cake couldn’t be easier, and it’s divided into three parts:
Step 1: Make the brownie base
Step 2: Mix the dry topping ingredients and sprinkle it onto the base.
Step 3: Pour boiling water over everything, but don’t mix it in! That water is what turns the topping into a luscious hot fudge sauce that sinks to the bottom while everything bakes.
How does Hot Fudge Pudding Cake work?
You've got a dense layer of brownie batter on the bottom sprinkled with a sugary cocoa powder mixture, then topped with hot water. How do you end up with hot fudge sauce at the bottom under a brownie "crust"?
According to Seasoned Advice, the answer lies in the baking powder. As it bakes, the baking powder creates gas bubbles that makes the brownie batter less dense, so it floats on top of the liquid.
The thick batter doesn't absorb liquid that hasn't already been mixed in. Think about when you try to add water to gravy that's too thick...you end up with lumps if you're not careful. The same principle is at work here (that's why you don't want to mix in the hot water).
In addition, the cocoa powder in the topping repels liquid (it contains fat which doesn't mix well with liquid), so the water remains separated as it sinks to the bottom.
The liquid "does absorb some cocoa powder, sugar, as well as starch from the flour ... from the outer layer of the batter, which thickens it enough to form a sauce." But that's after the brownie batter has risen and started to solidify.
So much science in one mini skillet cake...I love it!
Why use a cast-iron skillet?
I saw the Biscuit and Burlap’s Iron Skillet Hot Fudge Pudding Cake recipe, and it made sense. Using a 10-¼ inch cast iron skillet keeps everything warm during dinner better than a 9- x 9-inch baking pan does, and the brownie has more of that crispy edge that’s so wonderful.
I’ve scaled the recipe down to fit in a 6-½ inch cast iron skillet. Why? Because I like smaller portions. Valentine’s Day dinner is usually for two, so there’s no need for a lot of leftovers from a full-sized recipe.
Plus, you can eat it directly from the skillet, no extra dishes required. Perfect!
If you’d like the full Hot Fudge Pudding Cake recipe, just double the ingredients and bake in a 10-¼ inch cast iron skillet or a 9- x 9-inch baking pan for 30-35 minutes.
This is the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to make and bakes just before dinner. Pull it out of the oven to cool slightly while you’re eating, and when you’re ready, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and grab two spoons.
So when the mood strikes for something dark and decadent, make this easy mini skillet Hot Fudge Pudding Cake for you and your sweetie!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Remember, even though these recipes use dark chocolate, you can generally substitute the chocolate type of your choice. Go ahead and use your favorites!
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Mini Skillet Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
For the base
For the top
- 2 Tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup water, hot
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 6½-inch cast iron skillet with canola oil spray. Line a quarter-sheet baking pan with foil to catch any drips.
- For the base: in a small bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together to remove any lumps. Add the baking powder, espresso powder (if using), and salt; whisk well.
- Add the milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Spread the batter into the prepared skillet, smoothing with a small offset spatula as you go.
- For the top: in a small bowl, sift the cocoa powder to remove lumps. Add in the sugar and brown sugar; whisk well. Sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the pan.
- Pour the hot water over everything, but don't mix it in...the water will create the hot fudge sauce without help from us. The water will come almost to the top of the skillet
- Place the skillet on the foil-lined baking pan, and put in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top brownie appears firm. Keep an eye on it towards the end of the baking time so it doesn't get too dark.
- Remove the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, grab a spoon with a friend, and enjoy!