When the mood hits for a dark and decadent dessert, make a Hot Fudge Pudding Cake in a cast iron skillet. A chocolate brownie that makes its own hot fudge sauce, this mini skillet brownie pudding cake is perfect for Valentines Day and Date Night!
Why this recipe works
- An easy skillet brownie recipe that makes its own hot fudge sauce
- Rich, decadent, and perfectly sized for two
- Can be scaled up for more servings
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 6½-inch cast iron skillet.
Brownie Pudding Cake, 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!
What you need
The great thing about making this mini skillet dessert is that it doesn’t take a lot of advance planning or fancy ingredients.
I love the deep flavor of dark chocolate, especially for a rich and decadent dessert like this one, so I use dark chocolate cocoa powder in both the brownie batter and the topping. You can use regular cocoa powder, either natural or Dutch-process, if you prefer. Also, espresso powder deepens the flavor of the chocolate. It's optional, but recommended.
The rest of the ingredients are common baking staples: flour, sugar, butter, milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt.
The key for the topping ingredients is the hot water. That's what makes the brown sugar, sugar, and cocoa powder turn magically into a hot fudge sauce!
How to make Brownie Pudding Cake
This recipe couldn’t be easier. Just combine everything and put the skillet in the oven about 30 minutes before dinner. It'll be done and cooled when you're ready for it.
Step 1: Make the brownie base
Sift the flour and cocoa powder together to remove any lumps. Whisk in the baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture (photo 1).
Step 2: Transfer brownie base to skillet
Spread the batter into the skillet, smoothing the top with a small offset spatula (photo 2).
Step 3: Make the hot fudge topping
Sift the cocoa powder to remove lumps. Whisk in the sugar and brown sugar. Sprinkle the cocoa mixture over the batter in the pan (photo 3).
Step 4: Add the hot water
Pour the hot water over everything, but don’t mix it in (photo 4)! That water is what turns the topping into a luscious hot fudge sauce that sinks to the bottom while everything bakes.
Step 5: Bake the cake
Place the skillet on the foil-lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake top appears firm (photo 5). Check after 20 minutes to make sure it doesn't get too dark.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
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"?
In a word, science.
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!
Using a 10¼-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 6½-inch cast iron skillet. Why? Because I like smaller portions. Valentine’s Day dinner or Date night 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 10¼-inch cast iron skillet or a 9- x 9-inch baking pan for 30 to 35 minutes.
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 in the brownie batter if you wish.
Delicious dessert for two coming right up
This brownie pudding cake is so 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.
When the mood strikes for something dark and decadent, make this easy mini skillet Hot Fudge Pudding Cake for you and your someone special!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
There are many ways to enjoy a smaller version of a treat if you're looking for portion control. Here are some ideas that have been scaled down for small servings, and I have many more. Have a go!
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Mini Skillet Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
For the brownie base
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder, see Recipe Notes
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- pinch kosher salt
- ¼ cup milk, see Recipe Notes
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, see Recipe Notes
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 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.
- Make the brownie base: In a small bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together to remove any lumps. Whisk in the baking powder, espresso powder (if using), and salt.
- Stir in the milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture.
- Spread the batter into the prepared skillet, smoothing the top with a small offset spatula.
- Make the hot fudge topping: In a small bowl, sift the cocoa powder to remove lumps. Whisk in the sugar and brown sugar. Sprinkle the cocoa mixture over the batter in the pan.
- Pour the hot water over everything (it will come almost to the top of the skillet). Don't mix the water in! It's what creates the hot fudge sauce as the cake bakes.
- Place the skillet on the foil-lined baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake top appears firm. Check after 20 minutes to make sure it doesn't get too dark.
- Remove the skillet 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!