This spicy hot fudge pudding cake is a magical combination of Mexican hot chocolate, hot fudge, chocolate pudding, and chocolate cake all rolled into one decadent treat. Add to that the fact that you only need one mixing bowl and one baking dish, and you’ve got yourself a winning dessert.
Some people call pudding cakes “chocolate cobblers” or “self-saucing” cakes, but I just call them friggin’ deeeelish and pretty magical.
After quickly assembling and scraping a simple spiced chocolate cake batter into a pan, a warm chocolate concoction is poured over it and the whole shebang is baked until the bottom turns to hot fudge sauce and the top to a rich, steamed chocolate cake.
As the cake rests post bake, the hot fudge layer thickens into pudding and then the fun really begins, as each serving is both cake plus chocolate sauce—and with a drizzle of cream or a scoop of ice cream, there’s no question you’ll be living your best and scrummiest (as the Brits say) snackable-bake life.
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Spicy Hot Fudge Pudding Cake FAQs
What is Dutch-processed cocoa?
We’re glad you asked. Dutch-process cocoa is a smoother and less acidic cocoa powder that’s dark in color, more mellow in taste, and dissolves more easily in liquids than natural cocoa powder. Need more info? Check out What’s the Difference Between Natural and Dutch Process Cocoa Powder?
Can I make this cake without the additional spices?
You can, but we don’t recommend it. While omitting the cayenne, cinnamon, and espresso powder won’t change the way the cake bakes up, or the gooey factor once it’s done, we feel like it’s just not the same without them. If you’re spiciness-averse, you can use about half the amount of cayenne called for, or just leave it out altogether.
Spicy Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
For the chocolate cake layer
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- A rounded 1/4 teaspoon chile powder such as cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the chocolate fudge layer
- 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups very hot tap water
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)
- 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips for sprinkling
- A drizzle of heavy cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
Make the chocolate cake layer
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Have ready an 8-inch (20-cm) square cake pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk in the milk. Sprinkle the cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, chile powder, and salt into the bowl, one at a time, vigorously whisking after each.
- Fold in the flour with a flexible spatula just until the last streak disappears. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Make the chocolate fudge layer
- Using the same bowl (no need to clean it), whisk together the cocoa powder, brown sugar, water, and espresso powder, if using.
- Pour the chocolate fudge mixture over the batter in the pan, but do not mix them together. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
- Bake, rotating once partway through baking, until the cake still looks slightly soft and underbaked in the middle, but drier and cakelike around the edges, and when you shimmy the pan on the oven rack (with a potholder-clad hand!), the middle of the cake jiggles, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven. Let rest at least 15 minutes if you want a fudgy, sauce-like bottom layer, and 30 minutes for a more pudding-like experience. (Both are spectacular, FYI.)
- Serve warm, straight from the pan with a drizzle of heavy cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To keep the cake, wrap and leave on the counter, for up to 3 days.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
It was love at first bite for me with this hot chocolate pudding cake. The deep, dark chocolate flavor of the Dutch-process cocoa pairs beautifully with the spicy, earthy chile powder (I used a mix of Urfa biber and cayenne) and the warm, toasty cinnamon. It has all the sultry goo of a molten chocolate cake, but with a lovely, lingering tingle thanks to the spices.
I’ve waxed sensuous about this cake, but it’s also a practical love match: It takes 15 minutes to throw together and only requires a bowl, a whisk, a spatula, and a pan. Any recipe that tells me I can use the same bowl for two purposes without washing it in between has earned my devotion.
This will now be my go-to “throw it together” cake for parties and potlucks. It’s dead easy, but impressive. I can’t believe I now know how to make a “self-saucing” cake!
A note on the sauce/topping: It will look way too watery when you pour it on, and you’ll worry you did something wrong. Trust the process and enjoy the chocolate ooze after its oven metamorphosis.
OK WOW! This chocolate pudding cake is divine! This dessert is rustic looking, but don’t be fooled. I was eating this pure chocolate bliss from the pan!
First off, it may be the easiest chocolate dessert I’ve ever made and I cannot express enough how appreciative I am that I only got one bowl dirty! It came together really fast, and the timing and instructions were bang on! Not to mention this recipe is literally magic – pour boiling water over top the cake batter and it turns into a chocolate cake with chocolate sauce!? OMG YES, it’s true!
I tried it while it was still hot and the chocolate sauce was runny – divine! I tried it an hour later when the chocolate sauce began firming up into a pudding like texture – divine! All this to say, make this dessert! (One small tip – you may want to leave out the chile pepper if you’re making this for kids, but adults will LOVE IT!!)
Yummm! This hot fudge pudding cake tastes very much like Mexican hot chocolate! I was very surprised!
I wasn’t sure what kind of pudding the title was referring to, meaning is it more American or British pudding? And after 30 minutes I got my answer. This cake tastes like a straight-up pudding cup! I was so surprised! The consistency is more like pudding than cake, it’s sort of already melted before it goes in your mouth.
The saucy consistency is every cake batter enthusiast’s dream. It’s like licking the whisk after mixing a cake. Every type of bite this cake has to offer is delightful. This is a treat I will make often when duty calls!
This hot fudge pudding cake recipe was a nostalgia knock-out for me. The directions are dead simple and the recipe came together in 10 minutes. The cinnamon and chile flavors were nicely balanced, where you get them in every bite but don’t in any way find them overwhelming. Just when you think maybe you’d want a bit more chocolate you’d get a molten chocolate chip and all was right in the world.
I’m baking in a kitchen that’s not my own and a 9- by 9-inch ceramic square baking dish is what we used. When cooked for 30 minutes and rested 15, it was in the pudding stage, rather than saucy, but still delicious. Rest assured if this is the only size dish you have, you can still make it and love it, just expect significantly less sauce at 15 minutes of cooling.
We served with vanilla ice cream and between 3 of us managed to eat half of it in one sitting. It’s that good. Also worth noting it will look a little curdled when you whisk in the milk. This is normal and it will bake fine.
For years, my go-to for pudding cake was the one found on the Hershey Chocolate website. This one is very similar except for the addition of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, and the option of adding espresso powder.
I truly wasn’t certain whether the recipe would turn out or not; the cake batter seemed to be excessively thick, and even the addition of the brown sugar/cocoa/hot water mixture over top of the cake batter didn’t sit well with me. My fears were unfounded, as the cake turned out perfectly for me, and reminded me of the chocolate pudding cakes I’d made over the years.
My wife was not fond of the cayenne pepper, and to be honest, you could leave it out if people object. This COULD have been ONE serving, it’s that good!
If you’re a chocolate lover, this chocolate fudge dessert is high on the Richter scale of molten lava cake, which enjoys surges of popularity … and rightly so. This is easy to prepare. With all ingredients at hand, It took 15 minutes to assemble, and the timing of 30 minutes in the oven seemed spot on.
I used Ghirardelli’s Dutch process cocoa and added espresso powder since coffee really accentuates the chocolate and cuts the sweetness a bit. The cinnamon and cayenne pepper were sensational additions and I wouldn’t make this without them.
And by the way, it was just as good, slightly warmed in the microwave, (topped with Talenti Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream), as it was the day before, fresh out of the oven. Had an ice cold milk chaser with this too which was the perfect ending to this stellar chocolate dessert.
My husband introduced me to pudding cakes. He had a childhood favorite that was in his parent’s copy of Joy of Cooking (1950’s) that he was sorely disappointed to find did not exist in the version of Joy (1970’s) that we received as a gift. We have made that recipe many times over the years and we love it, but this version sounded way too good to pass up!
It did not disappoint with its gooey, fudgy pudding layer and a wonderful underlying warmth from the cayenne. For our tastes, the cayenne came through in flavor as well, so I would cut it back to 1/8 teaspoon next time. I’m glad to have another version of pudding cake to add to our list of favorite desserts.
A big ‘hurrah!’ and yes indeed as described: “friggin’ deeeelish and pretty magical.” I loved my grandmother’s lemon pudding cake as a child, and was delighted to try this version with chocolate, cinnamon and spice (definitely suggest using the espresso powder).
There is much to admire about this hot fudge pudding cake: one bowl, less than 20 minutes between assembly of the ingredients to cake being in the oven, easy-to-follow instructions, and plenty to share.
I asked my Taste Test Team to taste while warm (about 30 minutes out of the oven) and again the next day. “10 out of 10 flavor profile!” “Wonderful both ways but especially warm.” “Rich, decadent, gooey and not too sweet.”
Baked the cake for exactly 30 minutes (switched pan at 15). The cake looked a bit goopy when I took it out of the oven, but the edges were set, so I let it cool 30 minutes and the cake part was set with a yummy chocolate sauce layer below.
We ate the cake just as it was, perfect chocolate-y-ness. And, yes, adding vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream would be great, too.
Originally published June 21, 2022