Grab a Spoon: This Brownie Pudding / Giant Lava Cake Awaits

March  8, 2018

Traditionally, magicians don’t reveal their tricks, but, lucky for you, I’m not an actual sorcerer. (I just practice the dark chocolate arts from time to time.) Recently, I concocted a mysterious but incredibly delicious cake recipe that's sure to defy what you think you know about baking. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, gather around for the most magical bake! You'll have to taste it to believe it.

Cake, reveal your secrets! Photo by Rocky Luten

The recipe starts out like all good magic tricks do, very simply. A silky chocolate cake batter is poured into a pan. Then, you top it with a concoction of brown sugar and cocoa powder. Strange? It gets even more mysterious. Next, you drown the top of the cake with hot water straight from the cauldron (or just regular hot tap water works fine), say a spell (this is optional, but I recommend it), wave your magic wand (or rubber spatula), pop the cake into the oven for twenty minutes, and bippidty boopity boo.

What comes out of the oven looks like a perfectly baked chocolate cake, but there’s a shocking surprise underneath. A hot, bubbly, molten layer of chocolate fudge. Is there an explanation for this? I'm sure. But, like most magic tricks, it’s probably more fun not to know.

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, NYT Cooking and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.


Mahoney S. April 12, 2019
Goodness everyone just has to be right. Who cares? Just enjoy it and get over yourselves.
Andrea H. April 11, 2019
Indeed, this is an early 20th century, eggless, “pudding cake” recipe. The caramel or maple version is also delicious, known in Quebec as “Pouding Chômeur”.
Tammie P. April 8, 2019
My mother used to make this all the time when I was a kid, and that was a looking time ago. We called it chocolate pudding cake, and Mom would serve it very warm from the oven. Flipped over in the bowl so the pudding was on top, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over the top. It was a special treat every single time.
Cherie March 27, 2018
Because I was notified of the recent comments I just have to say that I have made this twice since it was posted. Once in my old fave butterscotch and the second time chocolate with coffee. I don’t care who invented it. It’s been languishing in my memory for too long.
Steven March 27, 2018
Shame on him?? I've been cookin for 25 years, have a formal culinary education, worked in dozens of restaurants, and I've never seen lava cake on a large scale like this. Idk if he acts like he invented it or not, I owe him gratitude for introducing it to ME.
Rita March 28, 2018
Well bless your heart. Would you be so generous if he claimed originality of a recipe of yours? Instead of saying something so patently false, he could have said he tweaked it or something similar. After all, it is the ethical thing to do
Steven March 27, 2018
Hey, I've been cooking from scratch for about 25 years now, have a formal education in culinary arts, worked in countless restaurants, and have never seen something close to a lava cake on a large scale like this. Maybe it's regional, apparently the author d idnt invent it, but nothing is new anymore. So I don't care if he stridently acts like he invented it personally, thank you for introducing it to ME. Thank you.
suzanne_hamlin March 19, 2018
Shame on you, Grant Melton, for implying that The Molten Chocolate Cake was the result of some inspired creativity on your part. As many aware readers have pointed out (below), this beloved lava cake has been in American kitchens for scores of years. Instead of plagiarizing, a far more interesting article would have been to research and report on its origins.
P.S. thank you fellow cooks for the idea of substituting hot coffee for the hot water ! In my family we called it "Chocolate Pudding Cake," and it was a great dessert to have in one's repertoire, ready in minutes, as was its lovely citrus cousin, "Lemon Pudding Cake."
Rita March 28, 2018
Your post prompted me to check out a little history. Found a fun site for the curious cook. Origins and recipes for all kinds of desserts. Where else would you find a recipe for "Chop Suey" cake? Be warned though, this site can be addicting. Lol
SDMfoodie March 18, 2018
I shouldn't have read about this cake at night, now I want some & I can't sleep! Getting the ingredients first chance I get, can't wait to make it & I love the creativity with which the author wrote about! Sounds truly magical. Thanks!
Beverl March 18, 2018
This is nothing new. Got this recipe about 70 years ago at a cooking show in a department store in Dearborn, Mich. My family loves it.
Beverly W. March 18, 2018
What is a squash baking dish?
Alison T. March 18, 2018
Just a typo! SQUARE
Poppygold March 18, 2018
We call it Denver Chocolate Pudding...a family favorite especially fun if you make this chemistry experiment with little ones!
Elly H. March 18, 2018
That's what my family always called it and we used coffee instead of water.

Grace P. March 18, 2018
Does this work with Dutch process cocoa?
Pisanella March 18, 2018
Ooh, chocolate puddle pudding we call it in our family. Delicious with cream or ice cream or both! Reminds me of my mum. I think she found the recipe in a newspaper, probably the Daily Mail. Good memories, thank you.
BonBon March 18, 2018
I used to enjoy this fabulous dessert at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine Restaurant before the establishment was closed. This is such an easy recipe you have shared, IMHO. I look forward to recreating it for my family. Thanks For Sharing 😋
Alison T. March 18, 2018
My third (sorry!) comment on this: I never used water but always strong coffee. Very yummy!
Cherie March 18, 2018
Like most here this was a favourite in my family too. I preferred the butterscotch version, which is basically the same recipe without the cocoa and the addition of vanilla in the pour-over. Just a tiny piece for me please.
Eileen B. March 18, 2018
My goodness, I haven't made this in at least 20 years. I think i'll make it again this Easter for our waffle bar.
Suz March 18, 2018
I’ve been making pudding cakes for years, too. I guess I wasn’t trendy enough to call them ‘lava cakes’, though... But hey, I think I’ll make one for dinner tonight! Thanks for the reminder!
Lkgever March 18, 2018
I’ve been making the Cook’s Illustrated version for years and it’s a family favorite. They call for coffee instead of water to be poured on top.
Snowbee March 18, 2018
I made this cake last night to end our St. Patrick’s meal. It turned out fabulous. After reviewing all the comments I lowered the water content to 1 1/4 cups instead of the 1 1/2cups suggested. It was a big hit.