Hot Chocolate & Halva Pudding From Benjamina Ebuehi


Hot Chocolate & Halva Pudding From Benjamina Ebuehi

February 16, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten, Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog, Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
Author Notes

This cake isn’t fussy or even frosted. And it makes its own sticky chocolate sauce, so you can skip straight to scooping it up warm, right from the pan. Like so many of Great British Bake-Off star Benjamina Ebuehi's minimalist cakes, it's exactly what we need right now, and nothing more.

As Benjamina writes in her book The New Way to Cake, “It’s a rainy Wednesday, and you’ve had a long day. That chocolate craving hits and this is what you turn to. Hot Chocolate & Halva Pudding is my mid-week indulgence that is the best accompaniment to a Netflix catch-up while curled on the sofa. This isn’t anything like what you’d call a pudding in the United States and instead has a similar texture to a steamed cake served piping hot.

"The cake crust is thick yet so soft it gives away easily as you sink your spoon inside. Underneath lies a pool of chocolate gold produced by what can only be called magic and is flecked with crumbly pieces of sesame halva–a dense Middle Eastern candy. This is best served as soon as it exits the oven, while the chocolate sauce is still swimming. And if you’ve had a really bad day, add a scoop of ice cream for good measure.”

A few more tips: If you’re making this cake just for your family or yourself, leftovers will warm up in the microwave just fine. Or consider halving the recipe and baking in an 8x8-inch (20x20cm) pan—the time may need to be adjusted, so watch it closely. We don’t recommend substituting instant coffee for instant espresso—the flavor isn’t as rich and won’t blend in as seamlessly. You can find halva online (including in the Food52 Shop!) or in any Middle Eastern supermarket. If you can’t find halva and would still like to make this cake, leave it out—but in that case, the tahini swirl is highly recommended.

Recipe from The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor (Page Street Publishing, November 2019).

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Watch This Recipe
Hot Chocolate & Halva Pudding From Benjamina Ebuehi
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 12 servings (for fewer servings, see above)
  • Cake
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (150 grams) roughly chopped plain or vanilla halva
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) dark chocolate chips, or roughly chopped chocolate
  • Tahini, for swirling (optional)
  • Sauce
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 milliliters) boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (we recommend Medaglia d’Oro brand)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a deep 9x12-inch (23 x 31cm) baking dish. If 9x13-inch (23x33cm) is all you have, that’s fine—it will just bake faster.
  2. To make the cake, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt to a large bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla and pour this into the flour mixture. Stir until the batter is smooth and without large lumps. Gently fold in the chopped halva and chocolate chips, then pour the batter into the prepared dish. If swirling in tahini, dollop several spoonfuls across the top and swirl them into the batter with a knife. Don’t worry about making it look perfect, as it will get messed up a bit in the next step. Set aside.
  3. To make the sauce, add the cocoa powder, sugar, boiling water, and espresso powder to a medium bowl and stir together with a fork, removing any lumps. Pour the liquid carefully on top of the cake batter–it will look very strange at this point, but don’t worry or try to mix it in. Bake until the cake is puffy and just set. A toothpick poked in the center will show chocolate sauce and some crumbs. Start checking at 15 minutes if using a 9x13-inch pan (23 x 33cm), especially if your pan is thin metal. It can take up to 28 to 35 minutes in a smaller or thicker pan. There’ll be a pool of chocolate sauce underneath once you break the crust. Serve hot (with ice cream if you’d like).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Susan Sterchi
    Susan Sterchi
  • Christine Carlson Whittington
    Christine Carlson Whittington
  • Cranky
  • Franca
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

    58 Reviews

    courttan February 24, 2021
    This recipe tastes like God. Thank you Benjamina!!!!
    courttan February 24, 2021
    Also - don't use a spring form tin!!!
    courttan February 24, 2021
    And Kristen!
    Layla97 February 24, 2021
    I bought Benjamina's book and so far all of the cakes are from heaven!!!
    Susan S. February 16, 2021
    I made this for Valentine's Day. Since I live in a small town with limited grocery options, I decided to learn to make halva so I could be true to the recipe. First attempt failed, but 2nd attempt was pretty great (thanks to YouTube and Andy at the Bon Appetit test kitchen!) Followed the pudding recipe exactly, including the tahini swirl. I'm not sure how long I baked it in my pyrex 9x13, but I just waited until all the liquid disappeared and the toothpick was slightly messy. We ate it right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream and It was perfect, but I'm not sure the halva mattered. Maybe it was just more subtle than I imagined it would be... I couldn't really tell it was in there. No matter - we loved it!
    Christine C. February 17, 2021
    We found that the flavor of the halva was more distinctive after a day or so when we ate it cold! We loved it, too. We also live in a small town (in the mountains) with one sub-par grocery store. I ordered the halva from Amazon, but maybe I will try making it next time!
    Debra G. February 15, 2021
    I made this in a 9x9 heavy metal pan, using gf flour (King Arthur), omitting the halva, and swirling smooth peanut butter on top, before pouring on the sauce/liquid. Baked for 25 minutes. Delicious! Deeply chocolate.
    Christine C. February 15, 2021
    This was our over-the-top Valentine's Day dessert and it was incredible! I made it exactly as written, using 100% cacao chocolate chips from Blue Stripes Urban Cacao, Hershey's dark chocolate cocoa, and vanilla halva. I did add the tahini swirls. We ate it right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream. Did I say that it was incredible?
    Christine C. February 15, 2021
    Oh, I baked it in a 9x13 pyrex baking dish, 20 minutes. We are at 10,200' altitude, so baking times are sometimes hard to predict. There were no other altitude problems. I probably could have taken it out a minute or two sooner--it was far too wobbly at 15 minutes, though.
    Laura February 14, 2021
    baked it for 15 minutes - no sauce. Still tasted good, but disappointed that there was no sauce.
    Jessica February 14, 2021
    This was super delicious! Nice range of texture, flavor, and temperature in each bite. I made it in a 13x9 in USA Pan bakeware aluminized steel pan and it was done at 17 min.
    Layla97 February 14, 2021
    Soom Foods Tahini was not on the list for the pesticide contamination.
    LULULAND February 14, 2021
    Can you tell me what brands of Tahini were on the list, or the link to the list. Thank you
    hpnyknits February 13, 2021
    I tried this today, had all the ingredients, and it tastes sort of ok, not amazing. Looks sort of ok. But- I had no pool of chocolate at the bottom😶. I used an oven thermometer and a tin pan, (9.5x9.5) and started checking at 20 min but took out at 30. 🤷🏻‍♀️
    Layla97 February 13, 2021
    Perhaps baked too long.
    mm February 11, 2021
    My mom- in Montreal - made this in the 70’s and called it Denver Pudding
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    Love hearing about all these variations!
    dickensthedog February 11, 2021
    I also make what was called chocolate pudding cake. I decrease the sugar because these days we find it too sweet, and I substitute heated light cream for the water.
    LULULAND February 11, 2021
    Looks good, would like to try it. But, don't have halva. Is there a sub for it? I do have tahini. Thanks
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    A few options: You can skip it and use the optional tahini swirl—the sesame flavor will be there, but less texture. You can order online, including this small-batch brand from the Food52 Shop: Or you could make your own!
    LULULAND February 12, 2021
    ok, thank you!
    Cranky February 11, 2021
    Looking forward to trying this! I'm avoiding sesame right now (apparently there's a pesticide issue atm), so I was thinking of putting peanut butter on top and swirling that in.
    Layla97 February 11, 2021
    Soon Foods makes a delicious single-sourced sesame tahini (as well as other really great foods such as Silan (date syrup), and chocolate tahini!
    Layla97 February 11, 2021
    I also order halvah from Halva Boutique.
    Nancy February 11, 2021
    Caution about using sesame and halvah now (early 2021). I wrote a bunch of answers to questions without knowing of the sesame seed pesticide warnings and withdrawal of related products, since about late summer 2020, especially in Europe.
    Cranky alerted me in one of her answers (thank you very much) and I would now stay away from those products either until the danger passes, or only use products from certified pesticide-free areas.
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    Thank you for sharing this. Nancy, do you know how to determine if a product is from a certified pesticide-free area?
    Nancy February 14, 2021
    Kristen - Original (around Sept 2020) range was product grown in India and widely distributed in Europe. Check news when you want to buy sesame products for current spread of contaminated product. Then, when you buy, only do so when you can ascertain from the packaging in which unaffected country the sesame was grown. Of which there are several available in USA and Canada. Don't know current situations for other markets. Hope this helps.
    Nancy February 14, 2021
    Kristen - as with the listeria and salmonella outbreaks in USA produce in 2020, keep an eye on the news where and when you want to buy. Then only buy products (tahini, halvah etc) where country where it was grown is on the label. For now, in USA and Canada there products available from unaffected areas. People living in other countries should check news releases by food safety organizations and merchants. Hope this helps.
    Nancy February 14, 2021
    Please ignore double message. I thought first one was lost and rewrote it.
    Kristen M. February 15, 2021
    Thanks so much, Nancy—very helpful.
    Susie February 11, 2021
    Had anyone tried this using gluten free flour?
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    I haven't but think it would work well!
    Bonnie P. February 10, 2021
    Could I add some dulce de leche instead of the halva? Perhaps 1/3C? Anyone...anyone?
    Layla97 February 10, 2021
    It would probably be really delicious if you dolloped the dulce de leche on top like Kristin did with the tahini, then swirl it.
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    Yes, that sounds delicious! I'd love something tangy to put on top, like sour cream or yogurt-spiked whipped cream. Or more vanilla ice cream, of course.
    Layla97 February 10, 2021
    Hi Kristin! Is that a newly remodeled kitchen? This recipe reminds me of the halvah brownies I make so I can't wait to try it. It also reminds me of a butterscotch pudding cake made the same way by pouring boiling water over the top prior to baking. The chocolate pudding cakes made this way often were flat in flavor -- BUT -- My favorite flavors (chocolate, halvah, and tahini) with some rich saucy chocolatey goodness under the cake seems divine! Thank you for this recipe.
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    Hi Layla97, it's the kitchen in the home we moved into last fall, which I think had been remodeled by a previous tenant. Pretty different from our old one in Brooklyn, but I love them both in different ways. Benjamina mentioned butterscotch versions too—I'd love to try, maybe with some creme fraiche...
    Layla97 February 14, 2021
    Kristen -- I'm thinking of adding malt powder to the hot liquid prior to pouring!
    Kristen M. February 15, 2021
    Love that!
    Stephanie February 10, 2021
    This is just like an old fashioned recipe from the 1950’s called “Hot Fudge Pudding” except that it did not have the halva, chocolate chips or espresso powder. My mom made it regularly when I was growing up in Ontario, and I made it for my family. Looks disgusting when you put it in the oven and you can’t imagine that it will turn out. Then voilà, fudgy cake on top, rich sauce on the bottom. In my hubby’s family on the other side of the country, this dessert was called “Denver Chocolate Pudding”. I believe there is a lemon version as well.
    anibelle February 10, 2021
    In the south, my mother called it “Brownie Pudding.”
    creamtea February 10, 2021
    Yes, this! I also have a recipe for Brownie Pudding Cake from my mother's best friend.
    creamtea February 10, 2021
    but the halva addition is unusual & sounds delicious.
    Stephanie February 11, 2021
    I grew up with this in the 80s Midwest from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I made a lot in the 90s early 2000s when I had young kids and very little money. The original recipe is actually for a low-income kitchen. Cocoa powder instead of chocolate. Oil instead of butter...Variations I have done besides adding espresso powder:
    -Hot vanilla cake: skip the cocoa (or chocolate) and amp up the vanilla; some milk instead of only boiling water at the end.
    -Caramel: adding caramels to the vanilla or chocolate version
    Stephanie February 11, 2021
    Yes about economy in the kitchen! My mom used milk powder with warm water and shortening. Her recipe came from a cookbook called Kate Aitken’s Canadian Cook Book, dated 1945. Our family loved it!
    Stephanie February 11, 2021
    Love the flavor of milk powder :)

    Also, forgot that my grandmother also doubled the amount of boiling water for extra pudding :)
    So many ways to tweak on the cheap, but also, get creative when you NEED that chocolate fix and have an empty pantry.

    This recipe resides in my mind next to the old-school chocolate cake made with mayo and water.
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    Love these stories—I agree this cake has much in common with mayo cakes and wacky cakes like this one:
    Stephanie February 12, 2021
    :) These days, old recipes that spark new ideas feels comforting.
    The expression, "something out of nothing" feels inspiring...even if just for a moment, a morsel.
    Love the incorporation of sesame into this!
    Franca February 10, 2021
    With the exception of the halva, this is a staple here in Quebec. We have a delicious apple version too. Yummy!
    AntoniaJames February 10, 2021
    Franca, I'd love to see that apple version, which sounds altogether divine! If it's not too much trouble, would you mind sharing it here? Or, you could send it to me at giacomantonia @ . Either way, I'd be eternally grateful.
    Sharon February 10, 2021
    If you get the apple version, could you post it?
    Jenn February 10, 2021
    Yes please! What Sharon and Antonia said! ☺️
    Elizabeth S. February 10, 2021
    My family would love the apple version! Please please post.
    Sherlock T. February 11, 2021
    Sharon February 11, 2021
    Thank you, I can't wait to make it!
    Franca February 11, 2021
    Hi Antonia,

    Follow the link below for the Canadian apple version. I have a hard time not putting my own spin on a recipe. I add an extra apple, spices, and have been known to replace the water for the sauce with cream. You only live once right? :D This recipe works with any fruit that is in season. Hope you enjoy.
    Franca February 11, 2021
    Hi Antonia, See the link below for the Canadian version with apples. I can never follow a recipe as written, I add spices, and have been known to swap the water in the sauce portion for cream. You only live once right?! :D This work nicely pears, and summer berries as well. Hope you enjoy.
    Kristen M. February 12, 2021
    Thank you all! Mark shared Ricardo's apple version on the article page as well.