Hot Chocolate & Halva Pudding From Benjamina Ebuehi

June 16, 2021
11 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten, Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog, Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 12 (for fewer servings, see below*)
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).

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
Genius Recipes

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a part of Chocolate Week—seven days of recipes and stories, all chocolate—presented by our friends at Guittard. A fifth-generation family business, Guittard has been crafting an array of chocolate offerings (like top-quality baking chips, cocoa powder, and baking bars) in San Francisco since 1868.

Want to hear more about this recipe? On here.

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Kristen Miglore cooks her way through this recipe, offering insider tips and backstory along the way.Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Hot Chocolate & Halva Pudding From Benjamina Ebuehi
  • 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) whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (150 grams) plain or vanilla halva, roughly chopped
  • 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)
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a deep 9x12-inch (23x31cm) baking dish. If 9x13-inch (23x33cm) is all you have, that’s fine—it will just bake faster.
  2. 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. 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 (23x33cm), 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.

  • Melanie
  • Susan Sterchi
    Susan Sterchi
  • Christine Carlson Whittington
    Christine Carlson Whittington
  • Cranky
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

70 Reviews

Akané June 12, 2023
Absolutely delicious! 😋
I love 2 things about this recipe:

1. The flavour combo - chocolate and sesame are just so yummy and moreish.
I omitted halva as so many people were saying they couldn’t taste it, so I just added more tahini about 3 table spoons in total.

2. It’s written with both metric cups & grams and the temperature in Celsius! (I live in Australia, so not used to Fahrenheit 😬)

The only thing is that I used tapioca flour instead of normal wheat flour which didn’t allow the cake to absorb the sauce so it just sat on top.
It was still delicious and I will make it again for sure.

P. S I also halved the amount of sugar and it was still sweet for my liking.

sheila July 23, 2022
Absolutely wonderful recipe! Most delicious cake ever especially with ice cream! Like someone else said, I also couldn't taste the halva directly, but the nuttiness of the sesame came through.
Melanie January 3, 2022
I made this cake for New Year's Eve, and it was spectacular. However, I did not taste the halvah, and I even added more than called for because I love halvah so much. My husband did say the cake had a complexity he couldn't quite put his finger on, so perhaps that was the halvah after all. We served the cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream, because that's what we had on hand. Next time, I'm going to add some cinnamon; I think that would be nice, and serve with vanilla or salted caramel ice cream. This cake is so versatile, many things would complement the taste. On making ahead, I assembled the cake before dinner, poured the batter into the pan, covered, and let it rest until we were ready for dessert. Then I boiled the water, added remaining ingredients and popped into the oven. It was hot and delicious by the time we were ready to eat it. This really is a cake to eat just out of the oven, although the last morsel was eaten cold the next morning with coffee - delish!
Jenny January 2, 2022
The recipe is excellent, however, the amount of sugar was way too much - even after having reduced the amount for the cake with a half and the amount for the sauce with a third. I would next time for the cake only use 50g of sugar and for the sauce maybe 75g. I would also maybe consider using tahini instead of the halva, as this would make it less sweet. I still loved it and would make it again, but if you're also someone who does not want their dessert to be overly sweet, I would confidently reduce the amount of sugar significantly - especially if served with ice cream :)
Shinta O. June 16, 2021
Absolutely delicious! I split the wet ingredients, mix half with all purpose and half with gluten free flour and bake it in two 7.5x7.5 ceramic dishes for 35 minutes.
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.
[email protected] April 21, 2021
I feel like this is too obvious, but can't we just buy organic?
Nancy April 22, 2021
Organic? If and as available, yes.
Cranky April 22, 2021
I'm afraid not:
"Both conventional and organic products are concerned"
Nancy May 14, 2021
Just saw your correction. Thanks.
Nancy October 17, 2021
Update October 2021 - USA and Canada affected by salmonella cases from tahini and halva produced in Syria.
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!