This old-fashioned dessert goes by the name pudding cake, Denver pudding, and chocolate cake-pie. It is made with unsweetened chocolate and a little orange rind, but no eggs. During cooking, the confection forms a fudgy sauce on the bottom as the batter firms on top. Serve it warm because it puffs and bubbles in the oven and then sinks as it cools. The little crater in the center begs to be filled with vanilla ice cream, which tames the intensity of the chocolate. Bake these individual puddings a few hours ahead of time and warm them in a microwave for 15 to 20 seconds. Save the extra desserts to celebrate twice, or spread the love and make Valentine’s dinner for four.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cocoa.
2. Mix until blended.
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 squares) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
1 pint vanilla ice cream (for serving)
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand 4 ramekins or custard cups (7-to-8-ounces each) and a rimmed baking sheet.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
3. In another heatproof bowl over hot but not boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove the bowl from the water and wipe the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the sugar, milk, orange rind, and vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins or cups. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the topping evenly over each one, then pour 3 tablespoons water over each.
5. Set the ramekins on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top bubbles and puffs. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream. Sally Pasley Vargas