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Chocolate Pudding Cake

One of the more popular restaurant desserts is a molten chocolate cake. This can mean several things. Some stories speak of a chocolate souffle that refused to cook all the way through as the origin of this dish. This souffle managed to worm it’s way out of a ramekin and into the hearts (and onto the plates) of diners everywhere. A chocolate cake with a custardy chocolate sauce or some sort, served hot. How could you go wrong?

I was taught that the proper way to make a molten chocolate cake/chocolate lava cake/self saucing chocolate cake was to put a ball of ganache in the center of an individual chocolate cake or souffle and bake according to the original recipe. The ganache would melt and create a molten center. Delicious and decadent. Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of these types of cake now involve simply under-baking a cake. If you like the taste of cake batter, this could be good, but I am not such a person. I am definately wary of ordering this dessert in restaurants. Eggy, undercooked batter? Thanks, but no thanks.

When I want a chocolate cake with a rich, delicious chocolate sauce, I turn to a classic chocolate pudding cake. I love this recipe because it is baked in the same pan that it is mixed in, so there is little to no cleanup. I also love, of course, the taste! The cake is super moist and chocolatey- in fact, this is one of my favorite chocolate desserts. The chocolate pudding is extremely rich tasting, but is actually quite light, and makes a perfect compliment to the cake. To make the dish even more decadent, top it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

3/4 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder, divided

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup chocolate chips (miniature, if you have them)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine flour, sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt in an 8 inch square baking pan and stir with a fork to combine. Mix in milk and oil until batter is uniform.
Sprinkle brown sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa and chocolate chips evenly over batter. Add vanilla to the hot water and pour over everything. Do not mix.
Place pan in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until surface of the cake looks dry. The pudding will be bubbling around the edges. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Leftovers, if you have them, may be stored for one day at room temperature. Reheat before serving.

Serves 8-9

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  • dksbook
    August 4, 2005

    Nic – this is a much better recipe than the few I’ve seen in the past. Thank you. But I am intrigued by your referral to the chocolate molten cake with the ganache middle. Do you have such a recipe? My son loves this dessert, but not the undercooked-cake type. He is coming home from a summer in Europe, and I want to serve him a nice Texas porterhouse steak, salad with Roquefort dressing, fresh grilled corn (from the garden) and your recipe for the ganache filled cakes, if you have it. Can you post it here, or email it to me? Thanks!

  • Samantha
    August 4, 2005

    Yum! It’s been a rough few days at work, I think this will be dessert tonight. Heck, maybe dinner! 😀

  • Nic
    August 4, 2005

    dksbook – I have a recipe, but I don’t have your e-mail!

    Samantha – I can attest to the fact that it’s a very comforting dinner!

  • Cathy
    August 4, 2005

    I’ve always been intrigued by these pudding cake recipes and I finally made one not too long ago – lemon, I think. It was good, but as I recall, the “pudding” came out a little watery. It could well have been my fault. Yours looks really good Nic – I don’t think even any of the magazine illustrations I’ve seen ever had such a thick and rich looking pudding!

  • joey
    August 4, 2005

    Oh yum! That looks like something that can turn your whole day around! I love the fact that you mix all the ingredients in the pan you are to bake it in 🙂

  • McAuliflower
    August 4, 2005

    Get outta here! There’s food sychronicity in the air again… I have one more (out of 6) of my little molten cakes in the freezer waiting to be cooked up before I blog it. 🙂

    Yeah, the thought struck me too- you mean its just undercooked cake?

    but then again, I Loooove batter.

    I do like having the opportunity to ask, “…and how would Sir like his cake prepared tonight? Rare? Very good Sir”.

    This is usually the point where Sweets murmers something about a French Maid outfit… I have to correct him with : no, you mean a French Waitressing Outfit…

  • Nic
    August 4, 2005

    Cathy – This one is definately not watery! Thick and rich tasting. Yum!

    Joey – Fewer dirty bowels never hurt anyone.

    McAuliflower – Some are the real deal, but many are just wanna-bes. I love to like the spoon, but I still wouldn’t order a bowl of the stuff. 😉

  • chefme
    August 4, 2005

    i had this at a my friend’s rehearsal dinner, with whipped cream and strawberries (yum!). it was the hit of the party. now i’m hungry 🙁

  • dksbook
    August 4, 2005


    Thanks, Nic!

  • Ana
    August 4, 2005

    I used to have a similar recipe, the self-saucing cakes. Haven’t made one in years! It will be nice to make it again.

  • Jessica
    August 5, 2005

    Sounds great! I think I might make this tonight. Love easy clean up things.

  • Lori
    August 5, 2005

    I’m excited to try this one out. :)It’s been raining heavily here in Manila, so something warm and chocolatey will definitely be comforting.

    I’ve had bad luck with these kinds of cakes. They always turn out watery, with a hard layer of chocolate cake at the bottom. Not nice.

  • J
    August 6, 2005

    hi nic, that looks like just the thing for the unrepentant chocoholic (read: very very delicious!)…thanks for sharing the recipe…cheers,j

  • Clare Eats
    August 7, 2005

    love self saucing puddings mmmmmmmm
    this one looks great!

  • naruto
    August 10, 2005

    You are a dangerous woman! Once again I’ve followed one of your recipes, and once again I find myself with utterly delicious food. Is there no stopping you? I’ve tried pudding cakes before, but your addition of chocolate chips (I threw in a dark chocolate bar, in pieces) was the kicker. Thanks.

  • Anonymous
    March 28, 2006

    Wow, this looks good enough to eat! Fantastic! I love it.

  • Anonymous
    July 12, 2006

    Nic- May I please have the chocolate molten cake with the ganache middle recipe? Can you post it or email me at
    junk@zappone.us and anna@zappone.us .

  • Anonymous
    October 4, 2006

    This is so easy to make, expecially when you find out people are coming for dinner, and you just have no extra energy to make a dessert. This one is very good and very yummy too. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe with us!!

  • suemac
    February 5, 2007

    I tried this one out last night as a last minute Super Bowl night dessert. It whipped up fast and really fit the bill as I was in the mood for something warm and chocolatey. It was just a tad too sweet for me – I may try cutting down the amount of brown sugar and using a bittersweet dark chocolate in place of the mini chips. Thanks!

  • Nicole
    January 21, 2008

    Yeah, it’s not a “serve-to-company” dessert, definitely an eat-it-at-home-with-whipped-cream-and-a-huge-spoon dessert!

  • Maria
    December 24, 2008

    Im in India,and brown sugar isn’t common here,whats the equivalent i can use?

  • julie
    August 13, 2009

    Hi Nicole, I dont quite understand what you mean by this instruction:
    Add vanilla to the hot water and pour over everything. Do not mix.
    Does that mean just pour the water over without stiring into the mix? such that there will be a layer of water on top of the chocolate mix? Does that work?

  • jc
    January 6, 2010

    dear MARIA if you dont have brown sugar just take regular sugar and add molasses, if u dont have mollasses i dunno

  • Ashley
    January 13, 2010

    This was soooo delicious. Ooey, gooey, and rich. Everything I remembered about chocolate pudding cake as a kid. 🙂

  • dena
    August 24, 2010

    Most of the chocolate pudding cakes I’ve seen have waaaay too much oil or butter … this is a delicious-looking exception. Thanks for sharing!

  • Deborah
    December 20, 2012

    Hi Nicole, I just made this recipe and it is delicious! I have 2 questions though, both in an effort to make this look presentable enough to serve to guests: 1. Next time can I bake this in individual ramekins and what adjustments would I need to make? 2. Even in a cake pan, can I do anything to ensure that the top of the cake stays dry? The one I just made had just patches of dry cake floating around on the top and I’m wondering why the top crust broke up.

  • Nicole
    December 20, 2012

    Deborah – I’m glad that you like it! I’m not quite sure about the dry patches, as the cake on top should be dry (dry to the touch, like the top of a traditional cake), but if you find it is getting too crispy you could try a light foil tent.

    You can bake this in individual ramekins if you make the batter and divide the batter very equally into your ramekins. The baking time will be reduced by a bit, but it depends on the exact size of your ramekins. If you can, bake one first as a test and check the cake at 15 or 20 minutes – it should be done.

  • Anu
    July 3, 2013

    What kind of chocolate chips should I use? Sweet or unsweetened. I want to make it tonight.

  • Karlee Haywood
    April 29, 2014

    Got any more things that yummy anu did ya like it call on 2131106 I am 10 years old not so sweet

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