My sister and nieces were visiting over Labor Day weekend and you know that means a couple of things: one, I made red velvet cookies again for my other niece who wanted to come up and visit her twin in her dorm. I made a batch to send off with the girls to share with the other students in the dorm - college kids need homemade treats, right? They passed along the thanks of their friends and a declaration from one that red velvet cookies are now his favorite too. At this rate, I could end up converting the whole dorm into red velvet fans.
My nieces spent part of the weekend with their friends up at school and part of the weekend with us. For the time with us, before we spent an afternoon shopping at the mall, we went to my house for post-lunch dessert. Since my sister was back, that brings us to two: it was lava cake time again. This time I went with a rendition of a pudding cake. I've given up on souffles for the time being since they're too delicate to support the scoop of ice cream which must accompany anything warm and chocolate. Instead I went with this mocha and brownie version of a pudding cake. Instead of an 8-inch pan, I baked it in a 7 x 11" glass pan since I had to bake it early in the morning and wanted to be able to reheat it slightly in the microwave when we got to my house in the afternoon and that was only feasible in a glass pan.
This was pretty good - the "brownie" part was really more cakey in texture than fudgy-dense like a brownie so I think the title is a misnomer (I take brownies very seriously). But the mocha part was right and overall it was a good combination of cake and chocolate sauce. The cake itself isn't too chocolaty since it only contains 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder but the sauce that bakes up from the hot coffee and the sugar/cocoa sprinkled on top makes up for it.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs, optional (I substituted chocolate chips)
1 ½ cups very hot brewed coffee
Slightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Whisk together the flour, ¾ cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cocoa, the baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Breaking up any large lumps of sugar with your hands. Stir in the milk, butter and vanilla with a wooden spoon just until blended; the batter will be very thick. Transfer to the baking dish and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
3. Stir together the remaining ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup cocoa with a fork in a small bowl, breaking up any large lumps of sugar with your hands. Stir in the nibs (or chocolate chips), if using. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter. Pour the hot coffee evenly over the batter – do not stir.
4. Bake for 30 to 25 minutes, until the top layer is set and the dessert is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan; the batter will have separated into cake and pudding layers. Cool the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.