From Maida Heatter's Cakes, Cader Books, New York, October 1997.

Click on the image to get your copy.

Variations of this recipe pop up in many areas of the country under many different names; Chocolate Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Sauce Pudding, Chocolate Pudding Cake, Hot Fudge Sauce Cake, to name a few. In most cases, whatever the name, you will have a square pan of chocolate cake floating in a rather thin, dark chocolate syrup; both the cake and the syrup are spooned out together and served like a pudding with a sauce.
This Missouri recipe is similar, but is something else. It is a small shallow square upside-down cake which, when turned onto a cake plate, covers itself with a think layer of dark chocolate topping that resembles nothing I can think of. The topping is as dark and shiny as black patent leather, as tender and semi-firm as a pot de crème, and as mocha-chocolate flavored as you might weave dreams about.
The topping and the cake are baked together. Sensationally quick/easy/foolproof. This is wonderful just as soon as it has barely cooled, or it can wait for hours, or it can be frozen.


1 cup sifted all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2/3 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 ounce (1/4 stick ) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup walnuts, broken into medium-size pieces


Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat oven to 350°. Butter a shallow 8-inch square cake pan and set aside.
Sift together into the small bowl of an electric mixer the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa, and sugar. Add the milk, vanilla, and melted butter, and beat until smooth and slightly pale in color. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Stir in the nuts. Turn into the buttered pan and smooth the top. Let stand


1/3 cup granulated sugar 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed 2 teaspoons granular instant coffee
1 cup water


In a small, heavy saucepan combine all the ingredients. Stir over rather high heat until the sugars melt and the mixture comes to a full boil.
Gently ladle the boiling hot mixture all over the cake batter.
Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted gently into the cake comes out clean. (During baking, the topping will sink to the bottom.) Set aside to cool in the pan.
When the cake has cooled, cover with a square or oblong serving plate or a cutting board. Holding them firmly together, turn the pan and the plate over. If the cake does not slide out of the pan easily (and it probably will not), hold the plate and the pan firmly together upside down and tap them on the work surface. Now the cake will come out, and it will be covered with the topping, some of which will still be in the pan; use a rubber spatula to remove it all and put in on the cake. Smooth the top gently or pull the topping up into uneven peaks.
Serve immediately or let stand all day or freeze. (If you freeze this do not cover with plastic wrap; the topping never does freeze hard and plastic wrap will stick to it. Just cover the whole thing with an inverted box deep enough so it doesn't touch the cake.) Freezing diminishes the flavor of all foods, especially this. Although this can be erved frozen, it has more flavor if it is brought to room temperature.
This cake does not need a thing but a plate and fork. However, if you are serving it for a birthday party or some other festivity, ice cream is wonderful with it.