Along with restaurant hamburgers without a trace of Thousand Island dressing and the Sunday morning gospel hour on my favorite Twin Cities jazz station, there are a lot of things I miss about The U.S.
Children calling their teacher by Ms. or Mr.
The smell of rain on city pavement.
The inevitable sunburn on the 4th of July.
Bell Peppers for less than $2.00
Sunlight in January.
Stores open on Sundays.
Legally driving home after drinking a beer.
Gaudy Christmas decorations (they’re all so damn cute in Norway!)
Neighbors asking one another for a cup of sugar.
Campbell’s tomato soup.
Personal checks (they went extinct in the 90s here).
Cheap speeding tickets.
And messy desserts, Like this one:
My mom’s been making hot fudge puddin’ cake for as long as I can remember. Ok, so it’s actually called “Pudding Cake” rather than puddin’ cake, but I think we’ll all agree that the later has a better ring to it. Mom bakes up hot fudge puddin’ cake on a casual weekday night when we’re all craving something unfussy and chocolate. She spends all of 5 minutes throwing the ingredients together in a bowl, dumping it in a pan, topping it with a little brown sugar and cocoa powder, than pouring hot water over the top before sliding it into the oven and letting its magic happen.
I say magic, because what somehow surfaces 45 minutes later is a moist pecan-filled cake on top of a layer of gooey chocolate pudding. It truly is an All-American home style dessert in the simplest of forms- warm, and comforting, easy and inexpensive, plain and homely. Yes, undeniably homely. But it is perfect in a way. And, it’s especially perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But don’t go gettin’ all fancy on us with some expensive brand with real vanilla beans. That would be missing the point.
Hot Fudge Puddin’ Cake
*A Recipe from my mom, but originally from Mrs. Betty Crocker
(serves about 8)
1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
2 Tablespoons melted butter
*optional: 1 cup (3.5 oz/100 g) chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts work best)
Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk and butter. Mix well, then add the chopped nuts, if using. Pour into a 9” x 9” (23 cm x 23cm) ungreased pan (*as you can see, a 9”-10” pie or tart plate works fine too).
Top with a mixture of:
1 cup (200 g) brown sugar
1/4 cup (25 g) cocoa powder
Then pour on top:
1 3/4 cup HOT water
Bake for 45 minutes. The top should look firm and darkened like a regular chocolate cake, while the bottom is still wet and puddinglike. Serve while still warm with vanilla ice cream (although I even like it at room temperature with a glass of cold milk ;)