Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

What with the holidays and all, I've been feeling pretty nostalgic lately, craving the foods I ate as a child.  (Look for my recipe for vegetarian jambalaya--based on my days in Louisiana--coming soon.)

This particular recipe wasn't a favorite in our house.  In fact, I think I only had it once.  But it holds a special place in my heart.  This, my friends, is the very first thing I baked in my whole life.  Okay, my grandmother was there to jump in if something caught on fire, but otherwise, this cake was mine from start to finish.

Here's the scene:  It was June of 1979, and we lived in Toledo, Ohio.  My mother had just finished her second year in law school and was massively pregnant.  My Gram had driven north to hang out while we waited for the baby to arrive.  Really, all the focus was on baby, baby, baby.

As excited as I was to be a big sister, I didn't think it was fair that we weren't doing anything for my mother's birthday.  (Her due date and her birthday were practically on top of each other.)  So my Gram plowed through the Betty Crocker cookbook to find a cake recipe that even a 9-year-old could handle.  Her choice:  the hot fudge sundae cake.

Not only did I avoid setting the kitchen on fire, but the cake was actually delicious.  It is a bit like a molten lava cake in that part of it doesn't set up and, instead, forms a wonderful warm sauce that you can spoon over the ice cream.  Oh, and as an added bonus, it's a type of crazy cake, so you mix everything directly in the pan ... no bowls to clean!

I don't remember what we had for dinner that night (likely steak and baked potatoes), but I remember putting the candles in that cake as if it were yesterday.  I was so stinkin' proud that I'd done it by myself.

My gorgeous mom and cute-as-a-button baby sister, about a year post-cake.

And a mere 36 hours after we ate that cake, I got a brand new baby sister.

This cake reminds me of that joyous time in my life when everyone was filled with anticipation, happy and excited, and I felt like a grown-up for the very first time.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
(From my mom's recipe card by way of a Betty Crocker cookbook)

Ingredients, in pan.
1 c. flour
3/4 c. white sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts (either pecans or walnuts)
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1 3/4 c. hottest tap water

A pint or two of your favorite ice cream . . . anything that would go well with hot fudge!

Preheat oven to 350.

In an ungreased 9x9 pan, stir in all ingredients down to the brown sugar.  Make sure it's mixed well.  Spread batter evenly in pan.

Sprinkle with brown sugar and 1/4 c. cocoa.  Pour on HOT tap water.  Bake 40 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares, serving with ice cream, and spooning the sauce over top.

Completed Cake


  1. What a wonderful story--and wasn't your grandmother clever to find the recipe and let you be the chef!

  2. Yes, a lovely story. And how nice that you could find a kid-friendly recipe (thanks, Betty, whoever you were!).

  3. Hiya Annie... Old fan of the site here returning on a regular basis. Lots of new Authors to get to know since I popped in. I wanted to look up the books and gimmick (best advice I ever got from strippers, "ya gotta have a gimmick") of Annie Knox , but didn't see any on the site (nor could I find you on google or Amazon). So... just who the heck are you and what books can I buy???

    Pen name?
    Author with series yet to be printed?
    Computer hacker slash cook that broke into the site and wanted to post a recipe?

    And BTW...

    Vegetarian Jambalaya SOUNDS PERFECT once you add andouille sausage, chicken, maybe some clams and shrimp or Bamby's mother always adds a lot to Venison Jambalaya. Looking forward to reading your veggie version with respect and an open mind. Actually, I have an annual Mardi Gras party. A vegetarian version might be useful.

    On a related topic to the recipe you broke into the site and posted, I love the idea of this, Lava cake over ice cream!!!

    Dave who used to use the pen name, Year on the Grill

  4. HI Dave ... you totally know me. :) I'm also Wendy Watson, from way back. My next series (which doesn't launch for another YEAR (ack) is under the pen name Annie Knox. Went ahead and changed the name here.

    BTW, since I often cook by feel (a little of this, a little of that), I did a more careful study of that veggie jambalaya, and it was pretty fantastic. :)

  5. Ahhhh... I suspected as much with the vegetarian hint.

    So, whats the hook on the new series??? A Texas vegetarian perhaps?

    And is the Ice Cream books now collectible as a complete set without worrying about new books coming out?

  6. Just popping in to let Wendy know that I enjoyed her post. Love that photo and the baby sister story. Wonderful. Have a great weekend, everyone!

    ~ Cleo

  7. What a wonderful story, Wendy. It warmed my heart to read it this morning. Sounds like a good recipe, too. Maybe you should tout it as labor-inducing!

    ~ Krista

  8. Good for Grandma!
    Gooey chocolate, still warm from the oven, with ice cream?
    Oh My Yes!

  9. Thanks, Cleo, Krista, and Libby! (Krista, I think it was the Mexican food my mom had for lunch the next day that actually sent her into labor. :) )

    Dave, the new series is about a woman who runs a pet boutique in Minnesota. It's been a lot of fun to write (and my sleuth is, in fact, a vegetarian). I have one more ice cream book in the works, but it won't be coming from NAL ... so he print book set is now officially complete!