Thursday’s Dish: Hot Fudge Cake

I have a modest collection of spiral-bound church cookbooks. These humble fundraisers-from-the-past draw me in when I find them at used bookstores or thrift stores. There’s something about the earnest assertions that these are the “best recipes in the South” and the quirky “family favorites” that I can’t resist. And although many of the recipes hearken back to the days when Crisco and Karo Syrup were pantry staples, you can usually find some hidden gems and sure bets, especially in the dessert section.

My favorite of these books is one put out by my grandma’s church in Bessemer, Alabama. My grandma is a great cook, and she contributed several recipes to it. Flipping through the pages, I see her name and the names of friends from church I’ve often heard her mention. I see recipes for dishes I’ve had at her house in the past. It brings back the sights, smells and tastes of Alabama, where my family spent so many vacations when I was a kid.

My grandma is still a great cook, but now in her mid-80s, she can’t do everything she used to do — and we don’t want her to, either! When we visit, we ask her to please not cook for days before we get there, and we offer to do the cooking when we’re there, but she usually has a few dishes — and always a few desserts — ready for us. And we always enjoy them, in spite of our admonishments. Here’s a photo of her in her backyard with my daughter, a few years back.

And here’s a recipe from the cookbook that I’ve enjoyed several times at her house. It comes out of the oven so warm and gooey! You MUST serve it with vanilla ice cream, and if you’re feeling really plucky, some whipped cream as well. Kids love this, and so do adults. What’s not to love?

Gigi’s Hot Fudge Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

6 Tablespoons cocoa, divided

2 teaspoons baking powderAdvertisement
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 Tablespoons oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 3/4 cup hot water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, 2 Tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, oil and vanilla until smooth. Spread in an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Gently pour hot water over all; do not stir! Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Written by: Shannon Oelrich

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