What’s better than chocolate? More chocolate! You know a vintage recipe is going to be good when it only has four ingredients and three of them are chocolate flavored. I use the term ingredients loosely, of course, but there are really only four things you’ll need to purchase to make Chocolate Pudding Cake. Shhhhhhhhh! It’s made with a mix, but stick with me here.
Chocolate Pudding Cake is a nostalgic recipe for me. My Mom acquired the recipe from a friend in the late 1960s and made it throughout my childhood for potlucks and picnics. Everyone always loved it, and it’s one of those no-fail recipes that always turns out moist and chocolatey. Duncan Hines promises you that right on the box, but I think combining the cake mix with chocolate pudding is what really makes this cake something you want to make again and again.
The Boxed Cake Mix: Ultimate Mid-Century Convenience
Although the boxed cake mix achieved great popularity in the 1950s, cake mixes were invented a couple of decades earlier. It all started when a company called P. Duff and Sons, looking for a way to use surplus molasses, patented a gingerbread mix in 1933. By the end of the 1940s, more than 200 American companies joined in the cake mix game. Sales eventually flattened out in the 1950s, but soared again when ostentatious cake decorating became popular for home bakers. Food historian Laura Shapiro argues that the decorating made up for the fact that you weren’t really baking a cake, but you could still make the cake yours. When Shapiro interviewed home bakers in the 1990s she also noted that when many talked about baking a cake from scratch, they really meant using a boxed cake mix. You can read more about Laura Shapiro’s research and the history of the cake mix over at Bon Appétit.
I experienced a similar head scratcher when I took a cake decorating class a few years ago. I expected the instructor to provide us with recipes for her favorite cakes, and was surprised when she said to just use a box mix. For her, it was not about the cake. It was all about what went on top.
Chocolate Pudding Cake, however, doesn’t hide under mountains of frosting, fancy sprinkles, or piped clowns with plastic heads. (Seriously! We learned to make those in the class!) Its all about the cake, which is actually more of a brownie-cake fusion. It’s flavorful (chocolatey) and not fussy. If you feel the urge to decorate with more than the chocolate chips, add a few chopped nuts or fresh berries. Even though it’s made from a mix, it’s pretty darn tasty, and I usually make it once a year.
Here’s How I Did It:
- 1 small box chocolate cook and serve pudding mix
- 2 cups milk
- 1 boxed chocolate cake mix
- 1 cup or so chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
- Poor milk into a medium sauce pan
- Add the powdered pudding mix
- Turn the burner on medium and whisk together
- Keep mixing until the mixture begins to boil
- Remove from the heat
- Add the dry cake mix to the pudding mixture and stir until well combined.
- Pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan
- Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
A word of warning: If you bring this cake to a party you will come home with an empty plate. Cut it up and arrange artfully on a cake platter. Save yourself a piece for later. You’ll be glad you did.