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My first acquaintance with pudding cake was made while working at Cook's Country. One of my colleagues was developing a recipe for a lemon version and, despite eating it every day, several times a day, for about four weeks, I never tired of it. The waistband of my pants may have been sinking uncomfortably into my middle, my apron strings may have needed loosening, and my chef's jacket may have been about to pop a button, but I still made room for that pudding cake.
Pudding cake is just what the title advertises: pudding and cake. The wondrous part is that both components materialize in the same pan. Batter is spread in a pan, then sprinkled with a sugar and cocoa powder mixture and liquid. This top layer filters down, essentially swapping places with the batter. The result is a layer of cake floating on top of pudding.
Rather than the standard chocolate pudding cake, I mixed two flavors that I can never resist, salted caramel and chocolate. The result: salted caramel cake bathed in a thick, coffee-spiked chocolate sauce.
For the cake, I start by cooking sugar in a saucepan until it turns a deep amber color. To this I add brown butter for a rich, nutty undercurrent of flavor. The rest is literally a piece of cake: simply whisk in (no electric mixer needed) flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, milk, and egg yolks for richness (the whites are left out because their addition would yield a bouncier, fluffier cake and this cake's texture is meant to be more dense and blondie-like). Snowy flakes of Maldon salt rest on top of the cake, adding a pleasant crunch and saltiness that ties everything together.
Serve this cake warm with a scoop of ice cream. People who got a taste called it "devilish" and "as addictive as crack."
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About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blog High Heels & Frijoles. Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite. Read about her cravings and suffer through her occasional rants on Twitter @HHandFrijoles and see her constant stream of food images on Instagram: mdmsacasa.