Before molten lava cake or chocolate fondants or fallen chocolate cake there was Tunnel of Fudge Cake. It’s a classic recipe, and I am sure many people have their own version. Tunnel of Fudge Cake is possibly the recipe that I have been making longer than any other, and more often. My mother passed this recipe on to me; she’d gotten it from my cousin and kept it in her little tin recipe card box. I was what we now call a tween, and just getting into cooking. Chocolate cake, of course, was one of the reasons I was interested in cooking at all. And this version, with its soft, gooey chocolate center made me feel sophisticated and gourmet, like I really knew how to cook something special. I still use my mother’s heavy Bundt pan that may well be older than me for this cake. It’s the best cake pan ever, nothing sticks and it makes a lovely ridged and pointed cake. Anything that comes out of this pan is instantly beautiful to me. I have never been attracted to the new-fangled pans that make tree or castle or tower-shaped rings, because I am so attached to the old Bundt from mama’s kitchen. Now that I think about it, I am a little worried she doesn’t know I have it and might demand it back.
When I first started making this cake, chocolate only came in squares and chips, semisweet or “baking” chocolate. And that is certainly how I used to make it. Mostly with semisweet chips. And that works just fine. But I have moved on to the high-quality chocolate that is so readily available now. I love using bittersweet chocolate for the rich, deep flavor it creates – a really intense chocolatiness – but good semisweet works as well. I have also switched from mixing by hand to using the stand mixer. It gives the eggs and sugar a nice fluffiness that translates well in to the cake. Other than that, this is the same recipe I have been using for all these years. I know it by heart.
Part of the beauty of this cake is its malleability. Tunnel of Fudge is gorgeous on its own, but drizzle a simple powdered sugar or chocolate glaze over it and take it up a notch. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar or cocoa powder to pretty it up. Add a little liqueur instead of the vanilla – amaretto, grand marnier, framboise – and it takes on another dimension. Serve it with sweetened whipped cream, ice cream, caramel or fruit sauce, whatever takes your fancy. I’ve been serving this to people I love for years. I hope you will, too.
(See the recipe, next page)
Tunnel of Fudge Cake
Serves 10 – 12 (this cake is rich, small pieces go a long way)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1-1/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cup flour
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until light yellow and the sugar is no longer granular. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in a little of the chocolate mixture. You don’t want the eggs to scramble under hot chocolate, so go slowly until all the chocolate is mixed in. Mix in the salt and vanilla. Add the flour a 1/4 cup at a time until it’s all well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
Bake at 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes exactly. The cake will not be firm in the center, but it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and look dry on the top. Cool in the pan before carefully turning out onto a serving platter.
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