Chocolate Eclipse

Adapted from: Still Life with Menu
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 30 to 35 minutes to bake
Yield: 8 to 12 servings

This dessert is fashioned after one of my mother's specialties that she would make about once a year (usually when a grade school teacher came over for lunch). It is a soft, moist chocolate cake with a built-in puddinglike fudge sauce that ends up underneath.

  • Chocolate Eclipse tastes best about an hour or two after it has emerged from the oven. For an ultimate experience, serve it with vanilla ice cream.

    NOTE: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can replace it with an equivalent amount of sour milk (2 cups milk plus 2 teaspoons vinegar)

2 tablespoons butter
2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
21/2 cups unbleached white flour
21/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
21/2 cups boiling water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together.
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat buttermilk gently until just a little warmer than body temperature (don't boil or cook it). Remove from heat, and combine with chocolate mixture and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, 1 cup of the brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well (use your hands, if necessary) to break up any little lumps of brown sugar, making as uniform a mixture as possible. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.
  5. Pour in the wet ingredients, and stir until well combined. Spread into the prepared pan.
  6. Combine the remaining 11/4 cups brown sugar with the unsweetened cocoa in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture as evenly as possible over the top of the batter.
  7. Pour on the boiling water. It will look terrible, and you will not believe you are actually doing this, but try to persevere.
  8. Place immediately in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch.
  9. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Invert each serving on a plate so that the fudge sauce on the bottom becomes a topping. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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