Cuddle up with your sweetheart (or treat yo’self) to this delicious mini hot fudge cake! Somewhere between a cake and a brownie, this decadent hot fudge cake for two makes a perfect date-night-in dessert.
Sometimes, you just want to make a special dessert and enjoy all of it in a sitting, like at a restaurant. You go, enjoy a lovely meal, and then cap it off with a beautiful dessert. Indulgent, perfect for sharing, and that’s it. That is this hot fudge cake for two recipe.
The Godfather and I have gotten really good at the date night in thing. I mean, most of us have had to recently, but we did this since before.
At first, we had date nights in because it was less expensive than going out and we were young newlyweds with entry-level jobs. Sometimes we didn’t feel like driving anywhere. And finally, we had kids. It’s not easy to find good babysitters!
Looking back, what I really appreciate about our date nights in though, is the creativity. We come up with themes for the food, find board games, movies, or puzzles to play, and just use them as a time to reconnect. Dessert is never optional.
The thing is, we always have a lot of dessert in our house. So I can’t just say “here’s a slice of leftover cake from a shoot yesterday” all the time. It feels like a cop out.
Instead, I look for easy dessert recipes for two that I can make while prepping dinner (or waiting for takeout or delivery). This hot fudge cake fits the bill!
What kind of cake is this?
Fudge cake is part of a category of cakes known as self-saucing cakes. Self-saucing cakes, just as it sounds, create their own “sauce” as they bake. So when the cake is done, you have a dessert with a cake portion and a rich sauce that, when cool, is closer to a pudding.
You don’t need to frost self-saucing cakes. We like to top them with a little ice cream or fruit though, because as far as presentation goes, they aren’t the prettiest.
The good thing about this type of cake is the simplicity! You’ll see that you probably already have all the ingredients you need to make this easy hot fudge cake in your pantry.
What kind of pan do I need?
The recipe makes a single 6-inch cast-iron skillet cake. I use the cast iron skillets because they’re cute and cast iron creates a nice crust.
If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet though, the recipe works just as well in a 6-inch cake pan or small baking dish.
If you only have little glass ramekins, split the batter into 3-4 for individual desserts. The baking time will be a few minutes shorter.
Just keep in mind that this cake rises! It is scaled *perfectly* for the mini cast iron pans. If baking in individual dishes, I wouldn’t fill them more than 1/2 to 2/3 full. I also recommend placing the skillet or ramekins on a lined baking dish just in case there are any drips.
I haven’t had drips from the skillets (but it’s been close), and for ramekins, it just depends on how much batter I put in each.
A few hot fudge cake recipe notes…
This recipe is really easy, even for beginner bakers, which I love. When you want a chocolate fix, or are trying to impress your special someone, dessert doesn’t have to be complicated!
This cake recipe is naturally egg-free, and can easily be made dairy-free. Non-dairy milk works perfectly in place of the regular milk in the recipe. Be sure to grab non-dairy ice cream too!
It also doesn’t matter the fat content of the milk you have on hand. The recipe works well with everything from skim to whole milk.
We’ve also found we like to use coffee in the recipe. It adds a little oomph to the chocolate flavor. If you don’t have coffee, or don’t drink coffee, use water instead. If you use water instead of coffee, I’d recommend adding a little more vanilla or maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon for flavor.
Finally, the cake is delicious as-is, BUT, a scoop of ice cream really takes it over the top! We opt for a classic vanilla ice cream and top it with a drizzle of my easy chocolate syrup and homemade caramel sauce. Then it’s like a next-level brownie sundae with the contrast between the warm and gooey fudge cake and the sweet and cool ice cream!
If you don’t like ice cream or don’t have any on hand, some whipped cream and fresh fruit would also be a lovely alternative topping.
I hope you love this easy dessert recipe for two, darlings! Happy baking!
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 teaspoons cocoa powder, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons milk (cow or non-dairy)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons neutral-flavored oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/3 cup hot coffee or water
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. If you are not using a seasoned mini cast-iron skillet, grease a 6-inch baking dish or the individual ramekins. Place on a lined baking sheet and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil, and vanilla.
- Pour the milk mixture into the flour and stir until just combined.
- Pour the batter into your baking dish.
- Combine the brown sugar and remaining 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder in a small bowl and sprinkle over the cake batter.
- Evenly pour the hot coffee (or water) over the sugar and batter. Don't stir anything.
- Place the baking sheet and baking dish into the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the edges are baked and the center looks cooked. A tester won't come out clean because of the sauce. See notes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack.
- Serve warm. Top with ice cream, or whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!
- You may use whatever milk you have on hand. Even the dairy-free milk works well, which is great because that makes this recipe dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan-friendly! Just be sure to use dairy-free ice cream or whipped topping, if using.
- You don't need to pull out the big mixing bowls for this recipe, I usually mix everything up in a cereal bowl, a small measuring cup, and a ramekin.
- If you are using the small cast iron skillet, it should be seasoned, so you don't need to add anything else. For easier cleanup when I bake this in glass dishes or a 6-inch cake pan, I spray with a little nonstick spray. This is especially helpful if you're not baking in the dish you plan to serve (i.e. - the cake pan).
- Every time I've made this recipe in the skillet it's been done at exactly 20 minutes. But if your oven runs hot or cold, you might have a variation of about 2 minutes to either side of this baking time.
- If you are baking this recipe in individual ramekins, your baking time will be about 12-15 minutes.
- As the cake cools, the sauce will thicken to a soft pudding consistency. The cake can be refrigerated but is best when served at room temperature or slightly warm.
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