Chocolate Pudding Cake

by Jenn on July 11, 2012

in Desserts,Gluten Free

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding Cake

I don’t have any childhood memories baking desserts in my grandma’s kitchen.  In fact, I don’t have any memories cooking with my grandma at all.  When I spent time with my grandmother, I remember heating up a can of creamed corn or some Campbell’s soup on the stove, and grilling a bit of chicken on her “George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine” – yes, my grandmother always said the entire name of the appliance whenever she used it, she loved that thing.  She didn’t bake cakes or cookies for birthdays or holidays, she didn’t teach me how to make jams and jellies canning the Summer’s harvest, and I certainly never saw her cook anything from scratch.  For all the ‘Norman Rockwell’ style idyllic childhood memories I read about everyone reminiscing over when I peruse food writing in magazines and food blogs, I certainly did not have any, and yet I still somehow managed to develop a deep appreciation for food and cooking along the way.

And you know what? That’s totally ok.  I’m sure I’m not the only one whose childhood wasn’t imbued with such picture perfect memories.


Food isn’t about reliving some memory I don’t have that could come from a storybook.  Food is about here and now.  And no matter what your situation, food can always bring joy and bring people together.

Food doesn’t have to be painted as some fantasy image in order to be appreciated and enjoyed.  Food can be perfectly mundane and still be an integral part of our culture.  Culture is more than just one’s ancestry, culture is how we interact with each other from day to day, what we do for fun and how we share.  And in this modern world where life still happens whether or not it goes the direction we want, sharing food is something we can always find comfort in.  Maybe that’s why our society has become so obsessed with food of late.  Cookbooks are one of the few still thriving genres of print today, chefs have celebrity status, food reality TV shows are featured on nearly every station, and literally thousands of bloggers document recipes and eating experiences on the web.  I admit I’m not immune to the craze.  I’ve been blogging over four years and am an avid fan of anything Gordon Ramsay puts into print or on TV. But I’m definitely not the only one - we do love food now more than ever, don’t we? What is it about the most basic of primal pleasures that has everyone’s attention now?

My mom sent me her recipe for chocolate pudding cake, which I’m pretty sure actually came from her Southern Living cookbook.  And while we are an ocean apart each facing new challenges, we can chat together, see each other, give air hugs, and yes, even cook together thanks to the wonderful internet.  Food is one enjoyable way that my mother and I connect.  Cooking is an act of love, and so talking with my mother and seeing the birthday cake she decorated or listening to her gush over how wonderful Dorie Greenspan’s banana cream pie came out is part of how we share together.  Laptops often spend afternoons on kitchen counters and it’s as if she is right in the room with me as we each cook and chat about what we are making, talking about babies and other events in our lives or even banal topics like the weather and silly reality TV shows – and so in this manner food becomes a common thread between us.  For a time, we can forget all the struggles and worries of life and the future ahead of us, and just live in the moment cooking. Everything in the world is perfect, even if only for an instant.

That’s the power of food – it doesn’t have to sit static in a faded or wished-for memory.

Maybe the “thrill” of food is so popular now because there’s been a bit of an awakening, that food really can offer more than just taste.  Maybe we always knew this but simply failed to celebrate it before.  We look to food for inspiration, so that we can create little fantasies of perfect that whisk us away with each succulent morsel.  Or maybe, like it has always been, we just recognize the power it has to link us to those we care about and to create new moments.  Because in the end, food is not about having the fanciest ingredients or the most complicated recipe, no matter what the chefs on TV tell us.  Food is about connecting to each other, and by cooking we can create those memories and connections over and over again.

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding Cake

This chocolate pudding cake symbolizes that to me.  Often made in my parents’ home and now mine, it’s simple and humble, comforting – like a favorite book that you want to read again and again.  When oceans, time zones and life circumstances separate me from those I care about, food can transcend all those miles and bring us right back together again, at the same table, laughing and sharing stories full of love.

For another great looking gluten free version, be sure to check out Jeanine’s gluten free chocolate pudding cake over at The Baking Beauties.

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding Cake

*A note about the photography – I am quite proud of myself for styling and photographing these shots while holding a baby.  It is easier said than done!  Photographed in open shade (no tripod). EXIF: 70mm, ISO 200, SS 1/125, f/4.  Cake is garnished with currants and double crème.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Rochelle July 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

You should be proud of yourself producing such gorgeous photos with a baby! I have enough issues without one :)

I totally agree that food is about sharing and enjoying. I think we have become so food crazed in the last few years because we lost a lot of that in the 20th century due to all the prepackaged, quick and easy blah blah blah that came around at that time to get everyone out of the kitchen instead of into it.

But I’m glad to see that we are going back to the kitchen and relearning about the joys of food now even if we don’t have an idyllic picture painted in our heads from when we were kids. And with chocolate pudding cake like this, your kiddo should have those memories already forming :D

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Jenn July 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Thanks Rochelle! I agree, I think it’s a reaction to the past century or so of changes, and despite the craze of it all I do see a bit of good in it too.

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Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are} July 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Jenn – this is beautiful – and you have me craving warm chocolate pudding. Good for you getting it done with a baby in arms! It’s a new kind of challenge now!

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Jenn July 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Thanks Sara! Yes, def. a new challenge :)

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Rosa July 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm

A terrific pudding! I am drooling over my keyboard…

Like you, I don’t have that many idyllic childhood food memories. Only a few and they are quite ordinary.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Jenn July 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Thanks Rosa!

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Barbara | Creative Culinary July 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I have some of those idyllic moments Jenn but they were few and far between. They may seem more prevalent than they really were because my cooking with my grandmother are the only cooking experiences I talk about on my blog. Any time with her was magical; it was a precious weekend away from the craziness of 5 siblings and an alcoholic mother so I might even have made it more bucolic in my head than it really was because for me it was such a respite from crazy!

I am most impress that you and the baby are now working together to shoot photos; keep it up. This cake looks mahvelous dahling. :)

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Jenn July 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm

aww thanks Barbara :)

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Simone July 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm

O trust me when I say I certainly do not have any childhood memories relating to food with a mum who hated cooking and my grandma… I can’t remember anything food related there either!
I didn’t have a natural love for food although it has grown steadily over the years to be we’re I am today

I do sometimes wish I could share things like a gorgeous cake like this with my mum but unfortunately that is not the case. It does look amazing though!!

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Jenn July 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Simone! That’s one reason I love blogging, because there are such wonderful people to become friends with who also love discovering great things about food :)

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Shirley @ gluten free easily July 12, 2012 at 4:30 am

Jenn, I don’t have memories of cooking with either of my grandmothers because it didn’t happen. One grandmother had raised 6 boys and had been an awesome cook, but was done cooking by the time I was around. The other grandmother had 10 children and was also not into cooking in any form. Store-bought everything was the name of the game for them. It was my mom who was the cook/baker, but she didn’t like her kitchen messed up, so I didn’t learn to cook until I was out on my own. I’d call her with questions (and sometimes still do!), but I had to learn by doing. Still, I don’t think of any of it badly. My mom, my sister, and I still connect by talking about food and recipes. It doesn’t matter that I’m gluten free and they are not when it comes to food discussions. ;-)

I love Chocolate Pudding Cake, Jenn. Great recipe!

And major kudos for the wonderful photos you took while holding your baby. :-)

Shirley

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Jenn July 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Thanks Shirley! I love that it doesn’t matter that we are gluten free when we talk about food with my family too – gluten is not a barrier to enjoying great food!

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Vishakha July 12, 2012 at 4:58 am

Hi Jenn, When I was growing up, my grandma cooked a lot. My Mom did too. So, fortunately, I have memories of food. The sad part though is that a lot of those recipes are lost over the years. Mom doesn’t make as many of those things anymore. And grandma is no more. A few years ago, when I sat down with her to keep a record of her recipes. I recorded some, but, unfortunately, that book is lost. Now, I try to recreate the taste of things which she used to make or ask others who saw her cook.
I think one other aspect of loving food is sharing.. Coz it’s amazing how so many home cooks make such awesome food but very few are willing to share. I think the real joy of food comes in sharing the food and the recipes so that those recipes can live for years.

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Jenn July 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Thanks! That’s unfortunate about all those recipes, wish you the best of luck recreating them!

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Móna Wise July 12, 2012 at 7:53 am

You will learn to do so many things one-handed now it will be crazy!
But, by the time she is fourteen months old she will be your bestest assistant ever x

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Jenn July 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thanks Móna!

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Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 12, 2012 at 8:03 am

Jenn, Elise is so lucky to have you guys as parents – she’ll have AWESOME food memories from her childhood. Well that and sitting on mum’s hip whilst she styles her food ;) Beautiful post!

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Thanks Mardi!

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Janet July 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Absolutely beautiful photo!

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thanks so much!

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Janet July 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I forgot to ask… how’s the baby doing? are you settling into a routine?

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Jessica July 12, 2012 at 4:56 pm

When I think of food and my grandma, I think of Hershey’s syrup in a can, the cylinder shaped Kraft Colby cheese coated in wax, and some of the blandest beef stew you’ve ever tasted. God love her, I did not inherit my love of cooking from her. Granted I do it because I love it and she did it because she 8 kids to feed. She’s still one of the toughest, most awesome women I have ever known!!

And major props for these photos. They are gorgeous!

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Jenn July 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Thanks Jessica! And I think you bring up a very good point – the reasons we cook have also changed over the years just as much as our attitudes towards food.

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Courtney July 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I don’t have any of those memories, either. In fact, most of the memories I have of my mom in the kitchen are ones involving frozen pizza and frozen fajita kits. Still, I found my love of food somewhere, and my hope for Clara is that she’ll have fond memories of us together in the kitchen. I know you and your sweet girl will have the same.

One of the greatest things about food is how it can bring up memories of a special time or place, or act as a form of comfort. When I felt helpless to do anything about Clara’s birth defect, I found myself in the kitchen even more than usual. Baking with her, even though she was too small to remember, offered me healing in ways I can’t describe. Thank you for writing so elegantly the feelings which I can never find the right words to express.

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Jenn July 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Thanks so much Courtney – I definitely hope to give my baby girl good happy food memories cooking, and def agree about the healing power of cooking :)

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Joy July 12, 2012 at 11:54 pm

The cake looks wonderful. It looks so moist.

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 8:40 am

Thanks!

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katie July 13, 2012 at 12:03 am

My mom has that same cookbook =)

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 8:41 am
Jeanine ~ The Baking Beauties July 13, 2012 at 2:44 am

Oh Jenn…this isn’t good, now I want chocolate pudding cake again. It looks fantastic! Hope you’re new baby girl is treating you well! :) Thanks so much for the link, I appreciate it!

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thanks Jeanine, and thanks for the great inspiration to bake!

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Sihi July 13, 2012 at 5:39 am

What a lovely cake! Thank you for sharing.

On the memories – My grandmother rarely baked, she did cook quite a bit though. I never spent time with her cooking much, other than probably be the ‘taste tester’. I was happier to do the clean up part than cook. Its weird and funny how blogging on food changes one’s perspective and outlook towards food. I am so glad to get to interact with wonderful people with similar interests in food, through the world of blogging.

I totally admire your skills, on handling the camera and the baby together and coming up with such beautiful shots. Awesome, awesome!

Best,
Sihi

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Thanks – and yes, it is funny how much blogging has also shaped my attitude towards food – I have gotten such great inspiration, education, and friendships from blogging, it’s been wonderful :)

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Meeta July 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

For me food does have many memories attached to my grandmother and mother. Although I did not spend a lot of time with them in the kitchen do have a lot of memories of almost everything revolving around food and meals, parties and events. I think you will create some wonderful memories for your little girl Jenn. Loving everything about this pudding!

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Jenn July 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thanks so much Meeta!

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Deanna July 16, 2012 at 2:35 am

It’s funny – all your words about not growing up with a grandma teaching you to cook and how food can be about the here and now – and then you go and do a recipe that has been a family favorite in my house forever. Well, not actually in mine, as I hadn’t adapted it to be gluten-free yet. But, it was THE dessert to be had at my mom’s, whenever the oven was on and sweets were desired. And, I JUST pulled the recipe card out of the box o’ cards that my mom gave me for a Christmas present one year – the box with all the family favorites – and thought again – I need to make this again.

Love what you’ve done with it. :)

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Jenn July 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Thanks so much Deanna!

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Winnie July 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Beautiful cake, and well done on the “styling with baby”…very impressive!

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Jenn July 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Aww thanks Winnie!

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InTolerantChef July 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

Yummmmm! What a delicious pudding cake indeed! I certainly didn’t have that type of Grandma either, the only thing I remember her baking was soggy eggy baked custard. Not a favourite :)

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Jenn July 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Oh thanks!! and lol about remembering a soggy custard… I totally understand…

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Andrew July 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

to coin a phrase – You know what I like! At least your grand kids will be able to call on memories of you and your cooking.

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Jenn July 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Thanks Andrew! I hope so :)

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chinmayie @ love food eat July 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

Very well written post. I have a several food memories from my childhood but none of them involved my mother! My mom never really enjoyed cooking and even now wonders what made me love food so much!
Chocolate pudding cake looks perfect!

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Jenn July 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Thanks !!

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Nancy July 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm

this looks so good, I will have to try this!

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Chompchomp August 5, 2012 at 2:33 am

I love the shine of the gooey centre ….. makes me reeeeally want to break my promise of a bride diet (when at home) for the last six months lead up to the wedding….

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Jeanne @ CookSister! August 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Loved this post! I also sometimes feel like I was the only person who did not grow up with memories of learning to bake cinnamon cookies at Granny’s knee ;o) My childhood was pretty idyllic but it certainly included none of that – and my love of food and of my family is in no way diminished as a result. I love your description of cooking with your mom even though she is on another continent. I wish my mom had lived long enough to see the advent of interactive social media :( Love the pudding – reminds me of the magical self-saucing chocolate pudding I sometimes make :)

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Allison June 19, 2013 at 3:06 am

Absolutely stunning! I cannot wait to try…

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Cheryl September 16, 2013 at 12:24 am

I was just thinking how beautiful these photos are. Can I ask what camera and lens you used? Thanks!

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Jenn September 24, 2013 at 2:38 am

Thanks! I most often use a DSLR and a mid-length zoom lens, this was taken at near 50 mm focal length on a Nikon D300s.

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