Mollie Katzen’s Chocolate Eclipse

chocolate pudding cake

So you probably have your Super Bowl menu all lined up. Chips and dips, sliders and smokies — your bases are covered. But have you thought about dessert? No? Phew. Because I’ve got just the thing: Mollie Katzen’s Chocolate Eclipse, a pudding cake that feeds a crowd. Everyone will go gaga.

I learned about Chocolate Eclipse from one of you — thank you! — via email, and after finding the recipe online, I made it immediately. It was too intriguing not to.

Now, let me preface this by saying I know absolutely nothing about making pudding cakes — chocolate, lemon, buttermilk, whatever — but this cake was like none I had made before, including its dainty, molten soft chocolate kin.

The process starts off familiarly: wet ingredients (buttermilk, vanilla, melted chocolate and butter) get stirred into dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, salt and leavenings), chocolate chips are folded in, and after everything is mixed together, the batter gets spread into a 9×13-inch pan.

But then the assembly takes a wild turn. After the batter is covered by a blanket of brown sugar and cocoa powder (which ultimately become the pudding), 2.5 cups of boiling water get poured overtop. As the water meets this sandy layer, plumes of cocoa rise and swirl, and when the cake begins looking like a Breaking Bad set prop, you’ll need some encouragement. Katzen offers it: “It will look terrible, and you will not believe you are actually doing this, but try to persevere.”

In the oven, the pudding layer sinks to the bottom and the cake rises to the top, emerging with a surface dimpled with deep fudgy craters. When inverted into serving bowls, the built-in fudge sauce becomes the topping, and while a scoop of vanilla ice cream would make for an ultimate experience, this pudding cake is utterly delicious on its own.

Katzen notes that Chocolate Eclipse tastes best about an hour or two after it has emerged from the oven, but waiting this long will take some serious meditation. And you don’t have to. Try refraining for at least 30 minutes, then tuck in.

Chocolate Eclipse: part cake; part pudding. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat your pudding, too? Have a wonderful weekend, Everyone.


spreading out the bottom layer

adding the cocoa & brown sugar

adding the hot water

just-baked chocolate eclipse cake

spooning the cake

serving of chocolate eclipse cake

A few ideas for Super Bowl Sunday: Real Sour Cream and Onion Dip, Honey Soy Chicken Wings, The Easiest (Best?) Ribs, Sheet Pan Mac n’ Cheese, Traditional Mac n’ Cheese, Baked Fontina, Cheese Sticks, Buttermilk Cornbread, My Favorite Brownies, Brown Butter Blondies with Sea Salt, Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

More Super Bowl ideas here.

Mollie Katzen's Chocolate Eclipse

Source: Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu


  • butter for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz | 318 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar, divided (weight measurements in recipe)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1.75 oz | 48g) unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together. (I did this in the microwave.)
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat buttermilk gently until just a little warmer than body temperature being careful not to boil or cook it. (Note: I barely heated my buttermilk because I was so worried about it curdling, and next time, I am going to just skip this part. I will report back.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, 1 cup (7.25 oz | 208 g) 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.
  5. Pour melted chocolate and butter into dry ingredients. Pour in buttermilk and vanilla. Stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired. Spread into the prepared pan.
  6. Combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups (260 g | 9.25 oz) 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 (I say closer to 30 — I did 31), or until the center is firm to the touch.
  9. Cool for at least 30 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.

just-baked chocolate eclipse cake

just-baked chocolate eclipse cake

Incidentally, this might be one of my favorite kitchen tools: a 4-cup catamount measuring cup. It is made of borosilicate glass (super strong glass, the material of the old Pyrex), which means you can, among other things, put the measuring cup directly over a flame. I know, amazing, right? I feel like Walt every time I use it.
heating the catamount flameware


  1. Laurie says

    It looks like a swimming pool full of chocolate! Time to dive in! Thanks for all the Super Bowl ideas duckie, I have way too many choices but need to narrow it down before I shop tomorrow! Have a great weekend! XO!

  2. Amy Laughhunn says

    O M G ! Now THIS after the mac and cheese?!?! You and Katzen should be locked up. You’re killin’ me! Oh, never mind. Get the behind me Satan —- and push.

    • says

      Haha, I love it, you are hilarious! I know, this one is completely impossible to ignore in the kitchen. Every time I walk by, I do a drive-by spoon dip. It tastes good even three days later.

  3. says

    TWO Breaking Bad references in this post make you the coolest ever. Good grief, I’m not even a chocolate person but this is calling to me. It looks insanely good! My husband has a Superbowl potluck at work this weekend (he works Sundays — I know, criminal!), this would actually get to sit for a couple hours before being eaten. Perfection!

  4. says

    Haha, Ben and I just started Breaking Bad — we’re only two episodes in, but I’m into it.

    Sophie, are you more of a lemon dessert person? Have you ever made a lemon pudding cake? I am on this kick now.

    • says

      I haven’t made lemon pudding cake before! Are you going to post one? :) I like lemon desserts, I just dont have that much of a sweet tooth, but resistance is futile against my mother’s lemon bars.

      Are you getting sucked in to Breaking Bad? One of the most legitimately on-the-edge-of-my-seat shows I’ve watched. Ever. LOVE IT

      • says

        YEs! We love it. Somehow we can only find like one night a week to watch it, but it is so nice to have a series again…I felt lost after Season 2 Homeland ended, and now I have to wait for season 3 to get on Amazon.

        I am dying to make a lemon pudding cake. I love lemony desserts but Ben isn’t too much a fan. I will be sure to let you know if I get around to trying one :)

  5. Sandy says

    In Oz this desert is known as the self saucing pudding … lazy cooks can even buy it in packet form! These types of recipes differ from lemon delicious where a light batter (separating eggs and folding in the whisked whites) incorporating quite a large volume of lemon juice separates during baking into a gorgeous light cake with a tart lemony sauce underneath. Back to choc self saucing, I ‘m a raisin addict so also love to throw a handful of raisins into the batter.

    • says

      Oh fun! My stepfather would approve of the raisin addition — his favorite is funeral pie…ever tried that one? I am so curious about the lemon pudding cakes now. Thank you for your input!

  6. sana says

    OH, I love walt! Can’t get over. This looks like a perfect dessert for my husband’s birthday next week. Thanks!

    • says

      Score is right! This makes me so happy. Isn’t it kind of impossible not to hover over this cake spoon in hand? I find it irresistible. Thanks so much for writing in!

  7. Sandy says

    This is sinfully delicious! I did not have buttermilk so I substituted sour cream and thinned it out with skim milk to the consistency of buttermilk…also rather than adding boiling water, I added strong boiling coffee! It was delicious! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

    • says

      Very smart! I am impressed by the sour cream-milk trick. Nice work! Love the idea of coffee, too. I’ve been thinking about a splash of booze, too? Thanks for writing in!

  8. Hannah Haws says

    I made this tonight impromptu-style wearing my 6 month old on my back while the 2 year old begged for something other than dinner .. I did not heat my milk (2% + vinegar) and made a half recipe in my 8×8 pan. I also forgot to add the cocoa powder in w/the brown sugar for on top of the cake .. where was my mind? Perhaps on the child on my back who was yanking at my pony tail .. hah

    All-in-all it is DELICIOUS and perfectly wonderful! Thank you!

    • says

      Haha, sounds like my life…I’m amazed I haven’t burned down my kitchen yet :) Glad to know this recipe can be halved because the big one is, well, big, and I am the one that does all of the heavy lifting in the dessert eating department around here. And, next time I am definitely not going to heat the buttermilk — doesn’t seem necessary and also potentially hazardous…it’s only a matter of time before I let that pot of buttermilk boil over. Anyway, so glad you liked thi!

  9. Anna says

    This is just like a cake my mom used to make when I was little, about 25 years ago, so maybe it was on the back of the Hersheys box?
    I made it tonight and it was a huge hit. I’m an ex-pat living overseas, so anything baked is always a luxury. This is going to be a weekly request!

    • says

      So happy to hear this! I know, it’s one of those old-fashioned but timeless totally comforting and delicious desserts. I love making it for company. So happy you liked it, too!

  10. Kirsten says

    Hello, I’m kind of late to the party on this – it looks amazing. I’m wondering what kind of buttermilk you use? I’ve always purchased buttermilk at my local Kroger store, and had great success. However, I recently learned that my buttermilk is not actually the milk left over from butter-making. I’d love to find some “real” buttermilk and see if there is a difference for baking. Any experience with this? Thanks so much!

    • says

      I know, Kirsten, I read about that, too! I was kind of sad to read that because I really consider buttermilk to be such a magical ingredient in cakes and pancakes/waffles and really any baked good. I am lucky enough to now live near a Co-op where I can buy Argyle Cheese Farmer buttermilk, which is delicious and works wonders though not necessarily any differently than the buttermilk I buy at the regular grocery store. I think your best chance at finding real buttermilk might be to start with heavy cream (like a good unpasteurized brand) and try to make some butter from scratch. Have you ever tried? I made it once, and it was really fun. Let me know, I will send you the recipe!

      • Kirsten says

        Thanks! I always thought it would be fun to make butter for a special occasion or something, but haven’t yet. I will keep looking for the real stuff around here.

  11. JR says

    I suspect the reason for heating the buttermilk is so that the melted chocolate doesn’t seize. melted chocolate plus cold liquid can be a disaster!
    I made this with white whole wheat flour and you would never know it was whole wheat. also added a little cocoa powder to the cake the second time around. Great recipe!

    • says

      I bet you are right — very smart, thanks for that! So happy to hear you liked this! Love the idea of using a little healthier flour as well as adding cocoa to the cake. yum!

  12. Jennie says

    I just made this, and we indulged in it after a day of fasting for Ramadan. It is so delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. I used coffee instead of water in the recipe, and served it with vanilla ice cream. It was perfect!

  13. Sana says

    Hi Alexandra,
    This is an incredible dessert and I proudly serve it when it is fresh but I was wondering if it is okay to bake this the night before serving. My husband has a potluck and he will need it early morning before leaving for work.

  14. D'Etta says

    I’m curious….can this be made the day before and then heated up for serving the next day? Looks good and easy even for a non-baker.

    • says

      Hi D’Etta, you know, I don’t think this is the best recipe to make ahead :( Part of the fun is just pulling it out of the oven and serving people when it’s hot with that dramatic, soupy chocolate layer covering every plate. I just worry that if you reheat it, the soupy layer might just cook through and not be soupy anymore. I’m sorry!

    • Sabine says

      I just made this again yesterday and reheated the leftovers today in the microwave(I’m so proud of myself for being tough enough to myself and not had everything at once. I’m thankful for that today). It was still yummy and partially gooey, but the lava cake like running out chocolate sauce is way better fresh out of the oven.

      Oh, and by the way this time I baked half the recipe in a 9″square pan for 20 min and that was perfect.

  15. says

    Hi friends, how is everything, and what you want to say on the topic of this piece of writing, in my view its genuinely
    awesome in support of me.

  16. Newbie Baker Mumbai says

    Here’s a foolproof Lemon Pudding Cake recipe –

    I know it’s foolproof because I made it and it turned out perfect.

    Btw, after the peasant bread, I tried the Thyme Rolls and the crust came out perfectly crunchy although the bread was still dense and the crust softened and became hard and chewy the next day. Realized it’s meant to be baked and eaten right away.

    Hope you try the recipe and like it. Thanks for all the help and I continue reading your blog, hoping to try something new. Will keep you posted. :)

    • says

      So happy to hear this! I tend to be lenient about storing leftovers — often the shape of the vessel determines if I will leave at room temperature or try to jam it in the fridge. If there is only enough leftover to last another day, then I would leave it out. If you see yourself eating it over the course of a few days, I would refrigerate it. Hope that helps!

      • Jennie says

        It does help. Thanks for the quick reply! There is only the two of us, so I better stick it in the fridge.

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