Grandma’s Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

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I feel like we know each other well enough now that I can share with you a few family secrets. Like my Grandma’s Hot Fudge Sundae Cake.

It’s a really big deal.

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My grandma has made all of her granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law a cookbook, with recipes written out by hand and pictures from cooking magazines. She collects recipes from family members to contribute, so it is an amazing compilation of well-loved recipes.


This cake has been my favourite dessert for many, many, many years. Certainly all throughout my childhood. And as I’ve grown up and started experimenting more in the kitchen, I tend not to make the same recipe repeatedly because there are just so many that I want to try.

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But I made some pork chops in the slow cooker, and they tasted great, they just didn’t look great. And I have a hard time wanting to share things with you guys that don’t photograph well. Because we eat with our eyes first, they say.

So after supper I was feeling like I should make something blogworthy, but I just didn’t have a lot of energy. I wanted something outstanding without putting in a ridiculous amount of time. And I didn’t want to mess around a lot with recipes I don’t know.

So it just made sense that I would share this with you today.

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I made this entire cake, minus the baking, in the time it took my husband to unload and reload the dishwasher.

Not that it was a race.

(It was a race.)

And it’s not like it took him a really long time. I’m telling you, 10 minutes max and you can have this baby in the oven. The ingredients are all simple: there’s nothing to be chopped, melted, sifted, whatever it is that takes extra time. It’s all about minimal effort and maximum wow factor.

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This recipe is awesome for entertaining, too. You could make the batter, spread it in the pan, top with the brown sugar mixture and then cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Then just pour the hot water on top and bake.

This cake has a chewy, almost brownie-like layer on the top and a thick, hot, rich chocolate sauce on the bottom. And it’s divine. Grab a tub of your favourite ice cream and go to town.

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Grandma’s Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious chocolate cake that makes its own hot fudge sauce while it bakes, right in the pan! This is amazing served with any flavour of ice cream: mint, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry -- you name it!
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or sub all-purpose)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp + ¼cup cocoa, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1¾ cup hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa, baking powder, salt, milk, oil and vanilla. Batter will be very thick -- don't fear. You might need to stir with a metal spoon.
  3. Spread batter into a greased 9" pie plate or square pan (*Note: make sure your pan has tall sides, otherwise your cake might run over a bit.)
  4. Combine brown sugar and ¼ cup cocoa. Spread over batter.
  5. Top with hot water (I use freshly boiled). Bake for about 30-35 minutes until top is dry and puffed. (*Note: put a cookie sheet underneath your pan in the oven, just in case a little spills over).
  6. Serve warm with ice cream.

You might also like this Nutella Brownie Fruit Pizza!Nutella Brownie Fruit Pizza: a Nutella and cream cheese filling on a fudgy brownie base, topped with tons of fresh berries! Chocolate fruit pizza is the best kind!

Or these Snickers Brownie Bites!Snickers Brownie Bites: mini brownies topped with peanut butter frosting, caramel and salted peanuts -- an epic combination! Freezer-friendly

More chocolatey treats from friends:

Death by Chocolate Icebox Cake from Life Love and Sugar.

Triple Chocolate Poke Cake from Beyond Frosting.

Crepe Cake with Chocolate Ganache from Food Faith Fitness.

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  1. says

    Oh man, I was scrolling through Pinterest and saw your recipe. It looked so good I immediately clicked over. I’m making this this weekend for sure. I know my husband and I will love it!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks! I think I’ve only had it about 18,000 times since birth and I don’t think it will ever get old!

  2. Becky says

    First…. My family & I loved this incredible dessert. I was surprised though how much I could taste the whole wheat flour. This is the first dessert I’ve made with whole wheat instead of white flour. Have you substituted white flour instead?

    • Ashley says

      You know, I use whole wheat flour a lot in my baking. I think I would notice a change maybe if I switched to white flour, but I never really notice! It would definitely work fine if you use all-purpose though!

  3. says

    This is literally in the oven as I write this! I am so excited to try this!! I had to use coconut oil in the recipe, ill be sure to let you know how it is! Thank you for sharing her recipe how wonderful! love your site, I am following you now on all platforms xoxo Ashley from

        • Ashley says

          It shouldn’t be watery at all, but it does make a good amount of hot fudge sauce. The cake layer will be on top, and the bottom half will be hot fudge sauce. How was it in the end?

        • Cassie Hernandez says

          I just took mine out of the oven as well. I smells delicious. But it looks really watery under the crust layer. I cooked it for about 40 minutes. I am going to pull it out and see what happens when the fudge under sets up a little. Thank you for sharing!

  4. says

    AshleIy-I think I’m probably a lot older than you are-my family is raised and gone and their kids are mostly raised and gone. I first came across this recipe in a 50th Anniversary issue of a Gold Medal Flour book. Back then we didn’t have a lot of money and this was my favorite go-to recipe for a quick inexpensive dessert that EVERYONE wanted more of. I still have that old cookbooklet and still go to it for great recipes. I know that anyone who tries it will keep and make it over and over.

  5. Abhilash says

    Hi Ashley,

    This is perfect since this doesn’t contain eggs! I have a questions and would really appreciate it if you could help. I have 2.5 kilos of Callebaut chocolate with me and it isn’t in powder form. How can I use that instead of using Chocolate powder for this cake? Thanks for your help!

    • Ashley says

      It would take a big of experimenting. To make the sauce, you really need the dry powder combined with the hot water, so I’m not sure how you could make that work. You might be able to find another recipe that doesn’t use cocoa powder.

  6. Peggy Jane says

    My mom made this for me on my birthday every year, except instead of hot water at the end she used a hot cup of strong coffee, gave it just a hint of mocha flavor. Glad I found this, better late than never! Thanks!

  7. says

    I was wondering if I could use a cast iron skillet in place of the pie pan and if so do you think it would be better to use an 8 inch or a 10 3/4 inch skillet?

    • Ashley says

      I’ve never made it in cast iron but I’m sure it’s possible! I would just keep a close eye on it as it bakes because cast iron will probably conduct heat differently. I think I would use a 10 3/4 just to be safe because it does get quite close to the top. It depends on the depth of the pan though — an 8″ might be fine if it’s deep enough. Hope that helps!

  8. Jordan says

    Saw this yesterday and its in the oven right now! it smells amazing. My only tough choice is do i share or is it all mine…

  9. Debi says

    I promise, if you put this down and back away slowly, no one will be hit with flying sauce! I believe I have found a recipe for a get-together my girlfriends and I do every year to “out-do” each other.

    God bless your Grandmother for keeping the recipes and the love alive! Whenever you make something from her, it’s like sending a hug!

  10. says

    How cool that your grandma put a cookbook together! I wish mine would have done that, great way to keep all those yummy recipes around.

    This hot fudge sundae cake sounds right up my alley. I am a chocoaholic, so anything rich, gooey, and chocolately is a winner! :)

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Krista! It is pretty special for all of us grandkids! I don’t know many people who can turn down a piece of this with some melty ice cream on top :)

  11. says

    Mmm! This looks scandalously delish. My mom has made something like this a few times, but I don’t have her recipe (and she probably already tossed the magazine where she likely found it.) Love, love the pics and can’t wait to try this. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the stories behind heirloom recipes.

  12. Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says

    Holy yum!! So awesome that your grandma made you a cookbook! :) Thanks so much for sharing at Freedom Fridays! :)

  13. Lee willie says

    Hi, new here and will be giving this recipe a go for my family, one question though, when you add the water it goes straight on top of the brown sugar mix is that right?

    • Ashley says

      Yes! You have to be careful putting it in the oven so it doesn’t slosh over the sides (you’ll want to use a deep dish), but it’s what makes the delicious sauce!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Matt! It’s been my favorite for quite some time! There are quite a few more treasures in there to bring to the blog someday :)

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