Active Prep: 20 min. Inactive Prep: 3 hrs. 30 min.
Difficulty: Medium
Yield: 4 servings

My first recipe for Chili’s mega-popular chocolate cake with the hot fudge center was a shortcut technique relying on a box of cake mix for the cake baked in a jumbo muffin tin with bottled fudge for the molten middle. It’s an easy recipe that makes a great dessert, but it’s not a perfect clone. This time around I’ve whipped up a hack from scratch to exactly match the taste, shape, and texture of the original you find at the restaurant chain. My first recipe called for making the cake in a jumbo muffin pan since that is a more common pan, but if you want molten cakes that resemble the Chili’s version, find yourself four 5½-inch fluted brioche pans. You can still use a jumbo muffin pan for this recipe if you don’t have brioche pans available; in that case you’ll just have a couple more smaller cakes. Plan to make this dessert several hours or a day or two ahead of time since the fudge-filled cakes will need to set up in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. When you’re ready to serve, all it takes is a quick zap in the microwave to heat up the fudgy middle.

1 cup hot water
1½ ounces (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa
7 ounces (1⅓ cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
⅓ cup granulated sugar Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract Caramel topping (Hershey’s in a jar is best)
4 scoops of vanilla ice cream Smucker’s Chocolate Magic Shell topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir the hot water into the cocoa in a medium bowl and let it sit to cool. 
  3. In another medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Use an electric mixer on high speed to combine the sugar with the butter and oil in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy. 
  5. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture, then add the chocolate. Mix until combined, then pour the batter into four 5½-inch fluted brioche pans that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. You can also use a jumbo muffin pan, filling each of 6 cups about three-quarters full. Bake for 26 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of a cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 1 hour. It’s easiest to get the cakes out of the brioche pans if you chill the cakes in the refrigerator for about an hour, then heat up the outside of each pan on your stovetop over high heat for about 5 seconds. The cakes will then slide out without falling apart. 
  6. While the cakes cool, make the fudge by combining the cream, butter, chocolate, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium/low heat. Stir often as the chocolate melts. Cook until the mixture begins to bubble around the edge, then continue cooking for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let the fudge cool uncovered for 30 minutes. 
  7. When the cakes are out of the pans, slice the domed top off of each one so that they will sit flat when inverted. Turn all of the cakes over and use a knife to make a circular slice about three-quarters of the way down into the cake. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the cake, making a well. Fill each well to the top with fudge, then chill all of the cakes for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  8. When you are ready to make the dessert, load some caramel sauce into a squirt bottle and drizzle it onto your serving plate. Microwave a cake, with the fudge well facing up, for 30 to 40 seconds on high on another plate, or until the fudge just begins to soften. Immediately slide the cake onto the plate drizzled with caramel sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream on top of the cake. Squeeze Magic Shell topping over the ice cream and serve 

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