Recipe: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cobbler

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I am a chocoholic and not afraid to admit it. I'll take a dark, rich, oozy dessert over a fruit-based one any day. So while this "chocolate cobbler" is really no cobbler at all, it doesn't mean I'm not going to eat it. And like it. I don't judge!

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It seems recipes for chocolate cobbler started going viral at some point last year. I immediately made a mental 'must bake' note and then wondered why I'd never had it — or heard even of it! — before. I mean, it has Southern yumminess written all over it! Upon doing a bit of research in my community cookbook library, I realized it's because it doesn't exist in any of the tomes that I own!

But just because I couldn't find chocolate cobbler in my old cookbooks and just because my Georgia born-and-bred grandmother didn't make chocolate cobbler for me, doesn't mean she wouldn't have had she known that it was a "thing." She was a lover of simple desserts and a lover of chocolate, and I know she would have loved this one.

So I culled all the chocolate cobbler recipes I could find online, and using them as a rough guide I pieced this one together. Now I understand that, if we're sticking to tradition, this is not, in fact, a cobbler in the true sense of the word, as it contains no fruit filling or shortbread crust. But it's also not really quite like a cake or brownies. The way it's baked — a thick layer of brown sugar and cocoa over a chocolate batter, topped with very hot water — means it bakes up to form a crispy, biscuit-like topping that swaddles a running, molten chocolate-y sea. I'd say that's cobbler enough for me!

This recipe has quite a retro vibe, but in the best way possible. Imagine a partially baked brownie (therefore the perfect brownie). It uses really basic ingredients, nothing fancy, but provides complete comfort in a bowl. I actually realized after the fact that my Chocolate Cobbler is in fact kin to Emma's Warm Fudgy Pudding Cake, a similar layered cake-brownie-cobbler hybrid with Midwestern roots.

Serve this chocolate cobbler warm from the oven, with an absolutely, positively mandatory scoop of ice cream... I'm thinking vanilla or coffee bean taste best. And if you're lucky enough to have leftovers, it makes a perfectly fine breakfast the very next day. (Not that I know from experience.)

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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cobbler

Serves 8

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)
1 1/2 cups very hot water
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a medium-sized 8 x 8 inch (or any small to medium-sized) baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the flour-sugar mixture and stir to combine (the batter will be thick.) Pour into the prepared baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar and remaining 3 tablespoons cocoa powder. Sprinkle the brown sugar-cocoa mixture evenly over the batter, followed by the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour the hot water over the top, but do not stir.

Transfer the baking dish to the oven and cook for 40 minutes, until the center is just barely set. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream.

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(Images: Nealey Dozier)

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