I had people over for the at-perigee lunar eclipse last weekend. My building has a pretty good roof deck and if the moon is going to go from Supermoon to OHMYGOD NO MOON in a matter of an hour or so, better to have company. The menu was pretty simple, my friend N. brought a salad, and I roasted a couple of pork tenderloins and made macaroni and cheese (from scratch, my proprietary recipe).
I wanted to do something appropriate for dessert--I figured something very dark would be right. So in looking through my cook's illustrated database, once I decided I wasn't making moon cookies, a hot fudge pudding cake seemed like the thing.
HFPC (since I'm already tired of typing it out) is fun and super-simple. A single batter turns into a brownie-ish cake layer on top and a rich pudding layer down below. I love the recipe because, first, it's ridiculously delicious (if a little unsightly-- Cooks Illustrated says it's too 'homely' to make for company). And second, it's one of those recipes that totally looks like you're doing it wrong.
You start with a standard-looking, brownie-like batter.
Then you sprinkle a combo of cocoa, brown sugar, and regular sugar over the top.
THEN, you gently pour a cup of coffee over the whole thing (you can use water too). So it goes into the oven looking like nothing so much as an overwatered potted plant, or a flash flood in a very brown desert.
And yet, somehow, in the oven, the cake part bakes, puffs, and floats, while the coffee melds with the cocoa and sugar and sinks to the bottom and congeals into a pudding. Darned if I know how it works, but it's some of the very best kind of kitchen magic.
And, agreed, Cook's Illustrated, the finished HFPC is "homely." But my gosh, if the moon is going to vanish possibly never to return, it's a fine way to say farewell. The cake vanished pretty quickly, too.
Here's the moon rising over the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, by the way.