Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt over a large bowl. Add milk, 3 tablespoons butter, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in a 375° oven for 15 minutes. Place 1 tablespoon butter in preheated pan, swirling to evenly coat pan. Add batter, spreading evenly over pan. Pour water mixture slowly over batter; do not stir (mixture will bubble). Bake at 375° for 28 minutes or until cake is set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
As my best friend's 3-year old would say, this is ewww! I was really hoping this would come out as good as it looked in the picture but it did not. It has way too much sugar and not nearly enough chocolate flavor. I don't know if I did something wrong but the simple syrup was still like it was before I put it on the oven except it was one the bottom instead of the top. The top was ok but needed more chocolate and the rest of it was like eating brown flavorless simple syrup that just made the top part seem like wet bread. I won't be making this again.
I made this in an 8" square baking dish and it turned out great. I cut the syrup back to a cup of sugar and a cup of water, and that seemed to be just about perfect for the size of the pan. My only complaint is that the sauce is too sweet and didn't pick up much chocolate flavor from the cake batter. I may experiment with substituting raspberry jam for some of the sugar in the syrup the next time I make this,
I served this for a casual barbecue we hosted tonight, and it was great! The recipe was more finicky than others for chocolate pudding cake, but it was worth it! The presentation was fantastic in the cast iron skillet (I used a deep 9 inch skillet, and it was -just- deep enough to contain everything once the sugar water was added). The top of the cake crusted really nicely- it was yummy with a a soft textured cake under a light sugary crusted topping, and lots of gooey sauce underneath. The sauce was thick, not unlike hot fudge sauce. I added an extra 1/4c cocoa, and cut down the sugar by 1/3c. I could have cut down on the sugar a bit more and added more cocoa for an exclusively adult audience- the recipe as-is is too sweet. That said, this recipe is a keeper!
I probably would've been disappointed if I'd tried this recipe without knowing what I was getting into. I'd made a very similar recipe from a slow cooker cookbook several years ago and I loved it. I was interested in trying the iron skillet version and my guests really enjoyed it! I used a gourmet cocoa powder, so maybe that's why mine tasted chocolatey. Although, even though I used the correct size skillet, the amount of water in the dish was a little too much... mine boiled over a little bit in the oven and made a mess! It still tasted great, though, and my guests went on and on about the ooey gooey chocolatey goodness! I'll definitely make this again, but may try experimenting to make it less sweet.