Sauce: In a bowl, combine brown sugar, cocoa powder, boiling water and liqueur. Stir well and pour into prepared dish. CakeIn a separate bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder. Stir to blend. Add milk, butter, eggs and vanilla and mix just until blended. Fold in nuts, if using. Pour gently over sauce. Cover dish with foil and secure with a string. Place dish in slow cooker stoneware and pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the dish. Cover and cook on High for 2-1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve hot, with sauce spooned over the cake and a dollop of ice cream, if using. Tips I recommend using a liqueur that complements the flavors of the nuts —Frangelico, if you’re using hazelnuts, or Amaretto, if using almonds. Plain brandy will work well with either. To blanch and toast hazelnuts, bring 2 cups (500 mL) of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons (25 mL) baking soda. (The water will foam up, so skim off the foam periodically.) Add nuts and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pop the skins off using your fingers and discard skins. Place peeled nuts on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Chop the nuts on a cutting board, using a sharp knife. The same techniques work for almonds, but omit baking soda from the blanching water. Variation Double Chocolate Pudding Cake: Substitute 1/2 cup (125 mL) chocolate chips for the nuts and use a chocolate or coffee-flavored liqueur or brandy in the sauce.
Recipes from SLOW COOKER COMFORT FOOD by Judith Finlayson
(Robert Rose, September 2009, Softcover/$24.95)