Hot Fudge Sundae Congo Cake

Anytime my large family gathers, my preschool-age son, Alex, looks for the cake, assuming it’s got to be someone’s birthday. Even if it’s not a birthday, just about any special occasion or gathering doesn’t feel complete without a sweet treat to top it off. This weekend we’ll be celebrating group-style for three mid-June birthdays, so while others will be making wishes on the candles, Alex will get his wish—cake.

I’m not sure what type of cake my sister Carol will make for our collective celebration, but one Real Food reader will hopefully get this Hot Fudge Sundae Congo Cake soon, as the birthday person usually gets to choose the sweet for their special day—even if it’s a non-traditional birthday cake.

“Our family went crazy for the Hot Fudge Congo Cake,” wrote reader Dave Terry, who couldn’t find the recipe in their pile of Real Food magazines or in their recipe books. When I sent a copy of the recipe from a previous issue, Dave wrote: “You have made our family very happy! I proclaimed last year that I will settle for nothing but Congo Cake on my birthday for as long as I live. My birthday is in a week and my wife and kids were scrambling to find the recipe!”

Hope Dave has a Happy Birthday this June 28!

The recipe is by Elinor Klivans, author of many cookbooks, including Fearless Baking: Over 100 Desserts That Anyone Can Make. While this would be a welcome choice for a gathering, it doesn’t need to be anyone’s birthday or a special occasion to enjoy this chocolaty treat!

Hot Fudge Sundae Congo Cake

Serves 10

Many years ago the recipe for Congo Bars appeared on a package of chocolate chips and quickly became popular around the country. Now Congo Bars become a quick-to-make one-layer cake topped with ice cream and fudge sauce.

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. (packed) light brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. (4 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts

Fudge Sauce
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. unsalted butter
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips or semisweet
chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 pints ice cream (vanilla, coffee, and black raspberry are possibilities, pick your favorites)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch diameter baking pan that is 2 inches deep, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

For the cake, in a small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. In a large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on low speed for about 30 seconds until smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla to blend them. Mix in the flour mixture, mixing just until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs (but not batter) clinging to it, about 55 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a small, sharp knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Place a wire rack against the top of the cake and invert it onto the wire rack to cool. Discard the parchment paper. Invert the cooled cake onto a serving plate (the cake will sink slightly in the center) so it is top side up.

For the sauce, heat the cream and butter over medium-low heat until the cream is hot and the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the chocolate chips and let them sit in the hot cream mixture for about 30 seconds to soften. Add the vanilla and slowly whisk the sauce until it is smooth and all of the chocolate melts.

Cut the cake into wedges and top with ice cream (you will not use all of the ice cream) and warm chocolate sauce.

Nutrition info (per serving): CALORIES 881 (445 from fat); FAT 51 g (sat. 27g); CHOL 140 mg; SODIUM 336mg; CARB 104g; FIBER 4g; PROTEIN 10g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.