Mississippi Mud

Dessert, Recipes
on July 13, 2008
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Don’t knock the country cousins. Take chocolate pudding cake, for example, the down-home kin of molten chocolate cakes now on fancy restaurant menus throughout America and Europe. Known to generations of delighted American children as Mississippi Mud, this unpretentious, easily made dessert offers a layer of warm, creamy almost custard-like dark chocolate pudding, hidden beneath a raft of thin, crisp-edged chocolate cake. Amazingly low in fat, put together quickly with inexpensive, easily come by ingredients, it pleases anyone with a hankering for old-fashioned, comforting desserts.

A tad less sweet and a bit more chocolaty, this updated classic is perfectly tuned to today’s bittersweet-friendly, chocolate-intensified palate.

And its name? Nathalie Dupree hypothesizes in New Southern Cooking that it may be because the top, when cooked, should be “cracked and dry-looking like Mississippi mud in the hot, dry summer.” Maybe. But Mississippi Mud also the name of a song, a blues tune written in 1928 by James Cavanaugh and Harry Barris, recorded by more than 30 different artists (including Bing Crosby, the Muppets, Dinah Shore and Ray Charles). The tune is probably as popular as the dessert, and they both appeared on the scene at roughly the same time. Alter song’s the tag line “It’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud” to “It’s a treat to get to eat that Mississippi Mud,” bake up a batch, and with the first spoonful, you’ll know that truer words were never spoken or sung.

— By Crescent Dragonwagon

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