Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mississippi Mud Cake

Rich and decadent, dense and fudge-like, Mississippi Mud Cake is made with cocoa, topped with marshmallows, a buttery cocoa icing and salted, toasted pecans.
Rich and decadent, dense and fudge-like, Mississippi Mud Cake is made with cocoa, topped with marshmallows, a buttery cocoa icing and salted, toasted pecans.

Mississippi Mud Cake

While there is some slight variation in recipes for Mississippi Mud Cake among us Southerners, they all contain flour, sugar, eggs, cocoa, butter, pecans, a layer of marshmallow and a buttery, powdered sugar and cocoa icing. Some folks use large fluffy marshmallows, some minis, and some use marshmallow creme. Some put all of the pecans in the cake, others of us put them on top, others divide them between. Some even add coconut. You can visit some of those varieties on our Facebook page. They are all wonderfully rich and decadent.

You'll notice that there is no leavening in this cake at all, just plain all purpose flour. That's because it's a cake that is intended to be pretty dense, more like a fudgey brownie really, and not at all fluffy like a typical cake would be.

It is thought that the basic concept of this cake was likely created by a home cook sometime after World War II, because it was made with mostly pantry staples, simple ingredients that could easily be found. The actual name Mississippi Mud Cake and the exact method, probably got attached to it a little later though, with the first known printed recipe believed to have been in a newspaper column sometime during the early 70s. Its roots, however, are surely deeply implanted in the hearts of all of us who live in the Deep South.

Mississippi Mud Cake is quite rich and sweet, and since I am more of a savory gal, I like to counter that sweetness with pecan that I have roasted in butter and salted. My cake is the dense version and what I top it with depends on what I have on hand. Most times I will use mini marshmallows, but I use marshmallow creme as well. Either will do just fine. I actually had less of one and more of the other for this posting, so I used a bit of a combination of both. By the way, did you know you can freeze marshmallows? You sure can!

You know how it goes. You open a bag of marshmallows, use part of it for something like hot cocoa, then seal it up and stick it in the pantry. The next time you reach for them they are a big blob of stuck together gooey mess. Useless and in the trash they go. Hate that! Next time, stick the leftovers right in their bag, inside a freezer bag, then stick them in your freezer and I promise you that when you reach for them again, they will be as fresh as the day you opened them the first time. Well, given that you use them sooner, rather than later. For whatever scientific reason, they freeze individually and they don't stick together. So instead of sticking them in the pantry to take up space until you need them and have to throw them away, try the freezer!

The icing that tops the cake should crack a bit as it dries, and has been said to somewhat resemble the mud along the Mississippi River's edge, as it looks on a hot and dry summer day. Traditionally the icing is just poured on top in a layer, much like a Texas Sheet Cake, but I like to lightly swirl a spoon through some of the parts of the frosting where the marshmallows stick through. Then I toss on some of those buttery, salted, roasted pecans for that salty sweet I so love.

Mississippi Mud Cake is loaded with butter, a lot of butter... so it's quite rich and sweet, and best served in small squares. For a Christmas sweets tray or to serve for a party, I like to cut it into even smaller, more bite-sized squares, that fit into a candy cup. Small bites are all that is needed.

Try to also make this cake a day or two ahead of when you want to serve it. Time seems to allow the flavor to settle a bit and dull some of the sweetness. Store in the fridge to extend the shelf life, but remember to allow it to come to room temperature for serving, although it is also quite good and very fudge-like when its cold right out of the fridge.

Here's how to make my version.

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Recipe: Mississippi Mud Cake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 25 min
Total time: 40 min

Yield: About 8 to 10 servings


For the Topping:
  • 1 cup of pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
For the Cake:
  • 1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa (like Hershey's)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) bag of mini marshmallows or 1 (7 ounce) jar of marshmallow creme
For the Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (1 pound) box of powdered sugar, sifted

Toss the pecans with the melted butter and roast in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until fragrant. Remove and sprinkle with salt, transfer to a plate to cool. Once cooled, coarsely chop.

For the cake, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan; set aside. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa. Add the eggs, vanilla and cooled, melted butter; mix until blended. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degree F. for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle the marshmallows, or place dollops of the marshmallow creme, all over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Once the marshmallows or creme begins to melt, use a spatula to carefully spread out some, but leave a few bumps from the marshmallow.

For the frosting, melt together the last stick of butter with the milk until hot. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and vanilla. Add in the sifted powdered sugar and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, returning to a low burner if mixture thickens too quickly. Immediately pour the frosting evenly all over the marshmallow layer. Immediately scatter the toasted pecans over the top, set entire pan aside on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into small squares.

Cook's Notes: When you pour the icing on, lightly drag a wooden spoon in spots to create some swirls in the top of the cake if desired. Increase pecans to 2 cups and divide, putting one cup in the cake batter, and one cup on top. I like to cut these into squares small enough to fit into a candy cup and store them in the refrigerator, layered with wax paper in a covered container. Bring them to room temperature before serving.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on December 19, 2012
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