My grandma passed away over 15 years ago, but she's still my inspiration. I think about her all the time and every time I accomplish something special or my children reach a milestone, I think about how happy she would be, if she could see it.

Her first language was a dialect of Scottish Gaelic - this was the norm in the part of eastern Canada where I'm from. Nearly all of us are descended from Highland Scots - they basically just moved from the Scottish Highlands to what are known as the Cape Breton Highlands.

They didn't completely assimilate into Canadian culture because they were very isolated. Hence the Gaelic.

My grandma grew up on the side of a mountain in a house that doesn't exist anymore (except for the foundations). It's now a dense, mountain forest where a small farm once stood.

She didn't have much, growing up, but she could make anything with her hands.

By the time I came along, she was confined to a wheelchair - a result of Multiple Sclerosis. She lived with us after my grandpa died and my mother worked full-time, so I spent my days with grandma, watching her knit and bake.

She always had the most delicious baked goods for my brothers, cousins and myself to munch on after school. Her baked chocolate pudding was my favourite.

It may not be her recipe, but it's hers as I remember it. It may have been a great-aunt's or a neighbour's. But whenever grandma made this, it was special - and very delicious - with it's spongy top and saucy bottom.

Baked Chocolate Pudding

Grandma MacLean's baked chocolate pudding. \ Janine Kennedy

Serves 8-10


For the cake:

128g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

60g good quality cocoa

125g granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

125ml buttermilk

60ml strong coffee

30g melted butter

For the sauce:

200g light brown sugar

60g good quality cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp sea salt

250ml hot, strong coffee


  • 1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • 2 Sift all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Stir the hot coffee and melted butter together. Add the buttermilk/vanilla to the dry ingredients, then the coffee/butter mixture. Mix the batter until everything is just combined (don’t overmix). Pour the batter into an ungreased pie dish or small casserole dish and spread evenly on the pan.
  • 3 Mix the hot coffee, boiling water and vanilla and set aside. Mix the cocoa and brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
  • 4 Pour the hot water/coffee mixture evenly over the top.
  • 5 Place the pie/casserole dish on a sheet pan (in case it overflows) and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • 6 Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream.