When I was living in Los Angeles, a co-worker brought this cake to an office potluck party. His mother used to make it for him and it was one of his childhood favorites. I begged and he was gracious enough to share the recipe. His version has coconut in it and I have added it to this recipe, but you can leave it out if you like. Full of the flavors of Rocky Road, you will be very popular if you bring this to your next gathering.
There are as many versions of this recipe as there are cooks in the South. The one I make is a thin chocolate cake topped with marshmallow cream and covered with a fudgy topping. Rich and decadent, it is a crowd pleaser. It is a common sight at potlucks and community dinners. Served all over the Deep South, but predominantly in Louisiana and Mississippi, it is the favorite cake of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson.
A source of great debate, it seems likely that this cake originated in the Gulf States around the middle of the 20th century. It got its name because the crusty top resembles the mud of the Mississippi river! No matter where it originated or what it is called, all chocoholics agree that this is one dessert that satisfies even the most ardent chocolate lover!
Most of the recipes call for mini marshmallows, and you can certainly use them, but I prefer the smoother surface you get when you use marshmallow cream. It is also easier to spread the fudge frosting over. Heating the cream in the microwave makes it much easier to work with. Be very careful not to touch the sides of the baking pan. I would hate you to burn yourself! This is a time when having an off-set spatula really helps!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
For those who say they hate the flavor of coconut, have them try this cake. They’ll become converts. This is very rich and sweet, so cut smaller pieces and let everyone come back for seconds!
Kitchen Skill: Working with Melted Butter Frostings
Why: Knowing how quickly this kind of frosting sets up
How: You need to keep this warm until ready to use because it hardens quickly and will become very difficult to work with. Pouring it over the hot cake helps keep it pliable while you spread it out. Don’t worry if it doesn’t go on smoothly, that is part of its charm. It is a rustic looking cake! The more you work with this kind of frosting, the more comfortable you’ll get.
Mississippi Mud Cake
Slightly modified from “Southern Cakes” by Nancie McDermott
Yield: 12 to 14 servings
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into big chunks
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs, beaten well
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coconut, optional
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3-1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup milk or evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 jar marshmallow cream, heated until spreadable, or 4 cups mini marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13×9-inch pan.
To Make the Cake: In a medium saucepan combine the butter and cocoa powder and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the butter is melted and the mixture is well blended, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the beaten eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, coconut, and pecans and beat until the batter is well combined and the flour has disappeared.
Quickly pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake springs back when touched gently in the centre and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
While the cake bakes, prepare the frosting so it is ready to pour over the hot cake.
To Make the Frosting: In a medium bowl combine the confectioner’s sugar and the cocoa powder and stir to mix well. Add the melted butter, milk and vanilla and beat everything together well. Keep warm until the cake is done.
Remove the cake from the oven, spread the marshmallow cream or scatter the marshmallows over the top, and then return the cake to the hot oven for about 3 minutes to soften the marshmallows. Remove from the oven and smooth the top with an off set spatula.
Place the cake, still in the pan, on a wire rack. Quickly pour the frosting all over the marshmallow covered cake and cool to room temperature. Due to its richness, cut the cake into small squares and serve.