0 One Pan Chocolate Cake with Hot Fudge Sauce

A rich chocolate cake that makes its own hot fudge sauce, all in one pan?

Sign me up!

Even better, you can make this using one bowl and no special equipment.

My neighbor made this several years ago, and it was interesting.... make up the batter, and pour hot water on top??


I tell you, this is a magical thing. I read somewhere that this sinfully rich dessert was a big hit in the '60's and there used to be a box mix that is not available anymore. It's time to resurrect this dessert, as it is so simple, easy, and delicious!

In a bowl, stir together your sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Dump in your wet ingredients: milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract.

Mix it till smooth and spread it into an UNgreased 9" square pan.

The batter really looks like a brownie batter - but without the eggs...

You can use the same bowl for the next step.

Mix in your sugars, cocoa, and sprinkle it right on top, in an even layer over the wet batter.

Then, pour HOT water directly on top of the dry sugar mixture. DO NOT STIR.

I can't tell you, as a baker, how hard it was to resist stirring this all in! It looked so strange to see a layer of water on top of the batter while I was putting it in the oven...

35 minutes later, this is what I got.

Hmmmm.... looks like brownies.... smells like brownies... let's take a spoonful...

Squee !!!  The hot fudge is on the bottom! Perfectly cooked chocolate cake on top!

I'm beyond excited...

Let's put a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, shall we?

Oh, and definitely scoop some hot fudge to drizzle on top!

Oh my. Very rich. Very good. It really needed that scoop of ice cream on top -


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Chocolate Cake with Hot Fudge Sauce
from Hershey's

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Layer:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cups HOT water (heat your water, then measure)

1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Batter: In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
3. Pour in milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
4. Stir until smooth.
5. Spread batter into UNgreased 9" baking pan.
6. Dry Layer: Mix granulated sugar and brown sugar along with the cocoa.
7. Sprinkle on top of the wet batter in an even layer.
8. Pour HOT water over the top. DO NOT STIR.
9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until center is almost set (not jiggly).
10. Remove from oven; let sit for 15 minutes before diving in!

Scoop into dessert dishes, spooning fudge sauce over the cake.
Can serve with a scoop of ice cream or whipped topping.

Makes 9 servings.


0 Steam Canning in Your Instant Pot: Part Two, Strawberry Jam

Did you know you can steam can your fruits, jams, jellies and pickles in your Instant Pot? Steam canning in your Instant Pot is a great way to preserve smaller batches of food as it takes less water, less overall time to process, and doesn't heat up your entire kitchen! Making smaller batches is actually preferred when making jams and jellies, as you will get a consistent batch each and every time.

Before starting, you will want to become familiar with the rules of Steam Canning and test your Instant Pot using water and a thermometer. I have tested my 6 quart Duo at 4,500 feet altitude and there can be some variance due to size and altitude, so do a WATER STEAM CANNING TEST first.

You can view a step by step video instruction, here, and watch me process some delicious Apple Butter, here.

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I made some Strawberry Jam in my Ball FreshTec Automatic Jam/Jelly maker and was thrilled with the results of how easy and simple it was to make. The Automatic Jam/Jelly Maker does all the cooking and stirring, which left my hands free to get my jars, lids and rings ready to process the jam. You can find this recipe in the Ball Blue Book for Canning & Preserving.

1. Wash & Inspect your jars with hot soapy water and rinse them well. Using your dishwasher is fine.

Inspect your jars for any chips or cracks. Run your finger along the top of the rim - it should be smooth and free of any chips that may prevent your jar from sealing.

It is important to keep your clean jars HOT. You can keep them hot in your dishwasher, or pour boiling water over your clean jars in the sink.

OPTIONAL: Use your IP to sanitize your jars.

Trivet, 1 cup of water, put clean jars in IP, close, lock, set valve to Sealing, set time for 1 minute. Keep jars in IP till ready to use. 

2. Make your Jam. 
You can find the recipe here or in the Ball Blue Book of Canning. This takes about 25 -30 minutes to make, which is about the same time as it takes to prepare and fill the jars for canning.

I was able to make jam while a batch was processing and do 3 kinds of strawberry jam, back to back, taking 1.5 hours total to steam can 15-16 eight ounce jars of jam!

3. Fill your jars. 
When your jam is ready, empty out a HOT jar and set a canning funnel inside the jar. Fill it with your HOT jam, up to 1/4" from the top of the jar. This is called the "head space," which will allow your jars to seal properly.

If you have any jam left over that will not fill a jar up to the 1/4" head space, put it in the fridge to enjoy.

4. Wipe Rims.
Remove the canning funnel. Wipe the rim of the filled jar with a clean, damp paper towel.

If there is any food on the rim, it will keep your jar from sealing properly.

5. Lid & Ring. 
Put a NEW** canning lid on top of the jar of jam, and screw on the canning ring.
Do not turn it super tight - as it will prevent a proper seal.
Finger - tip tight is what you want. This means to screw on the lids and STOP when you start to feel resistance.

**If you are an experienced canner, did you know that you do not need to heat your lids? That is great news! (Source)

I still like to use the magnetic lid wand - I want to make sure everything is clean and sterile!

6. Put Jars in the Instant Pot.
Place the metal trivet (steam rack) inside the pot.
Put 3 1/2 cups* of water into your Instant Pot liner. Water should be at the height of the trivet.
Place your hot jars on the trivet.
If you are processing more than 7 half pint jars, you will want to make a foil sling for the center jar. (*If you are using the 8 qt IP, pour water up to the trivet line).

Fold the aluminum sling down and over the top of the jars. The foil sling will help you remove the center jar and allow you to use a canning jar lifter or hot pads to grab the rest of the jars.

7. Check Seal, Close/Lock Lid.
Check your seal - make sure it is seated correctly, all the way around the underside of the lid.

Put the Instant Pot lid on the pressure cooker and turn it completely to lock it.

Make sure the pressure valve is set to VENTING.

8. Process the Jars.
Push the STEAM button. Watch your pressure cooker.

When the float valve comes up AND you see a full stream of steam coming from the pressure valve, start the processing time according to your altitude.

Processing Time for Strawberry Jam is 10 minutes at sea level - no adjustment necessary.

Add time for altitudes higher than 1,000 feet.

I am at 4,500 feet, so I need to add 10 minutes to my processing time, for a total of 20 minutes. 

9. Turn off the IP.
At the end of processing time, Press Cancel/Keep Warm to turn the IP OFF and wait for the float valve to drop.

When the float valve drops, you can open up your pressure cooker.

10. Cool the jars. 
Carefully remove the jars, using a jar lifter or hot pads, and set each jar on a wire cooling rack. 

Do not disturb the jars for at least 12-24 hours.

As the jars cool, you will hear the JOYFUL pings of jars being sealed. The new canning lid design will let you know how to see if the jar has sealed - the jar on the right has sealed.

The jar on the left still has the 'bubble,' and will seal in a minute or two.

Resist the urge to touch the tops of the jars until 12 hours have passed.

After 12 hours, if you have any jars that have NOT sealed, you have 2 options.

1. Re-process with a new jar, new lid, with the same method (heating jam, jars, etc) and the same processing time. (Lids are a one time use). -or-

2. Put the jar of food in the fridge to use immediately. (I prefer this option)

When proper canning procedures have been followed, it is rare for a jar not to seal.

Reasons for jars that don't seal can be any of the following:

  • Jar was not filled properly with required amount of "head space." If you do not have enough food to fill the jar, put it in the fridge to enjoy.
  • The top of the jar was not clean. Any food or reside can prevent a proper seal.
  • The top of the jar has a nick or a crack on the rim. 
  • The lid was not centered. 
  • The ring was screwed on too tight. Air needs to escape to create a vacuum and seal.

When canned and stored properly, your Strawberry Jam will keep for 18-24 months.

I have successfully Steam Canned Applesauce, Strawberry Jam (several varieties, including Strawberry Kiwi and Strawberry Vanilla), Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate, and Strawberry Lemon Curd. 


0 Safe Steam Canning With Your Instant Pot Pressure Cooker: Part One

One of the most frequent questions that I see is, "Can I use the Instant Pot pressure cooker to can foods?"

Of course you can.

But only using certain foods and a safe way to do it.
I have been canning for over 30 years. I watched and learned from my mother how to carefully prepare food and water bath can many fruits, jams, jellies, and pickles. I have done pressure canning, and more recently, have been steam canning. Some canning practices have changed over the years, so it it important to keep up to date.
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Statement about canning from Instant Pot:
"Instant Pot can be used for boiling-water canning. However, Instant Pot has not been tested for food safety in pressure canning by USDA. Due to the fact that programs in Instant Pot IP-CSG, IP-LUX and IP-DUO series are regulated by a pressure sensor instead of a thermometer, the elevation of your location may affect the actual cooking temperature. For now we wouldn't recommend using Instant Pot for pressure canning purpose." 
Sorry, folks. No pressure canning allowed in the Instant Pot.
Pressure canning is for foods that are low in acid.

You can  watch a short video on the 7 Rules for Safe Steam Canning.

What is a Low Acid Food?
From the NCHFP:
"Low-acid foods have pH values higher than 4.6. They include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes. Most mixtures of low-acid and acid foods also have pH values above 4.6 unless their recipes include enough lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar to make them acid foods. Acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or lower. They include fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades, and fruit butters.
Although tomatoes usually are considered an acid food, some are now known to have pH values slightly above 4.6. Figs also have pH values slightly above 4.6. Therefore, if they are to be canned as acid foods, these products must be acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower with lemon juice or citric acid. Properly acidified tomatoes and figs are acid foods and can be safely processed in a boiling-water canner."
Fruits like tomatoes, figs, asian pears, melons, persimmons, papaya, white peaches and white nectarines, and bananas are often just a bit too low in acid in their natural state for safe canning. 

What is Water Bath Canning?

Water bath canning, or Open Kettle canning, is when prepared jars are submerged by 1"-2" of continuously boiling water. No pressure is used, and you can use a any well fitting lid to prevent rapid evaporation of your water. If you do not have a lid that fits, you can find an Instant Pot clear lid here.
There are some limitations to water bath canning with the IP:

1. You must use the trivet to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. Direct contact of jars on the bottom of the pot puts your jars at risk of breakage. Because of this, you must use short jars, as the water needs to come to at least 1" above the jars. 8 oz jelly jars or shorter can only be used.

If you overfill your IP, the water can boil over and get in between the pot and the Instant Pot, potentially causing damage to your Instant Pot.

2. I am uncertain as to which setting you can use to maintain a rolling boil - it must be a rolling boil during the entire processing time of your food.

You can use any large pot of water. You must use a rack, or trivet, between the bottom of the pot and the jar, to prevent any possible breakage with direct heat/contact with the jars.

Instant Pot Trivet

If you do not have a trivet, or steam rack for your Instant Pot, you can find one here, at the Instant Pot Store. 

Let's talk about Steam Canning and how it works...


Also known as Atmospheric canning, it uses steam, which is the same temperature as boiling water, to process your foods.

Steam canning has been around for over 80 years, but the process just got research tested approval from Utah State University Extension Services and University of Wisconsin Extension Services in 2015! Woot!

This is the steam canner I have from Back to Basics.


1. It only uses a couple of inches of water, versus up to 4 gallons with water bath canning.
2. It heats up more quickly, as 4 gallons of water can take 30 minutes.
3. Less water, less time, helps keep the kitchen cooler.
4. No more lugging big pots of water onto the stove.
5. No risk of water boiling over.
6. It is not a complicated machine with dials and knobs. It is very easy to use.

This is AMAZING for me, as I live in a desert, and water is a precious commodity.

With a steam canner, all you do is put the shallow part of the steam canner on your stove, place your trivet/rack into the canner, fill it up to the rack with water, set your prepared bottled foods on top of the rack, cover with the top canner pot and begin to boil your water. When a full line of steam comes out of the little hole (as indicated by the RED arrow in the picture), you can start the timer to process the food.

This got me thinking....I wonder if I can use my Instant Pot as a steam canner?

Before you jump into Steam Canning, let's go over the rules, which are summarized from the above statements from USU and UW , which you will need to follow for steam canning in the Instant Pot.


One of the reasons for canning is to preserve food. Foods that are properly canned will keep well for 2-5 years in a cool, dark place. Shelf life primarily is determined by the type and quality of the food and how it is preserved.

If you do not can your food properly, you can get Botulism.
Botulism is a rare, but deadly illness that is caused by a germ called Clostridium Botulinum. The germ is found in soil, and can survive, grow, and produce a toxin, especially when food is improperly canned. The toxin can affect your nerve, paralyze you, and even cause death.
You cannot see, smell, or taste the botulinum toxin - but taking even a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly.

When in doubt, throw it out!
     If there is any doubt that safe canning practices have not been used, throw it out. Do not use taste or smell to determine if the food is safe to eat. If any of questionable food spills, clean up the spill by using 1/4 cup liquid bleach mixed in with 2 cups of water.


1. Food must be HIGH acid.
     High acid foods are: fruits, pickles, jams, jellies, marmalades, & fruit butters.

2. Must use a research tested recipe. Do not change or adapt the recipe.
Use recipes from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving,  National Center for Home Food Preservation, or your State or County Extension Service. Please do not use any methods or recipes that do not follow these guideline, even if it is from a trusted friend or family member. 

3. Jarred food must be processed in pure steam.
Make sure your IP is vented (you can remove the pressure valve), and when a full column of steam appears, you can begin the timing process. Full steam is the same temperature as boiling water, at your altitude. You can remove the float valve assembly and insert an accurate probe thermometer to test for 
4. Jars must be heated prior to filling.
Heating the jars and keeping them hot until they are filled with hot liquid, will minimize any breaking of your jars and process your food more accurately and safely. If cold jars are allowed to touch hot steam, they can break. If cold foods (raw pack) are used without hot liquid, the processing time will be off, your food will not be completely processed and may be unsafe to store and eat. 
5. Processing time must be adjusted to your elevation.
Water boils at different temperatures depending on the altitude. The higher the altitude, the lower the atmospheric pressure. That is why, at higher elevations, more time is added to the overall processing time. You will need to find your altitude and use this chart to adjust your processing time. I'm at 4,500 feet, so I would add 10 minutes to my processing time. If you do not know your elevation, you can check the chart below, look online with this elevation tool, or use your smart phone to ask, "What is my altitude?"

6. Processing time must be 45 minutes or less, including adjusted times for elevation.
Since the IP is smaller than a steam canner, this processing time requirement may be even less, as it is limited by the amount of water used. (See Water Test, below) When processing food, the IP should not be opened at any time to add more water. 
If the IP boils dry before the processing time is up, the food is considered under-processed and will need to be immediately re-processed using the water bath method or refrigerated.
7. Hot jars must be cooled in a safe place away from drafts, for 12-24 hours.
Cooling of hot jars must happen in still, room temperature air. Set your hot jars carefully on a wire cooling rack or a thick towel, away from drafts. Do not put hot jars into the refrigerator. to hasten the cooling. Cooling jars should not be disturbed for 12-24 hours.

Water Test your Instant Pot for Steam Canning!

It is recommended that you test your IP for canning before beginning your canning process. You will want to know your altitude, boiling point, and how long your IP will consistently keep the steam at a constant temperature before starting any canning or processing.

You will want to purchase a probe thermometer to test your Instant Pot for steam canning. I chose the ThermoPro Digital thermometer based on the size of the probe and the customer reviews. It was also a great deal, at 50% of regular price.

1. Put a couple of pennies in the IP liner. As the water heats, the pennies will begin to rattle, and if they stop rattling, that means your pot has boiled dry.

2. Place the wire trivet (steam rack) in the IP liner. Fill the liner with enough water to reach the level of the trivet. For the 6 quart, this is 3.5 cups of water.

3. Remove the Instant Pot float valve assembly by removing the plastic grommet, removing the pin, and placing these parts in a Ziploc baggie, so you don't lose them. Removal of the float valve assembly is ONLY FOR TESTING. You will need to keep it intact and in place for actual processing.

4. Insert the probe through the hole left by the float valve. I put the float pin on top to help keep any excess steam from escaping.

5. Check your IP lid seal. Make sure it is seated correctly.

6. Close the lid. Make sure the tip of the probe thermometer is NOT touching the bottom of the IP pot liner or the trivet.

7. Open the Pressure Valve, or set it to VENTING.

8. Push the STEAM button. As long as the pressure valve is set to VENTING, your Instant Pot will continuously heat the water, with no fluctuation, and will not come to pressure.

My current elevation (altitude) is 1374 meters, or 4508 feet, so my boiling point should be at least 203.5°F. According to my thermometer, it is reading at 205.7°F.

9. Once you see a full stream of steam coming from the pressure valve, set your timer for 35 minutes.

10. At the end of 35 minutes, push Cancel/Keep Warm. Open the IP lid.

If your water does not boil dry within the 35 minute period, you can try steam canning with your Instant Pot!

When hot, prepared jars are added to the pot for processing, the water does not evaporate as quickly. Make sure your seal is seated correctly and that no steam is escaping from the sides. 

My test batch used 3.5 cups water, the trivet, 5- 8oz jars of Strawberry Jam, hot packed. The float valve assembly is NOT REMOVED  for the actual processing, only for testing. Keeping the float valve assembly intact helps keep the steam inside the pressure cooker. Here are my results:
  • 5 min to reach full steam, float valve came up
  • 20 min to process (according to my altitude)
  • 2 min to NPR (Natural Pressure Release) for float valve to drop
  • 2 cups of water remained in the pot liner!

You can do a dry fit of your jars, with the lids on and set them on the trivet. All the photos are of my Instant Pot Duo, 6 quart size. If you have the 8 quart, you will need to see if your jars will fit. Put the trivet in the pot, and place your jars on top of the trivet.

Use regular mouth jars, not wide mouth jars, for the best fit.

This is the height clearance of 8 oz jelly canning jars. Because they are set on the trivet, they are too hight to water bath, but are fine for steam canning.

When 1/2 pint canning jars are set on the trivet, they are the same height as the IP pot liner. You do not want to use jars that are taller than your pot.  Four pint jars fit well in the 6 quart. 

The shorter, 4 oz jelly jars can be double stacked, as long as they are not stacked directly on top of each other. Off set the jars and use a foil sling for the center jar, as shown in the next picture. A total of thirteen, 4 oz jars will be the max for the 6 quart.

To help remove the center jar, you will need to make a foil sling that is folded over itself a couple of times and is at least as wide as the jar.

Fold the foil sling flat, as to not interfere with the lid or sealing ring.

You can see that six or seven 8 oz jelly jars fit nicely.

Once you remove the center jar, it will be easier to remove the other jars.

To remove the rest of the jars, you may want to consider using a hot pad, silicone mitts, or a canning jar lifter. You can find the jar lifter and other canning equipment in an expensive kit in the link below.

In summary, in the 6 quart, you can easily fit the following jars:
4  Pint jars
6-7 Eight Ounce Jelly jars (half pint)
13 Four ounce jars

You may also want to use a wire cooling rack to help your jars cool evenly.

Are you ready to begin steam canning in your Instant Pot?

Do the steam canning test and take a look at my step by step IP Steam Canning post for processing Strawberry Jam.



0 Apple Butter - Pressure Cooker

Apple Butter is essentially a super thickened applesauce, cooked slowly so the sugar caramelizes and turns into this sweet, cinnamon-y, deep brown spread that is a wonderful Fall treat. Since apples naturally contain pectin, it is very similar to an apple jelly.

Most recipes call for slow cooking over 14-20 hours, and using your pressure cooker will definitely help reduce this cooking time!

This was my first time making apple butter and I wasn't sure how "thick" the consistency should be. Apple butter does thicken while it cools, so if it is too thick for you, you can add some apple juice to thin it out to your desired texture. Apples can vary widely in water content, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

I used my Instant Pot Ceramic liner for making this apple butter. I loved the fact that I didn't have to worry about the sauce burning and sticking to the pot. This ceramic liner is great for anything that can stick: rice, oatmeal, Macaroni & Cheese.

You will want to use a heat resistant silicone spatula or a wooden spoon while stirring, as not to scratch the finish.

Apples that work best are sweet, meaty apples like Gala, McIntosh, Winesap or any of the baking apples found on this applesauce post. Using a mix of apples will create a unique final product. Don't use Granny Smith or Honey Crisp apples as they are too tart or too sweet for this recipe.

  • Braeburn - sweet/tart
  • Cameo
  • Cortland - similar to McIntosh, but sweeter/tarter
  • Crispin (Mutsu)
  • Empire - very sweet when baked
  • Fuji -sweet/tart,watery
  • Gala - thin skinned, but grainy texture
  • Golden Delicious - sweet, thin skinned
  • Gravenstein
  • Ida Red
  • Jonagold - sweet, thin skinned
  • Jonamac
  • Jonathan
  • Liberty
  • McIntosh - strong structure of pectin
  • Newtown Pippin
  • Rome Beauty - mild, thick skin
  • Stayman
  • Winesap

Cutting & Peeling I love using this Apple corer, peeler, spiralizer. It is so FAST  - it took less than 10 minutes to prep 4 pounds of apples.

You can opt to leave the peels on, but you do need to core and cut the apples. This Apple Slicer/Corer does a quick job.

This recipe uses 1 cup of sugar for every pound of apples, which is very sweet. You can use any combination of sugars, and brown sugar will give your apple butter a taste of molasses. Sugar is necessary in making preserves to help it set up, gel or thicken, and increase the shelf life.

You can reduce the amount of sugars, but your finished apple butter may be more runny, need a longer cooking time, and end up yielding less. Since I am planning to can or preserve this apple butter, the recommended amount of sugar will ensure that it will have the maximum shelf life. When sugar is decreased, the shelf life of your apple butter is decreased.

This apple butter turned out much better than I anticipated - got a "double thumbs up" from all of my family members and I can't wait to try it with other foods!

Use this utterly delicious spread on freshly baked bread, toast, pancakes, muffins, swirl it through oatmeal, fresh yogurt, mix in smoothies, spread on crepes, waffles, or make a cookie sandwich filling with oatmeal cookies.


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Pressure Cooker Apple Butter
Adapted from Ball Blue Book of Preserving
4 pounds of apples, about 16 medium (I used 13 McIntosh apples)
1/4 cup water, apple juice or yogurt whey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
**4 cups sugar
     **I used a 50/50 mix of granulated and light brown sugar -adding sugar is OPTIONAL. I am using sugar in the recipe as directed by Ball Canning to can it for an extended shelf life.

Wash apples
Core and cut the apples into eighths. You can peel the apples, if desired.
Put apples into pressure cooker insert.
Pour water or apple juice into cooker.
Dump sugars and spices on top of prepared apples.
Do not stir.
Close the pressure cooker lid,
Set pressure valve to Sealing.
Select HIGH (manual) pressure for 10-15 min.
(longer time for larger cut apples)
When cook time is finished, use at least a 15 min natural release.
You can allow the cooker to fully release pressure on its own, if desired.
Open pressure release valve and cooker lid.
Puree the apples, using a potato masher, immersion blender, food processor or stand blender.
With the pureed apples in the pressure cooker,
Select Saute Low (use the adjust button to get the Low setting)
Set your timer for 30 min. (You will need to restart the Saute setting every 30 minutes)
Stir every 30 min, until desired thickness is reached, about 45 - 90 minutes.
As the apple butter thickens, you will need to stir more frequently.
To check for consistency, put a small plate in the freezer for a few minutes.
Put a small spoonful of apple butter onto the chilled plate. If liquid leaches out around the apple butter, it needs to cook a little longer. If not, it is ready.

Yield approximately 5-6 cups

Keeps well in refrigerator 1-3 weeks
Freezer 1-3 months
Process for water bath canning for up to 2 year shelf life

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