This is kind of a trendy new thing: packing desserts into individual Mason-type jars rather than individual ramekins, which is a time-honored practice. My favorite use for this method of presentation is the lemon pudding cake that tastes really good when you use Lemon Bits from the King Arthur Flour Company online.
However, last week we were having dinner at Red Lobster in Tucson and I noticed that they have some desserts presented in this cute way. I had an individual strawberry shortcake, which they made by combining a number of pieces of cubed pound cake, whipped cream and strawberries. That's the classic combination, and since it is so easy to make strawberry shortcake I do think it lends itself to this idea.
Another thing that would work, of course is the brownie sundae, which would be made by combining chunks of cubed brownies with whipped cream or ice cream, and garnished with chocolate sauce, chocolate-fudge sauce or hot fudge. It would be fabulous--you can tell just by picturing it.
Some time ago I saw a dessert chef on television, whose name unfortunately I do not remember, who owns her coffee shop and serves different kinds of pie in individual jars, topped with a round of pie crust, and served with whipped cream or ice cream. It would be simple to fill the jar with the fruit part and then lay the crust over the top for baking. The canning-type jars will withstand the heat, of course, because Mason jars and other canning equipment has to be exposed to boiling heat in order to sterilize the contents.
Another choice that you can bake in the jars would be a chocolate lava cake, which you portion out as though you were baking it in muffin tins. The lava cake's distinctive liquid center will be shown to its best advantage in this treatment.
But I am going to go back around with the King Arthur cake, just because it is so delicious and interesting. Pudding cakes are generally made by preparing a batter and then pouring a pudding mixture over it, and the two do not mix completely and the pudding mixture creates a sauce. You can serve pudding cakes either warm or at room temperature, topped with whatever works with your preference. I wouldn't put chocolate sauce on a lemon pudding cake, but some people would and if you like it, go right ahead!
This recipe includes buttermilk powder, lemon powder and Lemon Bits, all of which you can order from King Arthur Flour Company online. Powdered buttermilk is also available in Tucson in supermarkets, and also in health-oriented store like Sprouts and Whole Foods. Bob's Red Mill produces buttermilk powder among its many products.
You can also use pastry flour in this recipe, and my recommendation is the Arizona Rose flour that is sold at Native Seeds. This is a wonderful artisanal flour, grown right here in Southern Arizona. It can be substituted with excellent results with either unbleached flour or conventional pastry flour, and your cake and quick-bread recipes will come out very flavorful.
KING ARTHUR LEMON PUDDING CAKE
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) Lemon Bits (available from King Arthur Flour Company)
2 tablespoons lemon powder (available from King Arthur Flour Company)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons buttermilk powder
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
1-1/2 cups hot water
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons lemon powder
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease six individual serving jars with at least 8 ounces of capacity.
To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, sugar, lemon bits, lemon powder, baking powder, salt, and buttermilk powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter with the eggs and milk.
Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients using a wire whisk or the lowest speed on an electric mixer. Scoop the batter into the prepared bakers.
To make the sauce: heat the water and butter until the butter melts.
Whisk together the cornstarch, flour, lemon powder, and sugar. Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined.
To assemble the cakes: slowly divide the sauce among the bakers; it may take some time to settle, but you'll use it all.
Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're lightly browned and beginning to shrink away from the edges of the pans. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
If you want to serve the pudding cakes as hot as suggested above, a small scoop of ice cream would melt into it and provide an outstanding sauce.