As a cook, I compartmentalise chocolate into two groups. First: normal everyday milk chocolate bars full of sugar, biscuits, dried fruits or nuts that seduce us with glittery, colourful wrappers; appealing to the inner child. They serve as a mere sugar rush, a boost of energy to keep me going through the day. Second: dark chocolate with its sophisticated, bittersweet, melt-in-the-mouth, 70% cocoa solids, I mainly use in cooking and baking.
“brownies, fudge cakes, hot chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate pots, chocolate sponge cake, sacher torte, black forest gateau, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fondants, chocolate truffles, chocolate torte, chocolate tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate pudding, chocolate souffle, devil’s food cupcakes, chocolate fondue, chocolate creme brulee, rocky road, chocolate-rice krispie cakes…”
Why do we like chocolate so much? Chocolate is medically proven to stimulate the release of hormones called endorphins in our brains, generating feelings of pleasure and promoting a sense of well being. Chocolate also appeals to the senses – primarily taste but also smell and hearing; good dark chocolate should make a ‘snapping’ sound when broken opposed to the dull ‘thud’ that milk chocolate makes. The glossy sheen and cool feel of chocolate, melting at blood temperature, serving to seduce us further.
What can divide us is chocolate cake. Be it a plain chocolate sponge or traditional Sacher Torte or Black Forest Gateau, no matter how much we like eating chocolate, chocolate cake does not interest everyone. True chocoholics find chocolate cake too cakey (duh!); just not chocolatey enough. However, everyone loves chocolate brownies with their dark, fudgy interior or chocolate fondants with their gooey oozy centres – some cooks even making chocolate truffles to put into the fondant to guarantee a river of molten chocolate as you dive into the pudding.
I claim not to have a thing for chocolate but looking back over my blogs there seem to be a lot of chocolate inspired recipes. I’ve made chocolate pots, cheesecakes, chocolate cakes, brownies, chocolate puddini bon bons, rocky road and I even grate dark chocolate into my chilli-con-carne! I once tweeted a celebrated food writer asking her for recipes to use up my left-over Easter eggs – she was clearly appalled by the fact that I had not scoffed the lot by Bank Holiday Monday!
“Left-over Easter eggs?!” was the only reply I got.
So here goes, another chocolate dessert recipe for the collection. These chocolate puddings have the decadence of a
chocolate fondant but the lightness of a mousse. They have all the makings of a serious, grown-up dessert but are so easy to knock up that you can make them mid-week with minimal fuss. The great thing about them is that you can freeze them and cook from frozen at a later date.
Baked Chocolate Puddings
100g of good quality dark chocolate
100g of butter
1 tbspn liqueur (Brandy or any other liqueur that works with chocolate)
2 large eggs and 2 extra yolks
55g golden caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
30g Plain Flour
1st: Break the chocolate into pieces and melt along with the butter, add your liqueur of choice (I use Cointreau as I always seem to have a bottle in my cupboard.) Stir until smooth and glossy.
2nd: While the chocolate is melting, place the sugar, eggs, yolks and vanilla extract (I tend to use vanilla bean paste) in a mixing bowl and whisk for 6-10 minutes until the mixture has doubled in volume. I recommend using either an electric hand whisk or an electronic mixer as you’ll need some serious muscle power to whisk this by hand to get to the ribbon stage.
3rd: Mix the cooled chocolate mixture into the mousse-like egg mixture. Sift the flour over and then mix everything using a large metal spoon. Carefully fold everything together taking care not to beat all the air out of the mixture.
4th: Divide the mixture between your pudding basins, cover with cling film and chill or freeze them until you need them.
5th: Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Remove the clingfilm and bake in the centre of the oven for 12 mins (14 if chilled first and 15 if frozen.) Allow them to stand for 1/2mins before turning them out and serving with cream.
Heaven on a plate!