Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding


It seems that an awful lot of my friends and family have May birthdays, leading to far more dinners, birthdays and rich food than I had really counted on over the last two weeks.  Today was my Aunt's birthday and I was in charge of dessert at the family lunch at my Mum's place.

I decided I wanted to cook something classic, preferably gooey and full of chocolate - something indulgent my Aunt would love.  When it comes to 'classic', you really can't look much further than the Women's Weekly cookbooks, which very helpfully have a large variety of self-saucing pudding recipes to choose from, which are all (by and large) "never fail".  I have adapted it slightly to include cinnamon and kirsch - these add some layers to the flavours and give the dish a little bit of extra oomph.

At this point I should clarify for our North American friends.  Pudding is a warm cake-based dessert.  It is not the wobbly child of an unnatural union between mousse and jelly (translation - jello).  Pudding should be served steaming hot straight from the oven, and preferably eaten with cream and ice-cream.

Now, back to the flow of my narrative.  The beauty of this recipe is the chemistry of it.  You make this amazingly simple thick pudding base, spread it over the bottom of a casserole dish, sprinkle with cocoa and sugar, and then pour boiling water over the top.  Then you pop it in the oven and 40 minutes later a miraculous transformation has occurred.  On top is a light chocolate sponge, moist with cocoa and sour cream.  Below is a bubbling, oozing chocolate-and-liqueur sauce.  You scoop a spoonful out of the dish and onto your plate, ladle over some cream, plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream to one side, and devour.

Just a word of warning - eating this dish may result in the need for an afternoon nap followed by a serious exercise session.  But it's worth every minute on the treadmill.


Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

-  1 cup self-raising flour
-  1/2 cup cocoa powder (I recommend Dutch process cocoa)
-  1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
-  1 1/4 cups brown sugar
-  1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
-  80 grams melted butter
-  1/2 cup sour cream
-  1 egg, beaten
-  1 tablespoon kirsch
-  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-  1 1/2 cups boiling water

First things first.  Grab yourself a large, high sided casserole dish (1.5 litre or 6 cup capacity) and grease with some butter or margarine.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.


Now, in a large bowl sift the flour, bicarb soda, half the cocoa and 1/2 cup the sugar and the ground cinnamon.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg and combine with the sour cream.  Finally add the vanilla extract and kirsch.  When combined, add in the melted butter, whisking vigorously as you pour it in.


Pour the wet mix into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  This will be a very thick batter, so don't panic.  Spread this over the bottom of the casserole dish.  Next, sift the remaining cocoa and brown sugar over the top of the casserole dish.  If you want to, you could prepare the dish until this point up to 2 hours before you move to the next steps, which can be handy if you're having friends around for dinner and like to have things ready to go when the main course is finished.


Put the boiling water in a jug and then pour gently over the casserole until it resembles a strange, bubbling swamp-soup.  It's okay, it's meant to look that liquid.  Put the dish into the preheated oven and leave it alone for 40 minutes.



When the top looks like cooked sponge, but the sauce is still bubbling up around the edges and through the cracks in the crust, it's time to take it out of the oven.  Allow the pudding to sit for five minutes before you spoon into bowls, add cream and ice cream.  Eat as fast as possible without burning the inside of your mouth.  I highly recommend serving this with a small bowl of fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries - it gives a lovely sour edge to the rich, moist chocolate flavours.



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