Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Chocolate puddings

Crikey, strike a light. Fair suck on the sauce bottle. Even Tim Blair has gone all new agey and start posting recipes.

Bloody copycat.

Before I start on chocolate puddings, let me digress for a moment onto oysters and adaptation.

In the ebb and flow of the debate about carpetbag steak, a comment was made about how we'd have fewer oysters in future because increasing CO2 concentrations will make the water they grow in more acidic, and that will give oysters reproductive problems.

My response was:

My guess is that natural selection will kick in and those oysters that prefer lower pH levels will thrive, whilst those that don’t will die out. This is due to existing natural genetic variation in the current oyster population.

We’ll still have oysters - they’ll just be slightly different to the ones we have today.

If all else fails, just do some genetic modification. That should fix it.

And that's how I think we should respond to all this global warming rubbish. Some plants have a problem surviving in a changing environment? Genetically modify them. What's wrong with a franken-oyster for instance? I doubt it will come to that because I suspect there is plenty of variation in the population, and those that adapt best will come to the fore. I think that's called natural selection. It makes you wonder how all those plants and animals adapted in the past to climate change - the ice ages and all that. Well, I guess the mammoths didn't adapt too well to the end of the last ice age. But do greenies weep for woolly mammoths that died out long before man discovered fire, let alone the electric kettle?

It's like Ashfield Council putting up signs showing where the water level might be at in 40 years time. I had a close look today, and given that they are talking about the record high tide levels that we might get in 4 decades time, I think we have two options:

  1. As there is already a seawall around that entire part of the harbour to prevent erosion, just top it with a few courses of bricks. A mini-dyke, so to speak. They're projecting that a record high tide in 2050 might submerge a few small sections of the Bay pathway under an inch or two of water. We're talking high tide here, not a permanent inundation. A slightly higher sea wall should keep that out.
  2. Do nothing, and just put up with the path being underwater once in a while. That happens at the moment during heavy rains anyway. It happens on the Cooks River cycleway. BFD.
So why should we be losing sleep over something that is essentially a non-event? I won't be losing any sleep. I'll be eating chocolate puddings instead. Here are two very similar recipes.

I got pulled up by Pogs this morning for describing a chocolate pudding that has flour in it as being flourless. Oops, my bad. Here is the recipe from the Marie Claire Seasonal Kitchen:

  • 200gm good quality chocolate
  • 100gm unsalted butter (oops, I used salted last night)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour (I did not put this in)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 6 ramekins
Melt the butter and chocky in a saucepan over low heat.

Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks.

Beat the egg yolds and sugar until soft and pale. (I hate how they tell you to do this first. I always beat the whites first, then use the same beaters to do the yolks. That way, I avoid a bit of washing up. You can't of course use dirty beaters to beat whites as they won't whip properly).

Stir the melted choc/butter mixture into the yolks/sugar mixture. Then add the flour, cornflour and cocoa and mix until smooth.

Fold in the beaten egg whites, 1/3 at a time. Do not smash the air out of them! Be gentle.

Grease the 6 ramekins and divide the goo amongst them.

Now, you have two choices here - whether to cook straight away, or freeze and cook later. The book says to chill the empty ramekins first, and to then tip the mixture in and freeze that too until ready to cook.

I didn't bother with the chilling of the ramekins, and I put 3 straight into a 200 degree C oven for 13 minutes. They came out perfectly.

The next day, I took the 3 that I had put in the freezer into the oven, and cooked them for 15 minutes. Mine was still a bit gooey in the middle, but J said she loves it that way. Note that I cooked the frozen ones for 2 minutes longer than the non-frozen ones. The book says 15 minutes, and I just took a wild-arsed guess that 13 would do the trick if they were thawed.

Oh, by the way, you are supposed to let them sit for 10 minutes after cooking. All that happened during that time is that they all collapsed inwards. Looked a bit like Malcolm Turnbull did yesterday. Still damned tasty though. Although deflated, they came through with the goods. They did the trick. I'd prefer a tasty, deflated chocolate Turnbull to a puffed up turd sandwich from Rudd any day.

Serve with double cream.


OK, that was the chocolate pudding recipe with flour. Now for my very similar regular recipe, which is bereft of flour, which also explains why I described the above as "flourless".
  • 125g dark chocolate. Break into small pieces and melt with 1 tsp. of water in a bain marie.
  • 125g butter 70g castor sugar. Cream the butter in a warmed mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix in.
  • 30g cocoa powder 90g ground almonds. Sift the cocoa and mix with the ground almonds.
  • 6 egg yolks. Add the cocoa mixture and the egg yolks in alternate spoonfuls to the creamed butter. Add the melted chocolate. (I never do this. I just tip the whole lot in and mix).
  • 6 egg whites. Whisk. Slacken the chocolate mixture with 1/3 of the egg whites, then fold in the rest.
  • Pour mixture into a 3 pint steamer and steam for 70 minutes.

See? No flour. The recipes are very similar, and I prefer the results of the second. The downside is that making it creates more mess, and it takes 55 minutes longer to cook. You also need a large steamer, and an even bigger pot to cook it in. I have a big stock pot, and even that is not big enough for the steamer. I usually have to wrap lots of tinfoil around the top in place of a lid to keep the steam in.

Goes really well with blueberries and double cream. I usually eat it until I want to throw up - it's that good.


Pogria said...

Hey! I thought you weren't going to share your secret chocolate pudding recipe???? hehehe

I steam a lot of puddings this time of year and the best method I've found is to use one of those big pasta cooking pots. The ones with the large insert that you place inside the pot, ostensibly to cook your pasta and make draining easier as you simply lift the insert out.

Good in theory, not so good in practise. Once the insert is in the pot, there isn't any where near enough room for the pasta to move freely while it's boiling. Then, you also have to hoist the whole kit and caboodle over to the sink anyway to lift the insert out for draining.

But, I digress. I use my pasta pot insert for heaps of things EXCEPT, for cooking pasta. It's the absolute best way to steam a pudding. Your average three pint lidded pudding basin fits into the insert beautifully. The pot holds enough water that you almost never have to top it up during the steaming. I've only had to add a little extra water when I'm steaming a kate and sidney pudding, or christmas pudding, which takes around five hours. The average for a sweet pud is only around two hours. You'll find the lid for the pasta pot fits well, therefore, no mucking about with foil etc.
I also use the pasta pot when I'm scalding tomatoes and peaches before peeling them. Easy peasy just having to lift the insert in and out.

If like us, you're a fan of sticky date pudding, try steaming it one day, instead of baking. The texture is amazing!

Pogria said...

ps, have you tried Nigella's choco hotto pots?