Yesterday was one of those painfully beautiful frigid days, where the clear blue sky and abundant sunshine seems so welcoming until you walk out your back door and feel your teeth crack upon impact. It was cold. Very, very cold. The kind of cold that makes you want to come home, turn up the thermostat, and bake.
Except it doesn’t quite work like that in my house. Global warming aside, we can’t afford the vast amount of oil it takes to heat this place to a semi-livable temperature. So we sit in our living room, wrapped in comforters, hoodies on, and look for some sort of reward that might help compensate for the temperature.
Molten chocolate cake, anyone?
Rich Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding
This recipe is adapted from Cooking: A commonsense guide (an Australian cookbook James’s mum sent over, which is where I learned about funny things like vanilla slices and Anzac biscuits). As is, it’s not quite as decadent as I had hoped, but it’s quite simple to make, and has promise. If I were making this a second time, I would use light cream instead of milk and water in the sauce, and increase the chocolate content. I’d also use the best chocolate I could find, rather than going with something I already had in my pantry. I can imagine a Mexican chocolate version would be gorgeous, with maybe a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch or three of chili powder. I suppose the recipe is a bit healthier as it stands, but really, what’s the fun in that?
- 3/4 c. (3 oz.) all purpose flour
- 1-1/4 t. baking powder
- 1/3 t. salt
- 1/8 c. (1/2 oz.) top quality cocoa powder (Ghirardelli’s has never let me down)
- scant 1/2 c. (3 oz.) granulated sugar
- 1.5 oz. (maybe a bit over 1/3 stick) butter, melted
- scant 1/2 c. (3 oz.) whole milk
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 3/4 c. (6 oz.) whole milk
- 6 oz. dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 c. (4 oz.) water
- 1 T. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease four small ramekins with butter, and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, and make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour in the milk, egg, and butter, and stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Be careful not to over-mix! Pour even amounts of the batter in each of the ramekins.
Next, make the sauce. Find a metal mixing bowl and a pot that’s small enough to allow the bowl to sit on top of it (to make a double boiler substitute), and put some water in the pot. Put the milk, chocolate chips, and water in the mixing bowl, and set over the pot. Turn the heat on medium high and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture has become smooth.
Pour even amounts of the sauce gently over the batter in all four ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the pudding is firm to the touch (and possibly peeping over the rims, souffle-like and gorgeous). Enjoy piping hot, with a bit of whipped cream or perhaps some cherry jam.
Sustainable Living Tip
You don’t have to be a poor grad student like me to turn your thermostat down a few degrees. You’ll save energy and money if you do, and even better, you probably won’t even notice the difference after a couple of days (though you can still use it as an excuse to bake a decadent dessert!). An easy way to make the change is to get a programmable thermostat for something like $40 at Home Depot. Program it to automatically turn down when you’re at work or under the covers. You should make that $40 back in no time.