Chocolate is like guests. When there is none in the house, you think it might be a good idea to get some. So you get some and at first it’s fun. It’s filling the hole. But faster than you can say oh-will-you-just-shut-up you’ve had too much of it. It needs to go. It’s bad for you. It’s giving you headaches. When it is finally gone you feel wretched. You shudder with remorse. You vow never to let it enter your four walls again.
So what is the best way to harness all this deliciously misanthropic chocolate-fuelled energy? Here’s an idea. Combine the two. Let your guests eat chocolate. Give them a taste of their own medicine. And I have just the thing. I found it in the Times Weekend ‘Eat’ supplement. It is Donna Hay’s Dark Chocolate and Caramel Pudding. I am making this next weekend. You see, I have thought of something to add piquancy to the chocolate/guest axis of evil.
Hubert is obsessed with my brother, fondly known as Uncle Fester, and has insisted that he comes over to play. So I invited him and his girlfriend round for lunch. Hubert is very excited. He wakes up in the middle of the night in sheer anticipation. I thought it might be nice to make a lunch with a chocolate pudding at the end. A very chocolately one. One with caramel and sugar and chocolate. Lots of sugar. Lots of theobromine – the chocolate chemical that makes adults feel a bit happier and small children insane. That’s one individual pot of chocolately deliciousness for each of us and, most importantly, one for Hubert. And then Hubert and Uncle Fester can play all afternoon. I don’t know if you’ve ever observed a three-year old play with 250ml of chocolate pudding inside it but you would do well beforehand to get hold of a Hazmat suit and those goggles they make you wear in Chemistry and find some faith in a higher power.
Donna Hay’s Dark Chocolate and Caramel Pudding.
1 x 380g jar of shop-bough caramel spread (I got Bonne Maman) – 80ml double cream – 200g dark chocolate, chopped – 60g unsalted butter – 3 eggs – 90g brown sugar – 1sp vanilla extract – 60g ground almonds – Cocoa powder for dusting.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 6.
Place caramel in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the cream and mix well to combine.
Place 80ml of caramel mixture into the bases of 4 x 375ml ovenproof dishes. (I actually did 50ml into 250ml dishes. I don’t have 375ml dishes. So all I did was reduce cooking time from 18mins to 16mins).
Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until doubled in size.
Doubled in size.
Fold the chocolate mixture and almonds through the egg mixture. Did I mention that this is gluten-free and therefore a health food?
Divide the chocolate/egg/almond mixture between the dishes.
Place dishes on a baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes or until risen and the centres are soft.
Meanwhile. Detritus. This is a micro-representation of what happens to your stuff when guests come to stay or when a child has eaten chocolate.
Remove from oven. Stand for 5 minutes. Dust with cocoa to serve.
Then tell your guests to brace themselves.
From The New Classics by Donna Hay, published by Hardie Grant.
NB. These work well made in advance. Just chill in fridge before baking.