I couldn’t help it. Lenny left those blocks of delicious dark chocolate sitting there in the cupboard for weeks and weeks. Late one night I just had to have a nibble.
In the end, having not quite enough 70% cocoa dark chocolate to make these molten-centred puddings wasn’t such a big problem. Hidden away in another corner of the cupboard was some plain old Cadbury’s glass-and-a-half, and it probably took the edge off the cheek-puckering bitterness of the hardcore Green & Black’s Organic.
Lenny had been dying to cook this devilish delight after we had one at the rather posh St John restaurant in Clerkenwell, London.
She found a recipe in the Observer Food Monthly, but dithered over executing it. Hence my nibbling of the ingredients. At least it got her moving when she saw the small chocolate mountain in the cupboard being steadily eroded.
As Lenny mentions in the video, the batter can be measured out into ramekins in advance and kept in the fridge uncooked, then baked immediately before serving. We made six in all, so got to enjoy them over a few evenings.
It was a pretty easy recipe, but once again the baking time had us in a muddle, mainly because of our oven’s vagaries. Overcook this one and you’ll end up with a plain, albeit very rich, chocolate brownie or sponge of sorts. This actually happened when we tried to reheat a cooked one in the microwave and zapped it for too long – but it was still delicious.
What you’re aiming for is a cakey outer layer with a heart of chocolate lava. It sounds wicked, and it is.
Lenny says: We think this is drawn originally from a Nigella Lawson recipe. You’ll need 6 pudding moulds and what seems like LOT of chocolate. I’ve been caught out on a couple of occasions thinking I’d whip this one up on the spur of the moment only to find I haven’t had 350g of chocolate in the cupboard. But I usually have at least 175g, so we’ve had to make do with a half quantity. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the mixture beforehand and divide it into the moulds, then just put it in the oven 15 minutes before you’re ready for dessert.
50g soft unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
50g plain flour
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
350g best dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and grease 6 pudding moulds, then line the bases with greaseproof paper (baking parchment).
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and then let it cool slightly.
In the meantime, cream together the butter and sugar until you’ve reached a uniform consistency. If this mixture looks a bit too sugary and not buttery enough, you have have to add a bit more butter – maybe another 15g or so to make it seem a bit less grainy.
Mix the eggs in a bowl with the salt.
Gradually mix the egg mixture in with the butter mixture, and add the vanilla. Keep mixing until well combined.
Gradually stir in the flour – it will still look pretty runny at this stage.
Scrape in the cooled chocolate and give it a good stir – it will turn thicker and more elastic.
Divide the mixture among the moulds and put into the oven on a tray.
Bake for 10-12 minutes – 10 minutes if cooking immediately after mixing, a couple of minutes more if you take them from the fridge to the oven. They’re ready when the tops have puffed up and cracked a bit.
Turn out and serve hot with crème fraîche, cream or ice cream.