Chocolate self-saucing pudding (aka chocolate sludge)

I’ve been making this dessert for more than 10 years. There’s a few recipes that fall into that category, so this is going to be the first in a little trip down memory lane.

This recipe came into my repertoire through a mum in my mother’s group. I had an awesome mother’s group, we were open and honest with each other, and met up twice a week for years. While we have all drifted to different parts of Sydney, interstate and even overseas it was a group of women I will always be grateful for having in my life.

I talked about this on ABC radio in a discussion about comfort food. You can hear my dulcet tones here.

Chocolate Sludge
Makes everything better 

Chocolate Sludge

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tblsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Optional: 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts and 1/2 cup choc chips
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Preheat your oven to 160C and grease a smallish baking dish (mine is 27cm x 18cm)
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and cocoa (and the optional nuts/choc chips)
  3. Stir in the butter and milk – the batter will be very thick so don’t be alarmed
  4. Scrape the mixture into the dish and spread it around
  5. Combine the brown sugar and cocoa and scatter over the top of the batter
  6. Pour the boiling water over the mix and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the pudding is set and there’s thick sauce bubbling up around the edges.

Beautiful with ice cream, cream, custard or all of them quite frankly.

Chocolate Sludge into the oven
Into the oven we go

 

Chocolate sludge pudding
The after

Triple Chocolate Praline Tart

Several years ago now (I KNOW!) a became friends with some remarkable women through this blog. A few weeks ago one of those, the MIGHTY Eleanor (from the commentbox) hosted a lunch at which we were honoured to meet some of her ‘real life’ friends.

Naturally I had a fillerbuster of a day getting there, trying to fit in way too many things before heading across town. I arrived in a complete snit after leaving home late and then being held up by some first-time-in-60-years resurfacing of the Harbour Bridge and stupid Eastern Suburbs traffic in which everyone must drive nice and slowly so everyone else can notice they’re driving the latest Lexus, Mercedes or BMW. That and the small but important issue of me taking a wrong turn. Details.

But as I walked into Eleanor’s serene abode (also alarmingly devoid of dust, I think she could be a witch) the blood pressure dropped, the tension in my shoulders eased and I proceeded to spend a sublime number of hours in the company of smart, funny women. Truly divine.

I was on dessert duty and on offering a fruit, custard or chocolate option our host chose chocolate.

Making this tart does not require any special cooking talents but it does require time. As that afternoon at Eleanor’s reminded me, sometimes the best thing to do is stop. Slow down. Take one step at a time and savour each step.

It’s one of the reasons I love making things like this – you have no option but to slow down and in slowing down you take more care, enjoying the process as much as the outcome.

Having made this twice I can say that the flavour is more developed – ie better – the next day.

I also use pecans as I am obsessed with them.

So gather your ingredients, set aside some time and make something outrageously decadent with love. It makes everything better.

Triple chocolate praline tart

From Australian Gourmet Traveller

Pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 60 pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 30g Dutch-process cocoa
  • 100g cold butter, coarsely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks

Filling

  • 150 gm hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
  • 175 gm raw caster sugar
  • 300 ml pouring cream
  • 400 gm milk chocolate, finely chopped

Ganache

  • 160 ml pouring cream
  • 40 ml milk
  • 200 gm dark chocolate (61% cocoa solids), finely chopped

For the pastry

  1. In a food processor combine everything except the egg yolks
  2. Once combined add the egg yolks and pulse until it comes together in a ball
  3. Give it a knead – it is very short and I found it needs a bit of working to get it into a pliable ball – then wrap in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for an hour or so
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 and roll the dough out to 3mm thick to line a 28cm tart case. I find the trick to this is to let the dough come back to room temperature and to then roll out between two sheets of baking paper. It is a really short pastry so don’t worry if it breaks, just smoosh the edges together.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour and then bake blind for 8-10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and then bake for a further 8-10 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s cracked, the filling is solid enough it won’t pour out and turn the whole thing into a red hot mess.

For the filling

  1. Spread the hazelnuts (or your nuts of choice, mine are pecans) on an oiled baking tray and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook until dark caramel in colour (4-5 minutes) then pour over nuts.
  3. Stand until cool and set (8-10 minutes) and then process in a food processor until finely ground.
  4. Bring the cream to the simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in two-thirds of the praline mixture (reserving the remaining to serve).
  6. Spoon into pastry case, smooth top, refrigerate until just set (1½-2 hours).

 

For the ganache

  1. Combine cream and milk in a small saucepan, bring to the simmer then add the dark chocolate.
  2. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
  3. Spread over the tart and refrigerate until just set (45 minutes-1 hour).

Cut into wedges with a hot knife and serve immediately scattered with reserved praline.

 

Seriously, it’s a tart that makes everything better.

 

Onward!

Dulce de leche ice cream with toasted, salted and buttered pecans. You’re welcome.

 

You guys all know Inner Pickle right? She’s basically living the life I want to live so you know, I stalk her in a completely creepy and inapropriate way. You’re welcome.

 

Apart from the fact she offers up a new slice recipe every Wednesday, she also cooks things I love to cook. Or make. And she does so without fanfare or fuss, just the way I like it.

 

So a few weeks back she posted a recipe for easy chocolate ice cream and even though I didn’t concentrate when making it and put in too much cream (as IF there’s such a thing) it was delicious. In the comments was a post from one of her neighbours who’d given her the recipe in the first place, mentioning dulce de leche and well, I had those jars of condensed milk boiling on the stove quicker than Black Caviar passes the winning post.

 

 

 

I didn’t mix the dulce de leche through completely, choosing to drop dollops in the last few minutes of churning with the nuts. Next time I would mix one tin through the cream/milk mix and then do the dollopy thing with another. Maybe not a whole tin, but you could just eat the left off the spoon. Because I know you want to.

 

Dulce de leche icecream with toasted buttered salted pecans

From Darren at Green-Change via Inner Pickle’s blogging of his chocolate ice cream.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 600ml cream
  • 1 tin dulce de leche*
  • 1 packet (180 g**) pecan halves, toasted with a few dabs of butter and a smattering of sea salt then chopped
  1. Combine the milk and cream and dulce de leche
  2. Churn in an ice-cream mixer for 30 minutes, adding the pecans for the final 2-3 minutes
  3. Scoop into a container and freeze.

 

* to make dulce de leche cover a can of sweetened condensed milk with water and boil for three hours, checking regularly to ensure it is still covered with water.  You could, at a pinch, use the ‘pie caramel’ you can get in the cake decorating/cooking chocolate section of the supermarket.

** this is because I am addicted to pecans – a 110g packet would probably be ample.

 

Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meal banoffee pie

OK, so this household is having a complete rejuvenated love affair with Jamie Oliver, the likes it has not seen since his Naked Chef days. I think it was seeing his hard slog in the US and how it knocked the wind out of his sails a bit that did it. It was cemented with his 20 Minute Meal iPhone app. Man I love that. Then there was his Christmas series which was just so quirky and lovely. And now, well now there is his 30 minute meal series (I’m gagging for the book because yeah, I really need another cookbook) and the whole household, well, me and Felix, are hooked.

The other night he made this awesome looking number involving salmon fillets, prawns and asparagus. Salmon fillets normally make me gag but I was all YUM about that. And then, THEN he made a quick banoffee pie.

Cue Felix badgering me for the last two days to go to the shops to buy the ingredients. And can I tell you – if you do use a store-bought pie crust, which we totally broke my religion and did, then this comes together in an absolute snap.

The filling is delightful – far less tooth-achingly sweet than pure pie-caramel and not over-powering in the banana department. An absolute winner.

Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meal Banoffee Pie

  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 2 bananas
  • 100ml milk
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 300ml cream
  • 1 tbsp camp coffee
  • 2 bananas, extra
  • 100g block of dark chocolate
  1. Blitz the two bananas with the milk until well combined and smooth
  2. In a pan over high heat melt the caster sugar. Don’t stir it, just gently tilt as it melts to a dark caramel colour
  3. Add the banana milk mixture to the toffee, stirring until the toffee melts back into the bananas
  4. Pour into the pie case and freeze for 20 minutes (we didn’t need it to be within 30 minutes so just put it in the fridge)
  5. Whip the cream and then fold through the camp coffee essence so it leaves pretty swirls in the cream
  6. Slice the bananas and arrange over the pie filling, then spoon the cream over the top
  7. Place the chocolate bar on the benchtop, smooth side up. Scrape a sharp chef’s knife on a 45 degree angle across the chocolate towards you, making chocolate curls. Arrange over the top of the cream.
  8. Eat!

Apple and Buttermilk Fritters

In the crazy day that was yesterday I seemed to relocate my cooking mojo. It had seriously been lost for the better part of gee, the last two months?

The highlight were these delectable balls of sugary appley lemony cinnamony goodness. Emma Knowles, you have so much to answer for, particularly the kilos I gained by vacuuming these down until my head right near fell off. Into the bowl of cinnamon sugar. Which, you know, if your head was going to randomly fall off, a bowl of cinnamon sugar strikes me as a mighty good place to fall.

Apple and Buttermilk Fritters
Emma Knowles, Australian Gourmet Traveller, June 2010

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated rind of one lemon
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 apples, coarsely grated
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Maple syrup (optional – we didn’t use it)

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 330g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and lemon rind in a bowl
  2. Add the buttermilk and egg yolks and stir until smooth (it will be a thick batter)
  3. Stir through the grated apple then leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes
  4. For the cinnamon sugar, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and then spread onto a tray (I didn’t do this bit, just tossing the donuts in the bowl as they were done)
  5. Whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form then fold 1/3 of them into the apple mixture to lighten. The fold in remaining whites
  6. Heat the oil to 180C 
  7. Spoon rough quenelles (pfft, as if I did this, just dropping teaspoons of the mix instead – in varying sizes depending on my mood) into the hot oil, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (about 2-3 minutes)
  8. Drain with a metal sieve, toss in cinnamon sugar and if you are an Elf serve with maple syrup. 
  9. Proceed to eat until your pants don’t fit or your head falls off.