This blog should be called Chocolate and Thyme or something on those lines. Seriously. I just ran through all the chocolate entries: the amount of recipes and photos that include the marvellous ingredient is almost absurd. And I could still refer to it as C&T as I do sometimes! It would be an easy change. I wouldn’t even feel that guilty about it. I know of very few people who dislike chocolate – and here I mean, chocolate as a whole. If there are more out there please leave me a message, and give this chocoholic your I-don’t-like-chocolate list of reasons, and perhaps a few pointers on how you manage your waistline.
Even though I love a good challenge, baking complicated desserts when you have friends or family over for supper is out of the question. You want to be cool, calm and collected when you have people round your kitchen. This recipe and other versions of it, is a staple – well, at least back in Surrey, and I hope to make it often enough in my sunny Maltese kitchen.
Now, if you would rather avoid tinned fruit, (in this case we have pears) I warn you that possibly this could not be for you, although I would suggest you give it a try. At least once. Just go for the ones in juice not syrup. I was not a big fan either but I’m now convinced. I recently bought some fresh pears from the veggie market and I was so disappointed with the texture. This is foolproof and pantry ready when you have the genius idea to invite people over on a whim. It happens, and when it does it can be one of the best highlights of the week. There’s something homely about this recipe – I would even dare to add the word ‘old-fashioned‘ as in coziness, without any contempt, especially because it reminds me of an upside-down cake. Add simplicity and Nigella to the mix and I’m sold. Simplicity aside, I wouldn’t attempt this during the summer months, and believe me – in Malta it’s still summer, but I look forward to any kind of temperature drop to bake this!
- 2 x 415g cans pear halves or quarters, in juice
- 150g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 150g butter, softened plus a bit more for greasing the pan
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, to make the batter slightly runnier if you see you need it
For the chocolate sauce:
- 100g dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon of soft butter
Grease a 22cm ovenproof dish and preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 6. You can either go with pyrex or ceramic, but I wouldn’t suggest using a non-stick tin here.
Pour the pears through a sieve and arrange the halves or quarters on the base of your dish. In a medium-sized mixing bowl sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
In another bowl, cream the soft butter together with the caster sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, then add the flour mixture to the lot. If the mixture apprears lumpy, try adding a tablespoon or two of milk. Always remember not to overmix. You want the pudding to be soft.
Pour the pudding batter over the pears and bake for around 35 to 40 minutes. When a skewer or knife is inserted in the middle you will get a slight squidginess, for want of a better word. Do not panic. This is the way it should end up, and the pudding will continue to cook for sometime anyway, even when you take it out of the oven.
To make the chocolate sauce simple melt the chocolate and soft butter together in a bowl over simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Occasionally give this a mix with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has totally melted.
Serve the pudding as warm as you can, slicing it between 6 people with a generous helping of chocolate sauce on top of each individual bowls.
One year ago: Sweet Potato Pasta Bake
Two years ago: Spice Cake
Three years ago: Oven-baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Herbs
(Recipe roughly adapted from Nigella Express, Chatto and Windus, 2007.)