This Sunday, if I venture out of my front door from around 10 am, I am likely to be trampled to death by a pack of pain-wracked marathoning maniacs. Scientific theory is that runners hit the infamous "wall" at 20 miles, at which point their body runs out of glycogen, hypoglycaemia sets in, and the skinny gits start burning fat reserves for fuel. What fun!
The poor sods will hit mile 19-and-a-half just outside my front door, with mile 20 right by the entrance of the nearest DLR station. Between this fun fact, and the inspiration provided by my colleague Nic's gift of a large bar of swiss chocolate, I'm contemplating making a very large quantity of the recipe that follows and enjoying it for breakfast al fresco on the roundabout that gets you soveryveryveryclose to the action this Sunday.
Soft chocolate Toblerone pudding
It's a British-style baked pudding which comes out a bit like a soft, squidgy brownie, rather than the custardy blanc-mangy affair also known as pudding in some quarters. Recipe
Takes about an hour and a half including cooking time.
Finicky dish bit: You'll need two of these, both oven-safe. The pudding needs to cook in a humid oven to achieve soft nirvana, so you need a dish for it that holds about 2 1/2 pints (1.5 litres) of chocolate loveliness. You also need something like a roasting tray that the pudding basin can sit in comfortably while being surrounded by water that laps gently about half-way up its sides. You could possibly just put a pie plate of water on the bottom shelf as if you were baking french bread, but I've never tried it and I'm skeptical about messing with this side of things.
Take 2oz/55g unsalted butter out of the fridge and leave to warm up somewhere handy. Separate 2 eggs, put the yolks on the counter with the butter and the whites back in the fridge. Grease the pudding basin with something else. Turn on oven to 180C, 350F or Gas Mark 4. Boil the kettle.
Break up about 250g/9oz DARK chocolate Toblerone into pieces. This is 2 and a half of the normal-sized bars. The black ones. (I'm sure when I was young the wrappers for this kind were green). I'll need a calculator to figure out how many triangles from my enormous 400g duty-free bar are required (heh, heh, heh). I recommend eating any leftovers quite soon to stop them from going bad.
Note the DARK chocolate. Please, for the love of Ek Chuah and any other god of cocoa, do not pollute this pudding with that vile and disgusting substance known as milk chocolate. Especially the horrible British kind. Chocolate should be the darkest possible brown verging on pitch black, or it's not worth eating. If French persons bearing gifts of Toblerone are scarce, the Milk Tray man is not an appropriate substitute. Go for a DARK alternative. Next time I'm Toblerone-less, I'm thinking of using Green & Black's Maya Gold as a change, maybe with a splash of Cointreau.
Back to recipe:
Pour 1/2 pint/300ml milk into a saucepan, add the pieces of chocolate and heat slowly, while stirring gently, until all the chocolate is melted. If the whole baking dish issue seems more trouble than it's worth, you could just stop now and drink this as hot chocolate (maybe with a bit more milk). If you want to persevere, there's nowhere handy to stop from now on.
Put the hot choc. on the side somewhere to cool down a bit, maybe adding a splash of espresso (cut down by the same quantity of milk in this case) or a teaspoonful of really good instant coffee (not an oxymoron, I swear. I'd give a brand but what with the Toblerone thing, my product placement hackles have already risen. It's the one in the black jar with the French name).
Use boiled water to make a cuppa. Drink, top up kettle and re-boil if necessary.
Beat together room-temp butter and 3oz/150g muscavado sugar (recipe says light, I like dark for more caramel flavour) with a wooden spoon. No rules about butter changing colour, just get it nicely blended. Mix in 1oz/30g cocoa powder (good kind, please) and the same amount self-raising flour. Recipe says to sift, which is always a disaster where I'm concerned because it inevitably goes everywhere and makes me sneeze. I've learned to live without sifting and I'm a better person for it.
Add the egg yolks, mix well. Add the cooled-down hot chocolate and stir in gently until it's all smooth.
Remove egg whites from fridge. Panic not if you've accidentally left the on the side instead. The being cold business just helps them hold the air, so your pudding may be a bit flatter than normal, but if you've followed the all-important chocolate guidelines, it will still taste good.
Whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks. If you use an electric whisk, use the slowest possible speed. A fast speed gets them very thick, very fast, but won't incorporate enough air for the pudding. This is especially important if like me, you are lacking in the sifting department. Be a bit zen. Hand-whisking is meditative and burns enough wrist calories for two helpings.
GENTLY. Sorry, gently, fold the whites into the chocolate goop with a large metal spoon until totally mixed in. Don't be too slow here, air is precious. I don't have problems with tiny bits of white, others are purists.
Pour batter into the pudding basin which you have placed in the roasting tray. Pour hot water slowly (so as not to accidentally get any in the batter) from kettle into roasting tray until it comes half-way up the side of the pudding basin.
Pop the whole lot into oven on middle shelf. Meanwhile, do the washing-up for good karma, eat the leftover chocolate and drink tea.
After 45 minutes, or when it looks set, remove from oven. To check doneness, if you tap the pudding basin, the contents should still wobble a bit. I prefer taking it out a wee bit earlier, 'cos I like chocolate goop. Take the pudding basin out of the tray of water (carefully) and leave it on the side for about 5 minutes before serving. It might not come out cleanly, but it will come out goooood. Serve as is, with cream, really good vanilla ice cream and/or the sort of fruit you like with chocolate.