My stand mixer has been sitting on the countertop, patiently waiting for me to remember my New Year’s resolution to learn how to bake. I’ll bet you thought I’d forgotten about it, too! More likely, I’ll bet you thought it would be so much more fulfilling to resolve to be more organized or eat fewer calories…or perhaps even exercise more? And not that there’s anything wrong with being virtuous, but aren’t most resolutions broken by the middle of February anyway? So, this was my way of setting myself up for success. This is how you WIN at resolution-making: make resolutions that you actually don’t mind keeping long-term!
Being that it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m not adept at this whole baking thing yet, I decided to try something easy; something fairly fool-proof that didn’t contain anything terribly exotic and could be whipped up in mere minutes. This recipe for Baked Chocolate Pudding fit the bill perfectly! I found it in Ina Garten’s “Back to Basics” cookbook and true to Ina’s form, there were only seven ingredients, all found in my pantry (if you don’t count my forgetting to replenish my vanilla bean paste supply). I made two changes to the original recipe. The original recipe called for a tablespoon of framboise (raspberry) liqueur, which I did not have and did not intend to run out and buy. Since we have plenty of liqueurs in the pantry it was just a matter of finding one that I liked. I tried orange, maraschino and coffee liqueurs and settled on the coffee, because I love the flavor of chocolate and coffee together! Also, the original recipe is baked in an oval baking dish, but because I wanted small individual servings, I baked them in cute little ramekins.
This dessert will remind you of being a kid and licking the cake batter from a spoon! It’s something of a cross between a brownie and a molten lava cake–the top and sides form a crunchy shell, that when broken, reveals a melty center! It’s rich and chocolaty, sweet and decadent! I served it with a dollop of mascarpone cheese which I think balanced the sweetness of the dessert perfectly.
Baked Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa, “Back To Basics”
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, plus an additional one tablespoon for buttering the dishes
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli Natural Cocoa Powder)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- seeds scraped from one vanilla bean*
- 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (optional, but I chose instead to use a coffee liqueur similar to Kahlua)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Butter an oval (9x12x2-inch) gratin dish or ramekins with one tablespoon of the butter.
- Melt the butter in a microwave oven if you have one, and set it aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and the eggs on medium speed until they become thick and very light yellow, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- While the sugar and egg mixture is being creamed, sift together the flour and the cocoa powder. I don’t have a sifter so I poured the cocoa powder and flour through a fine mesh sieve placed on top of a small bowl.
- After the sugar and egg mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, then pour in the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Now, pour in the cooled butter and mix until just combined.
- The pudding bakes in a “bain marie” or water bath, so you’ll need a rectangular baking pan large enough to hold the dish or ramekins that you’ll bake the pudding in. Pour the pudding mixture into the oval baking dish (or ramekins if you are using them) and place them into the larger rectangular baking pan. If using ramekins, fill them about 2/3 full so that when they bake, they won’t rise over the top of the dish. Pour enough hot tap water into the larger baking pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the oval dish or ramekins. Place in the oven and bake for exactly one hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the sides will be almost clean, but the center will appear undone. Remove the pudding from the oven and allow it to cool. Once the pudding cools the outside edges and top of the pudding will be crackly and collapse and the center will be soft and gooey!
*A note about scraping the seeds from the vanilla beans. This is much harder to do than it looks on television! Take a sharp knife and carefully slice the bean down the center to open the bean pod. Then use the point of the knife to scrape out the seeds. I will likely use vanilla bean paste for this recipe in the future, because it’s so easy to work with and the flavor is amazing! One tablespoon of vanilla bean paste equals one vanilla bean.
Hope you’re having a wonderful Valentine’s Day!