A Valentine’s classic: how could any heart fail to melt when presented with this gorgeously oozy chocolate pudding?
The secret of these seductive little desserts is in the timing – nail that, and you can’t go wrong. (If you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, remember that, in the words of the late, great Whitney Houston, to love yourself is the greatest love of all.)
Prep 15 min
Cook 12 min
60g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
1 tbsp cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 Prepare the moulds
If you plan to bake and eat the puddings immediately, heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and heat a baking tray on the middle shelf.
Grease the insides of two small ramekins or pudding moulds with butter, put the cocoa in one, and turn and tip to coat the insides, holding it over the other ramekin to catch any powder. Tip the rest of the cocoa into the second ramekin and repeat.
2 Break up the chocolate
Break the chocolate into fairly evenly sized pieces – I find the easiest and most satisfying way to start this process is to leave it in the packet, or put it in a resealable bag, give it a good whack against the work surface, then chop up any large pieces that remain. Cut the butter into chunky dice.
3 Ready a bain-marie
Find a heatproof bowl that sits in one of your saucepans without touching the bottom, and fill the pan with just enough boiling water to cover the base of the pan – make sure it doesn’t touch the bowl itself, or the chocolate will overheat and split. Put the pan on a medium heat, and put the chocolate and butter in the bowl on top.
Leave the butter and chocolate to melt together, stirring now and then to encourage them along. Once you have a smooth, well-blended mixture, turn off the heat, lift the bowl off the pan (remember that it will be hot) and pour the mixture into a cold bowl or jug to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the batter.
5 Make the batter
Put the egg and egg yolk in a large bowl with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Vigorously whisk by hand or with electric beaters, until the mixture is pale yellow and voluminous. Very gently fold in the melted chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon, taking care not to knock too much air out of the batter. Repeat with the flour.
6 Fill the moulds and cook
Divide the batter between the two moulds, leaving a little room at the top for them to rise. If you’d like to eat them immediately, put them on the hot baking tray in the oven for 12 minutes, until the tops are set and the cake mix is just starting to come away from the sides of the moulds.
7 Rest, then plate
Leave to rest for 30 seconds, then loosen with a palette or butter knife and turn out on to plates if you’re feeling confident, or serve in the moulds if you’d prefer to play it safe. (If you’re really out to impress, I’d recommend trying out this recipe in advance, to check the exact timings in your oven, because they’re likely to vary slightly from mine.)
8 Alternatively, save until later
Although the cooked puddings should be eaten immediately, if you’d like to get ahead, you can chill the raw mixture in its moulds, or even freeze it – in which case, cook for 14 minutes from cold or 16 from frozen: again, timings will depend on the exact temperature of your oven, so you might want to make double and cook a test pudding in advance.