Monday, December 10, 2007

Chocolate Steamed Pudding

Now then. This is about chocolate. A chocolate dessert suitable for Christmas Dinner. A dessert not too difficult. A do-ahead one, at that. And it's gluten-free, actually, low in sugar (yes, really), and serves a whopping 12 people if you're judicious in slicing it.

To explain the background on this recipe, I should back up and reiterate about how I detest fruitcake. Never have liked it. One Fall, back about 1964 or so, my former father-in-law took a trip to England and brought back a suet fruitcake from Fortnum & Mason (a bastion of fine food, coffees and teas) - a suet pudding I believe it was - and was so proud of bringing it to our house for Christmas. I'm sure I smiled brightly and thought, oh dear, what do I do now? Serve it with a smile and give myself just one bite, smother it in sauce and pretend it's wonderful. I didn't like the suet pudding. It even came with a can of hard sauce too. But, when my teeth hit those bits of tiny fig seeds, I cringed. Even raisins can get those little bits of dry seedy things.

The following year I determined to give myself at least a steamed pudding that I liked. This recipe just popped up, very timely, and I've made it umpteen times since. It came out of Gourmet Magazine, back in the years when they wrote every single recipe in sentence form, so you had to hunt through for the ingredients. They weren't even highlighted in different type. Many a time I missed some items because I skimmed the sentences. This one was in the letters page, because I have the original clipping - a woman from England, Mrs. M.E. Pout, of Worplesdon, submitted it, thanking the magazine for its interesting and inspiring articles. Having never heard of chocolate steamed pudding, I thought I was onto a winner. Way back in the 1960's it was difficult even finding a steamed pudding mold. Where I bought this thing, I don't recall, but I DO remember that it was expensive. But I splurged. It's seen a lot of wear. Because it sits in water once a year, it has developed a kind of mineral dusty exterior because of our hard water, and I see a few signs of rust. But it's served me well, all these 40+ years. Now, if you decide you want to make this, and you don't have a pudding mold, don't despair. Just use a medium-sized ceramic bowl (higher sides preferred) and a lip that you can somehow secure foil to. Cover it with a piece of cloth (a thin towel, or a dishtowel, cut just to cover it and over the edges). What you don't want is for the steam to get INSIDE the bowl (the steam turns into water and drips onto the top of the pudding), so that's why you want to tie the foil down as securely as you can. If the bowl sides are too slanted, you'll never get it to stay, so straighter sides are better.

The ingredients in this pudding are simple: butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate and almonds. That's it. The butter and sugar get whipped up, you add egg yolks and grated chocolate, then the ground almonds. It's a thick batter, as you can see above. Lastly you fold in the whipped egg whites. I happened to have added an additional 3 egg whites to this (because I had some languishing in the refrigerator), to I actually used 7 egg whites. But 4 are sufficient. If you want a lighter pud, add a couple more. Pour it into a mold, cover, simmer it in water and that's it.

Here's the finished pudding, just out of the oven, resting, cooling.

About the chocolate: I'm giving you a picture of the chocolate mound. I was astounded, really, to see how big a mound was created by finely grating 4 ounces! It must be finely grated. In some years past I've chopped it finely, and I suppose that would suffice, but grated is far better. It takes awhile to grate chocolate - this 4 ounces probably took me 10-15 minutes. I tried a coarser microplane, but settled on the thin one, the one I use mostly for grating citrus zest. It made a heavy dust of chocolate. I used Scharffen Berger's unsweetened chocolate that comes in a 9+ ounce bar.

About the almonds: in years past I've always whizzed the almonds up in the food processor. And if you don't have a Trader Joe's in your town, that method will work, although it does leave some little bits of almond, so you actually chew a bit of almonds now and then. It's what I did for years, so am sure it would continue to work. But Trader Joe's carries a package of "Just Almond Meal," which makes it so very easy. It's a finer grind - almost like flour, actually. Maybe you can find almond meal in other stores as well.
Once you finish preparing the batter, you pour it into the mold, cover, and put into a pot large enough to hold the mold, plus some, as you fill the pot about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the mold. I weighted mine with something heavy to keep the mold from floating. It takes 90 minutes to steam the pud, then you carefully remove it, unveil it, let it cool a bit, then remove from the mold. It's best served warm, but I've always made it ahead of time, so just cool, chill, then warm it in the oven (wrapped in foil) for about 15-20 minutes at 200. So, if you're looking for something a bit different this year, this may be your ticket. It makes a nice traditional dessert for Christmas Dinner, but it's not all that traditional in taste.
Steamed Chocolate Pudding (and Gluten-Free)
Recipe: Mrs. M. E. Pout of Worplesdon, England, via Gourmet Magazine, 1960's
Servings: 12
1/2 cup unsalted butter -- at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
4 whole eggs -- separated
[2 additional egg whites, optional, added to the other egg whites]
1 cup ground almonds
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate -- grated
Butter for greasing the mold
1 cup whipping cream -- whipped
1. Beat the egg whites until stiff and able to hold peaks. Don't overbeat.
2. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar until mixture is creamy. Stir in the 4 egg yolks which have been lightly beaten, the ground almonds and the unsweetened chocolate. Combine until it's smooth.
3. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and stir and fold until there are no major streaks of egg white showing.
4. Pour the mixture into a well-buttered steam mold (or use a heavy ceramic bowl and tie several thicknesses of foil around the top).
5. Stand the mold in a large kettle and add hot water to reach 2/3 of the way up the outside of the mold. Bring the pot to a low simmer and steam the pudding for 90 minutes. Remove from water, dry it off on the outside, then gently remove the steamed pudding from the mold. Cut into thin slices to serve, with a mound of whipped cream on the side.
NOTES : Be sure to grind up the almonds very finely, but not so much that they turn into glue. If possible, buy already ground almond meal/flour.
Serving Ideas : If you prefer, this can be served with a rum or brandy sauce (1/2 cup softened butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and about 2 T. of rum or brandy, chill before serving).
Per Serving: 230 Calories; 21g Fat (75.1% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 26mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 4 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.

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