When it’s hot outside and you’ve got a hankering for something sweet, it’s hard to go past a chocolate pudding. And you can’t get much simpler than the self-saucing variety. High on the comfort factor and heavy on the chocolate, recipes range from the ultra-quick mid-week version to the rich and decadent indulgence-in-a-ramekin you might find on a restaurant dessert menu. In the world of puddings it may not be the best looker but what it lacks in appearance it more than makes up for in taste. It also has ease and speed on its side, as well as a touch of magic.
For the most delectable chocolate pudding, sprinkle brown sugar and cocoa powder over the top of the batter, pour over boiling water and pop it in the oven. A short time later and a transformation has taken place. The toppings have combined to form a thick sauce, sinking to the bottom, and the pudding itself has emerged through the top. People like theirs with cream, ice cream and custard.
Unlike their cousins, the soft-centred molten/lava cakes, cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate flavour the pudding, along with a touch of vanilla extract. Some recipes also include a shot of coffee. Given the pudding can be tweaked through ingredients or cooking method to suit different occasions and situations, here is a selection below.
Quick and easy: There’s something very appealing about a recipe which promises to deliver a dessert in 18 minutes and requires no mixing bowl therefore less washing up. The microwave self-saucing chocolate pudding is very easy to make and not bad to eat. It takes 23 minutes all up – 10 to make the batter, eight minutes to cook and five minutes to rest, making it a good option for a busy week night. The cake itself was a bit dry but scoop out some more sauce and smother it in ice cream and problem solved. Give it a whirl if you are hankering for a pudding and was pressed for time.
Self-saucing chocolate pudding recipe
225g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
175g soft brown sugar
Melt the butter in the microwave in a deep, 20cm round dish.
Sift in flour, sugar and 25g cocoa powder, add milk and vanilla extract, and mix well. Sprinkle soft brown sugar and the remaining 35g cocoa powder over the top and pour in 300ml boiling water – don’t stir. Cook in the microwave on high (800W) for 8 minutes.
Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving with cream.
Coffee kick: Many pudding recipes use coffee and some even add a shot of espresso to the sauce or some instant coffee to the pudding batter. Just one mouthful of these puddings and you understand why. They contain half the cocoa powder of the recipe, so are less chocolatey, but the coffee compensates for this by adding another layer of flavour.
3 ounces self raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1 pinch salt
4 ounces butter or 4 ounces margarine
4 ounces caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 -2 tablespoon milk
2/3 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 1/2 cups water (hot)
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease 6 cup oven-proof dish. For the sauce, mix together cocoa and brown sugar in a jug and pour in hot water and stir till sugar is dissolved. For the pudding sift flour, cocoa, instant coffee powder and salt together. Cream butter and sugar until light, gradually beat in eggs and vanilla.
Add a little flour, then some milk (alternate between the two keeping a soft consistency) finishing with the flour (don't worry if you don't use up all the milk.
Spoon mixture into well greased oven dish and spread evenly. If using sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts. Spoon sauce over the pudding mixture till you have a layer of sauce then pour the rest over the back of the spoon. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream and or ice cream and walnut halves if using.
Light option: Weight Watchers looking for low fat options can try this chocolate self-saucing pudding recipe. It cuts back on the sugar (swapping caster for brown), rejects butter, and uses fat free evaporated milk. Portion size is smaller too – ¾ cup capacity ramekins. The quantity is good, and it has a distinct sweetness and the pudding is quite swamped by the chocolate chips.
Low-Fat chocolate pudding
1/3 cup agave nectar or packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 12-ounce cans fat-free evaporated milk
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping
Whisk the agave nectar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk in the evaporated milk and egg whites until well combined. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla.
Transfer 1 cup of the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the white chocolate chips and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until the chips melt. Add the cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chips to the remaining pudding and stir until the chips melt. Divide the chocolate pudding among dishes and top with the vanilla pudding. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Chop some chocolate chips to sprinkle on top.
For a pudding that's so simple to make there are some big variances in texture and flavour. Here are some of the lessons you should learn from trying different recipes:
- For a milder pudding, one you can happily eat without putting yourself in a food coma, look for a recipe that cuts back on the cocoa but adds flavour through coffee.
- If you like a crusty pudding, consider using plain flour and baking powder rather than self-raising flour. That way you can increase the ratio of raising agent to flour which seems to impact the texture.
- If you’re going for rich and decadent, consider reducing the size of the cups and don’t skimp on the cream and berries on the side.