Thursday 17 April 2008

Family Favourite: Chocolate Pudding

When I lived in Edinburgh, I would frequently visit my brother Andy and sister Chris in Dublin. This was all the family I had over that side of the world. Without fail, Andy would cook us chocolate pudding just like my mum used to. He made it so often that he didn’t even need a recipe. For a while he experimented with different versions but always came back to the original. It felt like home.

My mum made us "sweets" (or dessert) almost every night when I was growing up. One of the most frequent and favoured sweets was chocolate pudding. In fact, we loved it so much that my dad once attempted to make it when she was in hospital for the birth of one of my siblings and we never forgot his sloppy chocolate pudding.
A few months back, I decided to make it for E and I but I couldn’t find the recipe. Andy had emailed it to me ages ago but I had lost it so I just used the Australian Women’s Weekly recipe, naively assuming that ours must be a common Australian recipe. I know from my blogging that ‘chocolate pudding’ in America is not my chocolate pudding. Mine is a hot, lightly crusted chocolate sponge swimming in a pool of dark chocolatey sauce. Others might know it as self-saucing chocolate pudding.

The pudding I made was disappointingly bland and I returned to my mum for the recipe, assuming she had the original. She couldn’t find it and thought that Andy might have it and then in a burst of clarity remembered the recipe and gave it to me over the phone. The instructions that I scribbled down might show just how natural it seems to me to make it: ‘Mix all pudding ingredients and place in bowl – bake 150 C for 1 hour-ish’. It also shows how simple it is.

My mum also told me that this was her mum’s recipe. That makes sense to me as one of my early memories is being at Nanny’s place in South Caulfield that she left when I was about 12. I remember her stirring the pudding in a bowl with a wooden spoon. I think at the time it struck me as odd to mix a chocolate pudding batter by hand because I knew that my mother always made chocolate cake with the electric beaters.

The trick to my grandmother’s recipe is that it has more cocoa and is cooked slowly in a cooler oven than the AWW. My mum often used dessert spoons to measure cocoa when I cooked with her as a child and following her recipe I have used dessert spoons. Ironically they are larger than the tablespoons I now use (but not larger than mum's old tablespoon that I may photograph for my blog some time). For clarity I have photographed a spoon of cocoa next to a tablespoon.

As any chocoholic will appreciate, the more cocoa, the better. So in this recipe heaped spoonfuls are best. In fact, I think my pudding last weekend was particularly good because I lost count of the spoonfuls of cocoa and probably put in a little more than the recipe called for.

I made it to serve with nut roast on the weekend to complete a meal like my mother use to make. The pudding you see here is my Nanny’s recipe and it truly is manna from the gods. Dark, rich, soft, seductive. It comes out of the oven filling the kitchen with a heavenly chocolatey aroma. It seems something of a miracle that you put it in the oven with flavoured water sitting on the pudding batter and it comes out with a sponge pudding sitting over a wonderful thickened sauce. It is the finest of comfort foods and brings back memories.

Imagine 7 small excited children sitting around a large wooden kitchen table watching my mother’s large serving spoon hovering over the pudding. That is a happy image of my childhood. The moment that the spoon cracks the crust and digs into the sauce is always a happy one. The first serving might look good with the smooth topped wedge of pudding surrounded by sauce but inevitably by the end, the servings are unattractive messy clumps covered in sauce. But no matter how it looks, it tastes so good.

My mum always served it with thickened cream (which strangely is a thin pouring cream) but I always refused because I never liked cream. E had cream. He thought he should have custard with it which shows how little he understands the charms of chocolate pudding.

Chocolate pudding is still frequently made in my mum's house, especially when any of the family are over for dinner. She wouldn’t dare stop making it because it is always in demand.

I am sending this to Bella Baita View for this month’s Apple and Thyme, an event founded by Jeni Of Passionate Palate and Inge of Vanielje Kitchen that is dedicated to remembering cooking with and by members of our families.

Chocolate pudding
Serves 4-6

60g butter (or margarine), softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 dessertspoons cocoa
Little less than a cup of self raising flour
1/2 cup milk

3 dessertspoons cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup boiling water

Stir all the pudding ingredients together till combined and spoon into a greased ovenproof baking dish. (I like to use a round 20cm diameter dish that I got for my 21st birthday from my siblings.) Mix the sauce ingredients in a jug and stir well. Pour over pudding (but don't stir pudding mix and sauce together once in baking dish). It looks odd and watery if you have never done it before but it works. Bake in a 150 C oven for about 1 hour til top is crusted and the pudding smells good. Serve with cream if desired.

NOTE: I have updated the top photo (2012).  Hopefully one day I can use a few more photos that do this favourite dessert more justice.

On the Stereo:
The Good Son: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


  1. I'm drooling, that looks like it's an All-time favorite!

  2. This brought back such memories for me--I used to make a version of this (we called it "pudding cake") when I was an undergraduate living alone. I'd have it for dessert (okay, sometimes for breakfast) as comfort food. Sounds like yours is bound up with good memories, too.

  3. This looks great! I love desserts that have more than one texture/consistency. I might have to try this one! Thanks for a new recipe.

  4. Woah, how is it I've never seen a dessert spoon before? I like the idea of measuring out cocoa with that as opposed to a regular old tablespoon :D The pudding looks great but will have to wait till I have company as otherwise I'd be far too tempted to indulge too much :P

  5. Ohhh yum your chocolate pudding looks great. My sister and I tried to make one once when we were younger and we ended up with a molten pile of chocolate goo and had great fun pretending it was a sewage works!
    Yours looks wonderful, as you say the more cocoa the better :)

  6. Yep, that's my kind of chocolate pudding. At home, many years ago, we used to call it miracle pudding...

  7. Oh. Yum. I have never made a self-saucing pudding but it's been on my list for ages. It feels a bit mean to steal someone else's family favourite, though! Can I trade you for the family choc chip cookies I posted about a while back?

  8. thanks Romina - yep I wish I had some now!

    thanks Ricki - this would be excellent breakfast food for students!

    thanks Sarah - hope you do try it - it is worth it - and easy!

    thanks Ellie - it seems too ordinary to be indulgent but it does taste decadent - and I love using dessert spoon measures - they remind me of cooking with my mum and make me feel more relaxed about quantities (which is a good thing with cocoa)

    thanks Katie - kids are so fascinated by the scatalogical but they know how to have fun!

    thanks a forkful - I like the name - because this pudding is indeed a miracle!

    thanks Lysy - I like to think of it as sharing not stealing but let me know if you make the chocolate cake and I will be happy to accept your cookies in return if I get to make them with cadbury creme eggs :-)

  9. These are always the best type of recipes, and being a confirmed chocaholic this would definitely get my vote. Thanks for joining us in Apples & Thyme

  10. Another recipes for me to filch! Thanks Johanna!
    I have my recipe at the ready for your event, to squeeze in at the last minute tomorrow. I have written down the ingredients to collect after work, so cross your fingers for me!
    Hope blogger is working better tomorrow! I can't get it to upload any photos tonight.

  11. Wow that first photo really grabs you! I wanted to dip my finger in for a taste :) I do believe this is what we Americans call a "pudding cake", I have one posted on my blog. Our regular "pudding" is just milk/cream, sugar and chocolate thickened with gelatin, sort of like a heavy version of Panna cotta but not as good :) The textural variation of yours is very appealing.

    Great story behind your chocolate pudding. Seven children!

  12. thanks vanielje - I have a few favourite chocolate foods from my youth so may bring a few more to apple and thyme - glad I could finally send this one your way!

    thanks Holler - I think you should filch this one - you would love it! And you making your nut roast tonight made me smile because I am making my mushroom soup tonight so will be sending that to you and lisa soon

    thanks LisaRene - I confess there was a little finger dipping going on here - it is irresistable - I will have to check out your 'pudding cake'. I think your chocolate pudding sounds more like a mousse to me. All fascinating stuff

  13. Hiya Johanna, this looks soooo tasty and seems a lot lighter and less sugary than the one my mum used to make, I'm keen to give it a go! I noticed there's no eggs in it, is this a change you've made or is that in the original?

  14. jo you are an angel! i was just googling choc pudding recipes as i'm craving it, and here i find the EXACT recipe here! btw, i sent you a link to another desert blog i found in my search. quin is dairy-free now, so i hope it's ok for me to make it with soy... it's only a little but of milk anyway.

    anyway, THANKS!!!

  15. thanks Shauna - this is the recipe my family has made ever since I remember - I have seen some recipes with eggs but it really is excellent without!

  16. I am not exagerrating when I say that this has to be the best looking chocolate pudding I have ever seen. You are right that it is very different from American pudding, but to me it looks infinitely better! Gooey, rich, and cocoa-y! I wish I was there to lick the spoons. :-) Thanks for the post.

  17. thanks Miriam - glad it is helping you find the recipe - you can see that it took me a bit of work to find it! Soy is fine!

    Thanks Passionate Palate - I think this might be the best ever chocolate pudding too but I am biased - am glad I could participate!

  18. Yum! That looks exactly like my Mum's choc self saucing pudding - and looks so simple!

  19. This was a childhood classic. Mum used to make it sometimes with no cocoa in the sponge and the chocolate sauce creates a fantastic marble effect.


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)