This is a variant on lemon surprise pudding, in which the mixture divides on cooking to produce a sponge above the thick lemony sauce which forms below. Indeed, it is known in my house as Lemon Surprise Pudding, the surprise being that it’s chocolate.
Although I didn’t actually eat this as a child, it is heady with reminders of childhood foods: the hazelnuts in the sponge bring back memories of Nutella, the thick, dark, fudgy sauce of chocolate spread. The proportions below are geared towards six, but easily feed eight. It’s heavenly with fridge-cold heavy cream poured over it.
It is also child’s play to make. Choose good cocoa and good chocolate and stick carefully to the exact measurements. (You can, though, use 1 2/3 cups flour in place of the 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 cup ground nuts, if you prefer increasing the amount of baking powder needed to 1 1/2 teaspoons.) Use one of those standard white soufflé dishes 8 inches in diameter, or a shallow square 12-inch pan. If you’ve got only a single oven, it makes sense to use the shallow dish: it will take less time to cook.—Nigella Lawson
For the pudding
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup good, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
1 2/3 cups confectioners sugar
2 1/2 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate chopped roughly or chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the sauce
1 cup dark brown or dark muscovado sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa into a bowl, stir in the hazelnuts and the sugar, then add the chocolate. Whisk together the melted butter, egg, milk and vanilla and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir well, so it’s all thoroughly mixed, then spoon into the buttered dish.
2. Now for the sauce, not that you make it yourself (the cooking does that for you), but you have to get the ingredients together. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Mix the brown sugar and cocoa and sprinkle over the top of the pudding mixture in the dish. Pour the boiled water up to the 2 cup mark of a measuring cup, then pour over the pudding.
3. Put the water-drenched pudding directly into the oven and leave it there for about 50 minutes. Don’t open the door until a good 45 minutes have passed and then press: If it feels fairly firm and springy to the touch, it’s ready. If you’re using the shallow dish, it’ll be ready in 35 to 40 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, spooning from the dish and making sure everyone gets both sauce and sponge.
Recipe © 2002 Nigella Lawson. All rights reserved.