March 11, 2014

British Baking - Pan au Chocolate Pudding

Pan au chocolate roughly cut and in corningware.
Well, Ryan's birthday was this last weekend. For the last few years I have baked his favorite pie (blackberry) but this year I was ready to try something new. Since I continue to read Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess cookbook just for fun I looked through it again searching for any inspiration. I am glad I did since I stumbled upon something I have had on my baking wish list for some time and it would work perfect for Ryan's birthday: Pan au Chocolate pudding! Ryan loves pan au chocolate so I thought this would be a perfect substitute for the traditional blackberry pie. I also have been wanting to do a British baking series for some time so luckily this recipe worked for both.

As with all Nigella's recipes this one was simple to follow. I need to read up on copyrights to see if there is any issue posting her recipe but I can give you the gist of it anyways. The key ingredient, pan au chocolate, was easy to find. Safeway aways has fresh pan au chocolate. However for this pudding I needed something a little stale. Simple trick- just leave the box open for a night. I tried, of course, to hide the extras since the recipe called for a just a few but with my very observant husband that didn't last too long. That same night I hear him in the pantry, "uh-oh!" Yea, go ahead and have some. The surprise wasn't really ruined, though, and he was happy with his pan au chocolate for breakfast. Funny boy.

It's finished and looks delicious!
Everything else the recipe called for was standard pantry ingredients. Milk, heavy cream, sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. And as usual Nigella makes recommendations for substitutions. Ok, not really substitutions. More like variants on the ingredients. Since I didn't have any heavy cream on hand and didn't want to purchase more of what I would't use or need I switched out the milk and cream for half-and-half. Might not have been the best substitution but I figured I'd give it a go. The egg yolk proved to be not as tricky as I thought. There are so many gadgets out there to separate eggs; they're not really necessary. Just a few passes of the yolk between the broken halves of the shell and I had my yolk and whites separated. First time I really tried that, by the way, so there's hope for those who don't feel so bold to try this. The cream was brought almost to a boil (so glad it didn't curdle) and added to the egg, egg yolk, and sugar (which also didn't curdle). I'm not sure if there was any concern of that happening in this recipe. Nigella didn't mention it. But I made sure to temper the eggs before dumping the whole pot of cream in. Tempering is just adding a little bit of the hot (this time the cream) to the eggs to slowly bring up the temperature without actually making scrambled eggs. Because scrambled eggs and pan au chocolate were just not what I was going for.

Perfect with vanilla bean ice cream.

Once mixed the whole lot was poured over the pan au chocolate and left to set for about 10 minutes. Then, into the oven at 325 and baked for about 25 minutes. Well, the recipe says 25 minutes or until the pudding is softly set. Since Ryan and I aren't fans of runny pudding I baked it for about 35 minutes.

In the end, this turned out better than I hoped. Ryan loved it. It was easy and super quick. And it smelled fantastic! I am tempted to add just a hint of cinnamon next time to really take this over the edge of amazing. Who says the Brits don't know how to cook. This one is definitely a new fave.

Happy birthday, Ryan! I am so thankful for you and so happy to celebrate you on the last birthday of your twenties. Here's to many more birthdays and hopefully many more desserts to enjoy!

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