Hot chocolate pudding with praline parfait

Hot chocolate pudding with praline parfait

Serves at least 10

For the praline parfait;

250g hazelnuts
600g caster sugar
1 litre of double cream
12 medium egg whites

For the chocolate pudding;

425g dark chocolate
425g unsalted butter
10 medium eggs, separated
150g dark soft brown sugar
250g ground almonds
275g caster sugar
75g plain sugar
250g toasted fl aked almonds
A little pouring cream, to serve

For the chocolate sauce;

250ml water
250ml double cream
100g best-quality cocoa powder – not drinking chocolate!
150g caster sugar
75g dark chocolate, grated or chopped
50g unsalted butter

 Make the praline parfait at least the day before. Roast the hazelnuts in a medium oven until golden, then allow to cool to room temperature. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. In a large stainless steel pan, dissolve 250g of the sugar in a little water and place on a medium heat. As the sugar starts to turn an amber colour, turn the heat down and continue to cook gently until a rich, dark-golden caramel colour is achieved. Be bold with the caramel – if it is too blond the caramel will be overly sweet. Turn the heat off, throw in the roasted nuts and stir well with a wooden spoon. Immediately turn out the praline on to the lined baking sheet. To clean the pan, simply fill with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until all the  hardened caramel dissolves. When the praline has completely cooled to room temperature (which will take a couple of hours), break it up using your hands and bash it with the end of a rolling pin until it resembles chunky breadcrumbs. Store in an airtight container.

 To make the parfait, you will require two large mixing bowls. In the first, lightly whip the cream until it forms soft peaks – it should not be overly thick. In the second, using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until they form soft, floppy peaks. Whilst still whisking, add the remaining 350g of caster sugar in four stages until a stiff, glossy meringue is achieved. Fold one-third of the meringue into the cream and beat fairly briskly with the whisk. Lightly and quickly fold in the remaining meringue, incorporating the contents of the two bowls thoroughly, but retaining as much volume as possible. Lastly, fold in the praline. Transfer the parfait to an airtight container and freeze. (It also tastes delicious unfrozen and I always scoff a few mouthfuls at the ‘transfer to container’ stage.)

 To make the pudding, line a 35 x 25cm deepish brownie tin or somesuch with baking parchment and set the oven to 160°C. Melt together the chocolate and butter slowly in a large bowl over a large pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should not be in contact with the hot water and the slower the melting process, the better. Stir occasionally. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks well and then combine with half the soft brown sugar and half the ground almonds. In another large bowl, using a hand-electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until they form soft, floppy peaks. Add the caster sugar in four stages with the whisk at full blast until a stiff, glossy meringue is achieved.

 Mix the melted butter and chocolate together well and combine with the soft brown sugar/ground almond mixture. Add the remaining soft brown sugar and ground almonds and combine well. Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in. Briskly fold in one-third of the meringue. Add the remaining meringue and fold together thoroughly. Transfer to the lined baking tin and bake in the oven until a skewer or pointy knife inserted comes out clean – depending on the exact dimensions of your baking vessel, this will take about 35 minutes. Remove the pudding and set aside at room temperature.

 To make the chocolate sauce, simply place all the ingredients except the butter in a pan and bring to the boil, whisking all the while. Simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and whisk in the butter, then pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan and keep warm.

 To serve, slice or cut the warm pudding into any shape you fancy. Pour some hot chocolate sauce over it and add a generous scattering of toasted almonds. Serve with a large scoop of the praline parfait. Hand around a jug of pouring cream separately.

Excerpt from Bruce’s Cookbook by Bruce Poole – originally published in FrenchEntrée Magazine

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