Scraping the vanilla seeds
This pot of vanilla infused dark chocolate is gently baked in a bain marie before chilling in the fridge for six hours; you have to break through a firm crust to get to the thick baked mousse underneath. This is a recipe from the Chocolate chapter of Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories. The chapter is dedicated to unadulterated decadence; every recipe rich with dark chocolate and double cream. I chose this one in particular because I like serving desserts baked in individual portion-sized ramekins.
We have Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés to thank for this pud, who is said to have introduced both vanilla and chocolate to Europe on his return from Central America. Vanilla is the sun-dried seed pod of a climbing orchid. It is the most expensive spice after Saffron because the flowers must be hand pollinated and the pods dried very slowly.
- 175ml double cream
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways
- 75ml milk
- 125g dark, bitter chocolate, broken into pieces
- 2 small egg yolks (size 5-6)
- 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 140°C, warm the cream with the vanilla pod, whisk to disperse the seeds then leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate in the milk. Beat together the egg yolks and the sugar, add the chocolate milk and vanilla cream and blend thoroughly.
- Pass through a fine sieve and pour into small ramekins. Bake for 45 mins-1 hour or until slightly puffed up and spongy.
- Cool thoroughly in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving.
Ready for the oven, what a mess!
I left the pots to cool on an improvised chopstick rack before refrigerating them. Six hours later we served them with some stewed strawberries and plums.