I’m not sure why this dessert smacks of summer to me, except, chocolate and chilies relate to the sun and even in August heat one likes a bit of sweet at the end of the meal.
It’s up to the cook which aspect of the pudding cake to emphasize: For a more pudding-like dessert, while still warm, spoon portions into individual bowls. For a more cake-like presentation, let it rest until completely cool and firm, then unmold and slice.
~Don’t be fooled by the pudding cake’s diminutive size. It is intensely rich and can serve 8 generously.
~Beating the egg whites first, before turning to the yolks and sugar and incorporating the other batter ingredients means there’s no need to wash the beaters in between. Any washing saved is a boon for the cook, especially with this dish which requires several bowls for the putting together.
~I have adapted this recipe from my Pressure Cooker Gourmet (Harvard Common Press). But in summer, in the interest of saving time and heat in the kitchen, I prefer to engage my microwave. If you want to use a pressure cooker, cook, elevated above 2 inches of water in the pot, 25 minutes after bringing to high pressure, then let sit off the heat to finish cooking and cool for 10 minutes.
Makes one 1-quart pudding cake, serves 8
Butter and sugar for preparing the baking dish
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken up
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, cut up
1/4 teaspoon anise extract
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Lightly butter a 1-quart souffle dish or heatproof glass bowl and sprinkle with sugar all around. Set aside.
2. Combine the chocolate, butter, anise extract, and sherry in a small heatproof bowl. Heat in the microwave oven until the chocolate is soft but still holds its shape, about 1 minute. Whisk to smooth until the mixture is well blended and shiny. Set aside.
3. In a medium-size bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.
4. In another medium-size bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until beginning to turn pale yellow. Beat in the chile powder, cinnamon, flour, and chocolate mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Place a small bowl that the pudding dish can sit on top of in the microwave and pour 1 inch of water into it. Set the pudding bowl on top of it, cover, and cook until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out still moist and the edges are barely pulling away from the sides, about 4 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
6. To serve, spoon or cut the pudding cake into individual portions and garnish each with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.