If you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a sweet freak. Even if it’s just a couple of Teddy Grahams or a 100-calorie pack of faux Chips Ahoy, I’ll have something sweet pretty much every day. But last night I wasn’t in the mood for crunch. I still wanted sweet, of course, but (I can’t believe I’m typing this) the last thing I wanted was ice cream. No, the sudden advent of winter made me long for something warm and cozy. A quick rifle through my big binder of recipe clippings yielded a yellowed piece of newsprint, something I’d found in the New York Times lord knows how many years ago but never got around to trying: Aztec Hot Chocolate Pudding. It’s similar to a dessert I grew up on called Fudgy Chocolate Pudding Cake, which we ate often on Shabbat because it was pareve (dairy-free) and “legal” to eat after a meat meal. (I’ve just searched all my archives, and it appears I’ve never blogged about that one—shocking!)
The appeal of this recipe is in its combination of flavors and textures—the top layer is cake-like, so when you pull it from the oven you sort of look at it and shrug. If I hadn’t grown up with my mom’s version, I’d have been disappointed. But lurking beneath the crusty exterior is a molten layer of goopy, gorgeous, nearly black fudge sauce, in this case laced with chili powder and rum. The chili was a little underwhelming, in fact: Next time I make it (and believe me, there will be a next time), I’ll up the ante a little. I may even throw caution to the wind and double the amount the recipe calls for.
Topped with a little vanilla ice cream, this would be absolutely killer for a casual dinner party.
Aztec Hot Chocolate Pudding
From the New York Times
Butter or cooking spray, for greasing pudding dish
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
¼ t. chili powder [if you like spice, you should probably double this]
1 cup superfine sugar [if you don’t have any, just whir some regular sugar in a food processor. I also substituted ½ cup Splenda here.]
½ cup best-quality cocoa powder
½ cup milk [I used 1%]
1 t. vanilla extract
¼ cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil
½ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup boiling water
¼ cup dark rum
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-cup pudding or soufflé dish. Set aside. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, chili, superfine sugar and ¼ cup cocoa powder. In small bowl, mix milk, vanilla and oil. Pour into flour mixture. Mix by hand for thick smooth batter.
Spoon batter into pudding dish, and smooth the top. In small bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup cocoa with brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps. Sprinkle evenly across the batter. Pour boiling water over it, and top with rum.
Bake pudding until top is a bubbling sponge and center is wobbly and liquid, about 30 minutes. To serve, spoon out portions that include some of the top and chocolate sauce beneath. If desired, accompany with vanilla ice cream.