It’s been a couple of weeks since anything sweet was baked at our place and with the cold weather approaching we needed a dessert for a cozily cold afternoon at home. We happened to walk by our local Mast Brothers Chocolate store which inspired us to bake Bills famous soft centered puddings. My husband likes to call these chocolate souffles though I’m not sure if they are. What makes a souffle a souffle anyway?
The chocolate I used for this recipe is the Mast Brother Chocolate buttons. They sell them at their store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and they can also be purchased online. But any good quality dark chocolate will do. I’ve used Lindt 80-85% dark chocolate before as well as a bunch of other varieties. High cocoa is key in making this a nice rich dessert.
I’ve used the recipe out of the book Bills Open Kitchen for years to create these soft centered puddings. The pudding is cakey, warm but slightly gooey in the middle and the serving size is perfect. You don’t feel sick from eating it but you do feel satisfied and content. This dish is a fantastic dessert, sure to please your guests even though it’s super easy to bake and the batter can be prepared in advance and popped into the oven when you’re ready to go with sweets.
The only thing I sometimes change about this recipe is the quantity. I’m often just making it for two. So below, you’ll find the halved recipe of the original with some tips to make halving a little simpler. Bon Apetit!
- 3.5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 1.75 ounces unsalted butter, chopped
- 1.5 eggs, lightly beaten (Put two eggs in a measuring jug, whisk then tip out the excess to get to 1.5 eggs)
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar (I add just a little extra if the chocolate is extra dark)
- 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water, and stir until just melted.
- Place the eggs, sugar, and flour in a bowl and mix until just combined.
- Gradually mix in the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into four 1 cup ovenproof ramekins and place on a baking tray.
- Bake until the edges are set, about 15 minutes. Serve with cream or crème fraîche OR just ice cream.
On the last weekend of September this year I think everyone in all of NYC decided it was the perfect weekend to go apple picking. The weather was lovely and the zipcars were just begging to be booked out and taken on mini road trips to all the little farms and orchards around New York and New Jersey. We headed over to fishkill farms based on the recommendations of a friend and also because they are pet friendly. It’s always nice to take the dog out of town with us so he can roll around in the grass and smell all those interesting smells. The farm was great. Not too big or too small with plenty of apples to pick. We got there relatively early so it wasn’t too crowded either. A map was provided and everything was well laid out and easily accessible. I’d never been apple picking before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Here are a couple of things I learnt:
- There are lots of rotting apples on the ground. Be prepared to dodge them as you are picking. Luckily our dog didn’t really take much notice of them.
- Unless you need 10 bags of apples, apple picking is a relatively quick activity. You don’t need to plan to spend more than an hour or two over at the orchard. Maybe bring a packed lunch and have a picnic when you’re done. The shop at fishkill is quite lovely too. It’s always nice to pick up some super fresh produce.
- It’s such a nice feeling to actually pick the fruit off the tree, appreciate where things come from or how much energy has had to go into growing it. People always talk about stuff like that and I would think “That’s nice” but now I feel like I “get it” just a little more.
I have a confession to make. I think I really like baking with fruit. I never used to be this way. In fact, those that know me would say that I’m not really into eating all that much fruit in general. But something is changing. Maybe it’s all the articles and blog posts that I read that are inspiring me to cook more seasonally, to take advantage of what’s ripe and fresh right now? I don’t know. All I can say is that last year when faced with the decision of baking an interesting chocolate cake vs a plum torte, the chocolate cake would have won, hands down. Whatever it is that’s happening delicious fall fruits are here and I’m taking the opportunity to bake with them to my hearts content.
I found this recipe on smittenkitchen.com for a famous plum torte from the new york times and thought I’d give it a go. I tried finding italian purple plums at a bunch of markets including my local farmers market but was unsuccessful. So I tried using regular black plums from the grocery store. I think the results were good though next time I’d try to give the plums a day or two extra to ripen before baking with them.
I changed nothing about this recipe so just go ahead and check it out here and try making it yourself. So simple, delicious and easy to make!
On how to make hokey pokey ice cream with toffee bits from scratch.
Summer is on its way out so the need for cool desserts has begun to subside. Alas, it’s time to bid adieu to the ice cream maker attachment for a year. But a challenge was set by my husband two days ago. “Replicate hokey pokey ice cream” was the request. What the heck is hokey pokey ice cream? Well it depends on who you ask. If you ask my husband he will say that it’s vanilla ice cream with chewy toffee bits spread throughout the mixture. If you ask ANYONE ELSE ON THIS PLANET they will tell you it’s vanilla ice cream with hokey pokey aka honeycomb candy spread throughout. I found countless recipes online talking about preparing honeycomb and mixing it throughout vanilla ice cream. Ok, I might not be telling the full story here. There is this one product on the market in Australia that happens to be called hokey pokey ice cream which does reference toffee bits. Streets describes the flavor as “Creamy vanilla and honeycomb swirled with reduced fat ice cream with crunchy toffee bits. Made with wholesome dairy milk and a smile in every spoonful”. Ok, challenge set, no specific recipes with toffee bits around so it was time to get creative.