The proof of the pudding and all that….

Overnight, while the custard was cooling in the fridge and I continued my menu planing, I decided to up the ante and have some more people round to taste the day’s efforts, so a call to M’s parents and I was cooking for four, all the better to get the recipes right (I often forget to halve one ingredient when I’m reducing numbers) and a more formal thank you for the gift of Ashburton vouchers, which I put to good use in March.

I didn’t change my mind about the main course coming from Made in Italy (although the FL black sea bass and vanilla sauce recipe did tempt me…another time) and I added a simple starter too. Plus a promise of some birthday brownies for a friend. Hmm, suddenly looking like a busy day.

But back to dessert.

[Voiceover man] Previously on “Doesn’t Do Dishes”… [/voiceover man]

The custard was made and chilled in the fridge overnight. It then went into the freezer. Between other jobs I removed it from the freeze, gave it a few minutes of kMixing and popped it back in the chill.

First job on Tuesday was to make the veloutes because they also needed some freezer love before their final baking and plating. The mixture was very easy to do, especially with the help of my trusty kMix for the whipped egg whites, which were folded into a chocolate-flour batter, into which a soaked gelatin sheet had been whisked. Since I don’t have any of those silver ring moulds, I thought my silicon muffin mould might work to freeze the puddings in… veloute mix in, cling film over and into the freezer for several hours.

Next up, the biscuits. These were a cinch to make. Plain and wholemeal flours, bicarb, cinnamon, honey, salt, brown and white sugar, mixed and rolled between layers of baking parchment.

The rolled dough also went into my now-quite-crowded freezer to chill until I needed it.

So, pudding assembled and ready to go.

All of the component parts were fairly simple to do. Only the veloute needed some particular timing to make sure the egg whites were ready at the same time as the chocolate batter. Saying that, I did find myself reading each stage of the recipe about 4 times to make sure I hadn’t screwed anything up.

When it came to serving it, it did take my full attention. I could have (and should have) cooked the cookies earlier but forgot, so they were baked first. They were a little fiddly in that you bake the whole sheet of cookie dough, remove after 8 minutes, cut your discs out, wiggling the cutter round to make some space for the cookie to expand a wee bit, and then bake again for another few minutes. Then they’re meant to cool until you need them, but I needed them immediately, so they didn’t cool much.

Hmm, as I type, I’m thinking this could be a cause of later problems….

Anyway, cookies done, it was time for the veloutes. These were eased from the silicon moulds with the help of a warmed knife and placed on a cookie. This then went into a hot oven for 14 minutes at which point “The veloutes should look set but still be soft in the center”. Oh. Right, Set? Er, how about making their way across the baking sheet in a delicious looking soft, molten chocolate river? No?

I have identified several suspects in the mystery of the yummy-but-certainly-not-set veloutes:

  • I got the conversion of American measures to UK wrong and put in too little flour
  • wholewheat pastry flour is not the same as wholewheat plain flour
  • baking soda is not bicarbonate of soda (but I’m fairly certain it is)
  • the hot cookie started melting the bottom of the veloute too quickly
  • my oven wasn’t hot enough to cook the veloutes before they melted and slumped

Who knows? What I do know is that they tasted good. Really good. The final plating was a puddle of chocolate sauce (hot double cream poured over same weight of chopped chocolate and mixed), a ring of cinnamon ice cream, and the cookie/veloute ooze fest perched atop.

This was the prettiest of a fairly ugly bunch, and its in the interests of cooking honesty that I include it 🙂

Everyone loved it though and the only change I’d make to the recipe when I make it again (because there will be a next time, oh yes there will) is to add another cinnamon stick to the custard as the flavour didn’t come through as much as we would have liked once the custard was an ice cream. But that’s it. Pudding heaven on a plate. I consider my French Laundry cookbook cherry popped!

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