A Pudding With A Health Warning
Let’s begin with the circumstances in which you should not make this pudding. Firstly, do not make it for any occasion when looks are important. It is delicious; it is chocolatey; it will make your guests’ eyes roll back in their head a little bit when they eat it. But it has to be said that it lacks kerb appeal.
Secondly, do not make it if you share a house with people prone to sudden and intense obsessions. Do not make it if, for example, you are a student living in a communal house and your three housemates are a bunch of Doctor Who fans and Electronic Engineers. They will become fixated on it, like cats with catnip, and will demand that you make it for them every single Sunday until the end of time. Just to pick a totally random example.
Thirdly, do not make it for anyone for whom sugar is an issue. It is simply not possible to substitute with sweetener in this recipe, so don’t even try. This pudding contains three (count ’em) different types of sugar, in quantities which together total significantly more than half a pound, and each type of sugar brings its own special characteristics which are essential to the pudding’s successful creation. Skinny minnies, diabetics or people who would be much happier with a really good cheese-plate will not appreciate the glory this pudding represents.
Now, let’s talk about who you should make this pudding for. Make it for your family on a cold winter afternoon, when you want everyone to be sleepy and peaceful and contented. Make it for your partner when you’ve reached the no-make-up, greying-t-shirt stage of being contented in each other’s presence. Make it for the friends you’re so comfortable with that you will quite happily go round to each other’s houses in your pyjamas. Make it when people are sad and need comfort food; and make it when people are happy and want to celebrate with something indecently delicious. Make it when you want to believe in magic (I have no idea how this pudding can possibly perform its strange layer-swapping trick, but it does). Look, just make it, okay? And don’t judge it by its slightly odd appearance when it comes out of the oven. Just wait for it to cool, plunge that spoon in deep, scoop out a big fat portion and start shovelling.
6oz Granulated sugar
4oz Self-raising flour
2oz Cooking chocolate
3 tbsp butter
1/4 pint milk
2oz brown sugar
2oz caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
6 fl.oz water
A medium-sized Pyrex or other ovenproof bowl
Oven at 160C
1. Float a bowl in a saucepan of boiling water to make a bain-marie, and melt your cooking-chocolate and butter together.
2. In your pyrex bowl, mix the granulated sugar and self-raising flour.
3. Mix your melted butter and chocolate with your sugar / flour mixture. You’ll end up with a sort of pale-brown, grainy, pasty, stiff mixture.
4. Gradually blend in the milk. You should now have something that looks like pale-brown thick custard.
5. Over the top of your mixture, sprinkle the following, in the following order and in three separate layers:
– 2oz brown sugar
– 2oz caster sugar
– 3 tbsp cocoa
6. Carefully pour over the water. Don’t worry if you have strange beads of water dusted with cocoa-powder rolling around the surface, and don’t worry if you haven’t. Do not stir, poke with a spoon to see what happens, or interfere with the delicate balance of your pudding in any way. Just shove it in the oven and walk away for forty-five minutes to an hour.
7. After forty-five minutes to an hour, open your oven, and be amazed by the secret cooking magic that has occurred. The stuff you put on the bottom – the flour, the sugar, the butter, the chocolate, the milk – has made its way to the top, and turned itself into a luscious, dense, cakey, chocolate-sponge topping. And the stuff you put in on the top – the other sugar, the other other sugar, the cocoa, the water – has somehow found its way to the bottom and turned into the most beautiful fudgy chocolate sauce you could ever imagine.
8. On the downside, when you look at the centre of the pudding, you will now understand why its name is Catsbum Chocolate Pudding. Although I can’t prove this, I suspect this weird, puckered…thing…in the centre is the exit-route for the fudge-sauce ingredients on their mysterious journey to the base of the pyrex dish.
9. Leave the pudding to cool for at least an hour, plus as long as you can all bear to wait thereafter. Serve to your loved ones (you should never make this pudding for anyone you don’t love…it’s too delicious to waste on people you don’t have a deep and sincere affection for), with cream, ice-cream or anything else cool and melty you like the sound of. Lick the spoons clean, scrape the bowl, and fight over the leftovers. And for God’s sake, don’t count the calories. Ignorance is bliss. Just like this pudding.