March 2, 2009

Mocha Steamed Puddings with Espresso Creme Anglaise

Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003

A few years ago, I was given a cookbook entitled Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003. It's a beautiful book, but I hadn't made a single thing from it, in part because I was overwhelmed by the length of the ingredient list for some of the recipes, and in part because the organization of the book frustrates me a bit. (It's organized by month, and within each month there are various starters, salads, main courses, side dishes, and desserts; I certainly appreciate the notion of cooking with what's in season but don't like searching through 12 different sections when I know, for example, that I want to make soup.) In any case, recently I sat down with the book and made plans to actually try some of the delicious-sounding things in it, and this dessert-- made for Gordie's birthday dinner-- was the first attempt from it. They were definitely a success. Not something I could whip together on a normal school night, as they take some time and require instant espresso powder and heavy cream, which I don't necessarily always have on hand. But they were soft and rich and very chocolately, with a nice subtle mocha flavor. Gordie had the brilliant idea of completing this decadent dessert by pairing it with espressotinis!

Espresso Creme Anglaise (can be made ahead; store in covered container in the fridge)

4 large egg yolks
1/4 C sugar
1 C milk
3/4 C heavy cream
1 t instant espresso powder

Prepare an ice bath, and set aside. Combine yolks and sugar in a mixer with whisk attachment and beat until mixture is pale yellow and very thick, 3 to 5 minutes.

Place milk, cream, and espresso powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, and gradually pour half of the milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return entire mixture to saucepan.

Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the creme anglaise through a fine sieve into a small bowl set in the ice bath; let cool completely, stirring frequently. Serve chilled.

Mocha Steamed Puddings

1/2 C sugar
2 T flour
1 t cocoa powder
1 t instant espresso powder
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C milk, scalded
1 t vanilla
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 C heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together 6 T (1/4 C plus 2 T) sugar, flour, cocoa, and espresso powder in a large bowl.
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or medium heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; stir in scalded milk and vanilla. Whisk chocolate mixture into flour mixture until well combined.

Beat egg yolks until pale and very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually pour into chocolate mixture, whisking constantly.

Whisk egg whites until frothy. Add remaining 2 T sugar, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Whisk egg whites into chocolate mixture.

Place 4 1-cup ramekins or ovenproof cups (I used my oven- and freezer-proof 1-cup Pampered Chef "prep bowls," which worked great because the leftover puddings could be covered with their plastic lids to be stored in the fridge) in a roasting pan, and fill each with batter. Pour boiling water into pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the baking cups (I needed nearly 2 tea kettles full). Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until tops begin to crack (mine only cracked a little, and I was glad I took them out when I did after 50 minutes). Remove roasting pan from oven, and transfer baking cups to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Serve with creme anglaise (and whipped cream if desired).

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