Nigella Lawson's Pain-Au-Chocolat Pudding, Pt. 1

I have to begin this recipe by telling you that the cookbook from which it came, Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess, is one of the coolest, most sensual, life-altering cookbooks I have ever encountered. Even the look of the book itself is sexy and different. The cover art is unassuming yet intriguing: a black background is adorned with a pale ivory cupcake blown up to huge proportions. The inner jackets have almost pin-up like pictures of beautiful women baking from a long ago. And the back cover is simply Nigella gazing into the camera with her luscious lips and tousled hair. This is cookbook porn. Even her descriptions are titillating -- just read a few recipes and tell me you aren't dying to make them. I have lovingly baked many, many of these recipes with exquisite results. Nothing has a burdensome list of ingredients or is ridiculously labor intensive, yet everything turns out delicious.

All of this was in mind when I set out to make a recipe that has long been on my to-do list: Pain-Au-Chocolate Pudding. I simply adore chocolate croissants and the idea of transforming them into another delightful dessert, bread pudding, was intoxicating. I believe part of the reason as to why I had not previously made this dish was that it was quite difficult to wait for the chocolate croissants to become slightly stale. Generally they wouldn't make it more than half a day without making into my stomach. Thus, my first recommendation to anyone coming from such a perspective and attempting to bake this pudding is to buy the croissants and hide them out of sight until it is time to bake.

This is one of those recipes that calls for more egg yolks than whole eggs, so I would highly suggest saving the whites for a breakfast omelet the next day. Plus you will definitely need a little health food in your life after indulging in this rich dish. The recipe is simple and straightforward, so the only other pointers I would offer are the following:

  • The recipe calls for 3-4 stale pains au chocolate - Go with 4 unless they are abnormally large pastries. The recipe makes a great amount of custard, so you will need quite a bit of bread to soak it all up.
  • Be sure to let the pastries get truly stale (let them sit at least 2 days) or else you're dessert will be too runny.
  • Speaking of too runny, if you still have an excess amount of custard, do not feel obligated to pour it all into the dish. Too much liquid results in an overly soft end product.
  • You also might want to consider serving this with some sort of espresso fudge sauce or chocolate ice cream. It is not a terribly sweet dessert and also has very subtle flavoring, thus it lends itself well to an intensely rich topping.

With a few minor tweaks, you will find yourself with an amazingly decadent dessert masterpiece. Come back tomorrow for the recipe.

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Geri Maria Harris