Semlor – Swedish sweet buns

Semla

For the last 6 years I’ve been hearing about semlor, cardamom-scented, almond-stuffed Swedish sweet buns. Semlor is plural, and semla singular. My husband goes to Sweden regularly, and usually in March. This normally involves a lot of semlor! I’ve been wanting to try them myself so much. When I visited Stockholm in autumn, they were not available, and I was gutted. There really is no other way – I shall have to make them myself, I realised. So when semlor came up as the topic of this month’s kuVarijacije, I simply had to take part!

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Melting Chocolate Puddings with Cherry Brandy

 

I’d like to share with you one of my favourite chocolate desserts of all time: a soft chocolate pudding with a warm and melting chocolate centre that oozes out as you put a spoon through it. It’s warm, it’s gooey, and incredibly chocolatey. In short, all that a good, nay perfect, chocolate dessert must be! (At least for me, of course.) When this is paired with some boozy cherry, life can only get better. Serve with some chilled single cream and enjoy!

Not only is this dessert wonderful in itself, but it also works well as a basis for other flavourings. This time I added the cherry brandy that my mum brought over from Croatia. You can add any brandy or liquor that you think would go well with chocolate. Cinnamon would also work, and I’ve been meaning to add cardamom powder, too.

I find I need to two things to get the melting effect. 1) Take it out of the oven earlier than what Delia says. This for me is after 10 min, she says 12. I have a Siemens fan oven, and did use 200C. 2) Don’t let it stand around for too long after baking because it continues cooking in the middle.

You may find that your oven works differently. Basically, if you don’t get the melting effect, try and reduce your baking time, e.g. try baking it in 9 or 10 min. You’ll just get more gooey stuff (which I personally love)! If you find it too goey, give it another minute or two in the oven.  Practice. All that can happen is that you get a tasty chocolate cake instead of the melting pudding, so no loss either way!

One other thing. It’s worth mentioning that these little dark beauties freeze well, so you can whip up some in advance and cook them after you serve your main course. Dinner party perfection!

 Melting Chocolate pudding

Melting Chocolate Puddings with

Cherry Brandy and Cream

 

SOURCE:  Galton Blackiston at Morston Hall Hotel in Norfolk, via Delia Smith. I got the recipe from her How to Cook Book Two, and adapted it.

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 20 min

COOKING TIME: 10 min

CUISINE: British

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS:

100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

100 g butter, diced

2 tbsp cherry brandy

55 g caster sugar

2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

30 g plain flour

Single cream, to serve

 

EQUIPMENT NOTE:  You will also need 4 mini pudding basins or ramekins, each with a capacity of 6 fl oz (175 ml), generously brushed with melted butter.

METHOD:

1. Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or by placing it in a large heatproof bowl, which should be sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. I put it on for 1 min 30 s on 360 W, then another min, after which I added the butter and cherry brandy, and gave it another 1 min 30 s. Anyway you do it, it’s important to allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly. When it’s done, give it a good stir until it’s smooth and glossy.

2. In the meanwhile, place the sugar, whole eggs, yolks and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl (“place it on a tea towel to steady it,” says Delia, but I find I don’t need to), then whisk on a high speed with an electric hand whisk until the mixture has doubled in volume and became paler  – this will take between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the power of your whisk. What you need to end up with is a thick, mousse-like mixture that, when you stop the motor and lift the whisk, leaves a trail like a piece of ribbon.

3. Now pour the chocolate mixture around the edge of the bowl (“it’s easier to fold it in from the edges”, says Delia) and then sift the flour over the mixture. Using a large metal spoon, carefully but thoroughly fold everything together. Again, Delia says: “Patience is needed here; don’t be tempted to hurry it, as careful folding and cutting movements are needed, and this will take 3-4 minutes.”

4. Now divide the mixture between the pudding basins or ramekins, filling them just below the top, and place them on a baking tray. The puddings can be made in advance, in which case you can cover them with clingfilm and keep in the fridge or freezer until you need them ( I often do this, as I find they freeze well).

5. When you’re ready to bake the puddings, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6, 400°F). Bake the puddings on the centre shelf of the oven for 13 minutes if they have been chilled first, but only 10 if not. After that time the puddings should have risen and feel slightly firm to the touch, although the insides will still be melting. (Delia gives her puddings 12 minutes, but I find 10 or 11 works well for me.) Remember they keep on cooking in their own heat, and the heat of the container, so don’t let them stand around too much otherwise you’ll loose all the gooey goodness which makes them so special. (Yes, I learnt the hard way.) If you’re cooking these puddings from frozen, give them about 15 minutes’ cooking time and allow them to stand for 2 minutes before turning out.

6. You can serve the puddings in the ramekins if that’s what you used, or invert them onto the plate. If you’re doing the latter, leave to stand for 1 minute before sliding a palette knife around each pudding and turning out on to individual serving plates. Serve absolutely immediately, with some chilled single cream to pour over. Enjoy!

 

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