The Sweet Hereafter

Till we eat again

Filipinos love to laugh so much, we have to put a time limit on sadness. Forty days after a loved one’s death, we observe the babang luksa, the end of mourning. Widows who chose to wear black can wear light colours again, and families gather to honour the dear departed with prayer, shared memories—and, of course, food.

Since my dad died at the beginning of Lent this year, his babang luksa coincided with Good Friday. So my brothers and I decided to wait until Easter Sunday. Now, we have two resurrections to celebrate.
Because it’s Easter, we’re having lamb, and to accompany it, I’m opening a bottle of the Shiraz from Domaine de Chaberton that my dad and I discovered and enjoyed together, years ago.
And for dessert, I’m making Hot Fudge Pudding Cakes. Luxuriously gooey, chocolatey and rich, this is something I reserve for the very best of celebrations. Also, the cookbook insists that this cake be served warm, with vanilla or coffee ice cream—my dad’s favourite kind of dessert.
So here’s to you, Pops—till we eat again!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cakes 

Adapted from The New Best Recipe
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.
For individual pudding cakes, lightly butter eight 6-8 oz. ramekins and set them on a baking sheet.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I find individual ramekins easier to serve.

In a liquid measuring cup, mix:

2 tsp instant coffee in 1½ cups water
(or 1 cup of cold coffee mixed with ½ cup water)

In a small bowl, stir together:

1/3 cup Dutch-processed cacao
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Break up any large clumps with your fingers.
Set aside.

The difference between Dutch-processed cacao (left) and “premium” cacao. The New Best Recipe recommends Dutch-processed for best results

In a baine-marie, melt:                   
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cacao
2 oz. bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, chopped
Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together:

¾ cup ubleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
¼ tsp. salt
Whisk in:
1 large egg yolk
Add the melted chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Add the flour mixture and whisk until the batter is evenly moistened.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish/ramekins and level the surface with the back of a spoon.  If using ramekins, use about 1/4 cup of batter per ramekin.
Sprinkle the cacao mixture over the batter. It should cover the entire surface of the batter; if using ramekins, use 2 tbsp. of the cacao mixture for each ramekin.
Pour the coffee mixture gently over the cacao mixture. If using ramekins, pour 3 tbsp. of coffee over the cacao mixture in each ramekin.
Bake until puffed and bubbling. The whole cake takes 45 minutes; the ramekins take 20 minutes.Do not overbake.

Cool the cake for 25 minutes. Cool the ramekins for 15.

Notes:

The cakes will collapse slightly as they cool. Relax. These are not soufflés.

The bottom part should turn into moist, velvety crumb, and the stuff on top should melt into a thick, slick sludge. It’s also normal for the edges to be a bit hard and crusty. If you get all three of these textures, then you’ll know it’s a success.

Serve with vanilla or coffee ice cream.
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