How was your lunch yesterday?
We had the works: a traditional English Christmas lunch with roast (organic) turkey plus all the trimmings, and thanks to the new website that has revolutionized my life, it was followed by the Queen’s Speech live in the afternoon and in the evening, the Christmas special of ‘Call the Midwife’. I loved every minute of it.
|Delia’s Fallen Chocolate Soufflé with Prunes|
I’m just dying to share this recipe with you as I think it was the perfect Christmas dessert: Delia’s Fallen Chocolate Soufflé … in her book Delia Smith’s Winter Collection, the complete name of this recipe continues …with Armagnac Prunes and Creme Fraiche Sauce. However these days our liqueur selection is not like in the old days – don’t you find that people don’t drink them anymore? We have a meagre choice of brandy and port for those rare occasions. So I used port which Delia actually does recommend if you don’t have Armagnac. (She also recommends Amaretto.) And instead of creme fraiche which doesn’t exist per se here in Turkey, we had a lovely creamy ice cream. Just plain cream would have been perfectly fine too. It’s called ‘fallen’ because after being removed from the oven, it gently subsides into a ‘lovely, dark, squidgy chocolate dessert.’
Anyway, I was very chuffed with this dessert: we would usually have had Christmas pudding but this year somehow we just didn’t have one. I tend to find that in the family I am actually the only one who likes it so chocolate won the day! (We did have some mincepies which pacified the traditionalist in me plus a fab fruit cake made with all the raisins and Turkish dried fruits that you could desire that our friend Frances had kindly made and brought along to contribute to the feast).
|soufflé, fruit cake, and mincepies|
I would describe this as a sophisticated dessert, not one for the children because of the alcohol and because it’s rich, but for adults, it’s fabulous and wins hands down as a festive finale to a special meal! If you’re entertaining in the next few days, it would be perfect:
- Grease and line an 8 inch/20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Soak the prunes overnight or as long as necessary to soften them. MINE WERE ALREADY SOFT SO I SIMPLY CONTINUED: Place in a saucepan with the water, bring them to simmering point, remove from the heat, then pour the prunes and their cooking liquid into a bowl and stir in the Armagnac while they’re still warm. Leave them to cool, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight. WELL I DIDN’T NEED TO DO THAT.
- Pre-heat oven to 325F/170C/gas mark 3.Break the chocolate into squares and place them with the butter into a bowl fitted over a saucepan containing some barely simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Let the chocolate melt then stir until you have a smooth, glossy mixture. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the Armagnac and leave to cool.
|this pyrex bowl fits snugly over a saucepan of gently simmering water|
- Now take a large bowl and combine the egg yolks and caster sugar in it. Then whisk them together for about 5-6 mins, using an electric hand whisk – when you lift up the whisk and the mixture drops off, making ribbon-like trails, it’s ready.
|here are the ribbon-like trails …|
- Now count out 18 of the soaked prunes, cut each one in half and combine the halves with the whisked egg mixture along with the melted chocolate.
- Next you’ll need to wash the whisk thoroughly with hot soapy water to remove all the grease THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT OTHERWISE THOSE WHITES WILL NEVER WHISK and dry it well. In another bowl whisk up the egg whites till they form soft peaks.
|like this ….|
- After that, fold them carefully into the chocolate mixture.
|like this ….|
- Spoon this mixture into the prepared tin and bake the soufflé in the centre of the oven for about 30 mins or until the centre feels springy to the touch. Allow the soufflé to cool in the tin. When it’s quite cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the paper, then cover and chill for several hours (or it can be made 2-3 days ahead if more convenient). IT DOESN’T LOOK VERY IMPRESSIVE AT THIS STAGE.
- For the sauce, if making: simply liquidize the prunes reserved from above, together with their liquid, place the purée in a serving bowl and lightly stir in the creme fraiche to give a sort of marbled effect. Hand the sauce round separately to serve with the soufflé.
|I didn’t make it this time but I have made it before: it looks like this|
- Serve the soufflé dusted with cocoa powder – I ALSO USED SIEVED ICING SUGAR TO CREATE A DRAMATIC EFFECT AS YOU CAN SEE IN THE PICS. I also added some cake decorations which I haul out every year! But they look good ….
- To serve, I halved some strawberries and scattered them around.
|and here we have Delia’s Fallen Chocolate Soufflé with Prunes!|