As you know from last week’s post, I’m on a mission to show that British food can be beautiful and tasty. So during my second and final week of celebrating British Food Fortnight I wanted to show off what food culture in this country is really all about and tackle a national favourite: The British pud! Or in this case, the Great British Raw Vegan Chocolate pud!
Just like last week, I used cookbooks from the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s as my starting point. This time around, the thing that struck me was how much space each cookbook dedicated to desserts. In fact, about 50% of each cookbook was solely and completely about the art of preparing a good pudding that would make your fellow middle class female friends grind their teeth with envy and blush in awe. Fascinating stuff this thing of stepping back in time.
Looking through those cookbooks also showed me how the Brits’ obsession with a good old pud goes wayyyyyy back. It’s practically in their DNA. So the pressure of coming up with the goods was on.
But with so many good desserts to choose from, I was feeling rather overwhelmed because I was not only keen to do a smashing job, I also wanted to veganise the best one. I then decided to turn to one book which particularly caught my eye ‘A year's dinners: 365 seasonable dinners with instructions for cooking. A handy guide-book for worried housekeepers’ (1924) by May Little. For each and every day of the year the book offered a different seasonal 5 course recipe/menu. How cool is that?
I then turned the pages and looked at recipes for late September and early October and stumbled on a chocolate pudding recipe that sounded rather yummy. The original owner of the book had written ‘this one is VERY good’ next to it, in the most gorgeous handwriting I ever did see, so I knew I was pretty much on to a winner. Hmm, I thought, but is chocolate really a proper British dessert? I mean nowadays you can’t step into a respectable British restaurant without a chocolate dessert holding top spot on the pudding menu (Tip to tourists: If you do set food in one that claims to be a good British restaurant and it doesn’t have a chocolate dessert, make for the door as fast as you can). But chocolate per se isn’t really authentically British, or is it?
So I did some further research and discovered that chocolate has been making its way to Europe since the 16th century. Right from the get-go the Brits loved the stuff and chocolate houses became THE hang out for the rich and famous elite. By the 19th century chocolate was widely available to most and, with the now infamous John Cadbury setting up shop in 1824, Britain could no longer hold back, going public with its chocolate love affair which has endured to this very day.
Now to the task of veganising the original recipe, which unsurprisingly called for eggs and cream. Tricky, but not impossible. You see, I remembered watching a program years ago where a top chef made a mousse with just water and chocolate, beating the two ingredients like he was away with the fairies. So I knew it could be done. But of course I wanted something with a bit more umf.
Luckily I discovered that almonds were also firm favourite in Britain way back when, so I teamed the two key ingredients together to come up with something I’m pretty proud of.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the recipe.
IMPORTANT: I made the mousse three times, once using store bought almond milk, which tasted good and worked well. The second time I used home-made almond milk, using blanched almonds. This came out scrumptious. The third time I used home-made almond milk, using non-blanched organic raw almonds, which I peeled before use. Now this catapulted the dessert into a different stratosphere, giving it a subtle marzipan-like smell and taste. I shall post the almond milk recipe shortly, so please hang on in there. Note that the preparation time given below, is with the assumption that you’ve got your milk made/bought and are ready to go.
Finally, you can of course make this nut-free by replacing the almond milk with (home-made) seed milk (find the recipe here), oatmilk or rice milk. It’s up to you.
THE GREAT BRITISH RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE PUD (V+, V, P, R, GF, NF, ChF, GrF)
Preparation Time: 10- 15 minutes
Cooling time: about 45-60 minutes
180g dark chocolate (see tips below)
¾ cup (180 – 200ml) of almond milk (recipe here)
2-4 tbs sweetener of your choice (see tips below)
Almond flakes to decorate (optional)
cacao nibs to decorate (optional)
Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Next, place the bowl over a pot filled with water, which you heat gentle over the stove. Please make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water as the chocolate can become a bit gritty otherwise (but it’ll still taste good, so don’t worry too much if you accidentally do have it touching the water). Let the chocolate melt completely in the bowl over the pot with hot water.
Then set the bowl with the chocolate aside for a few minutes. It needs to remain runny, but not be too hot, before you add your milk and sweetener. Mix all the ingredients with an electric mixer for about 7-8 minutes until little air bubbles start to form (don’t panic if they don’t appear, if you’ve mixed for about 7-8 minutes you should be just fine). Then, whilst the mixture is still somewhat liquid-y, pour and distribute it evenly into 6 small tea/espresso cups.
Please in the fridge for about an hour or until set. Before serving remove from the fridge for about 5-10 minutes so the mousse gets to room temperature. Decorate with chopped almonds and/or cacao nibs and enjoy.
Tip 1: In terms of the chocolate, I must confess I did not use a raw one for this blog post, as it was too expensive for my many experiments, so I bought the best one I could find with about 85-90% cacao in it. With that high a content of cacao I used 4 tablespoons of sweetener to make it just right. If you are using a chocolate (raw, vegan or not) that has a lower cacao content, then please taste test as you go along. 4 tablespoons of sweetener will probably make this all too sweet as the chocolate will already have sugar added to it. Hence start at 1-2 tablespoons and take it from there.
Tip 2: I used local honey, which strictly speaking isn’t vegan. If you would like to keep this completely vegan, please use maple syrup or any other vegan sweetener of your choice.
Tip 3: The serving size is quite petite (as shown), just to warn you. But the pudding is rather moreish, so I think it’s just enough, but I’m happy for you to beg to differ .