Chocolate Blancmange with Cappuccino Sauce
I have had a long association with chocolate blancmange: I've always wanted it desperately, but never been able to make it successfully. I've been down the cornflour and milk or cream route – with cocoa or melted chocolate – and when we worked on the chocolate chapter of How to Cook Book Two none of us could get it right, so abandoned it. This time, eureka! It's so simple: make a custard, add melted chocolate and gelatine. The result – absolute perfection, a good texture, the right amount of wobble and a lovely frothy coffee sauce to pour over.
First of all, break up the chocolate: this is easiest to do by bashing the pack with a rolling pin before you unwrap it.
After that put the leaves of gelatine to soak in a small amount of cold water for about 5 minutes. Then pour the double cream and milk into a medium saucepan and heat it to just below simmering point.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a mixing bowl. Then, when the cream mixture is hot, whisk in the broken chocolate, beating vigorously until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Now gradually pour the hot chocolate mixture over the egg yolk mixture, beating as you go. Then return this chocolate custard mixture to the saucepan and place it back over a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened (don't panic, the small amount of cornflour will keep the mixture stable and prevent it from curdling).
Remove the pan from the heat, then squeeze any excess water out of the gelatine and drop the leaves into the chocolate custard, where they will melt in the heat.
Give it a good whisk then leave the mixture to cool.
If you want, you can speed this process up by standing the pan in a basin of cold water and stirring occasionally as it cools. After that, divide the cooled chocolate mixture between the oiled pudding basins, filling them to around three-quarters full. Now place them on a tray, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
To make the cappuccino sauce, heat the milk and sugar in a small saucepan, then whisk in the espresso powder once the mixture is hot. Then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool before pouring it into a mixing bowl, then add the cream.
Now beat the mixture until slightly frothy and beginning to thicken, then leave it to stand for about 5 minutes while you unmould the chocolate creams. (You can make the sauce up to 4 hours ahead and store it, covered, in the fridge.)
To do this, ease the cream away from the edge of the pudding basin with your little finger, then invert the basin on to a plate and give it a really hefty shaking.
Using a draining spoon, lift some of the cappuccino 'froth' off the top of the sauce and place a spoonful on top of each cream, then pour the remaining thinner sauce around each plate.
Give it a light dusting with cocoa and serve.