Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong

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Too much cream? Nah..

Sorry guys for my blogging hiatus, have been recovering from a horrendous cough which was exacerbated by my refusal to stop eating BBQ’d  slabs of meat and all things fried.

However, during my “recovery”, my friend W threw an impromptu dinner party at the J residence in the aptly named “Party Room” on the top floor and I was able to chow down on W’s scrumptious 2 course dinner.

W is somewhat of a cooking master in our circle of friends and that evening she had decided to cook a delightful main course of pan-fried duck with sweet potato gratin dauphinois and green beans. Dessert was an amazing melting chocolate pudding, a recipe created by none other than the Queen of British cooking, Delia Smith.

W and I are cream obsessives and the sweet potato dauphinois recipe demands quite a lot of that- yum! It took 5 of us to peel and slice several pounds of sweet potato during which R managed to throw in an extra ingredient- a slice of her nail, which we never recovered in the pile. Lovely.

Traditional Gratin Dauphinois usually requires one to slice the potatoes very thinly, arrange layers of them in a gratin dish, seasoning with some crushed garlic and salt and pepper as you go, and then pouring a mixture of double cream and milk over the potatoes. Finally you season with a little nutmeg and add flecks of butter on top. You can also add extra cheese on top for an added richness.

For this sweet potato dauphinois recipe, you first need to slice the sweet potatoes and some onions thinly and add to a large pot. Then you soften them over a gentle heat and add crushed garlic, salt and pepper and the double cream and milk mixture. Once you are satisfied that the potatoes and onions are soft enough, add a few sprigs of rosemary and then transfer the mixture to a large gratin dish. Finally top with a layer of parmesan cheese and pop it into the oven at 150°C for 45mins- 1 hour.

W pan-fried the duck breasts and stuck them into the oven for a few minutes while she prepared the cherry sauce and the green beans. The resulting main course was a rich palette flavours- the sweet yet tart flavour of the cherries against the red meat of the duck and the cheesy creamy texture of the sweet potatoes- absolutely delicious!!

My favourite part of the evening had to be the preparation and consequent eating of the melting chocolate pud. Aahhh, there’s nothing like the smell of butter and chocolate melting together.

To make this wonderful Delia Smith recipe, here’s what you need:


7 oz (200g) dark chocolate broken into pieces (75% cocoa solids)

7oz (200g) butter, diced

4oz (110g) golden caster sugar

4 large eggs and 4 large egg yolks

1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract

2 ½oz (60g) of plain flour

To serve: A generous dollop of cream

1)      Place the broken-up chocolate pieces and the butter in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

2)      Keeping the heat at its lowest, allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly; it should take 6-7 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and give it a good stir until smooth and glossy.

3)      While the chocolate is melting, place the sugar, whole eggs, yolks and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl, then whisk on a high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume. You should end up with a thick, mousse-like mixture.

4)      Now pour the melted chocolate mixture around the edge of the bowl and then sift the flour over the mixture. Using a large metal spoon, carefully but thoroughly fold everything together.

5)      Divide the mixture between the pudding basins (it should come to just below the top of each one) and line them up on a baking tray. If you like, the puddings can now be covered with cling-film and kept in the fridge or freezer until you need them. When you’re ready to bake the puddings, pre-heat the oven 200°C.

6)      Remove the cling-film and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 14 minutes if they have been chilled first. If not, bake for 12 minutes only. The puddings should have risen and feel fairly firm to the touch, although the insides should still be melting.

7)      Leave to stand for 1 minute before sliding a palette knife around each pudding and turning out on to individual serving plates. 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.

8)      Serve immediately with some chilled cream. As the puddings cool, the melted chocolate inside will continue to set, so they can be served cold instead as a fudge-centred chocolate cake with whipped cream.

When we ate the puddings, the centre was no longer melting but it was still absolutely gorgeous and chocolately. I’d defintely recommend everyone to try and bake this at home, I guarantee your family and friends will  love you for it! 🙂