25 November 2011

small chocolate nemesis

An affirming sort of thing happened this week.

One rainy afternoon, while twiddling about on the computer instead of paying my daughter the undivided attention she deserves, some music started to play. I was wrapped up in woeful confusion at not understanding a word of this blog tutorial, when I realised that The Boss (not normally a spontaneous dancer) was twirling, swirling and pogo-ing around the room to the soundtrack. She asked me to play it again and again and again. Dancing to YouTube was on the agenda the following day, and the next. Pretty soon, we were all at it.

Unable to find the tracks on iTunes, I figured there'd be no harm in emailing the musician to see if he could help me out. And within 48 hours he had replied, attaching ten of his songs to a generous and genuine email. In his words "I share all this in the hopes that (if you dig it, of course), you'll share it with others."

This ranked pretty highly on my random-act-of-kindness scale, higher still because it was a kindness directed towards my progeny, and all parents have a fondness for that. So, in the spirit of spreading the warmth I urge you to go over and check out Allen Cote's website and buy a few of his lovely tracks (some are on iTunes with more to follow I'm sure). His will be the soundtrack to our winter.

And so it was the soundtrack to our latest self-imposed random recipe evening (our official random recipe post for November is here, but we're nerds and try to cook randomly more often than Dom requests, because it's fun). My husband instigated another bizarre and unfathomable system for selecting the recipe. Somehow it involved me choosing lots of numbers (I still don't know how they featured in the selection process) and him hiding recipe books in loads of drawers. Don't ask.

The recipe in question needs a little introduction: years ago, in the halcyon days of lissome youth (aka the early 2000s), when we worked too hard to enjoy life as much as we should have, there was a recipe. A recipe that filled domestic hearts with fear, and newspaper columns with adjectives like unfeasible, infamous and disastrous. It was the River Cafe's Chocolate Nemesis from the River Cafe Cookbook. The stir it caused is described in this article by Julian Barnes much better that I ever could  (hardly surprising, him being the Booker prize winner an' a'thing). And as a (further) aside, if you're looking for a stocking filler for the man in your life, Julian Barnes' The Pedant in the Kitchen is a great little book if you can find it.

Anyway, the recipe is the Easy Small Nemesis, from the River Cafe Cookbook Easy (emphasis on the easy, see?). If you're not familiar with the River Cafe, it's probably suffice to say that it was the culinary training ground for Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall amongst others. Small Nemesis contains a whole packet of butter, five eggs, four large bars of chocolate and a heap of sugar. It's still not exactly easy (only because at numerous points we felt sure we were headed for a cowpat and that's a bit stressful) but this version of the recipe does actually work.

It's definitely a "grown-up" pudding, so densely rich that the tiniest slice beat me (and I'm blessed with a snout and trotters). And it's certainly a restaurant-y pudding, for reasons that I can't explain in any way other than it doesn't feel like something you'd normally eat at someone's home - certainly not in my home. If you're from a family of fruit-pud haters it would be a seriously impressive alternative at Christmas, especially for nut-/gluten-free households. It ticks all the rich, indulgent, over-the-top boxes that a good Chrissie pud should. And this small version could easily feed twelve. Our neighbours have just moved out, so quite what we're going to do with the remaining ten slices of ours is anyone's guess.

And so, here it is: our nemesis. Because there's nothing like getting a headstart on your Christmas weight gain while dancing to the strains of a distant ukelele.


  1. I was in the River Cafe last week - it hasn't lost any of its oomph - it was fantastic.

    You might as well take the chocolate intravenously ... although you wouldn't get the taste then!!

  2. Oh sorry I forgot to say that it looks utterly delicious, and my snout would be well able for that slice!!

  3. oooh that looks divine!... such thick uncsious velvety goodness... and I love a random recipe any day of the week... i've been thinking a lot about doing it more myself just to shake up the routine of the week... thanks for the mention xx

  4. gosh that looks so luscious and rich. AND with cream and raspberries on the side? ahhhhh.

  5. ughh...come on!! You can't share photos like that unless you live close enough for us to come over and share:)) Looks amazing!!!! ~ Barefoot Mama

  6. You know what, after applying ourselves to the cause, four evenings in a row, we're half way through the nemesis and it's getting easier and easier to eat! Just training ourselves for next month's overindulgence!

  7. Oh gosh, that is going on my Christmas menu for sure! (yay no Xmas pud for me!)

  8. btw i tagged you in a bloggers unplugged tag going around! do it if you like (: xx

  9. Oh my! That looks amazing. I may just try this while waiting around on this baby to arrive.


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