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Chocolate Pudding
(Serves 4)

Ingredients for caramel

1 cup sugar
cup water

Chocolate Custard ingredients

3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup premium quality cocoa
Pinch of salt
13 ounces semisweet chocolate, 10 ounces coarsely chopped, and 3 ounces grated
4 eggs
3 yolks

Arrange four small ovenproof pudding dishes in a baking or roasting pan, which will serve as a water bath.

To make the caramel, stir together the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set the pan over high heat and, without stirring or shaking, let the sugar cook at a rapid boil for 5 minutes or so. As the syrup begins to darken, carefully swirl the pan to spread the color uniformly. When it turns deep amber, remove the pan from the heat and quickly pour 1 tablespoon of the caramel into each mold, completely coating the bottom. Set aside and let the caramel harden.

Pour the milk into a 3-quart saucepan; whisk in cup of sugar, the cocoa and the salt. Bring to a full boil over high heat, whisking frequently to prevent scorching; remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate. Whisk steadily until the pieces have completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the chocolate base to a mixing bowl and set aside until lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, briefly whisk together the eggs, yolks, and the remaining cup of sugar; then whisk in 1 cup of the chocolate base and continue whisking until smooth. Pour this chocolate-and-egg mixture back into the chocolate base. Whisk well to blend and then strain the custard through a fine sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup.

Pour cup of custard into each dish. Set the roasting pan on the oven rack and pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Cover and seal the pan with aluminum foil.

Bake the flans for 40 minutes, just until they are set on top but still jiggle when gently shaken. Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven, let the flans cool in the water for 30 minutes, and then refrigerate the molds for at least 2 hours. You can keep them in the refrigerator, well covered, for up to 3 days.

To serve, dip the bottom of a pudding dish into a bowl of lukewarm water for a few moments, then run the blade of a small knife around the inside edge. Cover the flan with a dessert plate, invert, and shake sharply to release. Lift off the dish and serve the flan, along with its caramel syrup. Repeat with each dish. Sprinkle an equal amount of grated chocolate over each flan and serve.


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