Once I was on my way to LA for boarding the ship, I had my vacation face on and let the cares of the world melt away....melt....ahh.....(can you see that stress level falling?!). I met the group....what a wonderfully, spectacular, (enter every great adjective here) and over-the-top-fun group they were/are! We got off to a great start right away and the fun didn't end....well, really ever!
As those of you who have cruised before will know, the food on any cruise is normally wonderful...this cruise was no exception. We dined on way many luscious entrees at lunch and dinner (lobster, steak, silky soups, escargot, you name it!), marvelous snacks at any time you had a thought to grab one (can you say 24 hour pizza bar?! It’s great after dancing the night away until 2-3am) and countless scrumptious desserts (the almost 24-hour ice cream station is dangerous...serve yourself!!), and were all looking for our stretchy clothes after day 2 on board.
One of the desserts deserves special mention. Most of our crew sampled it the first night at dinner. It was a warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla bean ice cream. You just gained 5 pounds reading that… ha! We fell in love….some harder than others (yes, Mike H…I’m talking about you). Sure they had other desserts each night, but this was a “classic” that was offered every night….and every night it made it to our table for at least one person. It was engrained into our cruising memories and hearts instantly. So ooey, gooey and warm. Rich and chocolatey but not overpoweringly so. Bliss in a ramekin…really…
The mission was clear….find the recipe for this sinful dessert and recreate. One of our group members was savvy. He asked a crew member on a special tour for the recipe…score!!! He gave it to me…we were on our way! Woot!
Sadly our time on the cruise ended (Oh, the memories! Oh the tans! Oh, the hangovers…shhh.). We excitedly planned for a reunion around Christmas time….I promised to try to recreate the succulent warm chocolate melting cake (yep, another 5 pounds).
As December approached I thought I might want to try to figure out if this recreation was possible. I scoured my home looking for the recipe we’d absconded with from the crew….yikes! I’ve lost it!! NOOOOO! Much sadness ensued. But, not all hope was lost. You see…I’d looked at the recipe pretty good when we first got it so I realized it was similar to others I’d tried before. I set off to try to find what I thought could be a close replacement. I went to my go-to-gal Ina…yep, Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. In her book, Back to Basics she has a recipe for Brownie Pudding. It looked close….and promised ooey-gooeyness. I thought I’d give it a try.
It was easy enough to assemble. Baking was a breeze. The true test was going to be the tasting. I drove it 2 hours to the reunion…hoping it would past the test.
The reunion was in full swing when I got there…the group hadn’t changed a bit, though we were missing a few people (missed you Lola and Ashley!). Dinner was ready and served shortly after I got there (OMGoodness….so good….great job gang!). Then it was time for dessert…the long awaited dig into our brownie pudding. It oozed….it looked gooey….and…it was….actually really close to the cruise dessert. No, it wasn’t perfect….ice cream would have helped, but it was really good. SO chocolatety…. a success, even though not a slam-dunk recreation. The group ate most of it (remember, it’s pretty rich, a little goes a long way).
So…no glamour shot (too much fun and digging in for all that), but I’d say give this a try…you may only gain 3 pounds…I'll leave you with a glamour shot of Mexico instead.
The Recipe: Brownie Pudding
Courtesy of Ina Garten’s Back to Basics
You can also find it on foodnetwork.com
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.
Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Enjoy with Love,