There's been a packet of pearl couscous sitting on the shelf in my larder for what seems to have been the longest time. I think Peter and I bought it on impulse at Thomas Dux when they had a store in Sydney's Surry Hills. And that was a while ago.
This pair of food enthusiasts loves spending time in gourmet food stores and we always seem to come home with a basketful of goodies. As a result, the pantry cupboard is packed to the brim with deliciously obscure ingredients, as well as a bounty of staples such as cooking chocolate, flour, sugar, vanilla, rice and so on. Every time I saw the pearl couscous, I felt pangs of guilt, knowing that I should be making something with it.
One of the books that I borrowed from the library recently was 100 Best Cakes and Desserts by French chef, author and television presenter, Gabriel Gaté. Gabriel was a regular guest presenter at the cooking school - indeed, one of my favourites - and I have always loved his recipes. A brand ambassador for blu Gourmet Pearl Couscous, it cames as no surprise that Gabriel featured a recipe for chocolate pearl couscous pudding with coffee cream in this book.
In the original recipe, the chef piped the couscous and chocolate mixture into serving glasses, before piping a coffee cream over the top. This seemed somewhat fiddly to me and I liked the idea of mixing all of the cream into the pudding base and dolloping it into a serving dish. I added some Frangelico in place of the coffee, which keeps me awake all night, especially if I have used it in a dessert.
As soon as I tasted it, I knew this pudding would be a keeper. My sous chef, Peter, confirmed my thoughts. His taste buds loved the texture and flavour too. It's quick and easy to prepare too.
Of course, if you want to add coffee and pipe the mixture into glasses and top it with coffee cream, by all means do.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT PUDDING WITH PEARL COUSCOUS
250mls low fat milk, perhaps a little more
95g pearl (Israeli) couscous
2 tablespoons vanilla infused caster sugar
80g dark chocolate callets
1 tablespoon Frangelico, brandy or rum
20 hazelnuts, lightly toasted, chopped into pieces*
Combine the milk, couscous and one tablespoon of the sugar in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmering point, then lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes or until the couscous is tender, stirring occasionally. Note, if you may need to add a little more milk.
Take the saucepan off the stove briefly and stir in 80mls of the unwhipped cream, then return to a gentle simmer before removing from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the chocolate callets. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Now add the Frangelico, or the brandy or rum. Stir until well combined and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, whip 120mls of the cream with the rest of the caster sugar. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate couscous mixture and spoon it into an attractive serving dish. Serves 4-6. Any leftovers can be covered and refrigerated overnight.
Preparation time is around 35-40 minutes at most. Eating time is much less!
* Note, I use a small mortar and pestle to crush the toasted hazelnuts into small pieces.
Tell me dear readers, is your larder spilling over with ingredients? Have you ever tried pearl couscous? Do you like chocolate pudding?
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.