How to make Oeufs en cocotte (baked eggs), and melting chocolate puddings

13 April 2018

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AS I write, we are just emerging from a cold and early Easter. But, as the green blade riseth, so lovely fresh produce is soon to come. For now, here are recipes with eggs for Eastertide, and ramekins, too, which feels firmly within the empty-tomb tradition.

There is something comforting about the French dish Oeufs en cocotte (Baked eggs). It is also open to experimentation: swap the bacon for a little smoked haddock or prawns. Or use smoked salmon and a little hollandaise on top.
 

1 onion
240g (8oz) leeks: two/three
1 tablespoon olive oil
30g (1oz) butter
250g (8oz) bacon lardons
pinch of paprika
100ml (6 tablespoons) crème fraîche
2 tablespoons grated Double Gloucester cheese
4 large eggs
 

Thickly butter four ramekins, and heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. (Soufflé dishes are also fine.) Peel and slice the onions and leeks, and fry them in a pan with the oil and butter. Once they are soft and taking colour, add in the chopped bacon and cook through until it just starts to brown. Remove from the heat, stirring in the paprika, cheese, and half the crème fraîche, then season with salt and pepper.

Divide this mixture between the four ramekins, and make a little dip in the centre of each. Break one egg into each ramekin, top with the remaining crème and a sprinkling of salt, and then arrange in a roasting tin. Pour boiling water to halfway up the sides of the dishes, and bake in the oven for a good ten minutes. You want the whites to be set and the yolks with a golden quiver.

Crusty bread and a green salad with this makes a happy starter.

I used to think that these Melting chocolate fondant puddings were too fiddly to make and better to buy. But they aren’t! Again, you can adapt: instead of passion fruit and coconut, as here, try two tablespoons of red fruit jam folded into the sponge mix.

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120g (4oz) white chocolate
100g (3½oz) unsalted butter
4 eggs
45g (1½oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
45g (1½oz) plain flour
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
3 passion fruits
 

Grease four ramekins, and sprinkle a little flour into each. Tap this around to coat the butter (at the base and up the sides), as this will help them come out easily later on. Preheat the oven 180°C/200°F/Gas 6. Melt half the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over simmering water (or carefully in the microwave), then set aside.

In a large bowl, put two eggs and two egg yolks (discarding the whites), and whisk thoroughly with the caster sugar until the mixture is pale, thick, and feathery. Carefully fold in the salt, flour, and the melted chocolate mix. Halve the passion fruits, and whack them on the back with a spoon to dislodge the seeds, and fold these in also.

Divide all this between the four ramekins, filling them halfway first. Then divide the waiting half of white chocolate in lumps between each pudding in the centre, and top with the remaining mixture.

On a tray, bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. You want a firm crust, just browning but not too burnt. Serve immediately, maybe with ice cream or double cream.

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