Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding and…Chilled to the Bone

When I think back to my childhood in New Zealand my most powerful memory is that I was cold.  Permanently.  As in, all the time.  And having just googled the average temperature in Wellington (that doesn’t take into account the wind chill factor) I’m actually not surprised.  Because the average temperature is 12.5C (55F).  I knew it was bad!

And Wellington is a city that seems to be very much in denial because we were permanently sent outside to enjoy the great outdoors.  Like it was the tropics.

Rich Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding with Ice Cream

At Waiwhetu Primary School (a school that has since been closed down), there was a swimming pool.  And it was outside.  And it wasn’t heated – not even by the sun.  It was an above-ground pool but made of concrete so you had to climb up to get in.  They didn’t make us swim in the winter but in every other season we had to have swimming lessons.

We would be marched in lines from our classroom to the pool where we would have our ‘togs’ and towel in a little bag.  Bathing caps weren’t required and goggles were deemed, ‘What do you want those for?’  Once inside the gate of the very ordinary swim centre we had to enter the change rooms that were open to the elements as the walls fell short of reaching the roof so with all the gaps you could say they were well ventilated.  They weren’t heated and there were no showers, not even cold ones.  I don’t think there was any power connected to the change rooms, not even for an interior light.  There were no toilets, no hand basins and no mirrors.  The floor was covered in wooded slated racks and my mother would say, ‘Watch you don’t get tinea’.

Once we were in our togs we had to line up in single file and be marched under an outdoor shower of stone cold water and walk  through a knee-deep water trough of highly pungent water that was densely concentrated in chemicals to disinfect us.  And it would be a balmy 12.5 degree day with gale force winds that had come directly from the South Pole so violently they almost knocked us over.  It was my goal to wait until the person in front of me had left the trough so I could sprint through it as quickly as possible and take the minimum number of steps to reach the other side.

We then had to sit on the edge of the pool with our feet in the water and kick.  And you didn’t want to be sitting beside any boys because they would be being stupid and kicking wildly to make sure they saturated everyone around them like it was a huge joke.  I can remember my bottom being so cold it would be numb from sitting on the wet concrete wall and as for my legs dipped in the water, well I’m sure the water temperature could not have been more than about 16 degrees.

After the kicking exercises we had to get into the pool where we were told to wade from one side to the other and I would be doing this on my tippy toes with my arms in the air trying to get the minimum amount of me wet.  When we had done this a number of times we had to line up around the perimeter of the pool and then run in one direction to create a whirlpool.  When the water was flowing swiftly we had to turn around and push against it trying to reverse the direction of the whirlpool.  How they got away with calling these swimming lessons is beyond me.

Then those who could swim were singled out to do a few laps while everyone else was allowed to climb out and enter the change rooms.  Unfortunately I was always singled out to do a few laps and I did this with my face barely in the water because the water temperature would give me a headache and make my face numb and by now I would be so cold I wouldn’t be able to feel my feet or my hands or even the end of my nose.  The teachers always marveled at how quickly I could swim but I don’t think they realised how powerfully I was being motivated by the air and water temperatures.  Finally I would be allowed out and I would enter the draughty change room where shaking uncontrollably I would dry myself off, get dressed and head back to class with wet hair and I would shiver for the rest of the day.

How we didn’t all die of exposure is beyond me.

It’s time for something warming…

When it comes out of the oven, rest it for a few minutes

Rich Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding

Serves:  6

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I actually didn’t have to go to the shops as everything I needed was in my pantry.  This is a wonderful warming dessert that requires only basic ingredients.

  • 1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.

Lightly grease an 8cm-deep, 6 cup capacity ovenproof dish

Place flour, caster sugar and half the cocoa in a large bowl  Whisk milk, butter, egg and vanilla together in a jug.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture.  Transfer to prepared dish.

Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa in a bowl  Sprinkle cocoa mixture over batter.  Pour boiling water over the back of a large metal spoon to evenly cover pudding batter.

Place dish on a baking tray.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until pudding bounces back when pressed gently in the centre.

Remove from oven.  Stand for 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve with ice cream or cream.

This recipe is from Taste.

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  1. Looks similar to a “molten chocolate cake” recipe I used to make – but mine used a ton of egg yolks. Simple or not, it looks decadent!

  2. I hope your mum made this to have when you got home from school on swimming days. We were never so fortunate to have an outdoor pool at school in London.

  3. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    This looks sooooo good! Daughter is coming home this weekend after kind of a bad week, so this will be a perfect treat for her. Thanks!

  4. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    I love it when you talk saucy…

  5. Hi,
    Sounds like a terrible experience for a child to go through, and your right, it is amazing the kids didn’t get really sick, I doubt if they would be allowed to that today.
    I could do with a bit of chocolate pudding, but hold the ice-cream. 🙂

  6. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    It’s a miracle you like to swim. But I too remember being sent outside in shorts and short sleeve cotton shirts on crisp 30-degree mornings during p.e. class. No fun. And probably one of the many reasons I disliked p.e. Don’t even get me going on swimming lessons and teachers threatening to toss me into the deep end of the pool. I still dislike deep water because of the mean, mean teachers.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I grew up in the day when if you were screaming with fear about going in the water the instructor would pick you up and throw you in the deep end. How they thought that was helpful is beyond me. Imagine the law suits if you tried that approach these days! xx

  7. Aaaaaaaabsolutely fantastic, Charlie. I prolly have said this before, but I still think the best thing about your blog and what sets it apart is the little stories that you tell with each post. I went to NZ for a holiday with friends 2 years ago and due to some mixup with accommodation, the 8 of us had to spend our first night in the van, parked outside in the 0 degree cold. Pulling up by the roadside, unpacking our luggages to grab our toothbrush to use in the nearest public toilet like hobos, it was hysterical. The night was crazy uncomfortable, 8 ppl all cramped and cold in a vehicle, but great fun, ironically. ANYWAY, this recipe is simply fantastic. Quick to make and easy on the washing. WIN! Def saving this for next time… =)

  8. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    that sounds like hell! I developed a ‘chlorine allergy’ so I didn’t have to use our school’s pool!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I think there were a lot of invented excuses for students to get out of swimming. Chlorine allergy’s a good one – until they invented the salt-water pool! xx

  9. My goodness, what a horrible experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if you avoid the water at all costs today. It’s too bad they didn’t have this dessert to give you guys after your daily swim lessons. It looks amazing!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve always loved the water, it just has to be warm. The water in Fiji and Tahiti is about the right temperature for me – it’s just bloody expensive getting there! xx

  10. I remember the pool from another post, and recall how chilly it was. I can’t believe they didn’t call this child abuse! But then again, if I had that pudding waiting for me at home, I may have just jumped in and gotten it over with too. I took swimming lessons, but it was always hot. As was the instructor, Chris (yes, I still remember his name, sigh). He was real flirt too.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Sadly, none of my instructors were anything like the sounds of your Chris. Our highly skilled primary school teachers were also our swimming instructors and they probably couldn’t swim themselves, hence the instructions to run around creating a whirlpool or sit on the edge and kick your legs. xx

  11. A_Boleyn says:

    On the positive you, I’m sure you all became hale and hearty adults cause the weaklings would have been culled by these experiences. 🙂

    I’ve long been a fan of these types of boiling water/single dish puddings since the days of Two Fat Ladies (and later Nigella) on television. And it’s even in measurements I can use without having to do any converting (barring the butter which should be 1/4 cup, and the temp which is 350 deg F). I even know how to make my own self-rising flour which is not something one usually buys in Canada. It’s regular (all purpose) flour and baking powder for us.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s interesting that you can’t buy SR Flour in Canada. It’s such an everyday common ingredient here. The supermarkets are full of it. Great that you know how to make our own xx

  12. And I thought our swimming lessons were bad because we had to march down London streets to get there…this just sounds like punishment.

    I love this self saucing pudding! I like the citrus version too. Were you always famished after your gruelling ordeal in the pool? I knew I was walking back to school.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I think I was hungry my entire childhood. I can’t imagine having to go swimming in your London temperatures. That would have been freezing. I love lemon delicious self-saucing pudding too xx

  13. Character building. That’s what PE teachers used to call hypothermia. 🙂

  14. Darcie Cash says:

    Oh my! Sounds horrible. I just hate being cold, however, right this very moment here in Colorado it is 104F. It’s HOT!
    As for the recipe….my mouth is watering 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve heard you’re having a very hot summer. Enjoy the heatwave. We’re freezing here and I’d like to swap with you! xx

  15. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    Yikes! I grew up in South Florida with such an opposite experience–hot and humid much of the time, wonderful the rest. How did schools get away with that? I don’t think could today, do you? I felt cold just reading your post, but as always, you made me smile. Lovely pud.

  16. InTolerantChef says:

    What doesn’t kill you, Charlie! I remember early mornings teetering on the edge of an outdoor pool in the cold as well. My dad would take us for lessons, and as he wasn’t available too often you didn’t argue about the weather. Ever. He was army, and we should be obedient little soldiers 🙂
    No wonder you crave nice warm puddings when you have flashbacks that traumatic 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That would have shocking in Canberra. The trouble is that it’s always the dads that take you swimming and men don’t feel the cold. My father would be in the water saying, ‘It’s lovely once you get in’ and of course it was only lovely if you were a seal lined with blubber. xx

  17. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    An average of only 55 degrees? That is brisk. What was the low in the winter?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      They say the average winter temperature is 9 degrees (48F) but I remember it being -3 (26F) on many occasions. The average summer temperature is 17C (62F). But Wellington is a bit like San Francisco where you get terribly strong and cold winds so even on a warm day, the wind can chill you to the bone. xx

  18. Green Dragonette says:

    Wonderful Charlie-had me chuckling away-yet again…and that
    chocolate pub-divine!!

    • Green Dragonette says:

      Yikes-meant to say ‘pud’!!
      Though thinking about it, a chocolate pub would be something…

  19. ChgoJohn says:

    I’m not one that chills easily but I definitely felt cold reading your story — and that’s saying something with it 37˚C outside right now. You must’ve shivered your way through the rest of your classes.
    This dessert sounds incredible and something that I could actually bake — when the temps fall a bit, to be sure.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Do give it a try when you come through your heatwave because it’s very easy to do but certainly tastes like the cook went to a lot more effort! xx

  20. I actually have goose bumps reading your story. How awful! I bet a nice dish of pudding would have been welcomed!

  21. Juliet Batten says:

    A hot pudding is just the thing after a story like that! We had the same set-up in Taranaki, but I swear we never had swimming on cold days. I enjoyed the lessons and we all turned out to be good swimmers, thanks to those early beginnings.

  22. They bred us tough, didn’t they! All of this sounds so bone chillingly familiar, and I didn’t even live in Wellington… at least the Waikato temperatures were somewhat more mild!!!

    But still… I’m no more a water baby than I was then, and I live here… where it’s you know, ACTually warm!!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, actually warm except for right now. And yes, we certainly were bred tough. Another thing I remember is how the sporting ovals were never closed in bad weather like they are here. We played in every type of condition. I remember playing hockey while it was sleeting. xx

  23. OMG that’s horrible to do that to you 🙁 but i’m so glad you didn’t get sick or anything >_<

    This rich chocolate pudding is exactly what i need! I've been craving for chocolate pudding for such a long time! Thanks Charlie!

  24. says:

    oooh another kiwi wooot…
    i went to island bay school in wellington 🙂

  25. I’ve got goosebumps that just won’t go away now, thanks a lot. 🙂

    It was chilly up in Kerikeri and the dog was happy to swim in the bay every day all year but he was also happy to sit in front of the wood fire when we got home. I never once thought of joining him.

    I hope that still entitles me to one of these lovely puddings. 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve still got goosebumps a few days later. I didn’t realise how much that story would flood back all those awful memories of being so cold. I don’t ever remember being in that pool on a hot day – probably because there weren’t any! My dogs can’t get close enough to the fire or the heater at his time of the year as well. xx

  26. I am traumatised just reading about your swimming experiences. I’m also about 10’C colder I think. Horrible! I need some of this dessert to recover.

  27. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Ha! That’s why I think NZers are so tough because they just go about their way while they freeze their bottoms off! I’m totally into self saucing this winter, the more rich, gooey a dessert, the more I want it. And btw so lovely meeting you today. It was like catching up with an long time friend!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Great to meet you too Lorraine. And I also felt like it was catching up with a bestie – move over Queen Viv!!! And thanks so much for picking up Archie’s bar tab and my shortfall. Honestly! My turn to be so generous next time xx

  28. Love the cake. Did you go to school with Suzanne Cromie in Wellington?

  29. How horrendous, sounds like torture! I feel like I need some of that pudding just reading this post!

  30. Just popping by to let you know that I have awarded you the Beautiful Blogger Award 😀
    Much deserved and congratulations my friend!
    Check it out here:

    Choc Chip Uru

    Also, you deserved this pudding after that horrible day! You must have the toughness levels of a… well only a NZ girl could be that tough 😀

  31. I would have died if I were you. I am ALWAYS cold. Like…really…always. My bones would have never gotten warm! Even the thought is making me cold and this delicious chocolatey goodness is the only thing that will sufficiently warm me up…I’m sure of it.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve heard it’s really hot over where you are Joanne. At least after reading my story you can go outside and thaw out. I’m having to sit on top of my heater! And I’m always cold too. You’re a doctor so why is it that some people feel the cold and for others, it’s just not a problem? xx

  32. your dessert looks awesome & fabulous even. i know it is a classic but I love the good old classic’s a lot! 🙂 Food that makes me smile!! xxx

  33. Gah, my mother used to make me wear shorts to school in the summer. Ridiculous. I didn’t mind so much once the sun came out but those cold mornings when I was walking to school with my little bare legs … I felt really frostbitten 😀

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Shorts??? In England??? They’d call that child abuse these days. My mother used to make me wear sandals in the summer but it just wasn’t warm enough for bare legs and exposed toes. xx

  34. gggiraffe07 says:

    I remember a lot of those sort of things with swimming in an unheated pool with no goggles or heated changerooms – they were terrible in the cold days when summer was starting but then it got warmer in my home town – so hot that we could barely walk on the hot concrete but it was still horrid if some idiot splashed cold water on you when you were getting in ever so gingerly.

    Thank goodness for chocolate pudding to warm us up – had it many nights in my childhood as well – though I was sure you were going to post an ice cream recipe that was as chilly as your swimming memories 🙂
    Johanna at (can’t quite work out your disqus login)

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Johanna, I can’t work out my commenting system either and the Disqus help desk is utterly useless so thanks for leaving me your URL – very helpful but I’m sure, annoying for you! I couldn’t post icy cold food after writing that post. The memories of walking through the shower trough and sitting on the edge of the pool on a freezing concrete made me so cold I had to cook a hot pudding! xx

  35. This just sounds like cruelty to me, but I’m sure it’s a scene repeated all over the world. My high school didn’t have a pool…I was always glad for that! You’ve offered some great desserts of late, and this one looks divine! I love anything “puddingy”–ha! I hope you have a good weekend, Charlie. Family time…more good stories being hatched! Debra

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Debra. Yes, plenty more stories being hatched. It never stops. Hope you’re having a good weekend too xx

  36. Ah, the things they used to put kids through in elementary school. But in cold weather, swimming sounds particularly cruel. What an interesting sounding pudding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one prepared quite like this and it looks delicious!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Betsy, I’m not sure I used the right pudding bowl (although I did cook it in a pudding bowl!) I think next time I would use an ovenproof dish with a greater surface area. xx

  37. This looks delicious!!!!! I have no idea what I would have done if I were you, I’m always cold!!!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      What amazed me is that the cold didn’t bother some of the kids at all. It didn’t seem to bother the boys, the overweight, the Maoris, Samoans, Tongans etc. It just seemed to be the thin white girls! xx

  38. yummychunklet says:

    Self-saucing? Yes, please!

  39. oooooh I remember swimming lessons the same way. made me shiver just reading your post! We lived in a little town with only 350 people out back of NSW called Yeoval and I remember my mum would always have a bowl of pea and ham soup ready for me on those days. I’m surprised we were never sick either! Nowadays all the kids are sick because they are never outside and all the houses are too hot and stuffy…. ahhh the good ol days 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Corrie, yes, it’s amazing we were all so healthy. Are you a blogger? If you are I’d love to visit your blog. Just let me know your URL and I’ll be sure to visit xx

  40. Haha we were made to do swimming classes once a fortnight (in place of regular PE classes) in high school. I used to feign sickness, periods and whatever else I could think of to get out of doing laps in the heated indoor pool. After reading this, I now feel so bad for being such a sook back then!

  41. justonecookbook says:

    I’m feeling cold after I read your post. LOL. I think SF average temp is similar, maybe close to 60F but somewhere around that. I live a little south of SF so it’s a tiny bit warmer but my son is in swim camp for 4 weeks this summer and every day he’s freezing to death. Poor guy… and I signed up for morning time out of MY convenience (my daughter in preschool). I didn’t know NZ can be that cold. My friend studied abroad there but he never mentioned about coldness and always talked about how beautiful country it is. Lovely warm pudding!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      The temperatures in NZ vary but Wellington is particularly cold because like SF it’s a very windy city and the wind is extremely cold so even on a warm day you can be chilled to your core by the wind. Your poor son! I feel for him. But if he’s like me, he’ll have a great story to tell when he’s older! xx

  42. Amy (Savory Moments) says:

    I love these sort of pudding/lava cakes that make their own warm gooey sauce. They are sooooo gooood, especially with a scoop of cooling ice cream. Looks wonderful!

  43. Bam's Kitchen says:

    Here on the opposite side with sweltering heat in Hong Kong. I wish there could be some happy medium for the weather.
    My teenage boys love lava cakes and with a scoop of cool ice cream would be just perfect no matter what mother nature has in store for us. Looking forward to keeping in touch. BAM

  44. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Made this pudding tonight. Big hit with the entire family. Thanks so much for the recipe. I’m sure I’ll make it again!

  45. Oh my. Drooling a bit over here! 🙂

  46. I never knew you grew up here 🙂 now I know and yes its so cold here now and it was 5C several days ago here in Auckland.

  47. PromenadePlantings says:

    I’ve just got cold reading this!! And although my swimming lessons weren’t outsid ethe way you described sitting on the dege of the pool and kicking, and then later making a whirlpool takes me straight back. And I don’t want to know what was in the foot “spa” !! So I’ll gladly have a portion of yummy warm chocolate pud, I may even have to have a second portion seeing as how cold I am 🙂 Claire

  48. I made this delicious and easy dessert this weekend. The family and guests loved it. I love the fact that it is so economical and the clean up is so easy. Thanks Charlie!

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