Debden Chocolate Pudding

If you've not come across this little pudding before, then you might think that the recipe sounds ridiculous. Well, it is a bit odd, but it does work, honest. It's one of those puddings that separates out during cooking. You should end up with three layers: a crunchy sweet topping, a chocolate sponge middle and a chocolate fudgey base.  It's indulgent and delicious without being too ridiculously high in fat. What's not to like there?

This recipe used to be famous. Around the early to mid 1980s this dish seemed to turn up everywhere. OK, it's old-fashioned and it's not photogenic but it's also delicious and it definitely doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

I really don't know the origins of this dish. When I first came across it in the 1970s I'm pretty sure that I was told it was named after the place in Essex. Later someone told me that it was named after a Mrs or Mr Debden. More recently I found that there’s a similar American dish called Denver pudding. As usual, I'm confused.

You can eat Debden pudding warm or chilled but it's at its best when served at room temperature, I think. A little cream, ice cream or thick yogurt would be a nice addition. This should serve 6 – although, frankly I could eat the whole thing myself.
Debden Pudding
120 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
170 g granulated sugar (ideally the golden, unrefined type)
30 g unsalted butter
40 g dark chocolate
140 ml milk (preferably full-fat, although semi-skimmed will work)
50 g demerara sugar
50 g caster sugar
20 g cocoa powder
175 ml cold water

You'll need an ovenproof dish that will hold at least 900 ml. Butter the dish. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Mix together the flour, the baking powder and the granulated sugar. Melt the butter and chocolate together over a bowl of simmering water or in the microwave. Stir the butter and chocolate mixture into the flour and sugar, followed by the milk. The mixture won’t look promising at this stage, but don’t worry – trust me, I’m a blogger.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the mixture in the dish. Do the same with the caster sugar and, finally, with the cocoa powder. Now carefully pour in the cold water, trying to avoid disturbing the layers of sugar and cocoa as far as possible.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until the top has formed a crust. (The type of dish you use is likely to make a difference to the cooking time. The old-fashioned enamel tins are probably the quickest.) Allow the pudding to cool before serving. If you’re not planning to eat the pudding immediately, then store it in the fridge, but preferably return it to room temperature before serving.

This month's We Should Cocoa challenge is being hosted by Lucy over at The Kitchen Maid and she's asked us to share a famous chocolate recipe. The We Should Cocoa challenge was created by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Chele at Chocolate Teapot.


  1. Be still, my beating heart! I absolutely adore these puddings - when I was a naughty student we used to make them for afternoon tea (!) and eat them with whipped cream mixed with condensed milk. The mere thought of that makes me feel ill now, but I've still got a soft spot (or many soft spots) for choc fudge puddings. Debdens? Never heard of 'em!
    Thanks for joing in.

  2. This looks amazing - I adore those puddings that separate out. How do they work? How? I'm sure there is an actual scientific explanation, but my tiny brain can only understand 'tastes good' and then I lose interest. This looks like it tastes very, very good. On the list.

  3. Mmmm sounds good to me. Have a good day Diane

  4. I very nearly posted a similar recipe myself, one for the same kind of pudding that my friend Ruth gave me twenty years ago. I call it "Ruth's famous chocolate pudding".
    As you say, it's so delicious that it's difficult not to eat the whole lot.
    Your recipe is slightly different so I will give it a try and like Suzanne, I am always amazed that it separates out, but it always does.

  5. Haven't heard of them before, but these puddings sound good.

  6. I've always heard and read about these self-saucing puddings but have never actually made one or even tried one! I think that needs to be rectified as your description of it sounds delicious - all those different textures in one!

  7. And here I was saying over on Suelle's blog what a marvel you were for coming up with obscure French recipes, well I shouldn't be so nationist should I? Think I might have made up a new word here. The pudding sounds delightful and I feel should have a rather more charming name than Debden. Lovely entry for We Should Cocoa, thank you.

  8. Wow...this looks amazing. I've heard of a chocolate self-saucing pudding but I've never made one or seen one. I've had orange or lemon ones but never a chocolate one. Thank you!!

  9. ohh, my heart is melting again - this looks so very inviting Phil, with all that chocolate, would love a slice now : ) Ozlem

  10. Yummmmmmm.... I'll have this warm please with ice cream. :)

  11. I too have never heard of this but am intrigued about the 3 layers. As you say, looks indulgent but not too calorific - definitely worth a try!

  12. Had it on Sunday and it was great. But, we were wondering which Debden in Essex, as there are two?

    1. Well, your guess is as good as mine. I've yet to find any verifiable history to the name. In fact, pretty much the only traditional pudding that I've found that can be reliably (well, fairly reliably) traced back to Essex contains mashed potato and apples and no chocolate. I might be coming round to the theory that it's named after a person called Debden. But then again, there's no real proof that I can find of that either.


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