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Chocolate Pecan Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 tablespoon bourbon
5 eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
Bourbon Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the chocolate in a small heatproof
bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water and set the bowl over a pan
of hot but not simmering water. Stir with a whisk until the
chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the water
and let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

Coarsely chop the pecan pieces in a food processor. Remove 1/2
cup of the pecans and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar to
the remaining nuts and grind to a fine powder. Combine the finely
ground pecans, bread crumbs and cinnamon in a bowl; mix well and
set the mixture aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter with half the remaining
sugar until soft and light. Beat in the cooled chocolate and then
the bourbon. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until
smooth. Stir in the pecan bread crumb mixture.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they form
very soft peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar in a slow
stream and continue beating until the egg whites hold soft peaks.
Stir one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate batter,
then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour the batter into a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish or 8 inch
square baking pan. Smooth the top. Scatter the reserved chopped
pecans evenly over the surface of the batter. Place the baking
dish in a larger pan and pour hot tap water into the larger pan to
reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake the pudding
in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pudding
puffs and feels slightly firm when pressed with the palm of the
hand; do not overbake.

To serve, spoon the warm chocolate pecan pudding onto dessert
plates. Ladle 2 or 3 tablespoons of the Bourbon Sauce over. Pass
the reamaining sauce separately.

Bourbon Sauce

1 1/2 cups milk 1/3 cup sugar 4 egg yolks 2 tablespoons bourbon 1
teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the milk and sugar.
Bring to a boil over moderate heat.

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl until liquified. When the milk
boils, gradually whisk 1/3 of it into the yolks. Return the
remaining milk to a boil over low heat and whisk in the yolk mixture.
Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, 1 to 1 1/2
minutes; do not let boil. Immediately remove from the heat.

Whisk the sauce constantly for 1 minute to cool. Strain through
a fine sieve into a bowl and whisk for 30 seconds. Stir in the
bourbon and the vanilla. Serve warm.


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