Cold? Warm up with this heavenly dessert, perfect for the end a long winter meal, from Linda Collister.

This recipe was given to me by Anne Willan. Anne is the founder/owner of La Varenne, the legendary cooking school, originally in Paris, now based in her château in Burgundy. She had an award-winning French food series in the Observer Magazine in the ’80s, which is how I got to know her as I was the recipe tester. She has written many books on French food. This is like a hot chocolate mousse, very indulgent.

Serves 4

3 x 45 g bars Divine dark chocolate

150 ml heavy cream

3 large free range eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites

2 tablespoons brandy

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Large soufflé dish or 4 individual soufflé dishes or oven-proof large coffee cups, on a baking tray.

Brush the inside of the soufflé dish or dishes with melted butter, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Set on a baking tray. Break up the chocolate and put into a heavy-based pan with the cream. Set over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until melted. Take the pan off the heat and beat the three egg yolks into the hot mixture so they cook and thicken it. Stir in the brandy and vanilla. The soufflé can be covered and kept at a cool room temperature for up to an hour at this point. Half an hour before serving, heat the oven to 425° F/220° C/Gas 7.

Put the five egg whites into the mixer bowl and whip until stiff. Add the granulated sugar and beat 20 seconds longer or until the mixture looks glossy. Gently heat the chocolate mixture until just hot to the touch then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in about a quarter of the whites just to loosen the mixture then add this mixture to the whites and carefully fold them together.

Spoon into the prepared dish (or dishes) and bake, allowing 12-15 minutes for the large soufflé or 7-9 minutes for the smaller ones—the mixture should still be wobbly in the centre. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from Divine: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes by Linda Collister. © Absolute Press, 2007. Buy the book

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