Chocolate Concrete was a delicious school dinner pudding popular in the 70s and 80s. This nostalgic and retro dessert consists of thin and crunchy chocolate shortbread that is sprinkled with sugar and served with a big dollop of pink, chocolate or mint custard.
Since publishing my Old School Cornflake Tart - a recipe I got from my very own dinner lady (from 1986) I've had so many requests asking how to make Chocolate Concrete.
So here you go, my old school pudding loving friends. This one is just for you!
So what's it taste like? Well, it is actually pretty soft when it first comes out of the oven but it does harden and go very crunchy. Hence the 'Concrete' in the name! It's a very chocolatey shortbread that is baked like a thick biscuit. It can be served hot or cold and goes amazingly well with custard.
What makes it hard? This isn't a wet mixture and it doesn't have a raising agent so it's naturally going to end up thin and not at all cake-like. Using your hands to press the mixture really well into the baking tin will give it the crunchy and hard texture - just like the one you had at school.
If it's a good old-fashioned recipe you're looking for, then you've come to the right place. This is the type of pudding that threatens to fly off the table when you jab a fork into it!
This is a really cheap recipe to make and uses only 4 ingredients. In fact, you've probably got them in already. You will need plain flour, granulated sugar, melted butter and cocoa powder.
It's a very quick pud to put together, taking about 5 mins to prep and bakes in 18 minutes.
Perfect for a teatime treat or snack.
How to make it
Amy's Tip: watch the recipe video above so you can see the process from start to finish, particularly what the mixture looks like when it's breadcrumbs and how to press it into the tin.
Full ingredients list with quantities and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Step One: Add the flour, sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl and mix together until uniform in colour.
Step Two: Pour in the melted butter and mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. You can use your fingers to do this.
Step Three: Tip the mixture into a baking tray and use your hands to press it into the base of the tin. You need to press quite firmly until there are no loose bits of the mixture on top, otherwise, it will crumble when you go to cut it later.
Step Four: Sprinkle the top of the mixture with a tablespoon of cold water. Bake for 18 mins. When you take it out of the oven sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of sugar and leave it to cool.
Step Five: Slice into squares and then into triangles. Serve with pink, chocolate or mint custard.
Amy's tip: Scroll down to the custard headings for variations and the recipe for mint custard.
You might know this recipe by a different name of Chocolate Crunch. However, I also have the official school dinner recipe for that and it differs from Chocolate Concrete.
Chocolate Crunch contains additional ingredients such as dried milk powder, golden syrup and vanilla essence. It is a soft yet crisp chocolate shortcake. Short and moist in texture.
I haven't made the crunch version yet but I imagine the golden syrup alters the texture making it slightly different to chocolate concrete. If you'd like the recipe for the crunch, do let me know.
Chocolate Concrete Cake
There is also another version called Chocolate Concrete Cake. This recipe calls for self-raising flour as opposed to the plain flour traditionally used in Chocolate Concrete and also uses an egg. Both the self-raising flour and the egg will make the mixture rise into a much more sponge-like texture.
Everyone knows you can't eat this sort of thing without custard and this part of the recipe could be up for debate.
I very specifically remember Chocolate Concrete being served with pink custard. When I've been asked to recreate this recipe people have mentioned that they used to love it with pink, chocolate or even mint custard.
The pink custard you buy in the tins is not the same as the one we had at school. School pink custard was actually made with pink blancmange. You might think that's weird because blancmange sets in the fridge, but actually so does custard when you think about it!
So if you want to get very authentic with this recipe then make up some blancmange for a traditional school pink custard hit.
When I made this recipe I had a tin of Ambrosia Strawberry Custard and also a Chocolate one. My family actually preferred it with the chocolate custard.
The tins of chocolate custard are readily available and you can also get supermarket own versions of it as well as the packets that you make up with milk. They are all yummy and I've always got one version or another in my kitchen cupboards!
As for the mint custard, here's the recipe as given to me by my old dinner lady:
- 300ml whole milk
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 20g cornflour
- ¼ tsp peppermint extract
- 2 drops green food colouring
- Mix together the cornflour and sugar, add some of the milk a tablespoon at a time until a paste has formed. Warm the remaining milk in a saucepan and add the paste. Bring to the boil, continuously stirring.
- When the mixture has thickened, add the peppermint extract and green food colouring. Mix well and serve.
Whichever custard you go for whether it's pink, chocolate or mint I hope you absolutely love this comforting, retro Chocolate Concrete as much as we did!
More desserts you'll love
Chocolate Concrete with pink custard
- 200 g plain flour
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter melted
- 45 g cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsps granulated sugar
- pink, chocolate or mint custard to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºFan/Gas 4/350ºF Grease and line a 20cm baking tin.
- Put the flour, sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl and mix until uniform in colour.
- Pour in the melted butter and combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can use your hands to do this.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press it down firmly using your hands.
- Sprinkle the top of the mixture with a tablespoon of cold water. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Leave to cool in the tin.
- Slice into 4 squares and then into 8 triangles.
- Serve with pink, chocolate or mint custard.