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Put the prunes in a dish with the stout and leave to soak overnight. The next day, strain and reserve the stout, and set the prunes aside.
Butter a 1.5-litre pudding basin really well. Sift the cocoa powder together with the flour, bicarb and baking powder. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the sifted ingredients, alternating with the reserved stout, followed by all the walnuts, the dark chocolate and soaked prunes. Scrape the batter into the prepared basin.
Put a piece of baking parchment on top of a sheet of foil (both large enough to cover the top of the basin). Fold a pleat along the middle, then place, parchment-side down, on top of the pudding, with the pleat across the centre. Tie firmly in place with string, using the string to make a handle. Trim the excess parchment and foil.
Put the pudding in a large saucepan with a lid, then pour in enough boiling water to come one-third of the way up the side of the basin. Bring the water to a simmer, cover the pan and steam the pudding for 1¾ hrs, making sure that the pan doesn’t boil dry. Leave to sit for 10 mins.
For the sauce, put the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream, stout and sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot, then pour over the chocolate. Leave to sit for 2 mins or so. Stir until smooth.
To turn the pudding out, run a knife around the edge of the basin. Set a serving plate on top of the pudding, invert, give it a bit of a shake and it should slide out. Pour some of the chocolate sauce over the top and offer the rest in a jug, with some crème fraîche or whipped cream on the side.
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