Monday, February 14, 2011

Be My Valentine

     Hi everyone, its Valentine's Day! Actually, its almost the end of Valentine's Day because I had a rather long day. Physics quiz, awful chemistry midterm...sounds romantic right? Its OK. There was also the group of singers dressed in suits who came into my physics class to sing a most melodious Valentine serenade to a blushing girl, and the bunch of girls dressed all in pink standing outside the library reciting Shakespeare's sonnets. Yay for lovely randomness! I treated myself with lovely things of my own by making myself Challah French toast for breakfast.

Beautific Breakfast: French Toast and Tea 
     So, here's to starting and ending a day really well! For my Valentine's Day dessert (of course, it has to be dessert), I am making chocolate pudding. Not just any Chocolate Pudding, but Smitten Kitchen's Silky Chocolate Pudding. I do realize this is the second one of her recipes that I'm making within a week. But, she is just so great! And, I did not come upon this recipe just because I was randomly browsing her blog, as I tend to do. A friend of mine confided to me that he was oven-less but wanted to make a chocolate dessert. So, what could I do but take it up as a challenge? After some googling, I realized the perfect recipe was right under my nose at my favorite food blog. Hurrah for Smitten Kitchen saving the day with not only a stovetop recipe, but a perfect Valentine's Day recipe as well.

Chocolate Soup: Before all the chocolate was mixed in, hence milkyness
           Chocolate pudding is an absolute cinch to make. (Did I really just say cinch?) It does have some finicky sounding things though: a double boiler, cornstarch. Firstly, cornstarch: once you buy it, you have it for so many recipes! Its great for thickening sauces like flour, its also good for thickening soups because it doesn't have flour's... floury taste, and so many desserts call for it! Forgive my gushing. But, its wonderful and versatile and it gives everything the silkiest smoothest texture that only it can. And, to my questioning friend, yes it is widely available in grocery stores in India - according to an expert (my mom). As to the double boiler, when I think double boiler, I think metal bowl over a sauce pan. All you need is a bowl that fits into the top of the saucepan nicely, so it stays still. But, lo and behold, at college I have no metal bowls! Hence this:
Wok over saucepan anyone?
     Yes, I cooked my pudding in a wok placed over a saucepan. Hey, anything goes in love, war, and cooking pudding. The pudding was delicious. I mean, its chocolate pudding. Warm chocolate pudding, thick and creamy and full of deep chocolatey flavor, and of course, so beautifully silky because of the Cornstarch. I wish I could share it with all of you, because you are just the best in the whole wide world. Thank you so much for reading my little blog and giving it 500 whole views! Can you believe it? Thank you to all my friends and family for spreading the word and being so very kind to me. Thank you thank you thank you and all my love, Happy Valentine's Day!

Silky Chocolate Pudding 
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from John Scharffenberger 

Serves 6 

1/4 cup Cornstarch 
1/2 cup Sugar 
1/8 tsp Salt 
3 cups Whole Milk
3/4 cup or 6 oz Semisweet Chocolate (I just used regular semisweet chocolate chips) 
Sprinkling of Cinnamon (optional) 
1 tsp Vanilla

     In a metal bowl (or wok, or top of a double boiler), mix the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and the sides to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place saucepan (or bottom of double boiler) filled with an inch of water on the stove and heat the water till it is gently simmering. Then, place the bowl with the ingredients over the saucepan. Stirring occasionally and pushing out lumps if they form, cook the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon. Then, add the chocolate. (I also added a dash of cinnamon here, just to give that Mexican Chocolate flavor, do as you please.) Continue stirring for about five minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and has thickened. Then, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Spoon into bowls, and serve! Or, refrigerate for thirty minutes and serve cold pudding, if you want.


 - If the mixture has been heating for twenty minutes, you have added the chocolate, and it still doesn't seem thick at All just add a little more cornstarch (a tablespoon perhaps), and then stir a little more. It looks milky for a long time and then it thickens up really quickly once you are done cooking / take it off the heat, so don't worry too much.

- You can pour the pudding through a fine sieve to take out the lumps, but there's generally not many lumps that you can't get out with the back of the spoon. Needless to say, I did no sieving.

- If you don't like pudding skin (the congealing on top), when you refrigerate the pudding smooth the plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding, no pudding skin will form. Of course, thats if you have any left to refrigerate.

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