Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding

So, I realize that I've been MIA. Sorry--the boy was being oh-so helpful in the kitchen, and the burrito place across the street makes a fantastic BBQ-Ranch burrito (wow, just typing that out makes me feel like a cow...)

But! My parents were in town, and I cooked them a huge Welcome to Me dinner. While I tried so hard to make SmittenKitchen/Epicurious's Garlic Soup, my new food processor that is SUPPOSED to be wonderful and life-saving (it's a Black & Decker...how far wrong can you go?) failed me miserably. Until that point, it looked and smelled amazing, however. I will not be so easily thwarted.

One thing that did go over really well was the bittersweet chocolate pudding, courtesy of Food and Wine. My father is a major chocolate elitist (one of his most endearing qualities), so the idea of anything made with 71% cacao chocolate was immensely appealing to him, as well as any rational human being. And rightly so. This stuff balanced the fine line of being rich and smooth without being heavy. The texture was, in fact, light and airy. It doesn't need whipped cream, per se, but that would be a major boon.

The major reason I chose this dish over another bittersweet chocolate concoction was the fact that puddings can be prepped hours in advance, and needn't be served hot. So, when cooking 3 or 4 or 5 courses, having one dish done and out of the way (and being able to wash all those pans for reuse) is a great stress and space reliever.

The main event of the meal was the Brandy-Tomato Fideos that I had earlier blogged, and were a huge success. The cats were once again thrilled by the idea of my breaking a box of pasta in their presence, my parents hadn't gotten to try it the first time I made them, and they're still just as good (and maybe better) as leftovers, so really...everyone wins. I love those things. Hard. Food and Wine recommends a medium-bodied white for this dish, but my parents brought over a light red (perchance because they know I favor it) which was just delightful.

There was an appetizer, which I'll blog as its own entry. For now, the recipe for the pudding:

ingredients
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 5 ounces chopped and 1/2 ounce finely grated (2 tablespoons) (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon coffee liqueur (optional)

directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter eight 1/2-cup ramekins and set them in a large roasting pan. In a small saucepan, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edge, then pour it into a glass measuring cup. Wipe out the pan and add the chopped chocolate and the butter. Cook over low heat until the chocolate is barely melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk and remove the pan from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until glossy.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the salt at high speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in the chocolate mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins.
  4. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake the puddings for about 35 minutes, or until puffed and set. Transfer the ramekins to plates and let cool to warm.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and the liqueur and whip until firm. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on each pudding, sprinkle with the grated chocolate and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The chocolate puddings can be baked up to 4 hours ahead and served lightly chilled.

NOTES Two excellent and widely available brands of bittersweet chocolate are Lindt and Valrhona.

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