Thursday, May 22, 2008

Triple chocolate pudding

There isn't too much of a good thing, right?

My first recipe book is almost always Google. However, with the recent influx in grocery prices and as a Victim of a Natural Disaster (tm), I was trying to make do with what I had in the fridge instead of going out and buying more. Let's just say I have come upon a chocolate inheritance of sorts. About four bags' worth of eating chocolate.

The first time I made this recipe, I used 2% milk, half a bag of Hershey's Kisses (Mr. O hates dark chocolate - the nerve!) and maybe a scant less than 1/4 cup cornstarch (for all the baking I do, I'm still not exact sometimes). It turned out like a very strong chocolate milk. I don't think I waited long enough. Actually, I waited a really long time for it to set but it just didn't. I swear, I stirred and stirred to no avail.

The second time I made it, I used a heaping 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 2% milk, 1/8 cup cocoa, 1/2 package Dove Dark chocolate pieces and 1/2 package Hershey's Kisses. No sugar needed in this recipe - the processed chocolate takes care of that.

The result was thick, luxurious and quite possibly deadly. Those humidity drops are the result of cold pudding meets humid Southern air. Also happens on iced tea glasses (which is why double-barreled glasses are a gift from God).

Silky Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted hers from John Scharffenberger, via Wednesday Chef
(I know, this is getting a bit ridiculous)

Serves 6

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
5 oz Hershey's kisses, unwrapped
5 oz Dove dark chocolate, unwrapped
1/8 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cornstarch, cocoa, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. (note: I love substituting this bowl over a medium saucepan. Thanks, mom!) Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

2. Place into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes. Lick the ladle. Lick the bowl. Note it's 9:00 in the morning. Feel moderately sick, but slightly giddy from the sugar high.

3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Snag in Plans

Hello, dear reader.

I have hit a bit of a snag.

I was caught in the middle of a small natural disaster which left me without electricity for three days.

All my food was pretty much ruined, save for the kindness of a few friends who housed the contents of my fridge for the last four days. My freezer was a huge disaster by the end.

I'm going to spend the next few weeks getting my stock in order again, but until then it's definitely going to be slim pickings on this blog.

And, in case you're wondering, renters' insurance does not cover food loss.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lemon Meringue Puffs

Those Meyer lemons, they've been sitting in my fridge for weeks.

I've been starting at them with trepidation. "Tell me!", I bellowed at their delicate pores. "Give me a sign!"

Well, I got invited to a dinner party and just happened to half the other half of that puff pastry dough from what - oh, goodness, over two months ago. This is where I realize that my freezer hides many dark secrets, for me to find upon moving out of my digs.

Lest the Meyer lemons go dead on me, I mixed them with a couple of regular lemons to make norecipe's Meyer Lemon Curd. I could eat it with a spoon for breakfast. It was my first time making lemon curd and oh my goodness, it was good! I thought it wasn't going to come together but then it finally did. (Sticking the candy thermometer in the pan was enough to bring it up to 170 and quell my fears that it would never thicken). If only eating a stick of butter wasn't so bad for you, I'm certain this would replace my cereal in the morning.

p.s. Lemon curd starts to melt when it is hot and humid where you are photographing. It does not make a difference in the final taste, however.

Lemon Meringue Puff Pastry Bites

Serves 6

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1 recipe Meyer lemon curd
2 egg whites
Cream of tartar
2 tb sugar

Muffin pan
Rolling pin

Let puff pastry dough thaw. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out to about 10" x 18". Cut into twelve pieces and shape into muffin tins (lightly greased). Bake at 400 for twelve minutes or until golden brown.

Once the puffs come out of the oven, make a hole in the center of the puffs by using the back of a spoon to create a cave for your lemon curd. Let the puffs cool completely.

Meanwhile, make meringues: egg whites at room temperature, add about 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and have a go at it with the mixer. When peaks form, add sugar slowly.

When the puffs have cooled, add lemon curd to center. Pipe meringue on top and blowtorch it until well-done.

Refrigerate until serving.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Attack of the Mutant Frosting

Ah, the end of the semester!

This sort of glorious accomplishment calls for something special, like Ina Garten's carrot cake cupcakes. Instead of, you know, eating my carrots this week, I decided to turn them into something sweet to celebrate the end of another busy semester.

I subbed about 75 percent of the oil for unsweetened applesauce to no ill effects. In addition, I always add more cinnamon that she calls for - you can't tell there's a ton in the end due to all the strong flavors imparted by the baked carrot.

Now, when it came to the frosting, holy smokes. After I beat my first mixer to death early in this blog, I acquired a small powerhouse of a hand mixer. When they say it's a Black and Decker, you should expect it to behave like a Black and Decker might. It beats the everloving snot out of everything (at 250 watts plus a power boost for those finicky candies, it should!) and definitely can cut through some not-quite-room-temperature cream cheese.

In fact, the frosting beat its way up the beaters like some kind of possessed sugar tornado. I had to add some liquid to coax the bulbous mess off the top of the beaters and back into the bowl. Alas, I ran out of powdered sugar and my frosting came out less than stiff in the end, but the consumers of the cupcakes didn't mind much.

Recipe, from Ina Garten and the Food Network website, here.