Posted by: michellelowrey | May 13, 2009

Creamy and Dreamy and Ooey and Gooey

After graduating from Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, I left there with such a respect for food.  I always loved food, but after going through cooking school, I really loved food.  I loved the glisten that chocolate would take on when perfectly tempered, and the hard sugar crust of crème brulee could make me weep with joy.

There is something magical, that by adding only a few ingredients together, you can transform everyday items into something else entirely.  By simply whipping air into cream, you can make whipped cream that is far better than anything you can buy in a store, and it is so easy.  Whipped cream is wonderful, but it was at cooking school that my love affair with pastry cream began.

Pastry cream is nothing more than milk, sugar, vanilla and eggs with a little flour added for thickening.  Take out the flour and you have crème anglaise, the foundation for ice cream.  From these simple ingredients come, in my opinion, a truly perfect food.  The silky texture of pastry cream would make me swoon, and in school I would eat it by the bucket if left to my own devices.  I love the wonderful mouth feel it has, and the delicious way it coats the back of my taste buds.  To this day, whenever I make éclairs at home, I will make a double batch of pastry cream, some for the éclairs, and the rest for me to eat right from the bowl………

I wrote the above  little “ode to pastry cream” ditty way back when….  It was supposed to be included in our Plank Grilling book in the dessert section…….well, pastry cream and plank grilling don’t exactly go hand in hand, and…..gasp….it was never included.   I wrote about my obsession for pastry cream a few years ago, and I still feel the same way about the stuff!!     In fact, anything that is  creamy and dreamy, or ooey and gooey— I am all over.

Below, is a recipe for homemade chocolate pudding lifted straight from our book,  that is a real winner, and will seriously tame that chocolate beast we all have lurking just below the surface.  Many of us have never had the real deal chocolate pudding, so go ahead and try this for yourself,  and let me know if your chocolate beast was tamed….at least for another day.

Creamy Chocolate-Kahlua Pudding

Remember how when you had pudding at Grandma’s, it was the real thing, not the stuff from the box? I think we forget how good homemade pudding can be, and let me tell you, the stuff from a box never tasted like this.  The addition of good quality chocolate and the Kahlua elevates this “kiddie food” to a sublime dessert made especially for adults.  Cooking club really loved this pudding; it’s creamy and just had to be served when celebrating comfort food. Valrhona chocolate is becoming easier to find, and this recipe say’s to use Valrhona, but if you can’t get your hands on some, any good quality dark chocolate will do.

½ cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons corn starch

½ teaspoon salt

4 cups half and half

2 tablespoons Kahlua

8 ounces Valrhona bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt until well combined.  Over medium heat, while whisking constantly, gradually add half and half and heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil, about 10 minutes.  Continue to whisk while adding Kahlua, and allow mixture to boil for one minute more.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and the vanilla.  Let stand for 5 minutes until the chocolate is melted.  Stir gently until smooth.

Divide the pudding between 8 small serving dishes and place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of each pudding so a skin does not form.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  To serve, top with whipped cream and a chocolate covered coffee bean for garnish if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe excerpt  from- Cooking Club:  Great Ideas and Delicious Recipes for Fabulous Get-Togethers


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