Is that a song? It should be.
Specifically, chocolate pudding, from scratch. I’m not sure what’s in chocolate pudding from-a-box since I don’t have any in the house, but I imagine there are more ingredients than in this chocolate pudding. It is too simple and easy to be ignored. And, as I think you will agree, dresses up well enough to be taken out. The French call it Pot au Chocolat and it includes egg yolks among other things (French things often do, n’est-ce pas?). My version is eggless and creamless except for the whipped cream I couldn’t help spooning on top. And you must do this. It is not guilding the lily. It is putting the lily in the right vase with the right accompanying greenery and standing the whole show in front of a sunny window. Okay?
Now for the book analogy to go along with the chocolate pudding: comfort reading. Because what’s better than eating your favourite dessert? Why, eating it while reading your favourite, comfortable reading material. I think I’ve made it plain what my words of choice while eating are. But depending on my need for comfort (and whether little e is sleeping) I might read Haiku or the West Coast Seeds catalogue or a YA novel or a graphic novel. And of course blogs–which, let’s face it, are often the most easily-accessed reading material. Those are definitely comfort reading. You know when you just need a boost or a laugh or to read something you’ve already read but really enjoyed?
Well, that’s this chocolate pudding, too. It’s been in my repertoire since I lived in a basement suite in East Vancouver as a student and aspiring-and-often-terrible writer, which is to say, for many moons. I come back to it because it always delivers that warm, wrapped up love feeling that got me through nights of angsty singledom then and gets me through cold December nights of baby-induced exhaustion now. Just like a favourite book. I’m looking at you, Jane Austen.
(adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest)
3/4 cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbs brown sugar
2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt
3 tbs cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
Combine the chocolate, sugar and milk in a saucepan and gently heat to melt the chocolate. Remove from heat once mixture is uniform. Place salt and cornstarch in a small bowl and then pour a quarter of the hot mixture over the salt/cornstarch, whisking vigorously to avoid clumps. Then pour this solution back into the saucepan. [I often get a few lumps and hate that, so I pour the solution through a fine-mesh sieve into the saucepan.] Stir the chocolate mixture over low to medium-low heat (depending on your level of patience), until thick and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. I like to use ramekins because it makes the pudding look sexy and stops me from eating too much at once. A skin will form on the top pretty quickly, but you can avoid this by lying a sheet of wax paper on the surface right away. Or just eat the skin with the rest of it like I do. Or cover it with whipped cream after it’s cooled in the fridge. It’s really a win-win.
What’s your Queen of Comfort (food and book)?