Gee, I’m single. I don’t know the way it is with you, but Valentine’s Day traditionally falls on a romantically awkward time for me (except for the last two years). This year, it’s pretty bad. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I essentially returned from my girlfriend-bonding Moroccan vacation to a live-in who’d decided he wanted out. Home sweet home! Of course, now that it’s the first week of February, all the aphrodisiac date menus, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, stuffed bears and stupid cupids bouncing around in attempt to stimulate the love sensors only make me sense a party that I’m not invited to. So, I rather liked the refreshingly morbid title of Culinate’s new blogging contest, Death by Chocolate.
This is one event I think I can swing. Remember, guys, hell hath no fury. You may just die if you eat this dessert. Then again, so might I if I finish the whole thing alone. All’s fair in love and war. But seriously, though, this recipe is for all the foodies this year without a special someone to make an ooey, gooey, messy-smooch-worthy triple chocolate cakelette a l’amour for. Because I know that not all of us just conveniently have the love of our lives at our disposal every time we want to indulge in said chocolately bliss. There’s nothing like crashing a party.
This recipe is something that anyone can make with leftover bread, milk and chocolate. Something in between a classic English trifle and the dog’s dinner, it layers torn-up No-Knead Bread (the tearing is the best part) with dark chocolate pudding and broken chunks of dark chocolate (a good whack at chocolate is fun, too). It’s given a douse of chocolate liqueur (for that soggy, limp feeling in your heart — I mean, of a trifle), and a hint of chile in the chocolate for that sting (on your tongue, that is).
For the pudding, I searched online for a dark chocolate version to adapt and was pleasantly surprised to find this one by my favorite Food Maven, Arthur Schwartz, dubbed “The Best Chocolate Pudding.” (Arthur was kind enough to invite me over for treats he was cooking for his latest book last summer.) I ended up using a bar of 72% cacao Vivani organic dark chocolate that I picked up at a corner store instead of his recommended Scharffen Berger. I also infused the milk first with a few torn pieces of a dried chipotle.
Yeasty. Spicy. A little bit salty. And entirely bittersweet. Enjoy, Valentine’s Day singles.
And please don’t forget to vote for my post/recipe in Culinate’s Death by Chocolate contest for a chance to win a weekend in Napa Valley — I seriously need to get away from my apartment! Shortcut: Just click on the icon on the top right corner of this blog and you’ll have chosen my blog already. You have until February 8 to vote before the esteemed judges take over for the top ten entries. Thank you, thank you, and thank you in advance.
about half a loaf of No-Knead Bread (or substitute any crusty bread), torn to roughly 1″ pieces
1/2 cup chocolate liqueur (such as Godiva)
2 oz dark chocolate, coarsely crushed or chopped
1/2-1 oz dark chocolate, shaved or finely chopped (for the topping)
for the pudding:
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72%)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons corn starch
about 1 tablespoon dried chipotle pieces, seeds removed
Wrap the chipotle pieces in a cheesecloth and tie to close satchel. Fill a medium saucepan with the milk and add the satchel. Heat over medium-high until the milk just begins to froth around the edges (about 3-5 minutes), but do not let boil. Turn off heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Uncover, remove the satchel and discard.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl and place it atop a pot of boiling water. Break the 4 oz of chocolate into squares and add to the bowl. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until mixture is smooth and slightly thickened (8-10 minutes). Use a wire whisk to gently break up any lumps. The pudding mixture should never come to a boil. Cover and cook for another 10-12 minutes, uncovering to stir or gently whisk occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
Begin layering the dessert (for presentation purposes, it’s best to use a large, round glass dessert bowl). Spread about one-third of the bread pieces on the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle on one-third of the chocolate liqueur. Spread on a thick layer of one-third of the pudding. Top with one-third of the coarse chocolate chunks. Repeat process twice. Add the shaved or finely chopped chocolate on top. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Cost Calculator(for 6-8 servings)
1/2 loaf homemade No-Knead Bread (or 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp yeast, 1/2 tsp salt): $0.40
3 cups milk: $1.20
7 oz. 72% dark chocolate (at $2.99/3.5 oz. bar): $5.98
1/2 cup chocolate liqueur (at $15/26 oz. bottle): $3.00
1/2 cup sugar: $0.25
1 teaspoon vanilla: $0.25
4 tablespoons corn starch: $0.20
1 tablespoon dried chipotle pieces: $0.20
Six brownie points: Another reason why I went with Arthur Schwartz’s chocolate pudding recipe (and it is indeed the best I’ve had) is that it uses corn starch as the thickening agent rather than eggs. Meaning, it’s less rich. Not that you would taste the difference — to me, it just tastes like incredibly thick, smooth, cool and creamy dark, dark chocolate. Who needs extra fat? Real trifles are also made with torn-up bits of sponge cake, so substituting white bread not only gives it a yeasty, savory complexity but makes the dessert less fatty and sugary to boot. As for all that deep dark chocolate, the darker the blend, the more antioxidant-rich. Could this goopy, creamy indulgence dessert be a health food in disguise? I suppose as long as you don’t eat too much (but who would ever do that?).