Pain with Chocolate (and that’s not in French)

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.

a basic No-Knead loaf, only one day old

cruelly ripped to shreds

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).

just a pinch of chipotle makes the burn go down

chocolate is bittersweet

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.


I polished off about 5 plates like this — I might as well just eat from the bowl

Pain with Chocolate (and that’s not in French)

(makes 6-8 servings — yourself and a couple friends)

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

Total: $11.48

pudding is my new frosting — especially when it’s “the best”

Health Factor

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?).

44 Responses

  1. Neener

    Oh darlin’ I’m sorry he didn’t have the good taste to know a good thing like you. I got the heave ho after 22 years and two fabulous kids. Think of it this way, you’ll definitely get to fall in love again, and this time you’ll find a guy who has probably fallen in love with you just from your blog!~ I now use mine as a screening device for all online prospects. If they’re still on board after reading me, we’ve got a good chance. This recipe looks FABULOUS and I make something like it and will eat it in your honor.

  2. Sarah C.

    OH MY GOODNESS! I would be rolling on the floor with laughter if it werent for the fact that my laptop is propped on my lap. “Cruely ripped to shreds” is what first got me laughing (literally) out loud. I mean, I was initially drawn in by the sad story break up and you making us single bloggers (me included) a chocolate dessert. But, after the shredded bread they just kept coming…chili for the sting and bittersweet chocolate. The wonderfulness of it all!
    You made my night. Thank you!!!

  3. Laura Wehrman

    Oh Cathy, I feel for you girl. I am in the middle of my own heart break as well, and chocolate has been kind to me.

    I will make this recipe and hope it eases the pain a bit.

    I know it is not cooking, but Green & Black’s makes the most amazing dark chocolate ice cream.

  4. Laura Wehrman

    The whole post is very “Like Water For Chocolate”. Love it!

  5. Dave

    Cathy! This looks delicious. I’m voting for you. and I feel for you. Hang in there.

  6. Sophie

    Love can be fleeting, but Chocolate Is Forever. 🙂

  7. KitsChow

    Cathy! You rock! That’s the spirit! Never let the bastards get you down!

  8. Daisy

    Chocolate and bread – two of my favorite things. This sounds like a great dessert! Or meal – depending on the mood 🙂

  9. Thew

    One of those bastards says…You know all the truisms and the clichés, but the essence, really, is that you yourself are all you need. Anything – anybody – else is icing on the cake. Dessert, you might say…

    And continuing on the bright side: no roses mean perhaps less poisoned farm workers; most roses are grown in toxic circumstances in Latin America; because they are not food-grade items, they can be bombed with massive amounts of pesticides; typically the poor workers are sent right in after the spraying. What, pray, has that got to do with love?

  10. Mrs.W

    Hang in there, girl.

    My ex ripped my heart out… and a month after it was all said and done I met my husband. The jerk couldn’t have done me a better favor.

    Looks like a delicious dessert. I wish I could eat bread so I could try it!

  11. Anita

    I’m newly single myself, and I have to say I wasn’t a fan of Valentine’s day even when I was smitten. I mean, 1) Who needs a special day to eat chocolate, 2) Who needs a special day to feel love.

    My friends and I are doing fondue, probably followed by your Pain. You’re amazing, so keep the dream alive!

  12. michael

    What’s this? Cathy, the secret puller of my heart-strings for more than 10 years now is free? What fool would foresake a beautiful, half-Asian genius who can dismember a loaf of bread in seconds only to turn it into a poo-poo pile of chocolate bliss? Forget China… I’m buying the first ticket outta here, firing up the Previa, and coming to save you, baby!

  13. Ana

    boo – boys suck! don’t feel bad about eating the dessert chocolate out of the dish, sometimes doing so is necessary.


  14. cathy

    You guys are the best. You seriously made me laugh or smile every time I looked at another comment. Thank you all.
    Thew: Totally, and don’t get me started on teddy bears made by third-world children. Cute? I think not!
    Michael: I just had a blast from the past when you said Previa. Do they even make those anymore? Do they still look like dustbusters? (Or make the gnarliest 8-person hot boxes? Oops…)

  15. Terry B

    Cathy–Sorry the guy was an idiot. Some of us are. Something tells me, though, from your entertaining post and the cool comments, that you’re gonna be fine.

  16. Sue

    I barely know you – actually I only know you via this blog…but he’s a fool. You are darling….And you cook! The utter fool.

    And seriously – Valentines is like New Years with or without a partner, they usually suck. I can;t recall a good one, actually.

    So sorry for the awful timing, that really blows…but you will be fine in awhile. Hang in there.

  17. Pixie

    Sorry, some Jerk broke your heart. I’ve been there, together for 8 years…you’ll soon find someone who deserves YOU. Happily remarried now and miles away from NY!

    Your dessert sounds wonderful, think I’ll make it just for moi.

  18. Adam and Steve


  19. Sarah

    Anyone that would leave someone who can make something this delicious is an idiot!
    Hope the chocolate can help wash away the bad feelings…a glass of port on the side wouldn’t hurt, either!

  20. michael

    They still make the Previa… I’ve occasionally seen them in China, and when I was in Hong Kong last year there was about 12 different varieties. I don’t think they’re sold at all in the US, though. The new ones are super pimp, and yes, they still look like dustbusters. Awesome party dustbusters!

  21. rachel

    thanks for your post.. besides the chocolate but makes whole single and eating my heart out feeling so good.

  22. Hilary

    You’ve got my vote, girl! This is a fabulous recipe and I’m going to try it for Valentine’s Day!

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I like Neener’s comment the best: You’ve got another chance to fall in love.

  23. Tartelette

    Congratulations on winning! I hope you enjoy the weekend and give us a full pictured report once you get back!

  24. Congrats on making it to the top 10 in the DBC contest. I love the recipe, though I’m sorry about the pain part. Good luck!

  25. mark


    It is wonderful that a bad thing can be turned into something pleasant. Everyone at Culinate wishes you the best of trips to Napa, and Congratulations! on winning the Death by Chocolate contest.

    Now the real question is, who will be your “+one”? Have a great weekend!

  26. Woo hoo! Congratulations! You’re going to Napa! If you have any room in your suitcase, could I stow away?

  27. Katia

    Congratulations on winning the contest! I think you most definetely deserve it- your entry is genius- plus it looks pretty yummy! Have fun in Napa. 🙂

  28. Warda

    Congratulation on winning this superb trip! Lucky you :)Have fun there and if you don’t know who to go with, give me a call 😉

  29. MrsPresley


  30. Lynn

    Goodness gracious, that’s a dessert plate that calls for a swan dive in! Congratulations on winning the contest. Have a grand time and please blog all about it.

  31. Emily

    Oh noes! I can’t believe, out of all the posts of yours I read, this had to be the one I waited forever to digest. Yikes! So sorry.

    I am still down for hosting the Food Bloggers potluck here whenever you and D. are free.

    Staying busy and in the swing of things always helps. I can’t complain about being single because I’M the one who keeps breaking up with people 🙂

  32. Andrea

    Congrats on winning the trip to Napa! I say take a favorite friend with you and have a blast without Mr. Wants Out!! He just didn’t know how good he had it. 🙂

    What a great idea to combine bread and chocolate, two of my favorite things! Sounds yummy.

  33. Meghan

    CONGRATS on winning the contest!

  34. Food Rockz Man

    Congratulations on your contest victory . . . from one single heart to another!

  35. chanelle

    woo hoo! congrats on winning the contest! hope you have an AWESOME time.

  36. kellypea

    Congrats, and YUM. I’d eat out of the bowl, too, but I’d have to fight off my husband to get to it first! Fab looking recipe and your writing is great.

  37. FlaNBoyant Eats

    This is so damn good looking. Congrats on your
    win! How awesome is that.

    Singles unite on V-day!

  38. Bellini Valli

    Congartulations for winning the contest. Have a wonderful time in sunny California 😀

  39. Teresa

    I would’ve voted for you if I’d seen this before today (the day AFTER Valentine’s Day). What a great sounding dessert!!! Count this as a vote anyway.

    Bon voyage!


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  43. Daniel

    Chocolates can really do a lot of wonders. I for one, prefer to give dark chocolates on Valentine’s day and even personalize it by creating a signature recipe with chocolates as main ingredients. I knew this was a great recipe Cathy. Congrats in winning the contest.

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