Friday, March 14, 2008

Ina Garten's Double Chocolate Pudding

It seems that March is turning into Sweets Month around here! If we have a sunny day that makes photographing a bit easier, I'll extend the streak with a last call before the citrus season ends: the previously promised recipe for Italian Lemon Ice.

The cold, snowy and rainy weather (it's too early for rain!) we've been having here lately has made it difficult to take anything but dark, shadowy pictures. It's unfortunate, too, because this weather is best weathered (ha!) from the warm and cozy indoors, preferably with a mug of tea and a new recipe to try.

In this spirit of new recipes, I recently whipped up a batch of Ina Garten's Double Chocolate Pudding. Unlike custards, which can be fussy and have the potential to go very, very wrong, this recipe is wonderfully simple. Don't get me wrong- I love the delicious elegance of custards and pots de créme- but sometimes all you want is a recipe that doesn't require too much mental energy and concentration. This dark, intense chocolate pudding fits the bill perfectly.

Since I knew that pure chocolate flavour would be showcased here, I used Scharffen Berger cocoa powder and, since Ina calls for semisweet chocolate, Scharffen Berger's 62% chocolate.

Percentages, which you are probably seeing listed on chocolate more and more these days, refer to the percentage of cacao-derived ingredients in chocolate. Chocolate with a higher percentage listed has a substantial amount of cacao and less sugar, so it is often labelled bittersweet, bitter or unsweetened. Chocolate with a low %- like milk chocolate- contains less cacao and more flavourings like sugar, milk and vanilla. White chocolate contains only sugar, cocoa butter, and milk solids.

Making this pudding was, not surprisingly, a breeze. Everything went swimmingly until the end, when it took a while for the pudding to thicken over low heat. I was convinced that I'd done something wrong or left something out, and I kept re-reading the recipe while trying to whisk at the same time... but once it started to firm up, the pudding turned beautifully, custardy-thick very quickly. Phew! I know that I can always trust Ina's recipes. Don't know what was going on in my head there.

The ease of this recipe means that you have absolutely no reason not to try it, unless you don't like chocolate, in which case there is no hope for you. The pudding has a pleasingly smooth texture, fabulously rich cocoa flavour and a lovely, lingering bitter chocolate finish. It's definitely not airy in a mousse sort of way, but there is an incredible lightness to it all the same.

I'd absolutely serve it to guests in elegant little bowls, and I imagine it would make a lovely cake or pastry filling, though I believe it's most delicious when eaten straight out of the bowl, preferably with help from friends.


lesha said...

I've been thinking to try one of your recipes for a long time. NOw, after Ina's pudding I guess it's time for a try.
I'll do the pudding for Easter..yes, I will.

you must be an amazing cook petite gourmande, your recipes are always so refined.

what are you doing for Easter? are there any holidays for Easter in the US?
we have just Monday free, but it's ok, just for a little rest.


la petite gourmande said...

hi Lesha! happy (late) Easter!

we had a nice small Italian easter brunch, with snowball cookies (I don't know what they're called in Italian) for dessert! those are only made at Easter here, and we all love them so everyone fights over them and counts how many cookies the other people have eaten. :)

no pizza chena this year, though... L's mom will make it this weekend instead. i guess she didn't have time to get all the meats and cheeses for it! we all said we wouldn't miss it, but we all really missed it anyway! do you eat that too?

did you try the pudding? how was your Easter?

lesha said...

Hi Petite,
I'm sorry but I don't know neither the snowball cookies nor the pizza chena, but they must be deliciuos.

for Easter I ate a special roasted pork with apples cooked by my mum. I paid a "strategic" visit to my parents the Saturday before Easter and I came back home with loads of food. It's been a great luck because I had a couple of working "occasion" i couldn't miss, and I had to work a lot also during the Easter holidays. all that to say that I hadn't had time for the pudding :(
gosh, life's not easy.

anyway, here we are, tired but richer...:D

take care.