Thursday, February 6, 2014

French Pudding au Chocolat


My Funny Valentine 
Sweet Comic Valentine 
You Make Me Smile With My Heart 
You're Looks Are Laughable, 
Yet You're My Favorite Work Of Art 
Is Your Figure Less Than Greek 
Is Your Mouth A Little Weak 
When You Open It To Speak 
Are You Smart 
Don't Change A Hair For 
Me Not If You Care For Me 
Stay Little Valentine Stay 
Each Day Is Valentine's Day 
- Chet Baker 

“One thing you should know about me,” he declared as I watched him dress, crumpled sheets pulled up to my chin, drunk on love, “you will never receive chocolates from me. I will shower you with gifts, buy you jewelry, fill your arms with flowers, but I will not buy you candy. Chocolate is a vice like cigarettes and alcohol and I will not feed any vice.” And as Valentine’s Day approached he stoutly proclaimed his disdain for this “American holiday, this commercial invention by some ad man or company created for the sake of making a few bucks. And I certainly don’t need someone else to designate one particular day, tell me when and how I should tell you that I love you! I can do that when and how I please!”

Yet that first Valentine’s Day together a single chocolate heart was placed atop my pillow with all the care of a newborn babe. One single chocolate heart filled with a thousand words, words that said “I love you” silently yet louder than if he had screamed them from the rooftops. With that one chocolate heart wrapped in shimmering silver foil he let me know that he understood that this simple gesture meant more to me than his contempt for the signs in shop windows and the ads on TV, the French adaptation of this very American faux holiday. He understood that expectation fluttered underneath my bold claim of agreement with him, my apparent disinterest for this special date, expectation fluttering like a schoolgirl heart as she places that shoebox decorated with pink crepe paper hearts and white doilies on the corner of her desk as she silently utters a prayer.

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now 
Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine? 
If I'd been out 'til quarter to three, would you let me drive 
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four? 

You'll be older too 
Ah, and if you say the word, I could stay with you 
- Paul McCartney 

So many Valentine’s Days have come and gone, 27 of them to be exact. 27 years filled with roses and tulips, carnations and peonies, stunning jewels and breathtaking adventure. And chocolates. One time I asked him, after a very long, arduous several months trying to slim down, if he could tell that I had lost weight, if I looked better in my snug skirts, and he looked at me with that look before saying, “You know, you always look the same to me… I see you through eyes of love and you are always perfect.”

Lately, he has been dancing around the apartment making fun of us growing old together. “Maybe I’ll start cultivating the “fat, old pépère look – you know, baggy clothes, crazy hair, slumped over in my armchair saying crazy things, walking Marty in my slippers and pajama pants?” And now I look at this man as he grows older, as his moods and tempers blow hot and cold, from stressed to panicked to gleeful, from utter joy to tempestuous moody and dark; I look at this man who can drive me absolutely nuts or rant and rave and make me feel like a disobedient girl, who can make me laugh so long and so hard that my sides hurt and tears course down my cheeks, who can woo me, whisper in my ear and make me feel so loved and I realize that 64 isn’t that far away anymore.

And my answer would be yes.


Finely ground stale bread or dry wafer-type cookies – plain white bread, Challah, brioche, ladyfingers or digestive biscuits – are used to bind these puddings in place of flour and are a fabulous way to use up stale bread. Unlike the Anglo-saxon/American style of pudding in which chunks of bread soak up custard, the bread and cookies used for a French pudding are undetectable; these puddings are velvety smooth, creamy, incredibly rich and intensely chocolate without the bitter edge. The addition of a bit of cinnamon, ground ginger or espresso, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, rum, cognac, coffee liqueur, there are so many possibilities for these deep, lusciously chocolate puddings. This is a recipe based on one found in Maisons Côté Nos 100 Recettes Tout Chocolat December 2012

5.3 oz (150 g) stale bread and/or plain wafer cookies or digestive biscuits
7 oz (200 g) dark semisweet or bittersweet chocolat 70% cacao
2 2/3 cups (600 ml) milk – I used 2% lowfat
½ cup (100 g) sugar
3 large eggs
½ tsp ground cinnamon, optional or replaced by another flavoring
½ tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly butter 10 muffin cups in a muffin tin or silicone mold or ramekins. These puddings will be baked in a bain-marie, so the muffin tin or the ramekins need to sit comfortably inside a larger baking pan that will hold water.

Finely chop the chocolate on a cutting board; place the cookies and/or stale bread in a robot mixer and grind to a fine powder.

Place the milk and sugar in a large saucepan and bring up to the boil over low heat; add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is just melted then stir in the cookie/bread crumbs. Remove from the heat.

Allow the chocolate milk to cool to warm, stirring often. Lightly beat the eggs in a measuring cup or small bowl; once the chocolate mixture has cooled, whisk three or four tablespoons of it into the eggs in a slow stream just to warm the beaten eggs. Pour the eggs into the saucepan of warm chocolate mixture in a slow steady stream while whisking the mixture (we do not want the eggs to cook).

Divide the batter evenly among the cups of the muffin tin/silicone mold or the ramekins. Place these inside the larger baking pan and slide into the preheated oven. Carefully pour very hot tap water from a spouted measuring cup into the pan around the molds until the molds/tin/ramekins are immersed just halfway, being careful to not let any water get on/in the puddings.

Bake in the preheated oven in the water bath (bain-marie) for 25 – 30 minutes until the puddings are set.

Remove the baking pan very carefully from the oven so the water doesn’t slosh and wet the puddings or burn your hands. Very carefully (use oven mitts or a kitchen cloth) lift each pudding or the muffin tin out of the bain-marie water and place on a kitchen towel or cooling rack.

Serve the puddings warm with salted butter caramel sauce, berry coulis, whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. These puddings are incredibly sexy when eaten warm, but are also quite fabulous at room temperature. Chilling will make them very dense and chewy but the flavor is still astonishingly good.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A luscious and decadent pudding! We don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, but generally P. always buys some chocolates for me...



trumatter said...

It's 4:31 here in India. I am working in a corp setting with blue walls and cubicles and this is what I stumble upon. Instantly took me back home, filled me with warmth and made me think about my husband :) This is good.

Jamie said...

@trumatter: Rukmini, thank you. That made my day so much brighter to think I can bring you joy and make you think of love. Now I am so excited to discover your blog!

@Rosa: lucky you. What else do we need but the chocolates?

trumatter said...

oh, I am drooling all over amateur baker that I am...your blog is a food-wonderland.

Liz Berg said...

You have a keeper. From that carefully placed chocolate heart to his rose colored glasses where you're concerned, you are blessed. Wishing you 27 more years together...and lots of chocolate!

bellini said...

More chocolate is needed in your life since you are already so happy.

Rambling Tart said...

That is a gloriously decadent pudding, so smooth and creamy. :-) We aren't big holiday people and usually forget Valentine's Day, but we like making our own special romantic days and moments when the mood suits us. :-) This pudding would suit one of those moments brilliantly. :-)

Susan Lindquist said...

What a sweetly romantic post ... from the chocolate on the pillow to the pudding in the ramekin ... may you have eons more time to love your sweet man!

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Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

What a delightful man, Jamie! May you grow old together xox

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

Awww, your pudding sounds really good and it's nice to know romance is alive and well. :)

Jill Colonna said...

Beautifully said, Jamie. 27 years? How time flies when you're enjoying yourself and able to share with such a gem. This chocolate pudding is also a precious recipe. Perhaps it's a bit like relationships: if something goes stale, it's amazing what love and good ingredients you can inject into it to make it into something really special.

Jamie said...

@Jill Colonna - Oh my, that is such a beautiful thought and I wish I had thought of it. You are so absolutely right!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

We laugh now whenever we hear "When I'm 64", as it has come and gone and we are still here, 38 years and counting. But never once a chocolate pudding as luscious as yours!

Nancie McDermott said...

Oh, Jamie. This one is magnificent, even for you. The standard is astronomically high, you being you doing what you do. But this one? Pure gold. I will make this for Will (28 years!) and we will raise our spoons in the direction of Nantes.

Nuts about food said...

Aaaaw, that was so sweet! We don't celebrate either and I really don't care for Valentine's day but I can't help feeling a little flutter if he shows up with a flower or a tiny thought. Funny what society ingrains into us...

Carolyn Jung said...

What sweet sentiments. Sounds like you found your perfect Valentine long ago. Here's to many more heartfelt years to come.

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

I love your tale of love...I have to work to remember anything good about my ex he destroyed so much with his bad behavior in the end! Here's to many more of you and JP!

I am making pots de creme and will share it with the loves of my life. My dog and my daughter. :)

Rachale (Fuji Mama) said...

One of my favorite desserts accompanied by the sweetest post. May we all remember that true love comes with bitter along with the sweet. May our sweetest moments be all the more sweet because we've experienced the bitter! Bonne St. Valentin mon amie!

Katie said...

What a lovely post!! I cannot wait to make these little puddings au chocolat! Brings back memories of making my first 'authentic' French mousse au chocolat! :). Thanks for sharing!

Meeta K said...

This pudding is so luscious that I am sure it will ignite even the faintest of desires. JP has his edges but I think he is one solid guy and this ... well this will keep him eating out of your hands for eva!

June Jacobs said...

Oh this recipe is such a keeper! I know someone I think will adore it...

but Jamie, Lorenz Hart wrote the words to "My Funny Valentine." Chet Baker was just one of many who sang it.


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