Monday, February 14, 2011

Cookish: Something Sweet

Chocolate Pudding
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 60% Cacao Ghiradelli chocolate baking bar (4 oz), chopped into small pieces
½ teaspoon espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
½ cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cups half-and half, mixed with 1 1/4 cups skim milk

Microwave butter and chocolate in bowl on 50-percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 4 minutes. Stir together espresso powder and vanilla extract in small ramekin. In a large saucepan, whisk cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in yolks and 1/2 cup half-and-half until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape corners of saucepan. Whisk in milk and half-and-half mixture.

Place saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture starts to thicken, about 4 minutes. Whisk in melted chocolate mixture and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until bubbles appear over entire surface, 2 to 4 minutes longer. It will be considerably thicker at this point. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla mixture.

Pour pudding through fine-mesh strainer into bowl. Place plastic wrap against surface of pudding, and place in refrigerator to cool, at least 4 hours.

If you've never made homemade pudding, I urge you to try this. ALso, I recommend eating a serving before chilling--it is insanely good warm.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bookish Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a lovely novel. The translation seems masterful--I haven't read the original French, but with most translations, I find myself noticing that it is a translation and wondering what the original was really like--this did not feel like that. The flap description is a little misleading, as you expect the new Japanese neighbor who is supposed to bring the two narrators (one a concierge in a French condo building and one a precocious little girl who lives there) together, but he does not appear until well into the novel. The book gives lovely insight into how difficult it is to truly see someone for who they really are.

The only thing that I didn't love about the novel is the ending--it seemed appropriately French, but the protagonist had just conquered an irrational fear she had been harboring for most of her life, and then the ending seemed to confirm that her fear was actually justified. Otherwise, a nice read.