February 25, 2013

Bear Essentials: Pudding
( + Accidentally Mocha Pudding )

Note:  Today marks the inauguration of Being A Bear's new series, Bear Essentials.  Each month, I'll be bringing you a collection of my favorite recipes with a common theme: an ingredient, method, or type of dish.  Since the focus is on the topic, there'll be less chatter.  And since I've never been able to bypass a bad pun, you're just going to have to put up with the title.  First up: the king of all comfort foods.  Pudding.

Yes, accidentally mocha.  It was supposed to be chocolate pudding.  
But sometimes things don't work out as we intended.

Sometimes you read through a recipe and it sounds delicious and you know 
you should love it, but you also know that you're a chocolate philistine, 
and the taste of dark chocolate, no matter how nuanced and single-sourced 
and critically-acclaimed, makes your eyeballs want to shrivel up from bitterness.

So sometimes you swap out semi-sweet chocolate for the bittersweet.  
And sometimes you don't think about what those changes mean for the 
rest of a dish, and how the flavor of coffee, which adds a nice depth to 
bittersweet chocolate, will whomp your semisweet chocolate like an 
angry winged monkey and change the very flavor of your pudding.  
And sometimes you end up with mocha pudding, which is ironic, since 
all you were trying to do was reduce the bitterness, but coffee is, 
in fact, so much more bitter than chocolate could ever be.

And you know what?  Sometimes you like it.

Accidentally Mocha Pudding
very slightly adapted from Pastry Studio

Whole Milk  [ 2 cups ]
Whole Coffee Beans  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Dark Brown Sugar  [ packed, 1/4 cup ]
Semisweet Chocolate  [ 2 ounces ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 4 tablespoons, at room temperature ]
Egg Yolks [ 4 ]
Sugar  [ 3 tablespoons ]
Flour  [ 1 1/2 tablespoons ]
Cornstarch  [ 1 1/2 tablespoons ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 1/2 teaspoons ]
Salt  [ 1/8 teaspoon ]

Heavy Cream  [ 3/4 cup ]
Sugar  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 teaspoon ]

1.   In a medium pot, mix Milk, Coffee Beans and Brown Sugar.
2.   Over Medium-Low heat, stirring occasionally, bring Mixture to a simmer.  Stir until Brown Sugar dissolves.
3.   Remove Mixture from heat and cover; allow to steep.

4.   Chop Chocolate and Butter into tiny bits and place in a medium bowl.
5.   In a second bowl, whisk Egg Yolks and Sugar until well combined.
6.   Whisk Flour and Cornstarch into Egg Mixture until well combined.

7.   Rewarm Milk Mixture, if necessary; bring to a simmer.
8.   Whisking quickly as you work, slowly pour 1/2 of Milk Mixture into Egg Mixture.
9.   Whisk second 1/2 of Milk Mixture into Egg Mixture.
10.  Return Mixture to pot.

11.   Place pot over Medium heat and stir constantly until Pudding comes to a slow boil and begins to look thick
          [this will take 1-2 minutes].
12.  Continue stirring until smooth and thick and, well, pudding-like [ this will take another 2-3 minutes ].
13.   Remove from heat and pour over the top of Chocolate and Butter.
14.   Let sit about 2 minutes.
15.   Add Vanilla and Salt to Pudding.
16.   Whisk Pudding to mix thoroughly.  Don't whisk too vigorously - you don't want to introduce bubbles into it.
17.   Pour Pudding through a fine sieve into serving dish or ramekins.
18.   Cover surface of Pudding with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming.
19.   Chill.

20.   In the bowl of a mixer, on high speed, whip Cream with Sugar and Vanilla Extract until it forms soft
21.   Whisk individual Puddings to loosen, and top with a generous dollop of Whipped Cream.

Makes about 4 servings.

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