Valentine’s Day Chocolate Pudding Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

When I was growing up, my parents never went out to celebrate Valentine’s Day on their own, we always celebrated together as a family. And one of our special desserts was homemade chocolate pudding. I grew up never knowing what it was like to eat pudding from a box, so I didn’t know how spoiled I was by eating this dark, rich dessert topped with just a little bit of cream until I became an adult and had to make my own–from a box!

When I began thinking of this year’s Valentine’s Day, I decided I should bring back that tradition and make chocolate pudding for my Valentine. I found this recipe from Cooking Light, but knew my first switch was going to use whole milk instead of skim. Skim milk contains lots of natural sugar, so I didn’t want this dessert any sweeter than it needed to be. I bought a 4 ounce bar of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate, but then noticed I needed one additional ounce; luckily I had a square of Baker’s in the cupboard. I topped it with a few frozen raspberries, since I love that combination. You could take the remaining egg whites and whip them into meringue or top with whipped cream. The end result will be an incredibly rich, smooth, dark chocolate pudding.

While adding milk to a mix is simple, taking a little bit of effort to make something homemade is so much better! Plus, you know what the ingredients are and that they’re healthy and good for you. I’m a sucker for any kind of pudding, but this is extra special, especially if you’re sharing it with the one you love!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Cooking!

pudding3Chocolate Pudding

This recipe first appeared in the August 2006 issue of Cooking Light magazine

2 ½ cups fat-free (or whole) milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Place 2 cups milk in a medium, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine remaining ½ cup milk and egg yolks, stirring well with a whisk. Add egg yolk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring well. Gradually add half of hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring until melted.

Spoon pudding into a bowl. Place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding is cool, stirring occasionally. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap; chill.

vday2MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Valentine’s Day Menus

With Valentine’s Day on a Sunday this year, that gives you a little extra time if you were planning on making a meal at home as opposed to eating out. Two years ago I combed the MVK archives to find some special recipes for the day. You can see that post here.

Looking for more chocolate inspiration instead? Check out these double chocolate cookies from last year!

Retro Dessert: Floating Island

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Desk Set.” A little known Tracy and Hepburn film, Katharine Hepburn plays a research librarian at a television network in New York City; Spencer Tracy plays an efficiency expert. It’s great fun and I watch it every December because the movie starts in November and a big scene takes place at Christmastime. (So I was especially excited to go to Rockefeller Center last December to live my version of the movie!)

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There is a scene where, following a big rain storm, Tracy is soaked and ends up having dinner at Hepburn’s apartment; he makes her fried chicken and she makes floating island for dessert. Her boyfriend shows up, suspects their cozy dinner is something other than what it is, and assumptions and confusion ensues. Of course, it ends happily.

I’ve been making this dessert since the first time I saw this movie probably 20 years ago. A soft custard pudding, it has a meringue “island” floating on top. It is a perfectly comforting and homey dessert that takes little time and makes just the right amount for two. I had to research the history of this dessert and I thought it was American through and through,  but turns out it is European!

Floating Island
This recipe, from Betty Crocker’s New Dinner For Two Cook Book, says to make this in a double boiler. If you don’t have one, like me, a thick-bottomed saucepan works just as well.

Make Soft Custard (below). Make a meringue of 1 egg white and 2 tbsp. sugar. Drop meringue as “islands” on custard in serving dish. Chill before serving. (MVK’s Note: Making the meringue takes about 10 minutes at least with a hand mixer set on high.)

Soft Custard
¾ cup milk
2 egg yolks (or 1 whole egg)
2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. vanilla

Scald milk in top of a double boiler over direct head. Beat egg yolks in a small bowl. Blend in sugar and salt. Gradually stir in scalded milk. Return to double boiler. Cook over simmering (not boiling) water, stirring constantly. When custard coats silver spoon (thin coating), remove from heat. Cook quickly. If custard should start to curdle, beat vigorously at once with rotary beater until smooth. Blend in vanilla. Pour into serving dish. 2 generous servings.
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