Friday, February 11, 2011

Hot Chocolate Pudding

Do you love Valentine's Day? I do. Forget sappy boxes of chocolate, tired carnations, and couples' dinners: Valentine's is the perfect time to celebrate love of any sort. Take your pooch out for an extra walk. Invite friends over for supper. Call your mom.

Whatever you do, celebrate.

For a special dinner, check out this menu, which features Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup with Vermouth, Heartbeet Salad with Pumpernickel Croutons and Cashew Chévre, and Hazelnut Cherry Brownies with Port Glaze. Or make some Ganache, and invite friends over for a dipping party.

For even more chocolate, try my Hot Chocolate Pudding. This is the cool, creamy pudding you remember from childhood, punctuated with a sharp bite of heat. It's also quick and easy, leaving you plenty of time for other Valentine's pursuits...whatever they may be.

Hot Chocolate Pudding
4 servings

1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup water
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (almond is nice here)
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, completely dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoon non-dairy milk
1 ounce good quality dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous pinch cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine sugar, cocoa powder, water, and sea salt, whisking constantly. Stir in coconut milk and 1/2 cup non-dairy milk. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Whisk in cornstarch and non-dairy milk mixture, and return to heat. Cook until the mixture just begins to thicken, stirring slowly and constantly, then cook 1 minute more.

Remove from heat, and stir in dark chocolate, vanilla extract, and cayenne until smooth. Transfer to four small cups and chill until thoroughly cold. Serve.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? I've whisked my Mr. (and the kids) away for a weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's my son's first time away, and has been a great adventure so far.

Wherever you find yourself, I wish you a day full of love!