Monday, February 9, 2009

Chocolate Pudding with Cinnamon Hazelnut Meringues

If you have never made your own chocolate pudding you are missing out! It is so simple but the results are incomparable with anything you could buy in the grocery store or make from a mix. I have paired the pudding with some meringue cookies. These are also very easy to make and the opportunity for flavor is endless. Here I've added some cinnamon, toasted hazelnut and cocoa nibs. It brings an element of chocolate that is subtle but will pair well with the creamy pudding.


The pudding recipe came from a great book called In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley. It has a lot of great recipes with wonderful flavor combination's. It has great step by step instructions for beginning bakers but a lot of very useful ingredient information for people looking to learn more. Check it out!

Deep Chocolate Pudding (from In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley)
Serves 6-8

1 cup sugar
4 TBS cornstarch
1/3 cup 1TBS cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups low fat or whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

In a medium size bowl, combine half the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, egg yolks and 1/2 cup of milk, whisk until completely combined. In a medium saucepan combine the rest of the sugar, milk and cream. Bring to a scald, the point before it starts to boil. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the sugar and cocoa mixture. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium high heat until you see it begin to boil. Bring it to a full boil and take it off the heat. Add the vanilla and chocolate and stir until completely melted. Pour into a clean bowl and place a piece of plastic over the top on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool completely before serving. This can easily be made a day before serving. Serve with some slightly sweetened freshly whipped cream.

Meringue Cookies

Meringue Cookies
These cookies have an endless possibility for flavor combination's. You can fold all sorts of things into them like nuts or chocolate, flavor them with zest, extracts, spices, use different sugars, fold in cocoa powder... They are simple to make and bake at a very low temperature for a long time so you can make these before you go to bed, let them cook all night (on the ovens lowest setting) and they'll be ready by morning.

Cinnamon, Hazelnut, Cocoa Nib Meringues
4 lg ( 4 oz) egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup and 1 tsp(4 oz)granulated sugar
1 cup (4 oz)sifted powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts finely chopped
1/4 cup cocoa nibs finely chopped

Pre heat the oven to it's lowest setting- for me it was 170 degrees F. Anything 200 degrees or below will work. The directions are fairly simple, whip the egg whites, add sugar, fold in powdered sugar and then fold in nuts and nibs. The key to success in this procedure lies in not adding your sugar too fast to your whites, if you do the whites get weighed down and runny and won't ever whip up properly. Make sure that your whites are at room temperature so you get the maximum volume from them. Put them in a clean, grease free large bowl, add the cream of tartar and begin to whip. This is possible by hand, but if you can do it with an electric beater it will be a lot easier. When your whites are foamy and beginning to form soft peaks, sprinkle in a tablespoon of sugar. Let the beater continue to whip and slowly sprinkle in more sugar. By the time your whites reach a firm peak you want to have about 1/2 of the granulated sugar added in. Keep the beater whipping and slowly sprinkle in the rest of the sugar. Whip until the peaks are very stiff and shiny. Sift the powdered sugar and mix in the cinnamon. Fold- don't whisk the powdered sugar into the whites. Towards the end add the nuts and nibs. You should still have a fairly stiff meringue at this point. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment (you don't need to grease them). At this point there are several different looks you can create with your meringue. As shown in the picture you can create rustic little mounds by just dropping spoonfuls on to the sheet pan, or if you want something more uniform and clean, you can also pipe them using either a plain or star tip. Make sure that if you are going to pipe them, your nuts and nibs are very finely chopped and that you use a fairly large piping tip. Cook them until they are dry throughout. You can just leave them in the oven overnight. If you have a pilot light on your stove you can even turn the oven off and let it sit overnight. The pilot light provides enough heat to dry them out. Expect them to take at least 4-6 hours in the oven but it won't hurt them to be in there longer. You want to make sure the oven doesn't get much past 200 degrees F so they don't get much color (the sugar starts to caramelize). To test for doneness break one open and make sure the middle is firm (let it sit out on the counter to cool before testing). You can leave them plain or dip them in chocolate. Store in an airtight container for a week.

1 comment:

Dimples said...

I've been thinking about making pudding lately since I haven't made it in a while. I'm going to try your recipe. Love the styling of the pic with the canning jar.