With vibrant things like radishes and asparagus, I’m not sure how it happens that I find myself in a cooking rut. I’ve made plate after plate of passable but uninteresting food lately, so I turned to lists and bookmarks of recipes to try a few new dishes. That ought to liven things up, right? Not so much–the new recipes only served to lengthen the train of boring dinners.
The boring dinner train. That sounds like the worst kind of train, unless it is actually a fancy gourmet dinner train that travels to Boring, Oregon. That’s a train I’d get on.
Only one thing can drag me out of the kitchen doldrums: a good, chocolatey dessert. I came up with this coffee toffee pudding variation a few months ago, and have been waiting for an excuse to revive it. Friends came over for dessert this week, so that seemed like a good way to make pudding without Michael and me each eating two servings.
This is really rather easy. I started with David Lebovitz’s butterscotch pudding recipe (never a bad place to begin), added chocolate to 2/3 of it, and coffee to the remainder.
I love this dessert because the entire thing tastes like you’re only getting the good part. There’s no cardboard pie crust to get in the way of the filling, and no pesky, spongy cake to balance out the frosting. The whole cup-full is decadent and rich.
P.S. While I may have worked my way out of the boring food rut, I obviously have a little ways to go with the boring photo rut. I apologize for the tan background. Nothing looks good on tan; I don’t know what I was thinking.
Coffee Toffee Pudding (adapted from David Lebovitz)
Yield: 4 servings (or 6 more moderately-sized servings)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2-1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 serving instant coffee powder/granules (shut up–it works)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and salt until they are completely incorporated, then remove from heat.
Whisk the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the milk until quite smooth. Whisk in the eggs.
Gradually pour the remaining milk into the saucepan while constantly whisking, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
Return the saucepan to the heat and bring it to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it boils, lower the heat to a simmer and whisk constantly for one minute, until the pudding thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the whiskey and vanilla.
Put the chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl and pour about 2/3 of the pudding into the bowl, then set it aside momentarily. Add the coffee powder/granules to the remaining pudding and whisk until smooth. Return to the chocolate and pudding mixture and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.
Pour the chocolate pudding into four or six serving cups or glasses, depending on how generous and/or gluttonous you feel. Clear vessels work well because it highlights the two-toned dessert. Chill these puddings in the fridge for a half hour, then remove them from the fridge and spoon the remaining coffee pudding evenly over the top. Return the puddings to the fridge for at least four hours.
To serve, a dollop of whipped cream or barely-sweetened mascarpone looks pretty. Taste-wise, the topping is unnecessary, but it helps in the looks department.