I love chocolate, especially super dark, super rich chocolate. I’ve been known to eat 85% Lindt out of hand. So why, then, am I posting about milk chocolate? Inspired by Michel Richard and Gourmet, I decided to give milk chocolate a try. And while you won’t find me replacing my daily nibble snapped from a cold bar of Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Ritter Sport with any milk chocolate variety, I’ve come to terms with the fact that milk chocolate, too, has its place in the world of chocolate.
For their February issue, Gourmet assembled a team of chocaholics to sample and rate 25 milk chocolates. I’ve been avoiding milk chocolate for years, since every time I have a little nibble it just tastes like waxy condensed milk, probably because I would never choose milk chocolate over dark chocolate in the store, so the bits that I have sampled always come in the form of foil-wrapped holiday novelty candy, destined to be a far, far cry from what milk chocolate could be. After reading the swoons of creamy, smooth, vanilla, and caramel finish, I made a mental note to try some real milk chocolate soon.
Last night, Henning and I were invited for dinner at my parents place. Usually this involves my mom and I doing some menu planning via email the day before and then spending a few hours in the kitchen together, chopping and chatting. The menu planning happened as usual, but Thursday afternoon I started to feel very sick. I had a fever, chills, and my lungs had that burning sensation that happens when you breathe air that is far too cold, but it’s 68 degrees here in San Diego. After barely making it through the computer lab sessions that I teach Thursday afternoons, I collapsed on the couch under a down comforter while Henning prepared dinner. The rest of the night and all of Friday was absolutely miserable, and when we showed up at my parents house in the late afternoon, my mom took one look at me and said I was not allowed to enter the kitchen to help prepare the Mexican feast that we had planned. We hadn’t picked a dessert yet, and she suggested Michel Richard’s Happy Kid Pudding, since it was done in the microwave in under 7 minutes and wouldn’t require my help. It called for milk chocolate, so I pulled up Gourmet’s list to write down the top few. We ended up using Lindt Excellence, since that’s the one the market down the street carries.
While I laid on the couch watching one dvr’d Barefoot Contessa episode after another, and going through kleenex at an alarming rate, my Mother slaved away making carnitas tacos, ceviche, locro de papas, and a blood-orange and jicama salad. The pudding came together in no time at all, and my mom and I both thought it was a miracle that you could microwave egg yolks like that and not have them scramble. The resulting pudding was smooth and delicious, with a light, milky, creamy chocolate flavor. I have to admit, it was a nice change of pace from my usual dark chocolate. The pudding is sweetened with honey, and the subtle floral sweetness pairs well with the milky chocolate. Smooth, cool, and soothing, it was just the comfort food I needed.
Happy Kid Pudding
from Happy in the Kitchen, by Michel Richard
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tbs cornstarch
1/2 cup honey
4 oz milk chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
Combine the milk, yolks, cornstarch, and honey in a large microwave-safe bowl. Whisk until the cornstarch and honey have dissolved. Stir in the chocolate. Put the bowl in the microwave and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and whisk well, then return and microwave another 2 minutes. Remove and whisk again. The chocolate should be melted. Return to the microwave and cook another 2 minutes. Whisk again. If the pudding has not come to a biol, or isn’t thick enough, return for 1 more minute. The pudding will still firm up somewhat in the fridge, but make sure that it is thick enough now. Let the pudding cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, and then cover the top with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until cold. Can be made 3 days in advanced.
Makes 3 cups. Serves 4.