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Archive for the ‘custards & puddings’ Category

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Cream puffs. Oh my. I am thoroughly convinced we do not eat enough cream puffs in life. No way. We all need to change this immediately. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had a cream puff. Éclairs, certainly and I even know when I last had a Paris-Brest (because that happens, am I right??) but a cream puff? No idea. What’s up with that? Éclairs are so refined, so pretty – just look at what L’éclair de Génie in Paris does with a humble choux paste – but cream puffs seem more informal, more casual, more fun. So in my one-woman quest to change this situation, today I present to you a dark, triple chocolate cream puff. Lent is a whole week away; get it in while you can. Yes indeed.

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Chocolate Pudding is one of those classic recipes that stick around forever. It’s one of those dishes that make you feel better, no matter what’s going on or how crappy your day may have been. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m big on comfort foods and memories. In my world, food can easily turn around a blue day. Things like chicken pot pies, squishy rolls and of course chocolate pudding, can turn the tide on an upside down day.

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I’ve been on a real coconut bender lately. Some people despise coconut and I just don’t understand it. Coconut is delicious! I guess that just means more for me, which is A-OK. I’ve been going through coconut milk at a rapid pace lately, making a slew of frozen desserts, savory stews and rice dishes not to mention dried coconut in a bunch of things. I recently made a blender full of old school piña coladas for friends not long ago and they were fantastic. A properly made, boozy, retro piña colada is something that is most definitely due for a comeback. (I’m looking at you Tiki Bar trend.) Tasty but potentially lethal, you gotta keep and eye on these things and the rate at which your friends are downing them. Trust me on this. For an Olympic Opening Ceremonies party two weeks back, I was searching for an appropriate dessert and with neither the time nor the energy to attack my favorite egg custard tarts; I narrowed in a coconutty custard that looked perfect. Coconut Quindim. Interesting name. This had potential.

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I am a pudding fan, pudding of any sort: chocolate, butterscotch, rice, tapioca, flan, creme caramel, pots de creme, whatever. Sign me up. I was poking around the internet not long ago, as I do, and a recipe on Food52 caught my eye. Torta di Riso alla Carrarina. It was a rice pudding cake. Holy moly. A cake made of rice pudding on the bottom with a thick custardy layer, almost a flan, on top. I needed to do this. With Easter coming up, what better? I had a pile of leftover candied clementines from the Orange Chocolate Angel Food Cake I made last month that would be a delightful addition. That sealed the deal. Rice pudding cake, you would be mine.

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When I was a kid, every couple of summers we’d visit the grandparents in Chicago and sometimes, we’d pile into my grandma’s car and visit her mother in Cleveland. We’d drive through toll roads and eat lunch at truck stops, both very exotic things to this little southwest girl. We’d stay in the house that my great grandfather built, in the unfinished second floor, in a bunch of bedrooms in beds piled high with hand made, soft and cozy quilts. We’d run around like lunatics and laugh with an enormous extended family, something we didn’t have back in Arizona. We’d eat giant piles of amazing foods from her Czech heritage – kuchens, dumplings and her legendary apple strudel, which she would hide from our greedy mouths. Once my great uncle and I found 12 beautiful strudels hidden in the clothes dryer. She’d greatly underestimated our detective skills. We each had nearly demolished a whole strudel a piece when she caught us on the basement steps, crumb covered faces and sheepish grins. Despite her stern reprimands, I think she got a kick out of the whole thing. I also have distinct memories of eating chocolate tapioca pudding on the front porch swing. Nothing fancy – it was right out of the Jell-O box – but oh, was it good.

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Eton Mess. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Oh those Brits. Makes you wonder what they were thinking when they named things like Spotted Dick, Jam Roly Poly and Stargazey Pie. So let me tell you about “Eton Mess”. It’s a delightful traditional English dessert said to have originated in the 19th century at the hoity toity British boarding school and is traditionally served on June 4th at the annual cricket game against the rival Harrow School. It always contains ripe fresh strawberries, whipped cream and meringue bits all sort of folded together or if you’re fancy, layered parfait style, in a bowl or cup. The strawberry juices run into the cream, which soaks into the crunchy meringue bits making one delicious mess of a dessert.

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I don’t drink much Guinness these days, which is a shame, but I have a deep, fond love for the stuff. It goes back to my college days when, tired of watered down $2 pitchers of Coors Light, my friends and I would save our pennies and splurge once in a while on Guinness pints or Black & Tan’s at our local Irish Pub. We’d eat bowls and bowls of free pretzels, play really bad games of darts and coerce Colin the bartender to do handstand push-ups on the bar. I loved that place far more than the cheaper pitcher joint packed with the pretty people. Quirky neighborhood joints with interesting clientele have always been more my thing.

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