Chocolate Amaranth Pudding

As we’ve noted before, amaranth has a gelatinous quality that makes it ideal for pudding. If you’re fan of rice pudding or tapioca, you’ll probably like this, too. Our version is spiced with a little ancho chile powder and ground cinnamon, and sweetened with coconut sugar. You can cook the amaranth in unsweetened coconut milk beverage found in the refrigerated section of health food stores (rather than the thicker, richer canned coconut milk you’d use in our Spring Vegetable Curry), or use almond milk if you prefer less pronounced coconut flavor.

Supper Menu for 4!

A menu with fall flavors, an entree that comes together in less than 15 minutes and a winning make-ahead dessert–that’s our idea of a perfect dinner.

To start:

Everything about our Fennel and Granny Smith Salad with Blue Cheese says “autumn.” If you have one, use a mandoline to shave the fennel and onion; otherwise a sharp knife will do the job nicely.

Main event:

Lia’s Veal Scaloppini with Shallot-Caper Sauce will impress everyone, yet you can make it in less than 15 minutes and it yields superb flavor.

On the side:

Whip up a batch of Celery Root, Potato and Apple Mash (you’ll have some leftovers, which reheat beautifully for dinner another night), and round out the plate with our colorful Green Beans with Frizzled Shallots.

Sweet finish:

I made a batch of Cheryl’s Mini Dark Chocolate Puddings with Shaved Chocolate the other night to quell a chocolate craving. High-quality dark chocolate and brown sugar lend these puddings intense flavor, so a petite serving really does satisfy.

To drink:

I consulted with my friend, John, who’s studying to be a master sommelier and has a terrific palate for matching food and wine. His top recommendation: a pinot gris from Oregon or Alsace. It has a touch of green fruit and citrus to complement the veal. Open a bottle, which you can use in the pan sauce, then enjoy the rest with the meal!

Mini Dark Chocolate Puddings with Chocolate Shavings

Recipe and photo by Cheryl Sternman Rule

These mini chocolate puddings are proof that good things come in small packages. Most kitchenware stores have inexpensive ramekins in varying sizes, so grab a few 2-ouncers the next time you’re out.  This dessert comes together in less than 15 minutes.

mini-chocolate-pudding-recipe1 ounce 70% dark chocolate
1 large egg
3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a large, heavy knife, “shave” the chocolate into fine shreds by slicing downward at an angle onto your cutting board. Set aside.

Whisk egg in a heavy medium bowl until yolk and white have completely combined.

In a medium saucepan off-heat, whisk brown sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt.  Slowly dribble in milk, whisking all the while. (Mixture may have undissolved bumps.)

Set saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. As pudding cooks, use a heatproof spatula to make figure eights along the pan’s bottom, sweeping the sides occasionally as you stir.  Once it you get a genuine boil, reduce the heat slightly to prevent scorching, but allow to bubble steadily for 2 minutes. Stir constantly with heatproof spatula.

Remove from heat and spoon about 1/4 of mixture atop the beaten egg, whisking egg vigorously as you add the chocolate mixture. Scrape tempered egg mixture back into saucepan, set over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute (be gentle with the heat; you don’t want scrambled eggs).

Remove pudding from heat and stir in vanilla and 3/4 of shaved chocolate. Divide among ramekins.

To serve, sprinkle with remaining shaved chocolate.  Enjoy warm, at room temp or cold (cover and refrigerate if waiting for later).

Makes 4 [2-ounce] servings