Okay, so I admit it, I don’t really have a vice. I’ve tried, how I’ve tried, over the years, but vices and I don’t really jive too well. Drinking is limited to a glass or two of wine, and only the good stuff. Cigarette’s looked all the rage at the most critical times of rebellion until the day I actually tried inhaling them and felt a rush of arrogance at how stupid the world must be to think this was cool. Too me, it was plain disgusting, and most certainly not worth all the fuss. That was years and years ago and still to this day I have dreams of me soaked in the pleasure of a smoke. The dreams are so real; I feel the smoke hug my lungs and the nicotine ooze into my blood leaving my muscles relaxed and happy. It gets me every time I wake up and remember I am not a smoker. I feel a longing for it like an amputee feels a lost limb.Of course, the fact that I do not smoke really messes things up. Not only am I tormented over the years by my recurring enjoying-this-amazing-cigarette dream, but, my whole identity as a writer is screwed. It’s bad enough I don’t have the tap tap titap of an old Royal typewriter trying to keep up with the stream of my creative genius (a good imagination is a first step towards success) but now there is no ashtray overflowing with remnants of My Process.A replacement had to be found and the nicotine patch just wouldn’t do. Instead, I turned to my inevitable food pacifier: chocolate pudding.What scraped knee, bad hair day, rotten weather, can’t-get-a-damn-thing-published moment doesn’t instantly get better with a biteful of chocolate creaminess?And so, lunacy was somewhat restored as my search for the ultimate pudding filled my mind, refrigerator, and desk. Here is my current favorite.
Best Chocolate Pudding
(Adapted from Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup warm water2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
In a heavy saucepan mix together sugar, cocoa and salt. Gradually stir in warm water.
Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add 1 3/4 cup half-an-half. Combine remaining 1/4 half-and-half with cornstarch, making a smooth paste. Add cornstarch mixture to pudding, place over medium heat and stir until it begins to thicken (about five minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir.
Pour into ramekin cups. Cover each with Saran Wrap and refrigerate when cooled.
Makes 8 servings