Chocolate Pudding Bars

A funny thing happened to me recently.
One of my work colleagues was having a dinner party.  My colleague knows that I have this food blog and occasionally tells me that she checks it once in a while.  However, with a dinner party imminent she cornered me and we ended up sitting down at the computer checking out some possibilities.  She was hand wringing just a little about what to make and how fancy and all that.  My suggestion to her was to go toward the polar opposite of fancy and make food that was homey and rustic.  It's food that doesn't feel fussy and it's nostalgic - people like that and you don't feel stressed out - it's win/win, I told her.  (I think... or something like that... paraphrased).
I didn't really think about after that aside from asking her a little later in the week how things were going.  A few days later though she pulled me into her office (which is a rather large library) and starting telling me what a success the whole thing had been.  How all her friends were raving about the shepherd's pie that she made from my blog (I hardly feel responsible for a good shepherd's pie recipe) and that they were all checking my blog.  Then she told me that I had to meet someone and pulled me into another part of her office where I met this lady who starting raving about my blog (huh/what?!) and how she's got her daughter's onto it and all that.  Then another teacher poked her head out from behind a wall and started cooing about my blog too... how creative (she's the Art teacher) with the words and the pictures and again I'm paraphrasing... and I walked out of there a few minutes later feeling like a million bucks.
I know from looking at my stats that occasionally people read my blog... sometimes from really diverse places... which is cool.  I don't necessarily do it for the notoriety (thank god because I'd be in a bit of a slump after seeing my 20 readers for the day stats and all) but to think that someone could get ideas for a dinner party or to feed a friend, or to get their lunch at work more exciting, or to make something sweet to munch on.... well that gets my juices flowing.
I soaked all of the compliments up of course... 'Oh, it's nothing', 'It's just a totally different kind of creative outlet for me', 'I started doing it for my sister' - not sure why that one came out - 'I'm so glad that you like it' ... and all that.  It hit me though, that I'm really doing this thing.  I'm really typing these words and posting these pictures that I take (good or bad) and putting it out there... for anyone to check out.  It's so easy to press the 'publish post' button (which, as I'm sure you know by now, I often do without even proof-reading my work) and not think about it... because it's effing scary if you do think about it... but when you do (think about it that is) you start to think about how cool it is to connect in this way that didn't even exist 20 years ago (for all intents and purposes) and how happy I am because, even though I don't know you... it's really special that you're here right now.

These are the pudding bars that were going to be my birthday post... before I got all freaked out about chronological order and all that crap.  Truth be told, I burnt the crust so watch it carefully when you are baking it and if you smell something that smells like burning don't sit back and tell yourself that there is another 5 minutes on the clock so it can't be burning yet.  Just don't.
Also, I would use just a little bit more milk chocolate than I did.  I mix of dark and milk would be nice.  Aside from that, these things are decadent and you can cut them as small or large as you like to accommodate that decadent craving.

Chocolate Pudding Bars adapted from 'Chewy,Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy' by Alice Medrich
makes a 9 inch square pan

7 tbsp butter melted and still warm
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
2 oz dark chocolate (I used 55% cocoa) chopped coarsely (or use chips)

1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use dark 'Cocoa Camino' stuff)
2 tbsp cornstarch
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 oz dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa solids)
1 tsp vanilla

Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil on the sides and bottom.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt together in a bowl.
Add the flour and mix.  (dough will be oily).  Press the oily dough evenly into the bottom of the lined baking pan.  Bake for about 15 minutes (I baked mine for about 13).  The crust should just be golden brown.
Remove the crust from the oven and immediately sprinkle the 2 oz of chocolate on top.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then spread the melted chocolate evenly over the crust.
Cool the crust while you make the filling.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan whisk together the sugar, coca, cornstarch and salt.  Add in the milk 2 tbsp at a time, whisking constantly, until it forms a thick paste.  Whisk in the remaining milk and cream.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it starts to bubble.  Should take about 5 or 6 minutes.
Add in the chocolate and vanilla.
Whisk briskly for about 2 minutes to make sure that the mixture doesn't get lumpy.
Remove from the heat and pour the pudding on top of the crust.  Spread evenly.
Set aside to cool at room temperature for about an hour.
Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Lift from the pan and cut into bars.  Sprinkle with a little icing sugar.  Store leftovers in the fridge.

Pilgrim's Bread and tomato seeds

As I sat writing this post, I found myself starting out the window.  This is not unusual for me.  Here's what I was thinking:
Wow, the grass is still really green/I wonder if I should make this post about Thanksgiving/Are gardens supposed to be this green at Thanksgiving?/Should I rip up my garden next weekend?/I wonder if those blossoms on the cherry tomato plant will get a chance to turn into tomatoes/what am I making for lunch tomorrow/Wait/I have to work tomorrow/I wonder how people save tomato seeds... and so on.  I kinda got stuck on the seed thing.
I'm going to research it.  How people save seeds from tomato plants.  It doesn't seem straight forward to me but I guess it must be kinda simple enough that tomatoes have thrived over the last thousand years or so, give or take.  I've started saving bean seeds over the last couple of years.  I've been saving dill, basil and parsley seeds since I realized that I could (let's say more than a couple of years).  I thought about how saving seeds has become a corporate and retail venture.  Most farmers aren't 'allowed' to save seeds.  If you purchase from the big guys (one such company starts with an M... look them up) then you can't save the seeds that those plants produce.  Many farmers have gotten slapped with lawsuits, some of them didn't even plant 'M' seeds they just got flown in by a bird or bee.
Then I started thinking about Vandana Shiva.  She is someone I first started hearing about in the 90's.  She grew up in the Himalaya's and studied at Western U.  She realized that things were terribly wrong very early on in her life.  I don't know if you are old enough to remember when, during heavy deforestation of the Himalaya's, a group of local Women (yeah, I'm using a capitol for them) chained themselves to the trees to that the cutting would have to stop.  That was headed up by a young Vandana Shiva.  She has gone on to write a lot of books and is now at the helm of a movement in India to reclaim their seeds and farming.  Corporate Western farming has pushed out many small farmers and many who would just farm to feed themselves and their families.   What's happened over the last 20 years or so is that many of the old traditions of saving and storing seeds were lost, many indigenous vegetables gone and livelihoods destroyed.  Then people move to cities and so the cycle goes.  Vandana is working to change all of that, to take patents off of seeds, to retrain those interested in old farming practices again and the push for greater protection of land and food in India from both foreign and national corporations.  She is a hero to me.  She heads up an organization called Navdanya International.

So I'm thinking about tomato seeds.  She's thinking about an entire cornucopia of seeds.  I have much to learn.  I'm going to start with tomatoes.
This bread has nothing to do with tomato seeds but it's really good.  This is one of the best bread recipes that I think I've made yet.  That doesn't mean that I'm like brilliant for making the bread.  Anybody could make this bread and should make this bread.  I loved it.  I could eat it plain, nothing helping it out.  In fact, I did just that last week.  Plus it makes two loaves so that you can either freeze one for later or share with a friend (much more appealing if you asked me).

Pilgrim's Bread adapted from 'More with Less'

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp salt

Add in and stir constantly:
2 cups boiling water

1/4 cup oil
Cool to lukewarm (about 10 - 15 minutes)

Dissolve together for about 10 minutes:
2 pkg. dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

Add the yeast mixture to the lukewarm cornmeal mixture.
Add in:
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Add in 4 - 4 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour.

Knead on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic.  Place in a lightly greased bowl.  Cover and let it rise about an hour or until doubled in size.
Punch it down.  Divide the dough in half and knead each half again for about 3 minutes.  Shape into loaves and place into greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise again for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes.

Powered by Blogger.

Archivo del blog

About Me

My photo
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

My Photo
Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
View my complete profile



Blog Archive



FBC Member