My Funny Valentine
I have a little confession to make. My name is Haein and I am a hopeless romantic.
I know, I know. Once upon a time (over Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream, maybe) I wrote off Valentine’s Day as a “commercial holiday disguised as a single-day celebration of ‘love,’ as defined by Hallmark,” or, you know, something like that. Being the so-called “serial monogamist” that I am, I viewed February 14th simply as yet another excuse to get dolled up and correspondingly wined and dined by the presumably ever-so-charming BF (whoever that may be). But, more importantly, as a girl who loves to bake and cook, I simply viewed the day as one to breathe, think, make, then give everything that is chocolate. To, well, everyone.
Surprisingly, this year, there was no “everyone.” There was most certainly chocolate. But, only a silky and decadent old-fashioned chocolate pudding for two.
Never in a million years would I have imagined myself to be the type to stealthily order vintage-turned-modern picnic baskets on Amazon weeks in advance during the wee hours of the night (whilst the boyfriend lay peacefully asleep) or quietly brood over exuberant entrances and grand gestures of..je ne sais quoi over fluffy spinach omelets and syrup-laden strawberry french toast with the girls. Even more ridiculous would be the thought of me being upset over shattered bottles of his favorite wine, red wine-stained shirts, and jammed car trunks diluting the element of surprise (that is, balloons to pop-up and out upon opening).
Who am I kidding, shattered bottles of any kind of booze and defiled articles of fashion have always been immensely upsetting to me. Ridiculous would thus only be the latter end of the former statement. Do you see what I mean? Love, for me, was a semi-hedonistic ardor for anything fashion and alcohol. Me? Romance? Simply unheard of.
Sigh. That is, until now.
I don’t normally do this. Ever. But, for the sake of love – real love, I have a most wonderful boyfriend. He pays extreme caution to detail, yet is accepting of my total lack thereof. He finds attraction to and amusement in my quirky, cheerleader enthusiasm (complete with hand motions and facial expressions). He patiently awaits me with open arms even after my countless attempts at “running” and “pushing” him away. He constantly strives to become better while also trying to bring out the best in me. Plus, he loves and encourages my blog and cooking (who wouldn’t, right?! I joke).
All I’m saying is, there doesn’t need to be an “everyone” for me to cater to. I have everything I want right here and right now. All with a chocolate pudding and a picnic for two.
Silky Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from John Scharffenberger, via Smitten Kitchen
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used good quality 60% semisweet chocolate chips; use 70% bittersweet if you want more of a dark chocolate kick)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or skip this step if you’re a slacker like me) into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.
If you like pudding skin, pull plastic wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days (ahem, good luck with that).