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Entries in pudding (9)

Sunday
Jun022013

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Growing up, I was fascinated by Chia Pets. These terracotta figurines, in which chia seeds are sprouted and grown to resemble fur, were the star of many Saturday morning cartoon commercials. The catchphrase "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" quickly became ingrained in my mind as well as my toddler sister, who spouted the slogan in her giggly high-pitched voice.

After the initial craze died down, my grandmother unexpectedly bought me a Chia Pet for Christmas. It was an Elmer Fudd, with grooves to grow chia hair, which I found deeply ironic since the cartoon character is completely bald. Nevertheless, I was excited about my new toy. I followed the necessary steps, spread the seeds around his head and waited. Nothing happened. My chia seeds, no matter how much I willed them, simply would not sprout.

My Elmer Fudd was determined to stay true to character.

Vanilla Chia Pudding Vanilla Chia Pudding

Many years later, while wandering through the food section of a department store, I stumbled across a bag of chia seeds. As this was before the health food trend set in, the thought of eating the seeds instead of growing them on pottery struck me as odd. I wanted to buy the bag simply out of curiosity, but the seeds never made it into my cart. I often thought of them afterwards, wishing they had made that journey, simultaneously wondering how I would have incorporated them into my cooking.

That passing concern became a real question when a bag of chia seeds finally found itself on my kitchen counter last weekend. After doing a bit of recipe searching, I settled on making a simple pudding.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Chia seeds have several unique properties which set them apart. Firstly, chia seeds do not seem to have a flavor, not even a subtle one, which makes them easy to mix into other foods, such as smoothies or morning cereals. They are also packed with nutrition, including high levels of fiber and protein, which makes them a healthy choice and can help keep you feeling full longer. Lastly, and most unusual, chia seeds can absorb ten times their weight (or more) in water. When the seeds are mixed into a liquid, they will absorb it, creating a gel.

I used this last characteristic to my advantage. To make this pudding, I mixed the seeds into milk and simply let the mixture set. There is no heat, no additional thickening agents, or cooking required. In many ways, this may be one of the easiest dishes I have ever created.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Vanilla Chia Pudding has a bright vanilla flavor with a texture resembling a tapioca or rice pudding. Chia seeds are simply mixed into your favorite milk and left overnight to gel—the process couldn't be any simpler. This pudding is healthy enough for a morning breakfast and sinful enough for an after dinner dessert. Serve with fresh berries for color and a swirl of maple syrup for a sweet taste. Chia seeds are available in the health food section of the grocery store (or in specialty health food stores).

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Sunday
Mar032013

Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake

Cake is synonymous with joy, laughter, and togetherness. While warm cookies may accompany an afternoon snack or ice cream may be a treat for a weekend celebration, cake is for the moments we want to remember, the milestones we want to imprint on our minds and hearts. A frosted cake rests on a kitchen table, dotted with glowing candles and melted wax, as everyone gathers to sing a spirited, off-key version of Happy Birthday to the guest of honor. Towering cakes are sliced by a bride and groom as they feed each other their first mouthfuls as husband and wife. Cake celebrates life, marking the passing of another year. Cake is a representation of love, of hopefulness and togetherness.

Cake is served on the best days of your life.

Lemon Pudding Cake

There are two cakes that have etched themselves so thoroughly on my heart, that are entwined so deeply in my memories, I am certain I could not forget their taste if I lived for a thousand years.

The first of the cakes is chocolate glazed banana cake. It is a simple cake, no frills or fuss, but somewhere between the ripe bananas and rich glaze there is the feeling of home. My mother would unexpectedly make this cake for my sister and me during the heat of summer. After playing outside in the sun, our faces pink and our lungs breathing quick, we would bound inside and smell this cake in the oven, which spiraled out scents that made our mouths water. There was no rhyme or reason to when my mother would make this cake, which made the moment of discovery that much more prized. My father kept the cake in the refrigerator, cutting out cold pieces for his daughters to enjoy after a long summer's day.

Lemon Pudding Cake

The second cake is one my mother has made over a dozen times. Since I was very young, I would insist on having strawberry shortcake drizzled in chocolate syrup for each and every birthday. The night before my big day, I would stay up late to watch my mother prepare the cake from scratch, mesmerized by the mixer as it beat egg whites into a flurry. As soon as she placed the cake in the oven, she would send me off to bed to have sweet, strawberry-filled dreams. I adored this cake then and I adore it now. I cannot imagine a birthday passing without digging into a big slice.

While there are very few cakes that insert their way into my heart like these two cakes have, this Lemon Pudding Cake may soon become one of them. I already have plans to make this cake for my citrus-loving mother as soon as Mother's Day rolls around.

Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake has a bold, tart lemon flavor with an unexpected texture. The cake is primarily a mixture of milk and freshly squeezed lemon juice (with a tad of butter and a touch of flour), folded together with whipped egg whites. While it bakes, the cake separates into two distinct layers. The top of the cake bakes up like a souffle and the bottom develops into a glorious lemon pudding. The varied textures and bright citrus taste turn this simple, unremarkable looking cake into one that will forever remain etched in your heart.

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Sunday
Feb172013

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

I was raised on chocolate and pudding cups. In my family, it was an after dinner ritual to pull out the pudding whenever dessert was on the menu. Warm or cold, pudding cups were a part of my childhood routine. My mother always bought the packs with vanilla and chocolate because they came in volume packs, but the rest of my family thought it was silly—no one liked the vanilla cups. My father and I would always scramble to grab the chocolate ones before anyone else and my poor mother was left with the vanilla. In fact, I am not sure my mother ever had the opportunity to claim a chocolate cup as her own.

Nowadays, even though there seems to be a countless number of flavored puddings and custards, I always come back to good old-fashioned chocolate. Sometimes you just should not mess with an original.

Chocolate Pudding

There is a special pudding-eating spoon sitting in my kitchen drawer. Long and skinny, it was the smallest spoon we had in the house growing up (and I have since carried it with me into my own apartment). I adore this spoon for its small size and prefer to eat my favorite foods with it. The narrow curve holds very little, which means that I get to draw out the satisfaction of eating much longer. This proves doubly so when it comes to pudding.

Since I was young, I have liked to mix a few Cheerios into my chocolate pudding whenever they were in the cupboard. The cheerios absorb a bit of the bold chocolate flavor, but keep their firmness, resulting in the greatest bowl of cheerios a small child (or grown woman) can experience. My family would look at me strangely, too uncertain of the combination to try it themselves. Back then I assured them they were missing out (and I do the same today).

Chocolate Pudding

My ideal chocolate pudding is a little rich, with a very pronounced chocolate flavor from two sources—cocoa powder and a little melted chocolate. The real secret to this recipe is the addition of salt and vanilla extract. Both of these ingredients provide a contrasting flavor to the sweet chocolate, and the combination of the three takes the flavor of the pudding from one-dimensional to downright delicious.

This chocolate pudding may be simple, but simplicity is often just what we need.

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate pudding is surprisingly easy to make, and takes only fifteen minutes to whip up from start to finish. The pudding is thickened with a combination of cornstarch and egg yolks, which gives it a real custard-like quality. A mixture of cocoa powder and melted chocolate lends a proper chocolate touch, while whole milk lends the pudding a rich and creamy flavor. Two-percent milk is a great alternative for a less rich pudding, but I would not use a milk lower in fat or the pudding may lose a little of its magic.

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