During the month of February, we celebrate the ideal of romantic love. But for me, all love should be celebrated, including the love of food and the love of words. So when Patricia of P.A. Moed invited me to participate in a literary feast … well … how could I say no?

Patricia’s idea was for bloggers everywhere to share their favourite literary passage involving food. And it just so happened that I had recently embarked on a reading of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat. (What else would I be reading in the month that I’ve dedicated to chocolate?) Chocolat is the story of Vianne Rocher and her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. Adventurous of spirit, Vianne finally decides to settle down in a seemingly quaint and perfect French town where she opens a chocolate shop. But Vianne soon discovers that underneath the politeness and propriety, lies a swirling, boiling mess of tension, passion and desire. And of course, at the centre of it all, is the chocolate shop …

What was an ordinary, rather drab old house like all the others around it has become a red-and-gold confection on a dazzling white ground. Red geraniums in the window boxes. Crêpe-paper garlands twisted around the railings. And above the door a hand-lettered sign in black on oak:

La Céleste Praline/Chocolaterie Artisinale

Of course it’s ridiculous. Such a shop might well be popular in Marseille or Bordeaux — even in Agen where the tourist trade grows every year. But in the Lansquenet-sous-Tannes? And at the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial? It seems perverse, perhaps deliberately so. I looked into the display window this morning. On a white marble shelf are aligned innumerable boxes, packages, cornets of silver and gold paper, rosettes, bells, flowers, hearts and long curls of multicoloured ribbon. In glass bells and dishes lie the chocolates, the pralines, Venus’s nipples, truffles, mendiants, candied fruits, hazelnut clusters, chocolate seashells, candied rose-petals, sugared violets … Protected from the sun by the half-blind which shields them, they gleam darkly, like sunken treasure, Aladdin’s cave of sweet clichés.

From Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

A few days ago, while riding the subway to work, I read the above passage. What a description! After reading that, I needed chocolate. Had to have it! But my desire had to wait until the end of the workday. What torture! Once home from work, I rushed to my copy of Pure Chocolate, which is the Flavour of the Month for February, and flipped through the book searching for something … anything … that would give me that jolt of chocolate that I so desperately needed.

And what did the Big Cream Puff find? Princess Pudding.

A delightful concoction of cream, sugar, vanilla, eggs and chocolate. In all, it took me twenty minutes to make this pudding. As Fran Bigelow recommends in her recipe, I let it cool to room temperature. And then I grabbed my spoon and quenched my chocolate thirst. While so many of the recipes in the cookbook are somewhat complicated, this one was … well … easy as pudding.

The most difficult part was waiting for the pudding to cool down. I kept walking into the kitchen and looking at the little cups of chocolatey goodness. I winked at them. I fanned them (in an effort to speed up the cooling process). I even talked to them, whispering sweet nothings into their ears, "That’s right my little pets … cool down nicely."

Poor little things … I wonder if they had any idea at all that the Big Cream Puff would soon make them hers.

Ah … the glory of love!


Princess Pudding

Adapted from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow.

  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Pic_3_fixed_by_me_3In a saucepan, combine the cream and sugar. With a paring knife, scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod. Add them to the cream mixture and then add the pod as well.
  2. Heat gently, over medium heat, until the cream is barely simmering. Remove from heat.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks for a minute. Slowly and carefully add 1/3 of the cream, whisking constantly to prevent the egg from cooking.
  4. Add the egg and cream mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine.
  5. Return the mixture to medium heat and cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. If you have a thermometer, the mixture should reach approximately 160 degrees F. This should take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat. Remove the vanilla pod and then add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  7. Pour into ramekins, cups or the container of your choice. This is best served at room temperature, but who’s to stop you from eating it right out of the pan???!!!
  8. Enjoy!

Note:  This recipe serves 8, or one big Cream Puff. Patricia invites everyone to participate. If you’re interested, e-mail your post to her by February 14th!