Friday, July 8, 2011

Chilled Chocolate Pudding

Gourmet Magazine recently featured 50 Women Game Changers who have exerted the most influence over our foodways. I recognized a handful of the women, but far less than I expected to. Gracing the Top Ten are Julia Child, Alice Waters and Martha Stewart. But there's also Mrs. Isabella Beeton who published the 1861 Book of Household Management.

Number Five is Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher, or as Gourmet describes her, the woman who invented food writing. They claimed all food bloggers should want to be her. And she was from Michigan? It was time to do a little research. Turns out she wrote dozens of books about food and cooking, and that her writing is said to have contributed dramatically to the evocative prose we use to describe food today. She did away with the idea of constant calorie counting and portion monitoring. Instead, she insisted on honest, good food.

I wanted to find a recipe that would honor her contributions to cooking but that I also thought would taste good. I vetoed sludge, her beef-and-flour stew, designed to feed a family where the wolf of hunger was howling at the door. I vetoed war cake, which made sense in times of war but not as much in times of prosperity. I considered tomato soup cake, but Baked Explorations has a dressed up version of her cake I'm just dying to try.  I considered a vegetable dish, and although her air-lacquered carrots did sound delicious (just not the idea of having my oven on for hours).

Finally, I stumbled across Fisher's chilled chocolate pudding, what she considered the perfect dessert to an al fresco meal. Predictable, perhaps, but still somewhat fresh and new. The recipe called for a bit of unsweetened chocolate to be mixed in with the semisweet chocolate, something I had never tried. It was a simple recipe and whipped up in five minutes, from start to finish.

And remember, as Fisher wrote: "Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures." That explains why I had a glass of wine while whipping up these little puddings.

Be sure to stop by and visit the other bloggers featuring recipes from M. F. K. Fisher today!
     Val - More Than Burnt Toast
     Joanne - Eats Well With Others
     Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
     Susan - The Spice Garden
     Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
     Heather - girlichef
     Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
     Jeanette - Healthy Living
     April - Abby Sweets  

Chilled Chocolate Pudding 
taken from A Stew or a Story by M.F.K. Fisher

The full recipe serves 7 to 8. I had only two eggs, so I paired down all the portions in the recipe to fit. Fisher recommends serving this pudding with thin dry wafers and plenty of coffee. I served it with lots of whipped cream, some of the cutest little cookies you've ever seen, and wine. Equally good. I rounded up on both egg whites and yolks, and I liked the softer consistency of the finished product.

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate "bits" (You can imagine what these are...)
1 one-ounce square unsweetened chocolate
7 or 8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla
7 or 8 egg whites

Melt the chocolate gently. Beat the yolks separately, and mix together with the rum or vanilla and the salt. Combine the chocolate and the egg yolks. Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Pour the pudding into little pots or cups, and chill well in the coldest part of the refrigerator overnight, or for at least twelve hours, until stiffened.

This basic recipe can be toyed with: sprinkled with shaved nuts, tinkered with kirsch instead of rum, and so on.


  1. A perfect tribute to Ms. Fisher and an unrivaled choice. It has been years since I have read any of Ms. Fishers books, and even longer before I knew anything about food blogging or my passion for food. She was probably my first introductions and perhaps a big influence on the way I see food in my life.

  2. Thanks Bellini! I am a chocolate fan through and through, so when I found this dish it was hard to resist. I have not read any of Ms. Fisher's books yet, but I'm trying to figure out which will be the best to start with. Any suggestions?

  3. Well, it definitely looks fantastic...and only 5 minutes? Nice. Delicious choice to honor MFKF =)

  4. This is a lovely tribute to her. I'm so glad you decided to join us on this adventure. You've picked a wonderful recipe to share with us. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. Great tribute, and great choice. I am all for quick yet tasty! Definitely wanting to try chocolate pudding from scratch now.

  6. thanks for the lovely tribute and i'd also be interested in suggestions which of fisher's books to begin with?

  7. There is nothing like home made pudding…yours looks perfect!

  8. Thanks! This definitely is a bit more of a chocolate mousse than a chocolate pudding, despite the name. It whips up so, so quickly, it just needs the overnight chill to solidify. It was great fun to get to know Fisher's work a little through all of the foods everyone cooked.

  9. I had no idea who Fisher was either, but it was definitely interesting to learn about her! This pudding looks like the perfect recipe to have delicious!

  10. Interesting post! Thanks for sharing. I had never heard of her either. The chocolate pudding sounds SO good right now!

  11. What a great tribute post to Fisher! Welcome to this 50 Women challenge! It has been fun to learn more about these remarkable women and to see how each blogger interprets their research and chooses their tribute dish! This pudding/mousse looks wonderful ... I would imagine the addition of the unsweetened chocolate made it a bit less sweet, but definitely more rich and deeply chocolate flavoured ... yes?

  12. Susan--You're definitely right that the unsweetened chocolate tempered the sweetness in the recipe a little. I also used bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate, and that helped!