Though I really enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal we made this year, I had much more fun re-purposing the left-overs afterwards. On Friday morning I made pumpkin purée waffles. On Friday evening I made a pizza using just about everything from our Thanksgiving dinner, which included short ribs, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce. Finally, on Saturday morning, I made sweet potato scones.
This Chocolate Cranberry Pudding makes use of David Lebovitz’s “Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine and Figs,” which I made to go with our Thanksgiving dinner. The cranberry sauce was so good I used it as a topping for the waffles and drizzled it on the pizza too. For the pudding, I slightly adapted the chocolate pudding recipe from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Since I wanted to keep dessert simple, all I did was make the pudding, purée a little bit of the cranberry sauce, stir a little extra red wine into the cranberry sauce to thin it, then swirled it with the chocolate pudding. The sweet-tart puréed cranberry sauce became the perfect contrast to the smooth, rich chocolate pudding.
Even though I spend several hours a week being paid to bake or cook, I still find cooking at home something I readily gravitate to in my free time. Seems I can’t resist the urge to put my own creative spin on things, but it’s more that. The repetitive and focused motions of cooking are almost a form of meditation, and the time spent in my home kitchen is a restorative process. At the end of all of it is a gathering place for family and friends, and a good meal shared with love is still one of my favorite places to be in the world. I wish the same for you in this holiday season and always. Merry Christmas, and buen provecho!
Chocolate Cranberry Pudding
1 cup cranberry sauce from this recipe, or from your own favorite cranberry sauce recipe
a fruity red wine
2-1/2 cups half and half or heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
a small pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 percent cacao content
Six individual 6-ounce ramekins
Purée the cranberry sauce in a high-powered blender or food processor until the consistency is relatively smooth. Place in a bowl and thin with a small amount of red wine if needed, until the consistency of the sauce is similar to a medium-thick batter.
Scoop about a tablespoon of puréed cranberry sauce each into the bottom of six small 6-ounce ramekins. Reserve the remaining sauce for later.
In a small saucepan, add 2 cups of the half and half or cream, the sugar, and the salt. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from it. Add the cocoa powder and stir until dissolved.
In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of half and half or cream with the cornstarch until smooth. Add to the heated mixture. Continue to cook as the mixture starts to thicken and just starts to simmer. Reduce heat to very low and cook for a few minutes more until mixture is thick and smooth.
Remove from the heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate until melted. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Divide the mixture evenly among the six ramekins. Use a small spoon to swirl the cranberry sauce and chocolate pudding until slightly but not completely mixed together. Cover each with plastic wrap to prevent a thick skin from forming on top, and chill completely.
Before serving, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator. To create a decorative swirl on the surface of each pudding, scoop very small 1/2 teaspoon amounts onto the surface of each ramekin, then spread lightly with tip of spoon to create a swirl effect. Serve immediately.
Makes six individual servings