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Monday, April 20, 2015

Join the Club

I'd heard of cookbook clubs before, but had never seen one in my area. It also never occurred to me to initiate one myself! But, as very good fortune would have it, my own local library started one recently, and I was thrilled. The first book on the list: the smitten kitchen cookbook. I signed up to bring a dessert, brought my copy home, and started reading.

Although I was certainly interested in Deb Perelman's personal story, and the reasons why she cooks and blogs, I confess I mostly had eyes for the recipes themselves. The book was nicely broken down into seven main sections, with other smaller sections offering tips, techniques, and suggestions. Each recipe was accompanied by a story of what prompted their creation, and all were mouth-watering while being extremely easy to follow. The book club meeting itself was incredibly festive and fun. There was a good cross-section of recipes represented, including a mixed beverage which definitely helped add to the holiday feel :-) Best of all, everything was delicious.

Although there had been several desserts that caught my eye, the one I kept returning to and finally decided to bring was the White Chocolate Pudding. But I was nervous - I'd never made pudding from scratch before, and couldn't remember ever having used white chocolate in the kitchen. I was also willfully adapting the recipe from the original (which I happily found out most of my fellow participants had done with their recipes as well). There were a few lumps in the end product, but it tasted just fine, and was much easier to make than I thought it would be. I was happy to learn a new technique, engage with like-minded home cooks, left feeling wonderfully full and very excited for our next meeting!

White Chocolate Pudding


White Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons tapioca flour (also sold as tapioca starch)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups whole milk
4 1/2 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk tapioca flour, sugar, salt and milk together in large, heat-proof bowl. Place in a pan over gently simmering water and cook for about 15-20 minutes, whisking to avoid lumps, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth, another 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; let cool 5 minutes, then spoon into serving dishes. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least one hour before serving. Garnish with fresh fruit or other toppings, if desired.

Notes: As mentioned, this is adapted from the original recipe in the cookbook, which used cornstarch instead of tapioca flour for thickening. I also used a bit more vanilla in my version. The original had a quick blackberry curd as a topping; although the two contrasting layers were visually striking (and I'm sure would taste fabulous), I wanted to be able to isolate the flavor of just the pudding this first time around.

>o<

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