Dear SOS: My family had dinner at Palate in Glendale, and it finished on a very high note -- the chocolate pudding. It will be really great if you can get the recipe from Palate.
Annie Steinmetz, Sherman Oaks
Dear Annie: This rich and creamy pudding, topped with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of macerated strawberries, is a wonderful way to end the meal -- and it makes for a perfect dessert served with the right wine. Palate Food + Wine's wine director, Steve Goldun, recommends pairing it with a nonvintage Rondeau Bugey Cerdon, which he describes as a "luscious, off-dry, sparkling, red fruit-scented rosé from Savoie in eastern France."
"Chocolate is notoriously difficult to pair with wine," Goldun continues. "But when you stumble upon one of the handful of choco-friendly wines, the results can be stunning. This wine's low alcohol profile and famous affinity for strawberries makes it the perfect pairing."
Total time: About 30 minutes, plus chilling time
Note: Adapted from Palate Food + Wine. To macerate strawberries, cut them as desired and toss with a little granulated sugar. Set aside until the sugar melts as the strawberries moisten and become juicy before serving.
1 1/2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
1 1/2 ounces finely chopped white chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt
2 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Macerated strawberries, for garnish
Whipped crème fraîche or cream, for garnish
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bittersweet and white chocolate. Set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Slowly add the milk, then the half-and-half, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously; this will activate the cornstarch to thicken the pudding. Be sure to reach all sides and the bottom of the pan while constantly whisking so the ingredients do not settle, or they will burn. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook an additional 2 minutes, whisking continuously. Immediately remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
4. Strain the mixture into the bowl with the chocolate, stirring to melt the chocolate and incorporate it into the pudding. Place the bowl over an ice bath and continue to stir until the mixture cools, about 15 minutes.
5. Divide the mixture between 8 (3-ounce) ramekins or similarly sized small coffee cups or mugs. Refrigerate the puddings until well-chilled. To prevent a "skin" from forming on top of the puddings, place a small sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of each pudding.
6. Serve the puddings topped with macerated strawberries and a little whipped crème fraîche or cream.
Each serving: 232 calories; 4 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 19 mg. cholesterol; 27 grams sugar; 52 mg. sodium.