Saturday, May 8, 2010

Well, let's sum this one up to a "Learning Experience"

It's time for finals. And what does that mean in my world? Do anything but study.
I kid, I kid (I swear, Mom, I studied all day). But I did end my evening by trying a new baking recipe.

My options were rather limited, because I used the last of the eggs for a batch of cookies last week; but then I found the perfect candidate: Chocolate Blancmange. This recipe uses corn starch as its thickening agent rather than eggs, and it's made in a mold (like Jello). I had never heard of Blancmange before, but I decided to give it a go because worst case scenario I'd have chocolaty pudding to eat if it didn't turn out correctly. (I'm pretty sure Blancmange is like a thicker, molded pudding.)

So the making of the blancmange went pretty well; it might have turned out a little lumpier than recommended, but I'm still a novice at working with boiling milk. Waiting for it to chill was agonizing though, and I could hardly wait for it to be thick enough to put onto a plate to show all of its Blancmange Glory to the world.

But this is where things went terribly wrong. My spider-sense was tingling and I thought something might go wrong, so luckily I took a before picture. The blancmange was firm enough, but it was sticking to the sides of the bowl, so I decided to run it under some warm water. Apparently my blancmange decided it was ready to come out of the bowl while it was tipped precariously in the sink. Its life flashed before its eyes as half of the bowl's contents slopped into the sink full of dirty dishes. My visions of a beautifully molded dessert were no more.
I was pretty disappointed by the epic-failage of my mold-loosening abilities, but there's good news! It still tasted delicious. My prediction was right -- it pretty much tasted like really thick, rich, chocolaty pudding. But what's not to love about that?

So enough about my pathetic baking fail. Onto the recipe!

Chocolate Blancmange:
Adapted from 500 All-Time Great Recipes
Serves 4

4 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Rinse a 3 2/3-cup fluted mold with cold water and leave it upside down to drain. Blend the cornstarch to a smooth paste with a little of the milk.
2. Bring the remaining milk to a boil, preferable in a nonstick saucepan, then pour onto the blended mixture, stirring all the time. Otherwise it will get all gross and goopy!
3. Pour all the milk back into the saucepan and bring slowly to a boil over a low heat, stirring all the time until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the sugar, chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Stir until the chocolate has melted.
4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the mold and leave in a cool place for several hours. I took this to mean: Cool until room temperature, then move to the fridge.
5. To unmold the blancmange, place on a large serving plate, then holding the plate and mold firmly together, invert them. Give both plate and mold a gentle but firm shake to loosen the blancmange, then left off the mold. Serve immediately.

So there you have it. Tastes delicious, but I don't know how it actually looks when it's unmolded correctly. Lesson learned, though: Make sure you properly secure your blancmange if you decide to loosen it with warm water from the sink.

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