I'll keep this short and sweet because I have very important things on my to-do list, folks. Like eating chocolate.
I've already discussed my feelings towards Valentine's Day back when I made my Sweetheart Cupcakes. As you can see I still enjoy making my sickeningly sweet little Valentine's goodies!
This was inspired by one of my favorite kinds of chocolates - gooey salted caramel enrobed in dark chocolate. These parfaits are really very simple and could be made for any occasion, I just dressed these up with some cookies my friend and I decorated. If you choose to make them in little half-pint mason jars like these they have the added bonus of being super portable - perfect for a potluck or a romantic picnic! :)
Chocolate and Salted Caramel Pudding Parfaits
Makes 6-8 servings
1 recipe Chocolate Pudding (still slightly warm or room temperature)
1 recipe Salted Caramel Pudding (still slightly warm or room temperature)
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
1 tsp vanilla sugar (plain sugar is just fine)
pinch of salt
Chopped chocolate, chocolate covered toffee and/or nuts for layering
Coarse sea salt
1. Start with a layer of the caramel pudding at the bottom of your jars/glasses, filling a little under a 1/4 way full. Then add a layer of the chocolate pudding to fill it about 1/2 way full. Add a little sprinkling of your choice of chopped chocolate, toffee or nuts and a few grains of course salt. Repeat with the caramel, chocolate and toppings to fill the cup. Cover and chill, at least 2 hours. (If you're planning to transport these with the whipped cream on top, you'll want to make thinner layers of pudding to make room for the cream and lid.)
2. In a large bowl combine the the cream, sugar and pinch of salt. Whip with a whisk until soft-medium peaks form. Divide the whipped cream evenly amongst the parfaits and serve immediately.
(adapted from The Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
3 cups whole milk
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a heavy bottomed pot combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk making sure to incorporate all the dry ingredients well. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently and scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan, until the mixture begins to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the chocolate and cook for another 2-4 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
2. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Press a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and set aside while you make the caramel pudding.
Salted Caramel Pudding
4 cups whole milk, divided
5 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp salted butter
1. In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup milk, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar with the 6 Tbsp of water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar turns a deep amber color. Watch this carefully because caramel can go from perfect to burnt VERY quickly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter - the caramel with bubble and foam. Then carefully whisk in the remaining 3 1/2 cups milk. The caramel will probably sizzle some more and seize up, but don't panic.. it will melt back in.
3. Return the pot to the stove and whisk over moderate heat until the caramel dissolves again. Simmer at medium-low heat, watching the pot carefully so it doesn't boil over, until the milk thickens and deepens a bit in color, about 10 minutes.
4. Slowly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the caramel mixture and cook until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer into a small bowl. Press a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding until ready to portion out into the parfaits.