(Sexy chocolate goodness via my iPad)
I’m not a baker. Nope. Sure am not. You’d think I love being a dry and liquid chemist as much as flan has become my weekly experiment. I love it, no doubt, but I’m not giving up my skillets for measuring cups and weights. However, I do love inviting the challenge of baking goodness. It takes me out of my comfort zone and since I like pushing myself, the result can only be great. At least if I put my heart and soul into it, the postre should yield a pastry chefs accolades. I’ve been playing with ratios much more lately, recently inspired by some incredible eats I had in Richmond, VA while on a foodie trip. Between the meandering walking tour in downtown to formal sit downs at various restaurants, the decadence had me motivated to explore beyond what I’m so familiar with.
One of our fancy meals was a decked out lunch hour at LeMaire at The Jefferson hotel, a historic institution in the state’s capital. The oppulence and old war drama lends to a magnificent menu full of seasonal goodness, bright combinations and modern interpretations. I’ll do a full review of our 5-course lunch in a bit, but of the offerings that particular afternoon, the dessert was a harmonious way to top off clean eating. Chef Walter, a hard core Virginian, tickled us with a dark chocolate bread pudding featuring Billy Bread sourdough, another staple in Richmond. Billy joined us for lunch and also fancied us with his famed crust as starters while we chatted and waited for our first course. I was having issues, though. I’ve been on this serious no-bread, low carb diet and curled my feet together in attempt to ignore it all, but when you have a finer-than-life male baker sitting directly across from you, eyeing how you interact with his goodies, you have no choice to but to go all in. And I did.
The entire meal was splendid but that dark chocolate bread pudding was everything and more. It was sexy, oozy, decadent but not too heavy. Unfortunately for my appetite, I didn’t come close to finishing it. It was large enough for 2 (or 3 lightweights) and though I can put it down when it comes to sweets (you know, eat dessert first), I underestimated the goodness of the preceding dishes, which I happily cleaned white.
I was defeated by a dessert. That just never happens. So in earnest to reclaim my capacity, I created a mental challenge to recreate it, put my spin on it and actually devour an entire serving. I bookmarked the recipe for future reference. As if the sweet gods were calling, I had to pull it out within two weeks. And for an even better cause.
The real reason for this post.
You know LivingSocial, right? They’re one of the best reasons why my move back to DC has been extraordinary. A sweet as caramel pie friend from junior high was working there and secretly shared my work with the heads there, suggesting I teach a series of cooking classes. If you didn’t know, LS is a DC-based company. When he told me what he had done, I was tickled pink and couldn’t wait to show off my sexy. It all resulted in an invitation to host and teach a summer-long cooking class series appropriately titled ‘Cooking in Heels‘ — Could that not be any more perfect!?
To boot, the space, 918 F St, is nothing short of fabulous, sexy, ambient, chic and all the things I love when looking for a space to do my thing. It helps it was named best cooking class event in 2012 by the Washington Post.
This is DC living.
But first, I had to tease some staff with my food. They had to taste the hype.
I wanted to keep the 3-course menu super simple since I wanted the students, all women, to feel confident when taking these dishes home to make. Something sexalicious, food p*rnish, but simple enough for them to tackle.
You know the bread pudding came to mind. Everything about it complements my cooking style and approach. And it’s baking, so you know it was going to be fun cooking this with them, too.
I played around with a few flavors before settling into the final recipe I’m sharing with the classes. It was divine and more than I could handle… the only missing element was Billy’s bread, but I made do with some ultra crusty fresh stuff the staff picked up for me. Plus, this was my interpretation of a fantastic version. Putting my touch on it was key. And, while we used the expected mint ice cream, I did beg for helado de mamey…. I’ll have to tell you about that later this summer.
The girls and I had too much making this during my dry run. It involved a lot of pushing, pinching, saturating, pouring and swooning. We were determined to use all the chocolate…. nothing can go to waste.
(LS employees doing dry run with me; the dessert — via my Instagram)
My friends… this is right is a piece of art. Coming from the kitchen of girl who’s obsessed with simple baking, pressure-cooking and perfectly timed things, it’s beautiful when you can execute something and it’s so good it’s approved for the menu!
So as of June 27th, the dreamy dessert will be the finishing touch on a great menu for the ladies to cook up in their heels. Because if you know me, you know I cook in my stilettos!
If you’re in DC, check out the event, live on their site… and treat yourself to a class. Or send your girlfriends that live here! It’s going to be insanely perfect. And sexy. And utterly delicious. Summer’s here.
Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding (adapted from LeMaire's Exec Chef)
- 22 oz. eggs
- 5 oz. egg yolks
- 18 oz. sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 5 oz. cocoa powder
- 2 qt heavy cream
- 10 oz. dark chocolate
- 1 loaf sourdough, cubed
In large bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Whisk cream, vanilla and almond extracts. Pour over bread and chocolate. Let soak. Fill greased ramekin with soaked bread. Using hands (wearing gloves) or back of wooden spoon, smash bread mixture into ramekin and continue filling until its topped. Bake at 300F until custard is set. Top with a scoop of mint, mamey or vanilla ice cream. Garnish with mint if desired.