Chefs’ Picks: Treats for a Snowy Day

February 2016
By: Samanatha Lande, Food NetworkWarm Chocolate Pudding
Nostalgia is a huge source of inspiration for pastry chef Kelly Fields. After all, her New Orleans bakery, Willa Jean, is named for her grandmother. So on snow days, she waxes nostalgic with warm chocolate pudding. “Most people I know grew up eating pudding cold. My mom, however, would make pudding on the stove the old-fashioned way,” she says. “Remembering the warmth of our house, the light and the way the house smelled when my mom made this on winter days is one of my clearest childhood memories. Every time we serve it at Willa Jean, I still have the desire to cuddle up on the couch and take my time savoring every last bite.”

Warm Chocolate Pudding

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pod vanilla bean
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
4 ounces 70 percent chocolate

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot over medium high heat, combine the cream, milk and vanilla bean. In a separate bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Add in eggs and whisk the mixture until smooth. Once the dairy comes up to a scald, remove from heat and slowly temper, adding small amounts of the hot liquid into the egg mix while whisking constantly. Once the majority of the dairy is incorporated into the egg mixture, return the whole amount to the pot and place over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Once bubbling, remove from heat and immediately whisk in the butter and chocolate. Serve warm as is, or top with optional coconut shortbread crumbs and candied pecans.

Coconut Shortbread Crumbs

1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preaheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift powdered sugar and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Stream in sifted powdered sugar and cream together until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add semolina flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt; stir to just incorporate. Allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge before rolling out into an even layer, about 1/4 inch thick. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in oven until it just starts getting golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool until it’s comfortable to handle. Place the shortbread into the bowl of a food processor and add in the coconut flakes, brown sugar and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse the food processor until all is incorporated and sandy. Return the mix to the cookie sheet and finish baking until toasty and golden, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

Candied Pecans

1 1/2 teaspoons egg whites
1 cup pecan pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly whisk the egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Add in pecan pieces and stir with a rubber spatula just until the pieces are coated. Sprinkle in the granulated sugar while stirring. Place nuts onto a baking sheet in a single, even layer. Bake until dry and toasty, stirring about every 5 minutes.