Post # 281 Comfort in a Bowl

August 6, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s no secret that I like chocolate.  It’s one of the best things in the world.  I haven’t eaten every kind of chocolate there is, and I haven’t tasted every kind of chocolate dessert there is.  But I have made a career of eating chocolate of all kinds.  I’ve discussed at length the various merits of different kinds of chocolate.  I even have an opinion I’ve publicly stated about whether white chocolate is, in fact, a thing [It is not.  The very substance that makes chocolate uniquely chocolate is brown and cannot be hidden.  White chocolate is simply sugar and dairy solids with some vanilla flavoring.  Trust me.]  I don’t consider myself a connoisseur but certainly I know my stuff.

I don’t eat chocolate every single day, but I have chocolate in the house in one form or another every single day.  I have cocoa powder; I have chocolate chips; I have squares of baker’s chocolate; I have chocolate syrup; most times there’s chocolate ice cream, although I don’t eat much ice cream; I have envelopes of hot chocolate mix.  Apart from that, I nearly always have some chocolate cookie, or cake, or dessert or something.  I’m one of those rare people who can eat a little chocolate and be happy.  I can also eat one potato chip, if that’s all I want.  I typically eat for flavor, not quantity.  Except steak.

Chocolate, though, chocolate has had a soft spot in my heart for as long as I can remember.  The earliest dream I can remember as a kid was reaching for a piece of chocolate cake that was forever moving out of my grasp.  Mom loved chocolate, too, and nearly always had it in one form or another in our pantries.  I’ll never forget the time I found the big bar of baker’s chocolate hiding in the pantry and thinking “Oh My God!  Look at this!”  I broke off a huge chunk and snuck away to eat it.  Don’t do that.  It’s not good.  Heck, even the first thing my mom taught me to make was yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

So chocolate is one of the most comforting things for me.  I’ll go into chocolate fits that people who know me recognize almost immediately.  It doesn’t take a lot of chocolate to satisfy it.  Once, when I was first married and we didn’t have a huge amount of money to toss around, we bought ourselves a treat of peanut butter cups for after dinner.  I was sitting on the couch reading with my candy sitting next to me.  I took a bite and set the rest down, concentrating on my book.  After several minutes, my wife looked at me and asked “Are you going to eat the rest of your candy?”  I was startled and replied, “Yeah, when I’m ready.  Why?”  “The dog and I both are just sitting here watching you, wondering when you’re going to take another bite!”  I ended up giving her the other half while I finished off the one I had.  I’ve also been known to cram two of those cups in my mouth to just to get the fullness of flavor from them.

Chocolate pudding, and chocolate pie, though.  Those are the best!  My first attempt at chocolate pudding dates back to the late sixties and a product called Shake A Pudding.  This was a dessert heaven sent for children.  It was based on the instant pudding craze that was new at the time.  The box came with four envelopes of pudding mix, four cups, and four lids.  You put the pudding mix in the cup, poured the requisite amount of cold milk in, snapped the lid on, and shook the cup like crazy for several minutes.  Then you put it in the fridge and waited what felt like FOREVER! to a small kid, until the pudding had set.  Then you ate it, any way you wanted to.  We didn’t have it often, but when we did, we went to town with it.


Chocolate pudding up to that point had to be cooked and stirred and poured into bowls and chilled and took hours before it was ready.  The instant pudding craze suddenly made pudding of nearly every kind and flavor easily assessable.  Mom bought them all.  Oh, but then, someone came up with the brilliant idea of mixing instant pudding with whipped cream, or whipped dessert toppings, and a whole new age in chocolate pie was born!

chocolate pie 1

All you needed was two cups of Cool Whip, one small package of instant chocolate pudding, and cold milk.  With an electric hand mixer, you blended the pudding and Cool Whip together into a sludge, then started added milk a little at a time until you got it to the consistency you wanted.  You could have a light and airy pie like the one above, similar to French Silk.  Or you could have a thick and creamy and delectable pie like the one below.

chocolate pie 2

All you had to do was decide.  When this technique became popular, my mom and I went nuts one Thanksgiving and made two chocolate, one coconut, and one butterscotch.  We probably would have made more but got embarrassed.  The coconut was insanely easy.  Cool Whip, French Vanilla pudding, milk, and a small bag of coconut.  The coconut overpowered the vanilla enough to make you think you were eating coconut cream when you weren’t really.  It was yum!

I still like the standard, cooked chocolate pie.  There’s something very comforting about melting chocolate with butter and sugar, adding egg yolks, and cooking in the oven.  Knowing the effort and knowledge that goes into the finished product is very satisfying.

chocolate pie 3

But the ease of the others can’t be beat!


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