Chocolate Bread Pudding
Chocolate Bread Pudding
February 3, 2014

What is it about chocolate? What causes a good portion of us to love it and crave it so often? Many of us, including myself, have a sweet tooth and will go to great lengths to satisfy a certain chocolate craving.

When we think of chocolate, we may envision a chocolate bar or a big slice of chocolate cake. We eat rather than drink most of our chocolate, which is why it's strange to learn that for the first 90 percent of chocolate's long history, it was only a drink. Not to mention, it wasn't sweet, as it didn't include sugar.

According to Smithsonian, historians discovered the origin of the word "chocolate" came from the Aztec word "xocoatl," a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans from the cacao tree. Interestingly "theobroma cacao" means "food of the gods."

Etymologists estimate that chocolate has been eaten for about 2,000 years, but there's evidence it could be even older.

Valentine's Day is only days away. Begin thinking about what you will give your sweetheart to show your love. Will it be a bouquet of fresh flowers or a red heart-shaped box of chocolates? Or you could show him or her you really care and spend a little bit of extra time and make something sweet and chocolately your valentine is sure to love.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Chef Tyler Florence shared his recipe for the perfect hot chocolate to enjoy on a wintry day. This indulgent drink includes Mexican chocolate, which has a distinctive and rich flavor.

3 oz (tablet or cone) Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons sugar

pinch salt

miniature marshmallows, for serving

6 cinnamon sticks (preferably Mexican canela), for serving

Using a sharp knife, break up the chocolate into smaller pieces. In a saucepan, combine the chopped chocolate, milk, sugar, and salt over medium-low flame. Heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and milk is very hot, but not boiling, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and froth the chocolate milk with a mini whisk. Divide the hot chocolate among big mugs, top each with a few marshmallows, and serve with the cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Makes 6 servings.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bites Recipe

I could go on and on about how much I love chocolate and peanut butter. The blog, Savory Sweet Life has a perfect way to enjoy the two flavors together. Mini brownie bites with a peanut butter cup center are sure to score bonus points with the one you love.

¾ cup butter, melted

¾ cup white sugar

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

40 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped from the brown paper

mini-muffin tin paper liners

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray non-stick spray into a paper towel and wipe the top of a mini cupcake pan. Line the tins with a paper liner.

In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour, cocoa, and salt and mix until combined. Fill each mini cupcake tin slightly more than halfway but not more than ⅔ full. Place a peanut butter cup in each slot pressing it down until it is almost level with the batter. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until done. Allow the brownie bites to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the cupcake tin.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate dipped strawberries look very fancy, but are simple to make. Surprise your love with dipped fruit. White chocolate can be drizzled over the milk chocolate for a fancier look.

16 oz milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons shortening or paraffin

1 lb fresh strawberries

Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening or paraffin, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.

Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpick into styrofoam or place on wax paper for the chocolate to cool.

Chocolate Chess Bread Pudding

If you want to serve your sweetheart something decadent, the blog, Something Swanky has the ideal dessert. Bread pudding is the ultimate comfort food and chocolate makes it even better.

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

6 cups bread, cubed (approximately half of a loaf)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease a loaf pan or an 8x8 baking dish well. I usually line mine with parchment paper also. Place the bread pieces in the pan (they should easily fill it up, if they don't add more bread).

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Pour over the bread pieces. Use a rubber spatula to prod and make sure all pieces are coated in the chocolate mixture.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over top, and gently mix to distribute the chips evenly throughout the mixture.

Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until set in the middle.

Scoop into bowls, and serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream, or powdered sugar. Bread pudding can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Chocolate Cookies has a host of tested baking and dessert recipes and instructional videos including this one for a chocolate cookie with white chocolate chunks. Instead of baking traditional chocolate chip cookies for your honey, try a dark cookie with light chips.

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup light brown sugar

¼ cup white granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1½ cups white chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. First sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt and then add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a small ice cream scoop or two spoons, place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are still soft in the center but are firm around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen 3-inch round cookies.