I slept like a baby last night. This is because on Monday I made a batch of “bittersweet chocolate pudding”. Are you wondering how sleeping like a baby and making pudding are associated? I’ll get to that in a minute.
It all started when I was checking to see what was in the pantry and noticed a box of Jello instant chocolate pudding. You know, the kind where you add 3 cups of cold milk, stir with a whisk and chill. For some reason I decided if I was going to use 3 entire cups of nice, cold milk that I would rather make pudding from scratch – chocolate pudding. So, I began to look through my many cookbooks for just the right recipe. Oh, of course the ingredients needed to be in my kitchen, as I was not making a run to the store. Joy of Cooking contains 4500 recipes but the one for chocolate pudding calls for unsweetened chocolate, not in the cupboard. Next, the 1992 edition Southern Living Cookbook calls for milk chocolate morsels, not in my cabinets. Who wants milk chocolate when you can have dark or semi-sweet morsels anyway? The next book I pulled off the top of my frig, where my most used cookbooks reside was The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook. Ahha, I think, maybe I’ll even find a healthy, lightened-up version of chocolate pudding. Voila! A recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding that calls for Dutch process cocoa and bittersweet chocolate – got ’em and it’s only 249 calories in a half cup serving. I’m game.
So, the connection between sleeping like a baby and chocolate pudding will now be revealed. I ate a dish of pudding around 8 o’clock and when I laid down around 10:30 to go to sleep I could not fall asleep. I hadn’t had any coffee past 10 a.m. so I knew that was not my problem. The only thing I could attribute to my sleeplessness was the chocolate pudding. I lay in bed tossing and turning with illusions of dark, rich pudding oozing through my brian. This caused me to research a little about the effects of caffeine in chocolate. What I understand after perusing a few articles found on – where else- the internet, is that chocolate really only has trace amounts of caffeine. In fact, the Merck Index, 12th edition says that a very small amount of caffeine is found in the hulls of the cocoa seeds, which are discarded before processing. The Hershey website states that the amount of caffeine present in chocolate and cocoa based products differs depending on the type and amount. Cocoa powder contains the highest amount followed by unsweetened baking chocolate. Hershey continues by stating, most people are surprised to find that a 1.55 ounce bar of milk chocolate contains about 12 mg of caffeine, the amount of caffeine in about 3 cups of decaf coffee. About.com lists brewed coffee, 8 ounces at 60-120 mg caffeine and dark chocolate at 20 mg per 1 ounce. If my math is correct that means if I ate 8 ounces of dark chocolate in one sitting I’d ingest 160 mg of caffeine, not so different from 2 entire cups of coffee. I doubt that I could eat 8 ounces of pure dark chocolate in one sitting without making myself ill.
Well, I am a tad confused, having always heard chocolate contains caffeine, I had assumed it contained enough to keep me awake. I now doubt that to be true. None the less I had difficulty falling asleep that night and definitely made up for it the following evening by heading to bed earlier that usual and sleeping like a baby. My disclaimer regarding the effects of the pudding is: it is dark, decadent, intense, deliciousness, which may stir your innermost being into a rich chocolate frenzy, therefore making it difficult to sleep like a baby.
Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding
3 1/2 cups fat-free milk, divided
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Combine 1 cup milk, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl, stir well.
Combine 2 1/2 cups milk over medium heat in a large heavy saucepan until tiny bubbles form around the edge, (do not boil). Remove from heat; add sugar, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cocoa mixture to pan, stirring until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Combine egg and egg yolk in a medium bowl. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return to pan. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes; stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add bittersweet chocolate and vanilla, stirring until chocolate pieces are melted. Serve warm or chilled.
249 calories per 1/2 cup serving
One last comment; all my adoring hubby could mutter as he ate a dish of pudding was, “it’s SO chocolatey, SO chocolatey, but really good!”