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Chocolate for Cheer

A chilly, gray drizzly, depressing day cheers right up with a cup of hot chocolate. It gets even better when you stir it with a cinnamon stick. Chocolate chips are great snack food. I keep a ramekin filled with assorted nuts and chocolate chips on the kitchen counter. The nuts crunch satisfyingly and supply a little protein. The chocolate ups one’s mood.

Chocolate not only lifts your spirits, it contains an antioxidant that may protect you against heart disease and cancer, and augments your immune system. Just don’t overdo it. Because of its natural bitterness, any food product made with chocolate has to have sweetening  put into it. That, and chocolate’s fat, could work against any efforts you are making to get or to stay slim. Trader Joe’s chocolate wafers have the highest percentage of cacao. Not going off the island?  Shop at an island grocery for bittersweet chocolate, the kind with the most cacao; 72% is ideal.  

The other night when my daughter Suzanna and her husband were here for dinner, I made chocolate pudding for dessert, a smootn, egg-free pudding served up with  whipped cream topping each portion. Later, Suzanna reminded me of the fluffy chocolate pudding I used make for her and her siblings when they were kids. It had little egg white clouds in it. They all loved it.

For Suzanna, and all the rest of my readers, here is the Chocolate Fluffy Pudding recipe. Make it far enough in advance of dinner for it to chill, or make it along with the  rest of the supper cooking and serve it hot.

Chocolate Fluffy Pudding
         4 to 5 servings
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup chocolate powder
4 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a 6-cup saucepan, mix dry ingredients.  Add the milk and the egg yolks. Beat in. Stir-cook over medium low heat until the pudding thickens. Stir in the vanilla. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into pudding just off the boil so it cooks the egg whites.  Serve warm.

Eggless Chocolate Pudding: Omit the eggs: include all the other ingredients, but stir 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch into the sugar, chocolate powder, and salt. Stir in the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. Stir in the teaspoon of vanilla. Divide among four small bowls. Chill. Just before serving, top with whipped cream.