A Valentine's Day Sure Thing

Let's face it; you want to get lucky this Valentine's Day. Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chocolate isn't going to get you there. Neither are oysters, caviar or champagne. We know all the men out there have their heads in their hands, groaning, "Great, what do I do now?" Well, don't throw away that Russell Stover's chocolate heart box just yet. (It's still the thought that counts.)

According to a New York Times article we read yesterday, the whole aphrodisiac thing is highly subjective. Chocolate is still romantic and absolutely delicious but it isn't a sure thing. The article sites one study that says a 130-pound person would have to eat 25 pounds of chocolate to truly alter the mood. We're not going to be doing much of anything after 25 pounds of chocolate. In fact, we might be in the hospital on Valentine's getting our stomach pumped.

But, all hope is not lost. Chili peppers quicken your pulse and increase the release of endorphins while garlic increases blood flow. We don't have to be scientists to know what that means. Before you go popping chili peppers and garlic like Viagra, your best bet is to plan a meal that smells good, tastes good, looks good, and brings back good memories. The article explains that there are strong ties between scent, emotion and sexual attraction. Some popular chefs have even started utilizing the full-sensory experience in their meals.

Well, this article was interesting and probably right, but we're not about to give up our chocolate. So, in staying with the spirit of Valentine's, here is our sure-thing recipe. And, if all else fails, try wine. It's one of our favorites.

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chips

  • 4 cups of 1-inch cubes egg bread with crust (we like challah)
  • 1 1/4 cups of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of half & half
  • 5 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder (we like Droste)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • vanilla ice cream

Toss bread cubes and 1/2 cup chocolate chips in large bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup half & half, and cocoa in saucepan to blend. Add remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips and stir over low heat until melted and smooth.

Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup half & half. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk in chocolate-cream mixture. Stir into bread mixture. Let stand for 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter six small ramekins (This dessert is pretty rich). Divide mixture among the ramekins. Bake puddings for about 40 minutes or until set in centers. Serve warm with ice cream.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jane Catherine Collins