Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post-Christmas Chez Wiles: Paper, Pets, Poop, Poundage and the Perfect Dessert.





Christmas is done.  The gifts unwrapped, the stockings unhung, the trashcans overflowing, and the frenzy, somewhat abated.  Looking back, there are a few things I’d like to do differently next year.  Let’s review. 

First, I'm thinking Christmas should be a giftwrap-free holiday.  It’s unseemly that I’ve got to dump trash twice for every single gift – first, when I bring it home and toss tags, original packaging, and finally, the shopping bag (and those flimsy plastic ones seem procreate if left to their own devices), and again on Christmas, discarding the wrapping paper, ribbons, gift tags, bows, and -- much as I hate to admit it -- gift boxes.  (I know.  Why is it that I feel just fine re-gifting, but, despite the Ed Begley Jr. example set by my mom, who resurrected the same Belk department store gift boxes, as well as one from a Ohio department store that started with a “K”, for decades, I just can’t bring myself to re-giftbox.)  Next year, though, ribbons only.  Or perhaps, I’ll just put the gifts under the tree, while still in those procreating shopping bags.

I’m also lobbying for pet-free holidays next December.  Honest.  I can’t imagine a better time of year to ship Josie and Lionel off to doggy daycare and kitty camp.  Not, of course, that pets are more difficult to wrangle than kids.  But what are the options with kids?  Or, what are the options that don’t result in a call to DSS?

Hopped up on this year’s holiday insanity, Lionel-the-pugilistic-cat became a ‘round-the-clock predator, stalking, pouncing, and attacking everyone Chez Wiles, including (naturally), Josie-the-anxiety-dog.

At this point, you’ve got to ask:  How hard is it for an indoor cat to track down a mostly-indoor dog?  During these agitated holidays, Josie made it particularly easy, dividing her time fairly evenly between the upstairs cat litter box (her favorite dining spot) and the downstairs dining room, where she revealed her true talent -- devaluing the most valuable rug in the house.  Yes, I’ll be calling the cleaners after New Year’s.

I’m also thinking there’s a huge need for a rice-caked based Christmas treat.  I don’t think I’ve seen a chocolate-dipped, butter-laden cake, cookie or candy these past few weeks that I haven’t used as hip-padding.  Not before, of course, topping it with whipped cream.  And washing it down with champagne, or in a pinch, red wine.

So to recap, my plans for Christmas 2010 involve no paper, no pets, and no poundage.  But since Christmas 2009 isn’t quite over, today I made these lovely little Chocolate Pots de Crème.  They’re like the most intense little chocolate puddings you can imagine – kind of like chilled and creamy chocolate truffles.

Hmm. Slight revision.  Next year, no paper, no pets and no desserts that aren’t Chocolate Pots de Crème.  There.  I feel better already.

Chocolate Pots de Crème
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces good, semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiaradelli)
2 tablespoons Frangelico
whipped cream (for garnish)

In blender, quickly blend eggs and salt for a few seconds.

Now, in a medium saucepan, scald whipping cream and sugar over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Do not boil.  When bubbles form at side of pan, whisk in chocolate chips.  Remove from heat.  When chips are melted, drizzle a ladle of the hot mixture into the eggs, blending over a low speed.  (This tempers the eggs, effectively cooking them, but keeping them from curdling.)  Blend in another ladle or two of chocolate cream.  Then, blend in remaining chocolate cream and Frangelico.  When well blended, pour into eight small, individual ramekins.  Cover and chill at least eight hours.  Serve chilled, with whipped cream.

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