It's my favorite time of year: all of my wine club's are releasing their latest installments in quarterly or bi-annual shipments. Last week as I was putting my 24-new babies away I was kind of disappointed when I failed to swap out a bottle of Pinot Noir for something I would enjoy drinking. We've already been over my tumultuous relationship with a Pinot Noir, and typically I would just give the bottle away to the first person I made eye contact with but then I remembered an old pudding recipe I had ferreted away from Food & Wine magazine.
I'm not the sort of person who buys a bottle of wine just to sacrifice it in a recipe, and since I didn't want to sacrifice a good bottle of Pinot Noir (read: expensive), I originally tried this recipe with a cheap bottle I picked up at the market. It failed miserably. The wine was too earthy, too fruity and the flavors combined with the rich dark chocolate were just all off. So don't be like me, use a quality Pinot Noir and not one that was $4 with a pretty label... okay?
Moving right along, these puddings would be PERFECT for a Halloween party. In fact, I think I'm going to make them again for my pumpkin carving and wine drinking gathering coming up in a couple of weeks because they're just that delicious and I just so happen to have a second bottle of Pinot Noir lying around. Truthfully, you could make these puddings year round and use a different wine if you don't have a bottle of Pinot you're willing to sacrifice (I'm thinking Grenache will be a great substitution for Pinot Noir.) I might even make them a third time for a Halloween party we're going to – I just need to track down a costume.
If the wine-laced chocolate pudding isn't enough of an incentive for you, then surely the espresso shortbreads will bring you over to the dark side. Like the syrup, these shortbread cookies also pack an intense flavor any coffee lover will love and devour as if it was their last meal. If you have extra time, they'd be sure cute if you used a tombstone-shaped cookie cutter and personalized with your guests' names on them–but I don't have time for that and I seriously doubt my friends would take the time to notice I carefully piped out their names on devilishly delicious tombstone shortbread cookies.
Adapted from Food & Wine.
1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 pound dark chocolate
1 tablespoon butter, softened
In a medium saucepan, combine the wine and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 18 minutes. It’ll reduce to a syrup.
In another saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks. Gradually beat in the hot cream. Add the chocolate and butter; let stand for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Stir in half of the wine syrup. Pour the pudding into six 6- to 8-ounce heatproof glass jars or glasses. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the confectioners’ and granulated sugars until fluffy. Add the flour, espresso powder and salt and beat until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a work surface and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until just firm, about 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Stamp out cookies in desired shape and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cookies are just firm to the touch and golden at the edges; rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool.