Feb. 9, 2003 – Celebrate Valentine's Day by enjoying a favorite Virgin Islands dessert with a twist of chocolate.
Thick, dense slices of bread pudding are found in bakeries throughout the islands. Sometimes the concoction has raisins, sometimes coconut; but rarely do you see a bread pudding made with chocolate. But, come Valentine's Day, chocolate is just the food you and the one you love will really enjoy — so why not enjoy it in bread pudding?
According to food historians, the Mayans first made the connection between chocolate and love more than 2,000 years ago. In addition to serving chocolate as a celebratory beverage at betrothal and marriage ceremonies, the Mayan bride and bridegroom exchanged cacao beans during their wedding vows to signify their bond.
You may ask, is chocolate really an aphrodisiac? Well, consuming chocolate, which is chemically complex, can, indeed, make you "feel" romantic. It contains caffeine and theobromine, which are both stimulants, and phenyethylamine, a reputed mood-elevator and anti-depressant. Phenyethylamine is released in the brain when we "fall in love."
Researchers also have found that eating chocolate triggers a physiological response — extra energy and increased heart rate. And it causes a chemical reaction — serotonin and endorphins are released in the brain. This simulates, for some lucky folks, the same euphoric feeling as being in love.
While such results are not guaranteed, here's betting a bag of Cupid's arrows that you'll love this Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 (6 oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups skim milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 slices white or butter bread, trimmed of crusts
Pour the chocolate chips into a 1-quart saucepan. Add 1 cup of the milk. Stir over medium heat until chips melt. Stir in the remaining milk. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add the salt, sugar and vanilla. Beat well. Stir egg mixture into milk and chocolate. Cut bread slices into small cubes. Drop cubes into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Pour chocolate mixture over the bread cubes. Be sure to saturate all the bread cubes with the liquid mixture.
Set casserole in pan of hot water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until pudding is set. Serve warm or cold.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 322 calories, 11 gms fat (32 percent fat calories), 73 mg cholesterol, 434 mg sodium.
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