If there's one thing a diet will do it's get you thinking about sweets. I'm not usually a big sweet eater; even as a little kid I always went for the second-helping of dinner rather than the sticky dessert. I've never enjoyed things so sweet they make your teeth ache. But let's say that since I got out on my own and got perfect control over my own food supply (including not having to cook for children anymore) I've discovered a few things I really do like. I've developed a liking for chocolate, though it wasn't my favourite at first. It might have had something to do with the quality of chocolate available in the countryside where I lived as a child. For the most part it was either those cheap candy bars, cheap chocolate fudgecicles, or even cheaper chocolate Easter bunnies. Most of it was not very delicious. I don't know what the percentage of cocoa was in there, but let's just say I used to call the flavour "Brown" rather than chocolate.
Then I discovered organic chocolate bars. You know, the kind you can find in health food stores these days. Often with good things like nuts, toasted rice crisps or orange in them and using good quality chocolate, they are nothing like the pale carob ones that was all we could get when I was raising my family. Now if you like carob, I'm sorry. There even may be one or two of you in the world who can't live without it. But to me it never tasted anything like chocolate. And I didn't like it either. If I was cutting down on fat I vastly preferred to use a good Dutch process cocoa. Still do.
These days I can get some decent chocolate here, if I want to pay a fortune. And if I could eat wheat. There's a company in Hokkaido called Shirokoibito (White Chocolate Lovers) that ships out chocolate enrobed langue-de-chat sandwich cookies to die for. I tasted them a few times before I realized I was allergic to wheat.
So how do I get my chocolate fix? Well I tried ordering chocolate-chip cookies from America that were gluten-free. Though I ate them, mostly for the nice melty chocolate chips they contained, the texture was something like sand meets dried out meringue. Like something from the Adams' family kitchen. In other words, terrible.
I would just make them home-made if chocolate chips were easier to get, and IF I weren't now on a diet. Think I better put that off for a few months, until I feel stronger. But there's one dessert I can justify eating a little of. It's a creamy chocolate pudding made with soy milk, real vanilla and good cocoa and thickened with cornstarch. It's a simple recipe adapted from my cooking bible, "The Joy of Cooking". The only trick to this one is to get the consistency right. Sometimes it doesn't thicken as well and you need to mix a bit more cornstarch into soy milk and add it. I'm thinking this would work with rice milk too, though it might be a bit thinner. I've been known to add a shot of Kahlua near the end if I'm in the mood for something a bit mocha-y. You can also replace some of the liquid, maybe a half-cup or so, with coffee if you have extra around. And, of course, replace the cocoa mixture with some melted real chocolate.
Oh yeah, it takes about 15 minutes to make. Almost instant. And far better than any package could be. It's not too sweet, so if you want to add a bit more sugar, go for it.
Vegan Chocolate Pudding
1-2 Tb pure olive oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
3 or 6 Tb of good cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tb. corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups soy or other milk
1 tsp vanilla
kinako powder -- (きなこ)
Soy milk is tonyu (とんゆ) and comes in rectangular cardboard packages usually with a picture of soy beans on them.
To make a good chocolate substitute :
Use 1 Tb good quality oil and 3 Tb cocoa for every oz. of chocolate you want. Put the oil in the pan, and mix in the cocoa with a fork or a whisk. Then add the liquids and stir and cook until all the chocolate moves through the liquid. For this recipe use equivalent to 1 oz of cocoa for a really light chocolate flavour and 2 oz for the more decadent version. Dessicated coconut is also a good addition or topping. You can get it from cake shops or the cake section of the supermarket.
Mix up the chocolate in a medium-sized saucepan and then add the soy or other milk and turn on the heat. You can also add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon or whisk and keep it moving around just so it doesn't stick. When the chocolate mixture resembles chocolate milk and looks pretty uniform in colour, add the cornstarch which you have mixed into 1/2 cup of cold soy milk. Be careful of lumps. You need to whisk this pretty well and if you think it might be lumpy pour it through a tea strainer into the pot.
At this point you want to cook over a medium heat, whisking all the time as it will cook and thicken quickly, within a minute or two (on a gas flame). When it is thick, remove from the heat and add the vanilla or other flavouring. Stir.
I like to pour it into coffee mugs and top with a little kinako (roasted soy powder that tastes a bit like peanuts.)
Edit: Good grief! I forgot to put the sugar in the recipe-- won't do at all. Yes there is a bit of sugar; don't make it without it. It's now added to the recipe.