• Chocolate for dinner and dessert
    By Gordon Dritschilo
    Staff Writer | February 25,2013
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    Chefs at the Wilburton Inn served chocolate as everything from a garnish to a beet ravioli to a sauce on a pulled pork slider Sunday night.

    Each year, The HotChocolate Society sponsors a chocolate-centric cooking contest during its Oscar party at the Manchester hotel. Chefs come up with savory and sweet bites. This year, West Pawlet’s Pink Boot Farm, home of caterer Hadley Stock, swept both the savory and sweet categories in the jury awards.

    Stock, who has been hauling a kitchen trailer to area festivals and is looking at opening a food truck somewhere in the area, offered as her savory bite a bourbon-brined, coco-dusted pork belly served on a steamed bun with quick pickles and chocolate hoisin sauce.

    “Hoisin is a variety of flavors,” Hadley Stock said. “It’s got peanut butter, it’s got sesame, it’s got molasses, it’s got chili. It’s got some of everything. The bitterness and the sweetness of it — it lends itself beautifully to that sauce.”
    As good as the chocolate was with the pork belly, you could probably take it away without the dish suffering too much. Stock’s chocolate bread pudding with bourbon salted caramel sauce and orange creme anglaise was a different story.

    Rich, sweet and gloppy, it’s the sort of dessert you will wonder if you really deserve.

    “I love chocolate bread pudding,” she said. “I love bread pudding. I love anything bread pudding. I love anything chocolate. With bourbon and salted caramel, you can’t go wrong.”
    Salted caramel is key, she said, because the salt mellows out the sweetness. Meanwhile, the bourbon contributes
    a salty flavor.

    “I really enjoy that with something rich and fatty like a pudding,” she said.

    Orange creme anglais added a touch of brightness.
    Stock wouldn’t part with her sauce recipes, but she was willing to let us in on how to make the chocolate bread pudding.

    Chocolate bread pudding

    1.75 cup heavy cream
    2 cup whole milk
    1 vanilla bean
    10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    1/2 cup sugar
    5 eggs
    Pinch salt
    1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
    3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    5 croissants (day old)

    Butter baking a baking dish, preheat oven to 350.

    Cut or tear croissants into small pieces, put in baking dish and set aside.

    Pour milk and cream into saucepan, slice vanilla bean, add to the milk and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Scrape the vanilla bean into milk mixture and discard the pod.

    Bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat, remove from heat, add chocolate, whisk until smooth, add espresso and cocoa powder.

    In separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and salt until smooth.

    Add small amounts of hot chocolate mixture to egg mixture whisking constantly until well combined.

    Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture and whisk constantly until combined.

    Pour through a strainer and then over croissants.

    Let sit in fridge for 20 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard.

    Place in oven and bake 40-45 minutes, until it begins to set but is still jiggly.

    Allow to cool — the pudding will set as it cools.

    Serve warm, at room temp, or cold, with whipped cream, caramel sauce, or ice cream and fresh fruits.

    Gordon Dritschilo was one of the judges for the competition.

    Check out more of his food writing at the Rutland Herald’s food blog, rutlandherald.typepad.com/Food_For_Thought
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