Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an event sponsored by Scharffen Berger Chocolate to kick-off their annual Chocolate Adventure Contest. It was an exciting and delicious evening that involved baking with the renowned pastry chef Elizabeth Falkner, founder of one of my favorite San Francisco destinations, Citizen Cake. We also enjoyed a delicious meal featuring several dishes, both savory and sweet, that all incorporated the flavors of Scharffen Berger chocolate. Needless to say, this girl was right at home.
Over the course of the evening, while I learned about many of the fabulous uses for Scharffen Berger in the kitchen, my mind start whirring. I had so many ideas for new recipes it was all I could do not to run home and bake all night long. Once I got home I was tired enough to hold back from setting up my double-boiler. But the next day, fully refreshed, I started testing delicious chocolate recipes the minute my daughter went down for her nap.
Before I dive into my recipe I want to share a couple of great things about Scharffen Berger that I find very important. First, Scharffen Berger is the first bean-to-bar chocolate company to be established in the US in over 50 years. What does this mean? The company sources only premium cocoa from around the world and monitors the beans through the entire process, from blending to refining, until they become a chocolate bar available at the store. This guarantees premium artisanal chocolate with complex flavors and unparalleled quality for the consumer. Secondly, Scharffen Berger is owned by Hershey, which has an interesting philanthropic side which I previously knew nothing about.
Every year, parents purchase Halloween candy for their children. But did you know that some treats have a greater purpose than others? For the past 100 years, without even knowing it, every purchase of a Hershey treat (including Scharffen Berger products) supports the students of the Milton Hershey School. This school is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for youth in the US and is an inspiring and dedicated act of philanthropy if I've ever seen one. In fact, this fall a documentary about the school, Living the Legacy: The Untold Story of MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL, will be airing on cable.
When I heard this story I was amazed to learn that Milton and Kitty Hershey set up a trust in their will devoting their entire fortune to support children in profound need. Simply put, every time someone enjoys Hershey, they help a child in need break the cycle of poverty and change the trajectory of their life. Choosing Hershey’s at Halloween is just another way to ensure a brighter future for children. Find out more about the school at www.thehersheylegacy.com.
Learning these facts about Scharffen Berger and Hershey has only further encouraged me to become a loyal customer. I love the thought that every time I purchase a bar I am getting only the highest quality chocolate on the market, as well as supporting a very worthy cause. When deciding what to make with my new favorite chocolate my thoughts turned to one of my favorite fall comfort desserts, rice pudding. In keeping with the Chocolate Adventure Contest theme I decided to play with the flavors a little and give this otherwise tried-and-true dish a fresh makeover. Making this during my daughter's naptime was a cinch, especially since it stays well in the fridge for a few days. I highly recommend everyone purchase their own bars of Scharffen Berger shortly and make a batch of this, or whatever of your favorite chocolate dishes come to mind.
Chocolate Arborio Rice Pudding with Smoked Sea Salt
5 c. whole milk
2/3 c. Arborio rice
2/3 c. sugar
2 t. smoked sea salt
1 t. vanilla 4 oz. Scharffen Berger semisweet chocolate (62% cocoa)
1. In a large saucepan bring milk to a boil. Add sugar, 1 1/2 t. sea salt and vanilla, and stir until dissolved.
2. Add the rice and reduce heat to low-heat, stir frequently while it simmer, until the rice is fully cooked and it becomes thick. This will take about 30-35 minutes.
3. Once mixture is thicken remove from heat and immediately add chocolate chunks. Stir them into the hot rice until completely melted. Stir in remaining 1/2 t. sea salt. Serve one pudding has cooled.