A few days ago I challenged you to come up with delicious Valentine’s Day dishes that contain vegetables, and now here I am offering up a V-Day dessert that is completely devoid of vegetables. How hypocritical is that? What can I say? With all of you (15 bloggers so far) handling the vegetable dishes, I thought I’d take a break from vegetables and just bring the dessert.
Before I get to the recipe for this sinlessly delicious treat, let me remind you that the deadline for the Vegetable Love contest is tomorrow, February 10, at midnight Eastern time, so if you plan to enter, get cooking. The entries I’ve received so far look fabulous, but we can always use more.
To me, nothing says Valentine’s Day like chocolate. Unfortunately, my husband is not a big fan. Like his love of sports, his apathy toward chocolate is something I just don’t get. I’ve tried enticing him with all sorts of decadent chocolate desserts, but his reaction is always the same: “It’s okay…for chocolate.”
So in order to get him to really love something with chocolate in it, I’ve learned that I have to combine it with a flavor he really likes. Fortunately, he really likes cherries, which are right up there with chocolate on my list of romantic foods. Their vibrant red color and sweet-tart flavor make them perfect little Valentines all on their own. Combined with chocolate, they’re irresistibly luscious and seductive.
I started with a recipe for old-fashioned chocolate pudding cake, the kind that almost magically forms a fudgy sauce underneath a layer of dark chocolate cake. Everyone has a favorite recipe for this cake, but the one I’ve been using for years is a variation of this fat-free version. For this special Valentine’s version, I wanted to add cherries to the pudding layer, to make them covered in chocolate, but that turned out to be trickier than I thought.
It took three attempts, but I finally got the proportions right. Meanwhile, my family has been feasting on this delicious, I-can’t-believe-it’s-fat-free dessert every day. And you know what: Even the chocolate-intolerant hubby loves it. I challenge you to try it out on one of your loved ones, someone who claims not to like fat-free or vegan desserts. With or without vanilla ice cream on top, this dessert will make them fall in love with chocolate.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Pudding Cake
- 20 frozen pitted cherries (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy yogurt
- 1/4 cup vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
- boiling water
Cut the frozen cherries in half (it’s easiest to do this while they’re frozen). Put them in a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon sugar and rum extract, if using. Allow them to sit at room temperature until they’ve completely thawed and become juicy, 1-2 hours.
Oil or pan spray 4 7-ounce ramekins. Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix together the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and set aside.
Pour the juices off the cherries into a measuring cup. Press lightly on the cherries to get all of the juice (I had about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle the corn starch over the cherries and mix well. Divide the cherries equally among the 4 ramekins.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa, and baking powder. Stir in the vanilla extract, soy yogurt, and soymilk. (Mixture will be very thick.) Drop by tablespoons over the cherries in the ramekins, dividing equally among them. Smooth to cover the cherries.
Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the batter, about 2 tablespoons per ramekin. Use a spoon to level the tops.
Add boiling water to the cherry juice up to the 3/4 cup line. Pour or spoon it gently over the brown sugar in the ramekins, about 3 tablespoons per ramekin. Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until tops appear mostly dry (they should be streaked with darker, wetter looking areas) and sauce is bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.