Haven't you ever wanted to sit down and eat an entire pizza by yourself? Or how about a whole cake? (Guilty, your Honor).
I have a brother who, given time, could probably devour a whole cheesecake by himself were my mother not there to bop him with a wooden spoon to make him stop.
My point is that sometimes you want the whole thing all to yourself, no sharing. I think this is a real driving point behind so many of today's convenience foods. Individual bags of potato chips have been around for a very long time; but these days you can get an individual serving of salsa to go with them plus a pre-made, pre-wrapped PB&J sandwich, a mini-can of soda, and a single-serving carton of ice cream for dessert.
Do you think it's because we're concerned about not getting our fair share of the communal pot? Perhaps we're becoming so me-centric that we don't want to have to deal with others at meal time? Is it strictly for hygienic purposes?
I know these are controversial issues; but let's talk about them. Here, I'll give you some time to gather your thoughts while we prepare this new recipe, Stovetop Chocolate Pudding, which we'll turn into mini chocolate cream pies. Put the following Into a heavy-bottomed saucepan: 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (natural or dutch-process, your choice) 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 2/3 cups water Whisk together well. After the initial whisking, blend in one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, and 3 large egg yolks. You'll need to whisk the mixture constantly to avoid big lumps. At first you'll see the surface covered with speckles of chocolate. This is cocoa powder that's become encapsulated in water. As the water heats, the cocoa will be absorbed and the specks will disappear. Keep whisking, and after 4 to 5 minutes the mixture will begin to thicken. When it's the consistency of regular pudding, remove the pan from the heat. Resist sneaking a spoonful just yet; there's more goodness to add. Quickly stir in 2 tablespoons soft butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder. You can surely leave out the espresso powder, but it really does heighten the flavor of the chocolate – and doesn't make the pudding taste like coffee. The pudding will become silky smooth and glossy. NOW you can snitch a bit for your "quality control" check. You can skip the step of pressing the hot mixture through a sieve; and I HAVE skipped it many times in the past. I've started doing this more often, though,as it really does give you the very best, very smoothest results. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge for several hours.
To make mini pies, cut 2" circles from your favorite pie dough recipe. Make a single slit from the outer edge to the center, to aid in fitting the circles into the pan.
Quick game of Pac-Man, anyone? Place the rounds into the wells of a mini-cupcake/muffin tin that's been lightly spritzed with cooking spray. Use the slit you cut to help overlap the pastry a tiny bit, so your rounds fit in better.
Press the open edges of the pastry together to seal. Prick ("dock") the bottom of each crust several times with a fork. In hindsight, I bet a fondue fork would be great for this – nice small head to fit in the well.
To serve, place a dollop of pudding into each pie shell, and top with whipped cream.
If you want to go the s'mores route, consider making marshmallow topping from your 3 leftover egg whites. Spread the fluffy stuff on top of each pie, and toast with a torch or under the broiler.
Now that we have something to chew on – literally! – let's get back to chewing the fat on the single serving size discussion.
Where do you stand? Do you want that individual cup of peanut butter for sanitary reasons, or to ensure no one has messed it up with jelly traces? Do you come from a large family of 13 (like my friend Don) and need to know it's yours for keeps? Maybe you're firmly on the other side of the fence, and only serve family-style?
Step right up and share your view in our comments section. As long as there's no name-calling or choice-shaming, let's talk.
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