Chocolate Bar: Recipes and Entertaining Ideas for Living the Sweet Life , by Matt Lewis & Alison Nelson (Running Press, 2004).

2004_10_food_chocolatebar2.JPGThe Chocolate Bar's cookbook is a bible for the chocolate-obsessed, or a training manual for the soon-to-be obsessed. Part cookbook, part chocolate-philosophy textbook, and all mouthwatering, the book is a recruiting manual for the "chocolate-centered lifestyle." The authors earn their toaster ovens with recipes for fondues, moles, sundaes, brownies and cookies, as well as novel recipes for Lime Brownies, Chocolate Gelatin, and Spiced Chocolate Meatballs. If you have nonbelieving friends, follow the instructions for how to hold a chocolate tasting. And like any lifestyle, the chocolate lifestyle isn't limited to the kitchen - recipes for chocolate baths and body scrubs are included as well. With the irresistible combination of eating and pampering, this is one organized religion that Gothamist won't stray from.

2004_10_food_puddingbowl.JPGGothamist likes pudding, and has a ton of martini glasses, so next time we have a party we'll be serving these grown-up pudding snacks to guests as they walk through the door. Easy to make the night before, and laced with whiskey, it will make our friends willing recruits into the "chocolate lifestyle."

Johnnie Walker Black Chocolate Pudding
makes 6 8-oz cups

3.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
3 T. Johnnie Walker Black Scotch whiskey (or liquor of your choice)
2T cocoa powder

Place the chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Bring the milk, cream, and 1/4 c. of the sugar to a boil in a heavy 2-qt saucepan.

Sift the cornstarch into a small bowl & whisk in the rest of the sugar.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl & add the cornstarch mixture. Add the vanilla & whisk until combined well.

When the milk mixture comes to a boil, pour 1/3 of it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add another third & whisk again. Return the egg-and-milk mixture to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to moderate and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to boil & thicken, and continue to whisk the boiling mixture for about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat, pour through a strainer directly over chocolate, and whisk gently until the chocolate is melted & incorporated. Add the whiskey & whisk until smooth. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with cocoa powder to taste and then either transfer to martini glasses and cover separately or cover the bowl with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is in direct contact with the pudding.

Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, until the mixture is chilled thoroughly and very thick. Serve with freshly-made whipped cream.

To make whipped cream: whip 2 c. heavy cream in a chilled metal mixing bowl. While billowy & before soft peaks form, add sugar and extract slowly while still beating. Continue until soft peaks form & use immediately.