The Anniston Museum of Natural History bids farewell to its traveling “Chocolate” exhibit on Saturday night with a big outdoor party called “Evening in the Garden of Light and Dark Chocolate” (for ages 21 and up).
There will be live bands on the garden stage, a masquerade (come in a chocolate- or candy-themed costume), door prizes, beverages (alcoholic and non-) and tablesful of chocolate treats, including the chocolate fountain from Classic on Noble, a create-a-cupcake bar and chocolate cheese from Wright Dairy.
The party starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets have been discounted to $25 ($20 for museum members). Reservations required; call 256-237-6766 or email email@example.com.
The last day to see “Chocolate” is Sunday. The museum will be open noon-6 p.m., with the last tickets sold at 5:15 p.m. Starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Wright Dairy will offer ticket-
holders a scoop of its gourmet ice cream for a make-your-own ice cream sundae (while supplies last).
DARK CHOCOLATE-WALNUT-RASPBERRY TARTLETS
These miniature tarts take minutes to make. They can be shaped into rounds, squares or hearts. Make sure that you only use the very best chocolate. Serves 6.
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal (brown Rice Crispies-type cereal)
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
36 fresh raspberries
6 sprigs of mint
Arrange six cupcake papers on a baking sheet or in a muffin pan; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the walnuts and rice cereal; mix well. Add the melted chocolate and stir until all is well coated. Divide evenly among the 6 paper-lined cups and press gently with the back of a soup spoon to compact into a “crust.”
Arrange 6 raspberries on top, gently pressing them into position while the chocolate is still warm. Garnish with a sprig of the mint.
Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove from the paper liners and place on a serving platter or individual serving plates.
Can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours.
WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
1 (16 ounce) King’s Hawaiian Original Bread, cut into one-inch cubes
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cut the bread into cubes the night before and leave out to become a tad stale.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat.
Meanwhile, place the white chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. When the cream comes to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour over the chips, whisking until the chips melt. Whisk the sugar into the mixture, then add the milk, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.
Add the bread to the bowl, gently stirring to coat the cubes. Set the mixture aside to allow the bread to soak, tossing periodically (About 30-40 minutes or so).
Toss the pecans into the soaked bread mixture, then pour into a baking dish. (Individual dishes can be used for single servings.)
Place in 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Test the bread pudding to make sure the top is golden brown and the inside is cooked (not too dry though).
Remove from oven and serve with caramel sauce.
To prepare the sauce:
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves and begins to boil. Do not stir the sugar as this could cause it to seize.
While the sugar is cooking, combine the cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
Keep an eye on the sugar while heating the cream to keep it from scorching. Cook until the butter melts, stirring it into the cream. When the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat.
Continue to cook the sugar until it darkens to a rich caramel color, 9-15 minutes. Swirl the pan as the sugar darkens; watch carefully as it can burn easily at this stage.
When it is a rich caramel color, immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. The sugar will bubble and steam as the cream is added. Stir in the vanilla.
When the pudding is baked, spoon generous helpings into bowls.
Drizzle the sauce over each portion and serve immediately.