Friday, May 6, 2011

Midnight Interlude - Running for the Roses, Bourbon and Chocolate

What can I say?  I love the races. I became hooked when I was 16, when I placed a $2 win bet on Bold Lance at Louisiana Downs, and won $22. I was dating a boy named Lance, so that horse was the obvious choice. For the past 20 years or so, I've continued to support our local track at Del Mar and always find an excuse to sneak out of work early several times during the summer track season.

When the Kentucky Derby rolls around, I eagerly check out the horses, fund my dormant online betting account with $100, and get geared up for a Saturday watching the races and placing a few bets.

This year, I immediately zeroed in on Midnight Interlude. I like his name, but I also like the trainer/jockey combo of Bob Baffert and Victor Espinoza. He won the Santa Anita Derby with a late run, and I'm hoping he can repeat that performance with a late run for the roses.

Midnight Interlude winning the Santa Anita Derby
(Benoit Photo)

In an effort to increase my chances of winning, I've spent the evening preparing a special dessert, and renamed it Midnight Interlude. I made this dessert a few months ago, in its traditional form, and have been craving it ever since. In Cajun Country, everyone apparently knows what Chocolate Yummy is. The yummy begins with a base of store-bought crumbled cookies, followed by layers of sweetened cream cheese, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip. In Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana, Donald Link offers a grown-up version that's a bit more sophisticated. He uses a rich pecan shortbread base, topped with slightly sweetened cream cheese, a silky dark chocolate pudding, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. The dessert is layered in a 9" square baking dish.

I took it up a few notches, with a drizzle of Blanton's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the pudding and whipped cream.

I also chose to layer the dessert in martini glasses. Rather than pressing the pecan shortbread dough into the bottom of a baking dish, I rolled it out in a thin layer on a silpat and baked it until golden brown, and then crumbled it up.  I put some crumbs into the bottom of the martini glass and pressed the crust part way up the sides. Next came the cream cheese layer, followed by the bourbon chocolate pudding, the bourbon whipped cream, and the chocolate shavings. This sophisticated dessert really deserved a new name and I truly think Midnight Interlude is far more appropriate than Chocolate Yummy!  Doesn't it look sexy?

Midnight Interlude
Slightly adapted from Chocolate Yummy
Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana

Pecan Shortbread

3 ounces pecans, toasted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Pudding

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds scraped), or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
Pinch of salt
1 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Bourbon Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Place the pecans and sugar in a food processor and pulse together for 30 seconds.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla, and the pecan sugar mixture, then stir in the flour and salt until just mixed. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Use your fingers to press the chilled dough into a 9-inch square baking dish. Prick the dough with a fork and bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Cool the cooked dough while preparing the remaining layers.

Heat the cream for the pudding in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. When the cream is hot (but not boiling), temper the cream into the yolks by slowly adding half of the cream while stirring vigorously, then stir the egg mixture back into the cream in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Place the dark and milk chocolate in a mixing bowl with the butter, vanilla, bourbon, and salt. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate and the butter are melted. Spread the pudding in a shallow dish to cool and cover with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly over the surface so a skin does not form.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar together until smooth.  Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream into soft peaks, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and bourbon, and whip a few minutes more, until stiff peaks form.

Spread the cream cheese over the cooled shortbread crust, top with the pudding, and then add the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Here's to you, Midnight Interlude, and to Bob Baffert and Victor Espinoza.  Make that late run for the roses and I'll be toasting you with a shot of Kentucky bourbon and a big bite of this decadent dessert I've created in your honor!

And it's run for the roses
As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered
Your moment's at hand
It's the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And it's high time you joined
In the dance
It's high time you joined
In the dance --
    Dan Fogelberg, Run for the Roses

Update:  Although Midnight Interlude ended up in the middle of the pack somewhere, I toasted Animal Kingdom with a shot of bourbon and big bite of Midnight Interlude aka Chocolate Yummy ;-)


yummychunklet said...

This looks absolutely decadent! I may have to make this for the Kentucky Derby viewing party I'm attending! Fun!

bunkycooks said...

That is one gorgeous dessert and a much nicer version that what I used to have here in the South (your first description). BTW, your photos are gorgeous! Good luck today and don't have too much bourbon! ;)

Liz said...

Wow! You're right...definitely a sexy dessert! Your beautiful photos make me want to re-create this NOW! I'm headed out to California to enjoy some of your great weather & scenery, but you can bet I'll be making this upon my return! :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds exactly like a pie served at a local restaurant called Bayou Goo. It's one of the best desserts I've ever eaten.

Christine@Foodista said...

Hello Denise,

We've selected you as our Foodista Drink Blog of the Day for this May 27, 2011! Your blog (regarding Midnight Interlude) will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours. Besides posting your link on the homepage, we will also post a couple shout outs on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Drink Blogger of The Day Community, we've created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn't find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I'll send it right away.

We are really enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your recipes, tips and techniques on Foodista! If you would not like to be recognized on Foodista please let me know and I will remove your blog from our queue.