Piquant chocolate pudding ~ Strep throat ~ The Plumed Serpent
I have an aunt-by-marriage (I emphasize the non-sanguineous nature of our relationship) whose contributions to conversation suggest she is playing a private game of word association. While Mama was sharing Cousin B’s efforts to bring more redwoods to her area, Aunt D chimed in with “trees!”.
Let’s play word association with Aunt D.
Chocolate pudding ~ Strep throat
Not again. Flames chase down my throat when I swallow.
I can’t go to school today Mama.
Wielding a flashlight and a spoon-cum-tongue-depressor, Mama identifies the diagnostic white spots pebbling my throat. Call the kindergarten carpool to cancel. Call Doctor F for an appointment (F is for Fischoff…a name that delighted and terrified me for 18 years).
Then the pills. Bitter pills to swallow down a singed throat. I lock my jaw against the abrasive intruder.
But with a bit of maternal alchemy (what alchemist doesn’t keep a box of Jell-O instant pudding close to hand?) pills become pudding. What kindergartener wouldn’t unlock her jaw to non-optional dessert?
Yes, there was a pharmaceutical sandiness to the creamy chocolate waves, but the palate of a six-year-old can overlook many culinary deficiencies out of saccharide-deficiency desperation.
This chocolate chia pudding shares that grainy quality with its predecessor, but you can tell yourself it’s medicinal. I won’t wax poetic on the panacean miracles of chia…the bards of the blogging world have already written that ode. A note: the family Osterizer predates me and is too curmudgeonly to smoothly accept this whippersnapper Chia. If you happen to have a blender born in this century, its more modern sensibilities may eliminate graininess.
Spicy chocolate pudding ~ Quetzalcoatl
As the first story illustrates, I was indoctrinated early into the Church of Chocolate, of which my mother is High Priestess. Medicinal necessity excepted, the first commandment of the Church is ‘Thou shalt not adulterate your chocolate with foreign substances.’ (Dad’s Christmas box of chocolate covered cherries, sent special order by his mother from a tiny Pennsylvania chocolate factory, were always safe from Mama.) Thus the popular “Mexican Chocolate” tag, connoting Theobroma laced with Aztec spices, never seduced me into apostasy.
Melding sweet chocolate with flaming peppers seemed as impossible as the mythological Quetzalcoatl, whose name is the portmanteau of Quetzal—a bird of beautiful plumage—and Coatl—snake.
But my palate has evolved (marginally) from that of my six-year-old self. I recently shocked myself by renouncing my former claim that “There is no such thing as too sweet.” So perhaps, just perhaps, there is something to that Aztec legend. And what better guide to the explore the mythology with than Chia, who spent her childhood amongst the pre-Columbian Aztecs and their stories?
Quetzalcoatl Chia Pudding
Adapted from Oh She Glows
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 6 pitted Medjool dates
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Sea salt
- 2-3 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Chile powder
Unless your dates are baby-cheek tender, soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes.
Place all the ingredients in a blender. I start with a generous glug of vanilla, a pinch each of salt, cayenne, and chili (chile? chili? my apologies to the culinary linguists), but play with any and all proportions in this ersatz recipe. We’re reconstructing a mythological hybrid after all—there’s room for interpretation.