Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. February 14th is my favorite day to cook. Of course, I cook for my wife on nights we eat at home. This is the only meal that my plan starts with dessert.

My wife always chooses our entrée. For dessert, the main ingredient is always White Chocolate. From White Chocolate Bread Pudding to White Chocolate Mousse, I think white chocolate adds a special touch to the end of this romantic meal.

White chocolate is not chocolate in the strict sense as it does not contain non-fat cocoa solids, the primary flavor in the unsweetened chocolate form. During the manufacturing process, the dark-colored solids of the cocoa bean are separated from its fatty content, as with milk, semi-sweet and dark chocolate. But, unlike those other chocolate types, the cocoa solids are not recombined. As a result, this fat, cocoa butter, is the only cacao ingredient in white chocolate.

The first recipe is for the most adventuresome cook, White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce. Bread Pudding is found on menus across New Orleans, from the five star restaurants to the neighborhood cafés. What sets New Orleans bread pudding apart is the use of New Orleans French Bread. Made with local water, this bread is almost impossible to duplicate away from the city. My twist is that I use croissants as the bread component. I find this bread pudding a little less dense.

3 cups Heavy Cream
10 ounces White Chocolate Chips
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
8 Egg Yolks
6 large Croissants, torn into large pieces
White Chocolate Sauce (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 275℉. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream but do not boil. Remove from heat, add the white chocolate chips, and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a double boiler over barely simmering water, beat the milk, sugar, eggs and egg yolks together, and heat until warm. Blend the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Place the croissant pieces into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour half of the chocolate mixture over the croissants. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pour in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares and top with White Chocolate Sauce.

White Chocolate Sauce

8 ounces White Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Heavy Cream

In a double boiler, over barely simmering water, melt chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and mix in the heavy cream. Keep warm. To store, let cool slightly and store in. an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, in a double boiler, melt over barely simmering water and stir until smooth.

For an easier, but no less rich and delicious dessert, here is my recipe for White Chocolate Mousse. It only takes about 15 minutes to put the mousse together and at least an hour in the refrigerator to set. This can be topped with almost any type of berry. I like to use chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate flakes.

8 ounces White Chocolate Chips
2 Egg Yolks
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream, divided
Chocolate Sprinkles

In a large glass bowl, place the white chocolate chips and set aside. Add the egg yolks and sugar to a small bowl and whisk until pale in color. In a saucepan, over low heat, bring 1/4 cup of the heavy cream to a simmer, and slowly add the cream into the yolk and egg mixture to temper. Pour the creamy mixture back into the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it coats the back of it. Pour hot mix thru a strainer over the bowl with the white chocolate. Stir until completely smooth. In another bowl, whip the remaining cup of heavy cream to almost stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the white chocolate mix to lighten then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into 4 serving cups and refrigerate until set, approximately one hour. Top with chocolate sprinkles.  

Enjoy your Valentine’s dinner!