Elaine Gonzalez, The Innovative Chocolatier

Elaine GonzalezBill Daley of the Chicago Tribune wrote a wonderful tribute to Dame Elaine Gonzalez on July 26, 2014, the day after she died. I’ve taken excerpts from what he said. If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, you’ll find it here.

What you’ll find below is Elaine’s recipe for Chocolate Rice Pudding. Dame Judith Dunbar Hines notes that everyone questioned the ratio of milk to rice in this recipe but Elaine knew what she was doing and it works!

July 26, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Bill Daley

Elaine Gonzalez of Northbrook, an innovative chocolatier noted for transforming chocolate into edible bowls, plates, ornaments, flowers and much, much more, died July 25. She was 79.

“She was an artist and took chocolate to new places,” said restaurateur Ina Pinkney.

“Everything she did had this artistry. She was more comfortable with that ingredient than anyone I ever saw with any other ingredient. It was like she was one with the chocolate.”

“I never saw anyone roll, twist and coax chocolate like she did,” Pinkney added. “I was always in awe and always learned something.”

…A 1976 holiday-themed article in the Tribune about Gonzalez’s chocolate ornaments described her as “a self-taught food artist who developed her talents because she liked to serve ornate hors d’oeuvres at parties. Later, ‘when the babies came,’ she switched to cake decorating.”

“She boned up on candy work a few years ago for a church bazaar,” wrote Fran Zell in that 1976 piece, “and eventually started selling her wares and teaching the craft on a part-time basis.”

Gonzalez modestly attributed her success to timing and fate in a brief biographical passage included in “Chicago Cooks,” a book of food history and memories by members of the Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a professional group. (Go to the Chicago Tribune)

Chocolate Rice Pudding Recipe
Makes: 8 servings

Elaine Gonzalez demonstrated and shared this recipe with students in the now-defunct city of Chicago’s World Kitchen program. The director, Judith Dunbar Hines, added the following headnote: “This recipe is a favorite from friend and author Elaine Gonzalez, who like the dish, has roots in Spain but a heart in Mexico, where the large production of fine cooking chocolate with cinnamon is reflected in this dish. It takes a bit of patience to make, but is well worth it!”

2 quarts milk
1 ounce coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate (use Mexican chocolate if possible)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 4-inch piece Mexican cinnamon bark
1/2 cup short-grain rice
2 large egg yolks
Cocoa for dusting the final dish before serving

1. In a large, deep saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, chocolate and 1 cup of the sugar plus the cinnamon bark to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower the heat and add the rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent the grains from sticking together. Don’t be concerned if the milk at first appears to be speckled with chocolate, as this will change as the cooking progresses.

2. Simmer, uncovered, over very gentle heat for 1 hour, stirring the mixture most of the time. Check for doneness by squeezing a grain of rice between your fingers…it should feel completely tender with no hard part in the center.

3. Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl until well mixed. Remove 1/2 cup of cooked rice from the pot and stir into the eggs, stirring vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add this mixture to the pot, stirring for 5 minutes. The pudding should now be the consistency of soft custard (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Discard the cinnamon bark, transfer the pudding to a metal bowl set over ice and let cool, stirring occasionally. When it is room temperature, it may be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours.

4. Dust the pudding with cocoa powder and serve with lots of hot coffee, also flavored with Mexican cinnamon.

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