It was quite the affair. A sinfully chocolaty affair. As I stood in my kitchen, preparing to begin the ordeal, I felt so guilty. But who doesn’t, after desperately trying to stick to a resolution?
Last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to go the entire year without eating any dessert. Yes, you heard me right. And if you know me really well, then you’re probably gasping in horror. My favorite meal of the day was dessert. I planned what I ate for dinner around what I’d eat afterward. Cookies, brownies, cake, pie… I just needed to satisfy my sweet tooth.
I’m no whale. I’m actually a runner and I eat really healthy otherwise, so the goal wasn’t to lose weight. I simply wanted to prove to myself that (a) I could do it and (b) happiness in my life didn’t absolutely depend on filling my tummy with sweets.
So there I was, over a year later, pulling ingredients off of the shelves, getting ready to make the first dessert I would actually enjoy. (Sure, I made lots of cookies and brownies over the past year, but I didn’t eat a single one. I didn’t even taste the batter or lick the spoon. Honest!) I felt like a cheater, even though I successfully lived over one year without dessert. I asked myself, “If you’ve made it this far without any dessert, why stop now?” I didn’t have a good answer for that, yet I started chopping and mixing anyway.
The chocolate bread puddings took 35 minutes to cook, but the entire time, I never glanced at the clock to count down the seconds. I actually contemplating pulling them out and giving them to my next-door neighbors. Yet in the end, curiosity got the better of me—these were given 5 stars by reviewers!—and I took a taste.
The pudding deserved its 5 stars, and I enjoyed every bite. So rich, chocolaty, delicious… But that was it. No going back for seconds, no licking the bowl clean, no jumping up to make another batch.
So what did I learn from this food experiment? I learned that a meal itself can taste so good that it doesn’t require a dessert to be the grand finale. I learned to listen to and satisfy my cravings, and only once in 372 days did I crave dessert (a simple chocolate chip cookie). I learned that it’s easier than I thought to exercise self-discipline and stick to my goals. And most of all, I learned that I tried to use desserts to fill my life, when all they did was overfill my stomach and leave the rest of me feeling empty. Once I finally stopped focusing on the quantity of tastes filling my mouth and my tummy and instead focused on the quality of what I ate, I realized my stomach felt better—not full to bursting every day—and I felt healthier, happier, and whole.
This extends to life outside of food as well (if there actually is such a thing…). Letting go of quantity and concentrating on quality. Recognizing what brings me happiness and holding on to that. Realizing that when I’m happy, it’s easier to tackle whatever hurdles life throws at me. And knowing that this happiness doesn’t always come from some outside source, but from within myself.
All that from giving up dessert!
Chocolate Bread Puddings
taken from Cooking Light’s Chocolate Chunk Bread Puddings
I used chocolate chips for the semisweet chocolate. Top with a dollop of whipped cream for a little extra treat, or leave that off if you’re a chocolate purist like me.
3 Hawaiian sweet rolls, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1¾ c.)
⅔ c. milk
2 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla
1 oz (about 3 tbsp) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°. Toast bread cubes for 5-10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine milk through vanilla. Gently fold in toasted bread cubes, making sure they’re all coated with the milk mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Coat 2 (6 oz) ramekins with cooking spray. Divide half of the bread mixture between the 2 ramekins. Sprinkle ¼ of chopped semisweet chocolate over each bread layer. Divide the remaining bread mixture between the 2 ramekins, and top with remaining chocolate.
- Place ramekins in an 8×8” baking pan, and add hot water to the pan to a depth of 1 inch. Cook puddings at 325° for 35 minutes or until set. Serve warm.