Monday, July 11, 2011

Chocolate Pudding

Pudding is a treat for both child and adult. It's wholesome and easy to make
with ingredients you probably have in your kitchen right now. 

Most children (even adults) in America grow up only knowing instant pudding. That's unfortunate. Homemade pudding is really quite easy and a wholesome dessert. It uses the simplest ingredients one most likely has on hand: milk, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder. It's a good way to use up milk, especially if it is close-dated.

In the summer, pudding is wonderful served chilled and garnished with fresh slices of banana, a few summer berries, such as raspberries, and a big dab of whipped cream. In winter, it's just comforting, especially served at room temperature and unadulterated. For a dinner-party dessert, serve in wine goblets or martini glasses to "dress it up."

For baking purposes, I use Dutch cocoa. It's darker and richer than regular cocoa. The creaminess of your pudding will depend on the milk you use. The higher the fat content, the more velvety the pudding. I usually use whole milk. This time, though, I had some leftover whipping cream so I used about 3/4 cup of that with the rest being milk. To give the pudding a bit more depth, I added two tablespoons chopped chocolate; the higher the cocoa content, the better.

This recipe is neither overly sweet nor overly rich. It's what I expect from a pudding. And I bet you'll lick the bowl.

One final note. YOU MUST HAVE A WHISK. A spoon just doesn't quite work.

  • 2 cups milk (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons Droste's Dutch Chocolate (or 4 tablespoons other cocoa)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch*
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate, preferably semi-sweet with at least a 60% cocoa content
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Dissolve cornstarch into 1/4 cup reserved milk. Set aside.

In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine 1 3/4 cup milk, sugar, cocoa and salt. Whisk over a low heat just to the boiling point. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted. Remove from heat.

Slowly whisk cornstarch mixture into hot pudding mixture. Return to heat. It's important at this point to keep stirring so the bottom of the pan doesn't scorch, the reason you want a low heat and a pan with a heavy bottom. Bring to a slow, slow boil whisking until pudding begins to thicken and you can no longer taste the corn starch. You don't want a full, rolling boil, but you need that boil because it reacts with the cornstarch to make the pudding set.

This whole process should be about 20 minutes.

Remove pudding from heat. Whisk in vanilla and almond extracts. Pour into individual serving bowls or one large bowl. Cover. Bring to room temperature and refrigerate. Garnish as desired.

*If you know what you are doing, use two tablespoons of cornstarch. If you've never made pudding before, go for the 3 tablespoons. If you're somewhere in-between, use 2.5 tablespoons. 

Notes: For the chocolate, I used Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chips which are 60% cacao. To make really thin slices of banana, do not peel the banana. Slice through the peel with a very sharp knife and then remove the peel.