This nostalgic dessert is made both from cocoa and dark chocolate, which makes it rich, luxurious, and delicious.
Pudding is one of those desserts we all grew with and reminds us all of childhood. Just hearing that word brings comforting, nostalgic memories, doesn’t it? Yet unlike most other desserts, this one just doesn’t seem like something you can make at home. It’s more of a store-bought treat, right? Wrong. Not only is it quick and simple to make yourself, but it also tastes much better – more flavorful, chocolatier, and much richer.
But let’s go back a few years to when pudding didn’t sound that glamorous to me. As a child, I loved it, but I grew up and so did my palette. I decided to try making some at home, confident that it would taste better than any chocolate pudding I’d ever had. I still remember that first bite. It was bad. Very bad. It was too thick, too messy, and – worst of all – flavorless. Ok, maybe not quite flavorless, but it did have a cornstarch aftertaste.
Still, I didn’t give up on my vision. One day, I saw a recipe in a magazine that used not only cocoa, but also chocolate, and as you know, when there’s chocolate involved, I just have to try it. That recipe turned out so much better, and that’s where my love for homemade chocolate pudding began.
The recipe I’m sharing today is taken from the cookbook Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. I love cookbooks that have simple, classic recipes at their best. Although I left the ingredients the same as the original recipe, I simplified the instructions for you. There’s a lot of chocolate in his pudding, and the texture is absolutely divine. It actually puts pudding, the way I grew up knowing it, to shame.
There aren’t many substitution options, but I do sometimes replace some of the milk (around ¼ cup) with heavy cream. I just can’t help it!
The last thing I want to talk to you about today is how to make a basic custard. If you’re familiar with the process, it should take no longer than 15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on everything all the time, and don’t leave the stove!
Start by heating milk and sugar (reserving some of both) in a saucepan. In the meantime, in another bowl, mix together the eggs and all remaining ingredients except for the bittersweet chocolate, butter, and vanilla. These three will be added at the end. Once the milk starts to boil, remove it from the heat, then start pouring it into the egg mixture. Do this slowly, gradually, and while simultaneously whisking the egg mixture with the other hand. This is crucial as it will prevent the eggs from curdling due to the difference in temperature. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and heat again. It’s important to keep the heat medium-low and to constantly whisk. The custard should thicken within 2-3 minutes and have a mayonnaise-like consistency; it will set more once refrigerated. If it doesn’t thicken at all, increase the heat. Once ready, remove from the heat and, preferably, strain through a sieve to get rid of any bits of cooked eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk, whisk, whisk until it’s all melted and perfectly smooth. Taste, be proud of yourself, and try to leave some for your guests!
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or Dutch-processed)
- 6 tablespoons (75 g/2.6 oz) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups (540 ml) whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 140 g/5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and salt until combined. Add 1/4 cup milk and whisk until smooth. Add egg and yolks and whisk until combined. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, bring to a boil the remaining 2 cups of milk and 3 tablespoons of sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, constantly whisking until smooth. Transfer mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 2-3 minutes. It should have a consistency similar to mayonnaise.
- Strain the pudding into a medium heatproof bowl. Add the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla and whisk until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and pudding is smooth. Transfer pudding to 4-ounce or 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours until chilled. You can press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent it from creating a ‘skin’. Serve with lightly whipped cream if you like.
- Chocolate pudding can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days. It does not freeze well.
Recipe adapted from: Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax.