Sunday, January 16, 2011

Consolation Chocolate Pudding

I'm calling this recipe "Consolation Chocolate Pudding."  Not because it deserves to be regarded as second best to another recipe (In fact, the original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and is called "Best Chocolate Pudding"). It's called consolation simply because it was made tonight. After the unexpected Pats' loss to the Jets.

I'm not even going to pretend to like football.  The most passion I can muster is rooting for my alma mater (Go Eagles!) with a hotdog in one hand and a beer in the other.  But you can't live in New England and not absorb some of the excitement about the playoffs. Especially when you live in a house with a Pats fan.  And while I did not set out to make this pudding deliberately timed with the Pats game or expecting them to lose, I must say it salvaged the rest of the evening.  Who can be bummed while licking thick, luscious, homemade chocolate pudding from a spoon? Not this guy - ahem, gal!

So I happily introduce to you "Even-though-the-Pats-are-out-of-the-playoffs-you-can-still-enjoy-life-Consolation-Chocolate-Pudding." 

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar (Shockingly enough, I found myself out of granulated white sugar. Which almost never happens to a frequent baker like myself. So I substituted 3/4 cup of powdered sugar)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole milk (I used 2 cups of heavy cream since I had it in the fridge and 1 cup of skim milk to balance it out)
  • 6 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Like Smitten Kitchen, I used chocolate chips. But forget all that nonsense about using fancy chocolate. I probably used around 10 oz of just plain old Tollhouse semi-sweet morsels, and it was delicious)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler.
I'm ashamed to admit, I actually used an improvised water bath for this. As in, heatproof glass bowl on top of a simmering pot of water. The embarassment comes from the fact that I actually own a double boiler now (thanks to a gift from wedding shower). And when I pulled it out, brand spanking new and in its original plastic bag and cardboard wrapping, I stuck it back on the shelf because I was too lazy to wash it before using it. That's what pudding does to you, it's a lazy type of dessert (in theory) that you want to casually throw together. So I was lazy and plunked a bowl on top of a pot. And it actually worked really well.

2. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes (It was more like 25 minutes for me), when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. This was the fun part, it was almost magical to dump in the chocolate chips and whisk away, watching the all white mixture turn into chocolatey goodness.
Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
3. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (Again, like SK, I skipped this step) into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes (Score! I used my spanking new ramekins - also a shower gift but washed by my loving husband in advance).

4. Place plastic wrap over the top of ramekins before refrigerating (to avoid pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.  (After 30 minutes in the fridge, the pudding was still sloshing around and felt slightly warm. So we popped it into the freezer for 20 minutes and it was ready for our eager spoons.

You will never go back to a Hunts snackpack or a Jell-O bowl of pudding after this. It was just sooo good and rich with chocolate flavor.  As my loyal readers know, I'm not a fan of most chocolate desserts even though I love a good piece of chocolate.  It's really because I feel most chocolate desserts don't taste like chocoalte or just are overwhelmingly sweet.  This pudding is rich (and I imagine, would be even more awesome topped with a dollop of whipped cream and berries, or even dipping apple slices into it) but it just shines with tons of flavor. So yes, even chocolate pudding falls into one the category of tasting better when homemade, even though the commercial packaged versions are pretty decent.

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