Recipe: chocolate pudding
It’s nice to be back in Crested Butte, even if only for a long weekend. The air here stays nice and chilly. Even on a bluebird day, we’re still below freezing and overnight temperatures dip to double digits below zero (°F). That helps to preserve the lovely snow for days on end. It’s winter done right. We tele the mountain in the morning and skate the trails in the afternoon. When it’s a powder day (more, please!) the mountain is where it’s at. On the non-powder days, we make use of the fantastic 55-km network of nordic trails that connect our neighborhood, town, Mount Crested Butte, and the beautiful Slate River Valley. Nothing takes the edge off a hard workout like solitude and beautiful scenery.
one of the many things to love about crested butte
skiing up the snowy valley
mount crested butte and the slate river
Jeremy and I basically packed our laptops and our skis for Crested Butte: to work and to play for a few days. Oh, I also brought chocolate pudding. It all started when I purchased a container of Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate pudding for Jeremy last month during the holiday cookie baking frenzy. The cookies were off-limits until the distribution had been completed, so the pudding was intended to satisfy any sweet cravings he might have gotten during his finals-grading marathon. It wasn’t until I was flipping through my latest issue of Fine Cooking that I found a simple recipe to make my own dark chocolate pudding.
you’ll need: cream, milk, sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, salt, cornstarch, vanilla
Having made chocolate pudding before, the one step that turns a simple recipe into a not-so-simple recipe is chopping chocolate. I don’t like chopping chocolate. It makes a mess because our air is so dry and the electrostatic charge sends tiny shards of chocolate clinging to all possible surfaces (think iron filings in the Wooly Willy toy). But this recipe doesn’t require the chopping of chocolate – woohoo! It’s based on cocoa powder, so make sure you get a good quality cocoa powder.
sift the cocoa, cornstarch, and salt together to avoid lumps
whisk the cream in completely
stir in the yolks (it will be thick, be patient)
Just like the method for making a custard, you combine a hot milk mixture and an egg mixture. If you add the hot milk to the egg-chocolate mixture all at once, you’ll curdle (cook) the eggs. The trick to slowly raising the temperature of the egg-chocolate mixture without killing the custard is to stir in a small amount of the hot milk. When that is incorporated, add a little more hot milk. This is called tempering and it brings the temperature up without curdling the eggs and also smooths the paste-like egg-chocolate mixture into the consistency of a thick sauce. After half of the milk has been stirred in, pour it back into the pan with the remaining hot milk. Cook this just like a custard until the pudding is thick. Oh, and be sure to whisk well to work out any lumps in the pudding.
bring the milk and sugar up to a boil
tempering the egg-chocolate mixture
adding the chocolate mixture into the remaining hot milk
stir the vanilla into the thickened pudding
When the pudding is thick and done cooking, pour it into a shallow pan. I used an 8×8-inch baking dish. The reason for a shallow pan versus a deep container is to help the pudding chill faster. Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming (unless you like the pudding skin) and then refrigerate for at least an hour. When it is completely chilled, the pudding should set up and be quite thick. Whisk the chocolate pudding before serving so that it will be creamy and smooth.
pour into a baking dish
cover the surface with plastic wrap
whisk the chilled pudding to make it nice and creamy
Even though I generally avoid things with dairy, I enthusiastically sampled this pudding because it was so thick and creamy when I dished it up. How could I not? Rich, chocolatey, and smooth – but not too sweet – what one should expect from a chocolate pudding. Jeremy thought it far superior in texture and flavor to the Trader Joe’s pudding. It was worthy of freshly whipped cream, too. I brought a batch to Crested Butte as Jeremy’s sweet treat after all of his calorie-burning on the trails, and he’s loving every spoonful.
from Fine Cooking
6 tbsps (1.5 oz.) cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
3 tbsps (1 oz.) cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sift the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt together into a medium bowl. Slowly whisk the heavy cream into the cocoa mixture. It will become quite thick and you might have to switch to a spoon or spatula to continue mixing. Just keep at it until it is uniform in consistency. Stir in the two egg yolks until completely mixed. Set aside. Stir the milk and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. When the milk begins to boil at the edge of the pan, take the pan off the heat. Whisk a little of the hot milk into the cocoa mixture. Continue whisking the hot milk into the cocoa mixture a little at a time until you have incorporated half of the milk and the chocolate mixture is smooth. Whisk the chocolate mixture back into the remaining half of the hot milk in the saucepan.
Set the saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking slowly to keep the bottoms and sides from burning. Bring the pudding to a boil. It will thicken as it cooks and large bubbles should start to erupt in the center of the pan while little bubbles line the sides of the pan. Turn the heat down to medium flame and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour the hot pudding into a shallow baking dish (8×8-inches is what I used). Give the baking dish a light shake to settle the pudding evenly, then place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the pudding surface (to avoid developing a skin on the pudding). Refrigerate the pudding for at least an hour. Before serving, remove the plastic wrap and whisk the pudding to loosen it. Serves 4.
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