Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Easiest Chocolate Pudding (not quite from scratch)
I love pudding. I don’t care much for pastries, I’ve never gone for cupcakes (or any cakes for that matter) but I cannot resist pudding. I don’t care what kind of pudding it is: tapioca, rice, custard, flan, creme brulee, butterscotch or bread pudding, it’s all good to me. You can put it in a crust and call it pie, but it’s all pudding to me. (Yes, custard has eggs in it, true pudding is just starch thickened milk & sugar. Instant pudding is like mockolate and does not deserve the pudding name.)
I usually make Jell-O Cook & Serve pudding. I’ve tried some organic stuff from Whole Foods but found it had far more sugar in it and less flavor, so I went back to Jell-O (I actually preferred Royal, but I can’t find that any longer). I usually make mine with Lactaid milk, as I’m not that good at digesting larger quantities of milk products and this is a good alternative to ice cream.
Here’s what you get from Jell-O for $1.50:
It turns out that it’s so freakishly easy, I’m kicking myself for not doing it for years.
(For the record, I did a search on the internet to see if I could find a recipe for just this and I had absolutely no luck ... so I worked it out on my own.)
What started this was that I got two cans from Equal Exchange last week ... when it was 90 degrees out. Not really hot chocolate season any longer, but pudding is always in season. One can is of their Organic & Fairly Traded Spiced Cocoa (shown) and one is of their Organic & Fairly Traded Drinking Chocolate. The difference between the two: hot cocoa is just that, cocoa and sugar (this one with spices as well) to be mixed with milk. Hot Chocolate or Drinking Chocolate has cocoa liquor in it and therefor a bit of cocoa butter.
Here are the ingredients of the Drinking Chocolate:
(The ingredients list would look shorter if they didn’t have to throw the word organic in front of everything because it’s two things: sugar and some sort of chocolate or cocoa.)
It took me two tries, the first one I did only 2/3 of a cup of cocoa mix and 2% milk. The second was best and is what I’ve listed below.
Deluxe & Politically Correct Lactose-Free Chocolate Pudding That’s Super Easy to Make from Near-Scratch
Have your destination cups ready. I usually use the little cups that came with my china pattern, they hold 8 ounces, so that’s what I put in them. But you can use ramekins or other dessert cups that hold the recommended dosage of a half a cup if you have self control (or if you have no self control and just like to do a lot of dishes).
- 3 cups of milk (don’t use anything less than 2% or you’ll end up with a disappointing slurry - I use Lactaid Whole Milk)
Put 3 cups of milk into a large, heavy saucepan. Sift the 1/4 cup of corn starch into the milk while stirring (I use a mesh tea strainer to do this, a fine screen colander works, too). This should avoid any of the dreaded lumps. When done, turn on burner to medium.
Put in 3/4 cup of cocoa mix, stirring constantly, scraping bottom and sides. This process takes about five minutes. Just be patient, work out any lumps or clumps in the cocoa while stirring, they get easier to integrate as the milk warms. The drinking chocolate didn’t look like it was completely melted until the very end, so have confidence.
Continue heating until mixture thickens. Do not allow to come to a full boil, but if you get a few blurples as it comes up to that temperature, it’s not the end of the world.
Pour into cups. Allow to cool. If you don’t like skin on your pudding, cover immediately with wax paper or plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.
I don’t mind skin, so I don’t cover mine at all, even when I stick it in the fridge (partly because I’m lazy and partly because it seems like such a waste of plastic).
I also like hot pudding. Yes, I’ll rinse out the pan and clean up my mess and then dig in with a spoon to my chocolate soup while it’s still steamy and a little runny.
In order to customize this, in both instances I followed the ratio of milk to hot cocoa mix on the package, so give it a try with whatever you may have around, but I’d err on the upper side of 1/4 cup per cup of milk.
The Equal Exchange Spiced Cocoa was a bit too spicy for me, but a really good, rich flavor (I might try it with half unspiced at some point). Not quite as fatty smooth as I would have preferred but this allowed me to sense the difference between that and the Drinking Chocolate (57%) was amazing. So deeply chocolatey, but silky smooth. It was like a freshly waxed floor and stocking feet ... my tongue was sliding around with that pudding going, “Whee!”
Yes, truly from scratch is probably best of all, but this is so elegantly easy and means that I can have hot cocoa on hand for guests and just need to have corn starch around for a scalable chocolate pudding mix at the drop of hat.
Pudding is a great year round dessert, easy to make larger batches for bigger crowds or use as a pie or tart filling.
I also tried Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate late last year, which is absolutely divine as a hot chocolate ... next time I’ll try it as pudding, too. It’s the perfect ratio of chocolate to sugar (milk adds its own sweetness).
I haven’t (and won’t) tried this with an actual instant cocoa mix that you’d use water with ... that has powdered milk or “coffee creamer” type products in it. I don’t think it would work with soy, rice or almond milk products, part of the reaction that thickens pudding is the starch with the calcium in milk, if I’m not mistaken. But if it does work, it’d make this vegan.
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