Yesterday I was in the mood for something chocolate-y. Not just straight chocolate, but something made from chocolate.
As much as I love to bake outrageous cakes and cookies, a.k.a. letting my inner 800-lb self come out and play, I keep the dessert-making in check. For my heart. For my squat clean. For my jeans. So the Booze Hound and I stock a hefty supply of dark chocolate and use that our post-dinner sweet. My drugs of choice come mostly from Trader Joe’s. Our local store should erect a monument in our honor.
I couldn’t tire of chocolate any easier than I could tire of breathing, but sometimes you want to take it to the next level. Not Killer Chocolate Cake level. But maybe… pudding level.
Making pudding is most popular among people who are either five years old or who happen to love watching the magic of egg yolks and cornstarch thicken warm milk into silky bliss in the blink of an eye. It’s totally retro- not in the aspic sort of way, but in the cure-your-own-bacon sort of way. And, not to sound like a broken record, but it tastes infinitesimally better than its boxed counterpart. You knew that was coming.
Before I decided to make pudding, the Booze Hound and I had a very deep and serious discussion about whether I should make chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse to satisfy our collective desire for something deep in the abyss of chocolate badness. Mousse is richer but a little more time-consuming and involves many more bowls to clean up. Pudding was less rich, but faster and easier. Nap time was about to expire, so I made…
Both. One. What? YES.
I made a chocolate pudding that tastes like mousse. It’s thick and rich like mousse, quick and easy like pudding. I know- life doesn’t usually work like that. When it does, you take it and run like the wind. Maybe play the lottery.
I wish I could take credit for this amazing feat of cookery, but the recipe is from my beloved Cook’s Illustrated ‘Science of Good Cooking’ cookbook. Not only does this book give you things like luscious mousse-like puddings and the Ultimate Beef Chili, but also side notes about things like the effects of cocoa butter content on the thickening process of the pudding, which are written with the same passion as a tea-partier discussing entitlement programs. I dig that.
So… the pudding-mousse (moussing? pousse? Should I not even try?). There really isn’t much to say that ‘I made a pudding that tastes like a mousse’ doesn’t convey. It contains a double dose of chocolate-y-ness in the form of cocoa and dark chocolate, and although it starts out with a pudding-like consistency, a stint in the fridge helps it thicken up to mousse-like consistency. Yes, you do need a short 5-to-8-minute constant stirring extravaganza, but (a) that’s not nearly as long as risotto, a food for which most people say the stirring is cathartic that I say is boring and wilts my hair, and (b) seeing your creation instantly thicken when it reaches exactly the correct temperature will turn any frown upside down. Plus… the end result is homemade pudding. Heaven, I tell you.
One day you will look in your chocolate cupboard and be satisfied with nothing. The dark stuff, the semi-sweet stuff, and the sea-salt-and-turbinado-sugar-dark-chocolate-almonds that you should be able to mail-order to your home so that you don’t have to be seen clearing off the store shelf. They just won’t do. Thick and Creamy Dark Chocolate Pudding is your fix.
- 2 t vanilla extract
- ½ t instant espresso powder
- ½ c sugar
- 3 T Dutch-process cocoa
- 2 T cornstarch
- ¼ t salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 c half and half
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 5 T unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- Stir together vanilla and espresso in the bowl; set aside. Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt together in a large saucepan. Whisk in egg yolks and ½ c half and half until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape corners of saucepan (a French whisk comes in handy for just this purpose). Whisk in the rest of the half and half until incorporated.
- Place saucepan over medium heat; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbling over entire surface, 5 to 8 minutes. Cook for 30 seconds longer, remove from heat, add chocolate and butter, and whisk until melted and fully incorporated. Whisk in vanilla mixture.
- Strain pudding through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Place lightly greased plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding (to help prevent a skin from forming) and place in refrigerator to cool at least 4 hours. Serve.