Chocolate pudding from scratch

We interrupt your regularly scheduled loafing to bring you… chocolate pudding!

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When I told my boyfriend I was making pudding, he knew right away it wasn’t going to be the pudding he’s used to. He’s from Australia and therefore accustomed to the type of pudding that’s more like a warm molten cake. “You’re making the type that’s like baby food,” he said. “Yes!” I proclaimed proudly.

A side note: I didn’t realize until recently that pudding can be made from scratch, as in other than buying a box of Jell-O pudding mix. I know, shame on me, who calls herself a baker! (OK well technically there is no baking involved in pudding sooo… I’m off the hook!) Growing up my family typically made two types of pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas: pumpkin pie and chocolate pudding pie. I’m not sure where the chocolate pudding pie tradition comes from, but to outsiders it must seem pretty strange. It’s pudding – set in a pie crust. It’s always been my dad’s favorite. It’s pretty delicious and tastes like childhood to me.

So maybe it’s the nostalgic side of me, with Thanksgiving just passed and having not spent it with my family since the last decade, that inspired me to make chocolate pudding. No pie, just pudding. From scratch, to prove to myself that it can be done without a Jell-O packet.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, because she’s never steered me wrong, and because this blog is quickly on it’s way to becoming a Smitten Kitchen fan blog. And GUESS WHAT she has a chocolate pudding pie recipe too!! After my own heart. Her photos remind me of a Bakers Square French silk pie. Anyone remember those? Does Bakers Square even still exist? Not in Manhattan it doesn’t.

Hers looks way darker and richer than mine. Next time I’ll experiment with the type of chocolate. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips (it’s hard not to eat the whole bag while you’re making this).

Makes 5 teacups full nearly to the brim with pudding.

From Smitten Kitchen:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar (Deb calls for 1/2 cup, less if you use sweeter chocolate)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups of whole milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (as an alternative, Deb suggests 6 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a medium saucepan (no heat yet!). Slowly whisk in the milk, in a thin steam at first so that lumps don’t form, then more quickly once the cornstarch mixture is smoothly incorporated.

(Now it’s time for the heat.) Place the saucepan over low heat and stir occasionally for 10 minutes (constantly is not necessary), scraping the bottom and sides. I alternated using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom (otherwise a cornstarch layer forms) and a whisk to prevent lumps. After 10 minutes, before it starts to simmer, the mixture should begin to thicken, enough that it will coat the back of a spoon. At this point you’ll need to be constantly stirring to keep from simmering:  Add the chocolate and stir constantly for 2 to 4 minutes, until the chocolate has fully melted into the mixture and it’s now quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

I didn’t do this, but if you don’t want little lumps, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. I did end up with tiny cornstarch lumps but it didn’t affect the flavor.

Pour into individual pudding cups / teacups / jars / whatever floats your boat, or one large serving bowl. Place plastic wrap against the surface to prevent pudding skin (if you like pudding skin, you can skip this step).

Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours until the pudding is cool and set.

Deb says the pudding stays good for 3 days in the fridge. My boyfriend would probably be happy to eat it for longer since he has a steel stomach.

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