We’ve just finished looking through the book Ovenly, by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga, and knew we’d want to try out something. Almost always, we like to start with something simple to make, but which sounds decadent. In this case, we chose their version of a dark chocolate pudding to have as a dessert. Naturally, we put our own little twist on it — just to make the pudding a bit creamier — as you’ll see if you compare our recipe with theirs.
The other thing we did was include (almost) all the measurements by weight. It’s a lot easier (and easier to clean up afterwards) just to measure directly into the pan set on a scale. Try it, and you’ll never go back to those measuring cups.
Now, for those people who buy the little packets of pudding to cook up on the stove, you know that’s nothing but sugar, cornstarch, flavoring, and chemicals, right? Just like we have in this pudding. Save yourself some money while making a better pudding by starting from scratch. It’s no more difficult.
Obviously, the key here is the chocolate and cocoa, so use the best you can afford. It makes a difference. We use Callebaut 70% cacao chocolate and Valrhona Dutch-processed cocoa. So what is Dutch-processed cocoa and why use that? Dutch-processed cocoa is treated with an alkali to remove bitterness and bring out chocolate flavor. It’s often very dark brown, and very, very, chocolatey. For the vanilla, there’s only pure, natural vanilla. Anything else is suspect. Finally, the addition of the butter at the end is our little secret for making puddings taste super-creamy. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.
Procedure in detail:
Whisk cornstarch and milk. In a small bowl — we use a measuring cup with a spout — whisk together the cornstarch and milk until smooth. Set it aside while you measure everything else.
Measure everything. In a medium saucepan, combine all the remaining ingredients except the butter. If you have a scale, you can just measure one right after the other, taring the scale (resetting to 0) in between additions.
Heat. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the chocolate melts, about 5 minutes. During this time, mash any cocoa lumps so they get incorporated, too.
Add milk and cornstarch. Remember that milk and cornstarch mixture? Well, now’s the time to add it, but before you do, give it a quick whisking in case the cornstarch settled out. Then pour it right into the saucepan.
Cook. Continue cooking the pudding on medium, stirring all the while, until it thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. It’ll get as thick as pudding, which means it’ll coat a spoon when the spoon is removed.
Add butter. Twist! Add that bit of butter and stir until it’s completely mixed in. A bit of butter will give your pudding a nice creamy texture. Then cook the pudding another 2 minutes, still stirring, to ensure that the cornstarch has finished its job of thickening.
Divide. Pour the pudding into small ramekins or custard cups, taking care not to short anyone’s serving. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of each pudding (to prevent skin from forming).
Serve. Serve the pudding in the ramekins with a small spoon.
We had this as dessert on Sunday night and we have to say that we were underwhelmed. It’s an okay pudding — better than the box mixes, for sure — but it’s not great. The salt is really a distraction, and, if anything, it makes it taste more like a mix, obscuring some of the chocolate flavor. If you really want to try it, we’d strongly suggest that you put a sprinkle of salt on the pudding right before serving. That would form a nice contrast. Adding the bit of butter did help make this smoother, but it in no way compares to chocolate pudding made with egg yolk. That is a great pudding. We’ll say three stars.