We are guilty as charged: “TheshoeboxKitchen doesn’t do enough chocolate!”
Well, we hope that the velvety chocolaty richness left in your mouth after trying this pudding will be enough to post our bail until we can backfill the chocolate deficiency in our recipe archives with some of your own suggestions.
Okay, on to the pudding! What is a pudding, anyway? How is it different from a custard? What differentiates a pudding from a mousse? If you’re asking similar questions, then we’re right there with you. So many pudding recipes call for cornstarch as a thickening agent, other recipes look more like a custard, relying on the proteins in egg yolks to cause the pudding to set. Still others use both egg yolks and cornstarch. And then there’s mousse – let’s not even go there right now.
We were going for a rich pudding, so we knew we wanted to use egg yolks. But some recipes we found that depended solely on egg proteins to thicken the pudding were accompanied by comments suggesting that the pudding ended up runny or that folks had difficulty getting it to set. So we decided to throw in some corn starch as well, just to be safe.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup half & half
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons corn starch (less if you don’t want it as thick)
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a bowl with the sugar. ”Chop” up the seeds so they are as distributed as possible (not clumped together) throughout the sugar.
Measure out the cocoa powder as well.
And go ahead and set aside your 5 ounces of chocolate. We used chips because they melt efficiently. If you buy bars of chocolate, cut them up into small pieces.
Now pour into a medium saucepan the heavy cream and half & half (or milk, if you’d like a lighter pudding). Add to this liquid the vanilla seed & sugar mixture as well as the cocoa powder. Throw the vanilla bean husk in there too, just for good measure. Whisk everything together and then warm over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally.
While the cream mixture is heating on the stove, whisk together the egg yolks until they are pale yellow, then add the corn starch and whisk until the yolks and starch are well-combined.
When the cream mixture starts to steam slightly and form little bubbles (about 175 degrees), remove it from the heat and remove a ladle-full of the warm liquid. Slowly pour the warm liquid from the ladle into the egg yolks, whisking the yolks continuously. Then, transfer the now-warmed egg yolk mixture back into the original saucepan, whisking the contents of the saucepan continuously. Continue to whisk the custard mixture (yes, this is essentially a custard with cornstarch added) until the mixture reaches about 180 degrees. Do not let the mixture boil or you’ll have scrambled egg pudding.
When your mixture hits 180 degrees, remove it from the heat and pour it through a strainer into a separate bowl. Now dump in the chocolate and continue to whisk until all of the chocolate is melted, leaving you with smooth, velvety perfection.
Now, if you want to get fancy, dump that velvety perfection into your food processor and process for about a minute. This tip comes from Dorrie Greenspan, and results in a silkier, slightly airier pudding (i.e., more perfect than before). We thought this step made the texture a bit closer to mousse (not as airy as mousse, but silky like mousse), which we were very happy to discover.
Pour the pudding directly from the food processor into small bowls or ramekins. Be timid with the portions – this stuff is rich!
Oh, and if you’re not a fan of pudding skin, immediately place plastic wrap over and on the surface of the pudding. Let the pudding cool in the fridge for at least three hours, or overnight. (Editor’s note: We’ve actually found that we prefer this pudding just slightly chilled; so, if you have refrigerated it, take it out and let it sit on the counter for at least half an hour before digging in – if you can wait!)
This pudding is very smooth and stick-to-a-spoon thick. It is rich, but not too sweet, has just the right amount of chocolate flavor, and the vanilla undertones from the fresh vanilla seeds add an extra layer of depth. If you love chocolate, well, this one is a no-brainer.
What other chocolate dessert should we try? Before you close this window, add a comment below and tell us what we should make next!
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