There are as many variations of this traditional pudding recipe as there are days in the year, and this one I think is one of the best. When I’m in France, I swoon over crème brûlée, and when I’m in America you’ll find me doing the same over thick, rich, gorgeously satisfying, cooked chocolate pudding. Not that powdered instant stuff – ick. That glue-some stuff is a curse upon your favourite wooden spoon.
Some people serve this with a scant layer of milk or cream poured over the surface just before serving. I’m one of those people. My husband’s not – the idea makes him wince and wave his hands in horrified retreat. Some people top their pudding with fresh sliced strawberries. Others a dollop of whipped cream. As with most things American, anything goes.
American-Style Chocolate Pudding (with Sugar)
6 oz (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cocoa powder (the type for baking, not sweetened)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cornstarch (corn flour)
2/3 cup (160 ml) sugar
A pinch of salt *
1 cup (250 ml) single cream
3 egg yolks beaten
2 teaspoon (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (480-500 ml) full-fat milk (start with 480ml, and add more if needed)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) butter
Melt the solid chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie (a bowl set over (not touching) hot water). Sift together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and salt into a large heavy-based saucepan. Slowly whisk in the cream, egg yolks, milk, and melted chocolate. If the chocolate lumps, don’t worry – they’ll disappear while cooking.
Stirring nonstop with a whisk, slowly bring to a simmer over moderate heat, and then reduce the heat to low and cook until the pudding thickly coats the back of a spoon. It must be quite thick.
Strain the pudding into a bowl, pressing with a spoon. Toss away any lumps or ‘skin’ left in the strainer. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Taste for sweetness, and adjust if needed. Divide between 4-6 cups or small bowls, and serve either warm or chilled.
And here’s one for the person watching their sugar, fat and/or caloric intake, like my husband who’s diabetic. I used to make the sugar version; now I make this one. I’ll be honest with you: the sugary version is better and smoother.
I use Splenda® but any similar granular sweetener will do just as well. Just be sure to taste for sweetness before cooling the pudding in the fridge. Once it’s cooled, adding sweetener is very difficult.
Sugar-Free/Low-Fat American-style Chocolate Pudding
2 tablespoons cornstarch/corn flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon powder skim milk
1 pinch of salt*
2-1/2 teaspoons Splenda® or similar no calorie sweetener (not liquid)
1-1/2 cups skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter
Mix together well cornstarch, cocoa powder, skim milk powder and Splenda® in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Combine milk, beaten egg, and vanilla in a small sauce pot, then whisk in cocoa powder mixture until well blended. Add butter.
Heat on low heat until thickened, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Take care to continue stirring as chocolate and milk will catch at the bottom of the pan. Do not allow milk mixture to boil. Simmer is okay, but not boiling. Remove from heat. Taste, and add more sweetener if needed. Pour pudding through a strainer, pushing with a spoon, and discard any lumps or ‘skin’ left behind. Spoon into individual cups or bowls, and place cling film over pudding to prevent ‘skin’ from forming. Refrigerate until cool, about 30-40 minutes.
* a pinch of salt is usually less than 1/8 teaspoon.